Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pork Loin Roast - Sous Vide

A couple of days ago when I was at whole foods, they were having a sale on boneless pork loin roast so I went ahead and picked one up.

It was really cold and dreary this weekend, so Jessica and I were in the mood for something seasonally appropriate and wintery. Pork loin roast was just the ticket.

Starting on Saturday morning, I brined the roast in a mixture of water, salt, maple syrup, and crushed black pepper. I don't remember the exact mix that I used but it was a fairly standard pork brine ratio wise. I let it brine in the fridge for about 8 hours. I then took it out and rinsed it well under cold water. I then patted dry with paper towels and vacuum bagged it using my Food Saver vacuum sealer, tossing some rosemary, dijon mustard, and maple syrup in the bag for flavor.


This afternoon, I busted out my trusty
Sous Vide Magic system and set the PID controller to 140F and threw the bagged roast in to slow cook for six hours.

Note, to anyone considering trying this at home... Vacuum sealing is absolutley essential to food safety when cooking at temperatures this low. Also, to get the correct result, it is critical that you have a system that allows consistent control of temperature to within 1 degree. Before diving into this sous vide cooking, please do some homework on it and understand the science and the risks. Done correctly, it produces amazing results.


While it was cooking, I threw together some baby carrots I picked up at the farmer's market, some mixed (shitake and oyster) mushrooms I had in my fridge, and some thyme. I roasted these in the oven and also prepared some rustic rosemary and thyme mashed potatoes.


After 6 hours was up, I pulled the meat out of the cooker and sure enough it was cooked to a perfect internal temperature of 140F:



I then put a quick sear on the outside in a pan. I sauced with a quickly thrown together red wine maple dijon sauce and plated with the mashed potatoes and roast carrots and mushrooms.


Here was the final result:



As is almost always the case with sous vide cooking, the meat was perfect. Incredibly succulent and moist, and the flavor was awesome. I think the brining coupled with the sous vide cooking was amazingly effective with this cut. The roasted carrots and mushrooms were fantastic as well, and the mashed potatoes were simple but nicely seasoned... I especially liked the visual look of the local heirloom baby carrots.

Menu from our Holiday Dinner Party

We had a few of our closest friends over for a holiday dinner party back in December. The theme was "French Country Fête". Here is the menu I put together for that event (Note please pardon my French... Babelfish was instrumental in the menu design):


Saint-Jacques aux Truffes et Purée de Céleri-rave
Bay scallop, black truffle, celeriac puree
Aspasie Brut Carte Blanche – Champagne


Foie Gras au Torchon
Sonoma Valley foie gras, brioche toast, sauternes geleé, shaved almonds
Terrine sauvage de champignon
Mixed wild mushrooms, pickled red onion, spinach, Frisée
2005 Haut Charmes - Sauternes


Sorbet à la Poire et Cardamome
Pear sorbet, cardamom, candied pear

Le plat principal

La Truite Steelhead Poêlé aux Poireaux
Wild Steelhead trout, leeks, beurre blanc
2005 Domaine Desertaux-Ferrand - Cote de Nuits-Villages
Châteaubriand Traditionnel
Beef loin, golden roasted potatoes, chateaubriand sauce
2006 Chateau Joanin Bécot - Castillon

La salade

Salade de laitues variées
Mixed greens salad, orange vinaigrette

Le fromage

Société Roquefort, Le Pommier Camembert, Emmental, Morbier
Château de Montfaucon "Baron Louis" - Côtes du Rhône

Le dessert

Bûche de Noël
Génoise cake, chocolate buttercream, raspberries

Le café

Top Ten Austin Restaurants List

I'm playing around with all of the features of Blogger. I decided I want to keep an ongoing top 10 list for Austin restaurants. Here are my picks, as of today:

Dan's Top 10 Austin Restaurants
  1. Uchi

  2. Wink

  3. Vespaio

  4. Hudson's on the Bend

  5. Olivia

  6. Fonda San Miguel

  7. Fabi + Rosi

  8. Eddie V's

  9. Jeffery's

  10. Trio

A few older photos

To inspire myself to get in the habit of posting (and actually bothering to take) photos, I'm posting a few old photos of some dishes that I've put together in the past.

Heart Attack French Toast

I made this for Jessica on Easter after she had given up sweets for Lent. Double custard bananas foster vanilla-cream strawberry brioche french toast with Reese's peanut butter cup crumbs and Amy's mexican vanilla ice cream. It made both of us sick due to the ridiculous richness, but tasted damn good.


Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a from scratch, local free-range chicken noodle soup I made when I was sick a while back. It took almost a whole day to make, but it was truly life giving and delicious.


Mixed Pickles

My first foray into homemade pickles. It is so easy and so tasty. Now I do all sorts of pickling at home all the time.


Japanese Braised Pork Belly

Japanese style sake braised pork belly with boiled egg, miso-garlic roasted asparagus, sticky rice, Japanese pickled vegetables (daikon, cucumber, cabbage, ginger). This was one of the most balanced and successful dishes I have pulled off.


Pork Rillettes

Pork belly rillette with carrot, radish, pickled red onion, and cornichons. Served with toasted baguette and salad with balsamic dijon vinaigrette. I LOVE doing charcuterie.


Sauteed Vegetables with Beans, Clams, Mussels, and Herbs
(recipe from Jean Georges Vongrichten)

Sauteed vegetables with beans, littleneck clams, PEI mussels, and herbs. Served with a salad of arugula and zucchini with tomato confit. I just got some Jean Georges cookbooks for Christmas. His recipes are very simple, clean, and healthy yet with phenomenally flavorful results.


Restaraunt Daniel, NYC

My wife, Jessica, and I took a trip to NYC over New Year's, and we were fortuate enough to get the opportunity to eat at Daniel Boulud's three Michelin starred Restaurant Daniel on Jessica's birthday on January 2nd.

Unfortunately, Jessica was starting to come down with what we now know was a full on case of the flu and the symptoms really started flaring up towards the end of our meal. That diminished our experience, somewhat, but it was still an amazing experience and we both enjoyed it throughly.

We did the six course tasting menu and each of the six courses had two options. Jessica and I each ordered alternate options and we were thereby able to cover a total of 12 separate dishes between the two of us. The kitchen was amazingly accomodating at working within the confines of Jessica's gluten and lactose free diet and was able to fully customize the menu around those restrictions.

Below is the full tasting menu for that night:

Course 1

Pressed Duck and Foie Gras Terrine
Chimay Gelee, Chestnuts, Red Cabbage Chutney
Mosaic of Capon, Foie Gras, and Celery Root
Pickled Daikon, Satur Farms Mache, Pear Confit

R. Haart Riesling Kabinett "Piesport", Germany 1999

Course 2

Olive Oil Poahced Cod "En Salade"
Artichoke Puree, Tarragon Dressing, Lemon Zest
Marinated Fluke with Seaweed
Pine Nuts, Radishes, Matsutake Mushrooms, Bonito Gelee

Domaine Bailly, Sancerre "Chavignol", Loire 2008

Course 3

Kataifi Crusted Rock Lobster
Broccoli Mousseline, Ricotta Salata, Lemon-Pine Nut Gremolata, Harissa Coulis
Handmade Spinach Tortelloni
Hedgehog Mushrooms, "Tomme de la Chataigneraie", Lomo, Black Garlic

Domaine Matrot, Meursault "Les Chevalieres", Burgindy 2007

Course 4

Woodfire Grilled Yellowfin Tuna
Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Red Kuri Squash, Chorizo Emulsion
Black Sea Bass with Syrah Sauce
Leek Royale, "Pommes Lyonnaise"

Chehalem "Three Vinyards" Pino Noir, Wilammette, Oregon 2007

Course 5

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Chop
Garbanzo Bean Fricassee, Chorizo, Rutabaga, Chickpea Tendrils
Duo of Dry Aged Black Angus Beef
Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Parsnip-Potato Gratin
Seared Rib Eye with Black Trumpets, Gorgonzola Cream

Bosquet des Papes, "Cuvee Grenache", Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2000

Course 6

Coconut Lemongrass Soup
Mango-Thai Basil Gelee, Poached Pineapple, Coconut Rum Sorbet
Chateau D'Arche, Sauternes, Bordeaux 2003
Warm Gunaja Chocolate Coulant
Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet
Rivesaltes Domaine de Rancy "Ambre, Roussillon" 1996

As a note, for my birthday in October, we ate at Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Napa, CA. I won't go into all the details of that here, but let's just say that experience is the bar that I will be measuring all restaurant experiences against going forward.

I am pleased to say that Restaraunt Daniel held its own when compared to French Laundry, though French Laundry was probably the overall better restaurant of the two... Every dish we tried at Daniel was at least excellent, though I would not go quite so far to say that every dish was perfect. French Laundry definitely had a higher percentage of absolutely flawless 100% perfect dishes than Daniel did. I felt FL had more consistency throughout the meal with more of a unified flow and progression. That said, the Short Rib dish at Restaurant Daniel was easilly the best dish I have ever tasted in my life... It was truly transcendent. Also, Daniel did better with desserts than the FL.
I was impressed with Boulud's willingness to embrace complexity in his dishes. Keller's approach seem focused on perfection above all else, while Boulud seemed more willing to try things that were more challenging/complicated, even if they weren't quite 100% perfect if that makes sense.

As was excpected, the service was impeccable. Unobtrusive, yet highly attentive and educational. The space was absolutely amazing as well, and we somehow scored a huge, highly desirable semi-enclosed private table with a vista-like view of the whole restaurant. As an added bonus, Chef Boulud was there that night and we saw him come out and hobnob with a few of the especially rich and powerful looking groups of clientelle on a number of ocassions.

Here are a few pictures from that night:

Pressed Duck and Foie Gras Terrine:
NYC 2009-38

Mosaic of Capon, Foie Gras, and Celery Root:
NYC 2009-39

Special "Bonus" Birthday Dessert:
NYC 2009-40

Overall, HIGHLY recommended.


Welcome, everyone, to my foodie blog.

As my passion for food and cooking has grown over the past few years, I have felt an increasing need to share it with those around me. Whether it be by cooking meals for family and friends, writing about new techniques and ingredients that I am excited about, or simply describing my latest concoction, I get almost as much satisifaction out of sharing as I do actually cooking or eating.

Up to this point, I've been posting all sorts of food related posts via Facebook status updates. This has helped me somewhat with my need/desire to share my passion, but it is a limited format and I have outgrown it. I figure that I write enough about food that I might as well try a first class blog.

I rarely follow recipes when I cook... I prefer for cooking and food to be a creative process. Typically, I let the ingredients, my mood, and the season drive the direction of what I cook. I will sometimes reference various recipes to get ideas and will often incorporate bits and pieces of them in an ad-hoc way as I go along. Ocassionally, especially when I am trying to learn a new technique or if I am baking, I will follow a recipe to the dot. In this case it will usually be a recipe by a master chef. Anyhow, the point of all this is that I usually won't be posting recipes on my blog because I simply don't use them.

Recently, my wife Jessica found out that she was both gluten and lactose intolerant. That has definitely changed my cooking, though I am finding it is not as hard as one might think to work around. I very much enjoy the challenge and it is rewarding making her dishes that are still rich and flavorful yet within the constraints of her diet. We are finding that it is hard to find restaurants that gracefully accomodate such dietary restrictions without limiting the menu down to a salad. As a result of this, we are cooking at home even more these days.

One goal of mine with this blog is to try to do a better job of photo documenting both my cooking process and the end result as I go along. Photography is another area I am very interested in, but for some reason, when I get focused on cooking I tend to forget to take photos.

And finally... This blog will not be limited to cooking. I will be delving into all things food: Restaurant experiences, chefs, kitchen tools, ingredient sources, etc.

So anyhow, here it goes.