Jul 212014
 

Safari

I love safari! Pete and I are fortunate to have been on several over the last two decades and have particular soft spots for the wildlife parks of Botswana, Kenya and South Africa, to name a few.

tomboy (c) Africa 2008-bbb

There’s something utterly captivating about observing birds and animals in their natural habitats, up close and personal. Of course, there are the poster animals – sleek and powerful lions and leopards, lithe and speedy cheetahs, elegant-necked loping giraffes, portly hippos, grinning hyenas, wild dogs, buffalo, zebras, wildebeest – all of which are a delight to see.

But we find just as much joy in the smaller or lesser known wildlife – a family of silver-backed jackal pups playing in the dawn light under the watchful gaze of their parents, colourful lilac-breasted rollers or malachite kingfishers taking to the wing in a flash of colour, a fighting gaggle of vultures competing fiercely over the remnants of the latest unfortunate, a sniffling porcupine shuffling through the grass with quills-a-quivering, two bat-eared foxes cautiously poking their heads up from the entrance of their den, blinking bush-babies sitting high in a tree watching us watch them, a dung beetle laboriously rolling his ball of dung along the ground, the shimmer of sunlight against the iridescent plume of a glossy starling or ibis, the striking facial patterns and horns of the mighty oryx, the tight grip of a tiny reed frog clinging to a tall stem jutting out of the waters in the Okavango Delta… There is even excitement to be found in the footprints of animals long since departed, imprinted into the earth and now a challenge to our skills of identification – elephants and lions are much easier than the many ungulates!

Someone once declared that if you’d seen one wrinkly grey elephant’s arse you’d seen them all and he couldn’t see the point of going on more than one safari in one’s life. To say that I was flabbergasted is an understatement!

There are many ways to safari, from budget self-drive to remote luxury camps with private guides. We’ve done and loved both – each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Luxury safari camps are places of such beauty – gorgeous full height canvas tents with comfortable furniture, en-suite bathrooms and open air dining rooms where guests and guides come together for delicious meals. Of course, the focus is the wildlife viewing activities but we certainly enjoy the catering and accommodations in between!

Jungle Juice Memories

It was at one such safari camp that I was first offered Jungle Juice, a jolly name for a mixed fruit smoothie. Usually featuring a banana base with a range of additional fruits depending on what was available, this quickly became a favourite for me, especially as I’m not a wine or beer drinker. Indeed, when we later visited camps that didn’t offer anything similar, I was happy to describe Jungle Juice, and they would kindly rustle some up for me. (In the same way, I have introduced more African safari guides to shandy than I care to think about!)

Of course, as Jungle Juice is simply a mixed fruit no-dairy smoothie, it’s a drink many people make and enjoy.

Jungle Juice Sorbet

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Recently, I was sent an Optimum 9400 Blender by Australian brand Froothie. It’s a super powerful blender, with a very sharp blade which means that as well as making quick work of smoothies and sauces, it can also grind nuts and seeds and crush ice. The powerful motor even allows it to knead dough, and because the blade turns at 48,000 rpm it can generate enough heat to make piping hot soups as well. I’m yet to try these functions, and will report back as I do.

What I can tell you is that the motor and blade make quick work of chunks of frozen fruit and the advantage of blending them straight from frozen is that Jungle Juice becomes Jungle Juice Sorbet!

I make Jungle Juice Sorbet with nothing but fruit – no honey or sugar, no dairy, no oats – so it’s a very healthy alternative to dairy ice creams and sugar-laden sorbets.

For the first few moments, I thought the frozen chunks of banana, pineapple and mango I had thrown into the jug were simply too solid for the blade to handle but after a few tens of seconds more, the blade started to reduce the fruit to a thick cold paste. Pete used the tamper tool provided to push the chunks at the top down nearer the blades and a few minutes later, the sorbet was done.

Of course, you’ll want to eat the sorbet the moment it’s ready, so be prepared and have your bowls, spoons and eager diners ready and waiting.

As there is no added sugar or preservatives, this sorbet is best eaten fresh.

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Jungle Juice Sorbet

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1-2 bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen
200-300 grams mixed fruits, peeled and chopped (if necessary) and frozen

Note: So that you can make smoothies and sorbets quickly whenever you feel like it, I recommend you keep chunks of frozen fruit ready to hand in your freezer. Banana is best frozen already peeled and chopped, likewise larger fruit such as pineapple and mango. Berries can simply be washed, hulled and frozen as they are. Make sure they’re fairly dry when you put them into the freezer, so the liquid doesn’t cause them to freeze into a solid block.

Method

  • Place your chosen fruit chunks straight from the freezer into your blender. (You’ll need a really robust blender to handle this. Alternatively, a high quality food processor will also work).
  • Blend until the fruit has been broken down into a thick, creamy puree. Pause once or twice to push solid chunks down closer to the blades if necessary.
  • Serve immediately.

This is my entry for July’s #BSFIC challenge – frozen treats inspired by Holiday Memories.

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Kavey Eats received a review Optimum 9400 from Froothie and the link(s) above are affiliate links.

 

It’s rare for us to make cakes the traditional way any more; creaming together butter and sugar, beating in the eggs and folding in the dry ingredients by hand is not only time-consuming but tiring on the arms too. Instead, for the last several years we’ve mixed most cake batters directly in our food processor, which has a permanent home on the kitchen work surface.

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The ingredients are tipped into the bowl, sometimes all together as in my favourite banana cake recipe, sometimes in two or three batches. The blade is very sharp so a few seconds blending is usually all it takes to bring everything together into a batter. Sometimes we need to remove the lid and scrape the sides down once, before a final quick pulse to finish.

The batter is then poured or spooned straight into the cake tin(s) and baked.

Easy peasy and very quick!

Challenged to create a few Brazilian recipes that make good use of my new Magimix 4200 XL, Pete and I made these tasty individual orange and lime cakes, more commonly made as a single larger cake. My previous post was an equally easy recipe for Brazilian Brigadeiro Chocolate Bonbons. For the basic cake batter recipe, we used a recipe by Marian Blazes, an American who has lived and travelled extensively in South America. As it was such a success for the Marzipan Cakes we made over Easter, we made individual cakes rather than one big one, and skipped the glaze altogether.

These are delightful little cakes with a refreshing and vibrant hit of citrus and, as Marian has found, very versatile – you could serve them for breakfast, elevenses, as a packed lunch treat or for afternoon tea.

Usually known as bolo de laranja, orange cake is apparently a popular cake in Brazil. I really like Marian’s combination of orange and lime, and wanted to reflect the use of two citrus fruits in the name. My friend Rosana helped me with translations.

 

Little Orange & Lime Cakes from Brazil | Bolinhos de Laranja e Limão

Makes 10 to 15 individual cakes, depending on size

Ingredients
2 oranges
1 lime
3 eggs (we used large eggs)
60 ml vegetable oil
125 grams butter, melted
300 grams plain white flour
100 grams ground almonds
350 grams sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C (fan).
  • Liberally butter your muffin tins and then sprinkle a little flour over the buttered surfaces.
  • Zest the lime and the oranges.
  • Peel and section the orange, discarding the skin, pitch and membranes between segments. (You could candy the peel if you wish).
  • Juice the lime.
  • Place zest, orange flesh and lime juice into the food processor bowl and blend briefly until smooth.
  • Add the eggs, vegetable oil and melted butter to the processor and blend again until well mixed.
  • Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ground almonds to the processor and blend until the batter is smooth. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend again briefly, if necessary.

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  • Spoon or pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your muffin tins. The smaller cakes took 25 minutes, the larger ones needed another 5 minutes.
  • Test using a skewer (it should come out clean) or press the surface lightly (it should spring back).

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  • When nicely risen, golden brown on top and cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool for several minutes in the tins.

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  • Remove from the tins and allow to cool fully on a wire rack.

Whatever time of day you choose to eat these bright little cakes, I hope you enjoy them!

Our new Magimix 4200 XL is very similar to our older 5200 – the key differences for us are the XL, which denotes the extra wide feed tube, and a slightly smaller footprint. The 4200 XL also comes with a BlenderMix attachment for smoothies and batters, which we’ve yet to try. Like the 5200, it comes with large, medium and mini bowls, a very sharp blade, an egg whisk attachment, a dough hook attachment and a couple of slicing and grating discs.

Other Brazilian recipes which make use of a food processor:

Pão o de Queijo (cheese bread) and Churrasco steak with salsa and rice
Cucumber Caipirinha Cocktail

Kavey Eats received a Magimix 4200 XL from Magimix.

 

Thus far, all the Brazilians I’ve met are warm, friendly, simple (by which I mean uncomplicated and genuine, not lacking in intelligence) and full of laughter.

Brigadeiro, a chocolate bon bon made with a few simple ingredients and decorated in a bold – perhaps even gaudy – style, is a wonderful representation of Brazil and its people – easy to make, looks and tastes fabulous and can’t fail to put a smile on your face.

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In a celebration of summer, Magimix are taking a look at Brazilian culture and cuisine and invited me to join in by sharing some Brazilian recipes on Kavey Eats.

We bought our first Magimix food processor a few years ago, and were enormously impressed with its multi-functionality. We used it a lot, more than we expected actually, by leaving it permanently out on the work surface. We fell a little out of love with it when the motor and blade malfunctioned (just months after the warranty expired) but were able to get it fixed and it’s been ok again ever since. The only downsides for us are the large footprint, given our limited work surface, and the small size of the feed tube on our 5200 model. The 4200 XL Magimix have just sent me has a (slightly) smaller footprint and a much larger feed tube. Every little helps!

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For this recipe, I used the main blade in the largest bowl to finely chop some 85% dark chocolate – I find that the grating attachment doesn’t cope well with pieces of chocolate as these tend to fly off the side of the disc before they’ve been pushed through the grater. The main blade is super sharp and breaks down the solid chocolate quickly.

Brazilian Brigadeiro Chocolate Bonbons

Makes 15-20 bon bons

Ingredients
200 ml condensed milk
30-40 grams grated dark chocolate or good quality unsweetened cocoa
1 heaped teaspoon butter
extra butter or vegetable oil for greasing your hands
Granulated decorations such as chocolate granules, hundreds and thousands, coloured crystallised sugar or similar

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Note: I used bronzed sugar crystals from the Waitrose Cooks’ range, hundreds and thousands and some extra grated chocolate.

Method

  • Combine condensed milk, grated chocolate and butter in a non-stick pan and heat gently, stirring continuously.

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  • Once all the ingredients have melted and are well mixed, continue to cook until the mixture thickens considerably, stirring continuously. When the mixture is ready, pulling the spoon or spatula through it should cause it to pull away cleanly from the base of the pan, almost like a choux dough when it begins to ball up.
  • Remove from the heat and leave to cool until the mixture is cool enough to handle.
  • Spoon a few drops of vegetable oil or butter into your hands and rub both hands together to coat well.
  • Use a teaspoon to scoop a spoonful of the mixture, roll between your palms to form a ball and roll gently into your granulated decoration. (If you find the mixture too sticky to handle, even once cool, it hasn’t been cooked it for long enough – just return to the heat, cook a little more, then leave to cool and try again).
  • Once coated, place into individual bon bon paper cups or onto baking paper.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge until needed.

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Kavey Eats received a Magimix 4200XL food processor from Magimix.

 

Do you drink a variety of teas? Black, green, white? Oolong? {whispers} Herbal or fruit? {stops whispering}

How do you make yours?

Do you boil the kettle, pour boiling water over the tea bag or leaves and stir impatiently to make the tea brew faster?

Do you brew directly in the mug?

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I use loose leaf tea in a mug.

I don’t really miss a teapot as I rarely drink more than a mug of tea at a time (and never the same tea as Pete chooses to drink). Tea leaves go into a fine mesh strainer that can easily be lowered into my mug. I reuse the same leaves for at least another brew, often two or three, depending on the tea.

But I am guilty of using boiling water straight from the kettle.

And, as any fule kno, many teas are not at their best when brewed in boiling water.

Black tea (and herbal or fruit infusions, which I snootily don’t consider to be tea) are better suited to brewing at 100°C.

But oolong, green and white teas benefit from lower temperatures.

Flavour-providing amino acids and natural sugars dissolve into water at relatively low temperatures, releasing sweetness as well as a range of rich and complex flavours. Higher water temperatures extract more tannins resulting in bitterness that can easily overwhelm the key flavours of these types of teas.

Good quality tea should be treated with respect.

I really ought to know better, having benefited from the wonderful expertise of many a top tea master over the years. I have tasted exquisite teas from China to Japan, Taiwan to Korea, India to East Africa and enjoyed them at their optimum. And yet the best I’ve managed when making tea at home is to leave the kettle for a few minutes after boiling, to allow the temperature of the water to drop a little. Of course, I never have any idea of just how much it’s dropped.

It’s criminal really, given that I happily spend money on excellent tea. My current favourite is still Momo Cha Fine Teas’ High Mountain Oolong, but I’m also enjoying a delicious genmai-cha from The East India Company and an elderly but surprisingly well preserved oolong from Teanamu (my fault: I found it, forgotten, at the bottom of a box of tea).

For over a year, I’ve loosely been investigating smart kettles – the kind that allow you to heat the water to a number of different temperatures. A friend of mine has one and I’ve been coveting my own but I never get farther than an idle internet browse. I’ve not even made a shortlist, let alone picked a winner and placed an order.

sage by heston tea maker 2

Lucky day, then, when Sage by Heston Blumenthal asked me if I’d be interested in trying their Tea Maker, a specialist kettle with tea making function built in. The Tea Maker has a number of pre-sets and the option to use customised settings too. You can use it simply as a kettle, heating the water to your desired temperature. It also offers a brewing function: place tea leaves into the basket provided and the Tea Maker will lower the leaves into the heating water for a specific amount of time, dependent again on the type of tea. Lastly, the Tea Maker can keep the tea (or water) warm for up to an hour.

I probably won’t use the brewing function very often, as it’s recommended for a larger volume of water than I’d want to brew at a time. But the adjustable brewing temperature is an easy way for me to enjoy my favourite teas at their very best.

 

You can find more information about the Sage by Heston Blumenthal Tea Maker here, including a video of Heston explaining how it works. To hear Heston talk in more detail about tea, see this #TalkTeaWithHeston Youtube video.

Kavey Eats received a sample Tea Maker from Sage by Heston Blumenthal. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

I have a soft spot for retro crockery and kitchenware, particularly anything with the greens, oranges, browns and aquas of the sixties and seventies.

We are lucky to have six different charity shops on our little local high street, so I’m often popping in, not to mention markets and bric-a-brac shops when we’re out and about.

Here are some of my favourite finds from the last few years.

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Since buying these plates last year, we use them most days and regular readers will certainly have spotted the distinctive pattern in several of my recent recipe posts. When I first saw the price tag of £15 for eight second hand plates, I was a bit hesitant but they are Royal Doulton, which is apparently quite posh. In any case, I was smitten so I paid up! The pattern is called Kaleidoscope, and I love the bright colours and the lovely design. Some have a bit of scratching but I don’t mind it really.

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This large Hornsea Bronte flour jar was £10 from a different local charity shop. We do use it for flour, though I think it tickles Pete to use it for plain flour, whereas the label on the cork lid says self-raising. No room for confusion there, not at all…

Jugs

We found a lovely little gravy jug in Hornsea’s Heirloom pattern for just £4 a few months ago, and I so enjoyed using it for our roast dinners, but it had a little accident a few weeks back and the handle snapped off. So sad but I’ve just bought a replacement from eBay for £5.50 – the same pattern but a squatter and slightly larger jug. Perfect!

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The Palissy Taurus coffee pot on the left (with the dusty lid) was an ebay purchase last year. Isn’t that prancing horse delightful? And of course, the mustard yellow colour is a real winner for me.

The pot next to it was £4 from a local charity shop. I love the pattern and the way the colour is deeper where the glaze is thickest.

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I have never used this set but it gives me enormous pleasure every time I look at it. I found it several years ago in a bric-a-brac / antiques shop in which the wonderful clutter was spread across several rooms and two floors of a rambling old building somewhere in the Cotswolds. It was an absolute steal for £12. Gorgeous!

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I spotted this set during a weekend visit to Netil Market last year and couldn’t resist. I made an offer of £8 thinking we’d negotiate to £10 or £12 but to my surprise and delight, the stall holder accepted my original offer. I love the colour and pattern. And yes I did spot the tiny chip in the sugar bowl at the time!

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The creamy white cup and saucer set were from the same local charity shop as the Royal Doulton plates. I bought the set specifically for Christmas day dessert (of lemon posset and candied clementines) a few years ago, thought I’ve since used them for other puddings. I have a feeling the set was £8.

Behind it is a glass serving bowl and matching individual bowls which I found in a second-hand shop specialising in crockery and glassware, somewhere near a smokery in Somerset. Also £8.

I have no idea when I’ll use the little condiment dishes, to be honest, but they were 50p for a set of 4 from a car boot sale last summer and I couldn’t resist.

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Likewise, it was 50 pence (or possibly even 20) for the pair of tiny red-topped glass goblets from a stall at Watford Covered Market. I visited the market regularly for sushi on weekday lunch times and browsed the Friday second hand stalls on the way back to work.

The 4 green side plates were £1.95 from another local charity shop, part of my most recent haul on the last Saturday of April.

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This enormous (and enormously) heavy enamel casserole was also part of the same recent April haul, from on of the local charity shops and was £5.99. I’m not sure what brand it is, but would love to know the make and pattern, if anyone recognises it.

In fact, I’d love to know the make and pattern for any of the unidentified items above. I’m only familiar with the patterns for the Hornsea, Royal Doulton and Palissy items.

Are you a charity shop magpie and if so, what kinds of things do you tend to buy? If it’s kitchen ware, are you drawn to the retro colours and patterns here, or do you prefer plainer or more modern lines?

 

We usually use our Magimix food processor for slicing and grating but it has a large footprint, and takes up valuable space on our worktop… And as it’s pretty heavy, it’s not hugely practical to put it away and get it back out each time we need it. Even though it’s a great appliance, I’m starting to resent the space it takes up more and more, and thinking about alternatives.

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Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go; Sensiohome Slica

When I first saw these much smaller food slicers, I thought one of them might be a good option. They are a fair bit smaller than our food processor, so could be left out all the time, but they’re also light enough that it should be easy to grab them from the cupboard as and when needed. Of course, the functionality is reduced – we use our food processor to puree, blend and mix wet batters – but we have a very good blender that can do those tasks just as easily.

I was offered the opportunity to review two models by well known brands. We did some side-by-side testing to put both models through their paces.

As you can see, the Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go has a smaller footprint, which is great for households with limited space. The Sensiohome Slica is a little larger, but exactly the same height.

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The Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go comes with three attachments – slicing, shredding and grating.
The Sensiohome Slica comes with five attachments – fine slicing, coarse slicing, fine shredding, coarse shredding and grating.

The Desire Slice & Go has specially provided slots on the back in which to store the two attachments that are not currently in use.
The Sensiohome Slica doesn’t have any such storage for the four attachments not in use.

We found the Desire Slice & Go attachments very simple to change – they are held in place with the red screw-on cap.
In contrast, the Sensiohome Slica attachments were a real struggle to change, particularly to remove after use.

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The feeding funnels are similar in size – the Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go one is marginally smaller, requiring food to be cut into slightly smaller pieces before feeding through.

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We found that the Sensiohome Slica had more of a tendency to fling the extruded vegetables to the side, thus completely escaping the bowl we’d placed beneath it. A wider plate would help with this.
The Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go also did this, but to a much lesser extent.

By virtue of its additional attachments, the Sensiohome Slica allowed us to grate red cabbage, white cabbage and carrot more finely.
However, the Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go attachments grated the vegetables sufficiently finely for our purposes.

Although the motors are both rated at 150 watts, the Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go was significantly faster and more powerful, and the vegetables fed through without pressure, very quickly.
We found ourselves having to push vegetables down with the feeder insert and force them against and through the cutting blades.

After use, we found the Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go much easier to disassemble and clean.
The Sensiohome proved tricky to disassemble and clean, partly because pieces of food became stuck between blade and tube during use.

Both models offer a continuous power and a pulse option. We used continuous power for our testing.

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We did a further experiment with a block of cheddar.

The Sensiohome Slica was completely unable to process the cheddar at all – the cheese gummed up the grater attachment and tube within seconds. We suspect this is because the attachment cutting edges aren’t sharp enough. We tried to push the cheese down against them using the tube feeder, but it didn’t help and we gave up and grated the cheese by hand.
The Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go handled the block of cheddar without any problems at all. I don’t know whether the blades are sharper, or whether Russell Hobbs have simply harnessed more power from the motor (both are 150 watts), but whatever the reason, the results were drastically different.

 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to pricing, both appliances are available for approximately the same price, if you shop around.

Amazon is currently offering the Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go for £29.88.
The Amazon price for the Sensiohome Slica is £44.53 however, you can find it for £25.89 at Argos or £24.99 on The A Range.

Clearly, Russell Hobbs Desire Slice & Go is ahead on virtually all counts – it has a smaller footprint, is faster and more effortless to use, the attachments are easier to insert and remove and it is easier to clean after use. It is also better able to handle dense or sticky ingredients such as cheese.
The Sensiohome Slica offers more granularity of grating or shredding size, and a very slightly wider feed tube but is difficult to assemble, disassemble and clean, lacks power in use and fails on key tests such as grating cheese.

 

Kavey Eats received product samples of both appliances, courtesy of Russell Hobbs and Sensiohome (MPL Group).

 

After my introduction to sous vide –  in which I explained what sous vide means, its history, how it works and the advantages and disadvantages of this cooking technique – I was planning to share a clever, inventive recipe with you… something to show off the cheffy possibilities… something unusual and impressive.

I’ve been admiring lots of wonderful sous vide recipes online. Delicious ideas by fellow bloggers include Dom’s fennel risotto, Jan’s pork belly with honey and apple cider glaze, Mardi’s caramelized bananas with coconut gel and snow, Helen’s rhubarb compoteJeanne’s 20 hour oxtail stew, and Luiz’ Tamago Onsen. I’ve also found much to tempt via Google and Pinterest, such as 48 hour Momofuku short ribs, 36 hour chashu pork belly, olive oil poached salmonpeach bread pudding with sweet tea rum sauce, duck fat fried potatoes, white chocolate rum caramel bananas and salmon confit in elderflower oil.

But after all that, I decided to talk to you about sous vide steak!

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supermarket sirloin medallions

I have always loved steak and we often cook it at home, varying the cut depending on our mood and what’s on offer, though most commonly settling on rib eye. We were happy enough with our technique – oil (and season) the steak not the pan, heat the pan until it’s properly hot, add the steaks and don’t move them at all until it’s time to flip them over, cook the second side, remove from the pan and rest for several minutes while making the sauce – but it wasn’t unusual for us to cook the steak a little more or less than we’d intended; the finger test is helpful but still a little tricky to call. And then I read that using a sous vide machine to cook steak should make it impossible to over or undercook, so steak was an obvious candidate for one of our first experiments.

And we discovered that cooking steaks accurately is ridiculously easy this way!

We have now cooked several steaks in our Sous Vide Supreme, including sirloin medallions (on offer at the local supermarket), rump and some fabulous grass fed New Zealand wagyu rib eye steaks from Provenance Butcher. Each time, we’ve been thrilled with the perfect cooking, even texture and excellent flavour – even less expensive steaks (that haven’t been dry-aged for a long period or aren’t from rare breed animals) taste intensely beefy. The wagyu rib eye in particular really benefited from the gradual melting of the marbling into the surrounding meat.

Recipes list cooking times anywhere between 1 and 6 hours for steak; however, we find 1.5 to 2 hours is plenty of time for the meat to cook through, for steaks up to 3 cm thick. We like our steaks medium rare, so we sous vide them at 56.5 °C (133.5 °F); I found this chart very useful in selecting the right temperature.

Be prepared for the steaks to look rather unappealing when you take them out of the sous vide machine – a rather pallid pinky-grey; the caramelised flavours and dark brown colour that most of us appreciate on a steak are created by the Maillard reaction, for which one needs higher temperatures. For this reason, we briefly sear the steaks after they come out of the sous vide machine.

How To Sous Vide Steak (Medium Rare)

Ingredients
Steaks of your choice
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

Method

  • Pre-heat sous vide machine to 56.5 °C (133.5 °F).
  • Very lightly season the steaks and vacuum seal into bags.
  • Submerge steaks fully and leave to cook for 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Before finishing the steaks, cook your vegetables and your sauce, so that they’re pretty much ready to serve.
  • Preheat heavy-based pan to scorching hot and very lightly oil.
  • Remove steaks from the bags.
  • When pan is really scorching hot, briefly fry the steaks on both sides to sear – only for about half a minute on each side as you don’t want the heat to penetrate too far into the steak and change its perfect texture
  • Assemble all your elements and serve.

Note: The steaks can remain in the sous vide for quite a lot longer than the required cooking time – the beauty of sous vide is that they will not overcook, since the internal temperature will not rise above the temperature of the water bath. That said, I have read that leaving steak in the sous vide for a very long time can result in the meat becoming mushy, usually in reference to cooking times of 15 hours or more.

SousVide-5092 SousVide-5094 SousVide-5101
Grass fed New Zealand wagyu rib eye from Provenance Butcher

One of the questions I’ve been asked, by friends who know I’m experimenting with the Sous Vide Supreme, is whether we’ve found it worthwhile using it just to cook steaks, given that we’d previously cooked them happily enough in a frying pan. I asked myself the same question before I started using it, because it’s quite a bulky piece of kit and it really needs to justify itself, given how much storage space it takes up. In fact, we have found it quick and straightforward to fill with water, set the temperature, seal food into bags and submerge to cook, so it’s not felt like a chore to use it at all. When we’re done, it’s easy to empty into the bath, leave aside to dry and put away again. Of the equipment we own, it’s our deep fat fryer that we use more rarely because filling (and emptying) the oil is far more of a faff. That’s been a good benchmark for us to use for assessing how we feel about the Sous Vide Supreme.

What do you think? Do you have a Sous Vide Supreme? Or have you considered buying one? Do you think you’d get enough use from it? Would it be a white elephant or kitchen hero? I’d love to know your thoughts, and for those of you that have one, please let me know your favourite sous vide recipes and techniques. (For fellow Pinterest users, here’s my Pinterest Sous Vide board).

 

Kavey Eats received a SousVide Supreme and vacuum sealer in exchange for sharing my experiences using the equipment.
The sample of Grass fed New Zealand wagyu rib eye was courtesy of Provenance Butcher.

 

Friends of mine have recommended Spanish brand Lékué to me before; they are fans of its innovative silicone cookware. The range includes steaming, baking and storage containers, including a large selection for microwave cooks and cake makers and decorators.

Bread Maker 4 Bread Maker 1
Bread Maker 2 Bread Maker 3
Lékué images

The item that intrigued me most was the Lékué Bread Maker, a flexible silicone bowl that can be used from start to finish of the bread making process – mix and knead the dough in the bowl, let it rise, knock it back, let it rise again and then pop the whole thing into the oven to bake.

Thus far, we’ve found it a little tricky to mix and knead the dough inside the bowl – its flexible and lightweight nature means that an attempt to lift the sticky dough before pushing it back down ends up lifting the bowl itself. We’ll experiment with different kneading techniques to see if we can overcome this.

However, where the Bread Maker comes into its own is for rising and baking wet, sticky doughs:

The dough needn’t be disturbed after its second rise, thus avoiding the risk of knocking out some of the air. Of course, this can equally well be mitigated by transferring dough from a regular mixing bowl into the final baking container ahead of the second rise.

For baking, the bowl has an ingenious design that allows it to be very easily fastened at the top, leaving it open at each side. The shape of the Bread Maker when fastened, provides both a pleasant rounded shaping of the final loaf as well as an environment in which the bread can create steam as it cooks, which makes for a lovely crisp crust.

The instructions also mention the option of baking the bread in a microwave (and finishing with a few minutes in a regular oven to provide crispness), though we’ve not tried that yet.

Lastly, the bowl is also dishwasher proof, which may be helpful for some, though its silicone nature means it’s a doddle to clean anyway, since nothing sticks to it.

LekueBreadMaker-4898 LekueBreadMaker-4901
LekueBreadMaker-4906 LekueBreadMaker-4909
My images

COMPETITION

Lékué have offered a Bread Maker as a competition prize for Kavey Eats readers. The prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite memory of baking or eating freshly made bread.

Entry 2 – Facebook
Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow
@Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a @Lekue Bread Maker from
Kavey Eatshttp://goo.gl/LyjJ5x #KaveyEatsLekue
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 21st March 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a Lékué Bread Maker. The prize include free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Lékué.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a selection of sample products from Lékué.

 

Although it’s been around for many years, the technique of cooking food sous vide (under vacuum) in a carefully temperature-controlled water bath has mainly been the preserve of chefs. Professionals have long appreciated the accuracy, consistency and sheer ease of a method that allows them to do the prep and (most of) the cooking of many dishes in advance. For example, they can portion, pack and cook steaks ahead of service, leave them in the water until needed, then quickly finish in a very hot pan to create an appealing brown crust, confident that the interiors will be cooked exactly as expected.

More recently, as the line between professional and domestic kitchens blurs, home cooks are investigating sous vide too.

The History of Sous Vide Cooking

Food historians attribute the idea of cooking under vacuum to Sir Benjamin Thompson, an 18th and 19th century physicist and inventor. Although he invented many items including a double boiler, an insulated drip coffee percolator and a new design of fireplace, he never actually created a sous vide machine, but he did document the idea of cooking under vacuum back in 1799, albeit using air as the heat transfer medium rather than water.

In a related development, the French navy prompted Parisian confectioner and chef Nicolas Appert to develop an industrially viable canning process in response to their competition, launched in 1795, seeking new methods of preserving food. Appert observed that food cooked inside a jar did not spoil unless the seal leaked. Boiling the jars in water killed harmful bacteria and yeasts; it also created a vacuum seal that kept jars airtight and stopped recontamination. After almost 15 years of work, the process he submitted won him a substantial 12,000 francs prize. Later, the method was applied to food sealed in tin cans, hence the process became known as canning.

Modern sous vide has been around since the 1960s, when French and American engineers mastered the process of making food-grade plastic films and pouches. Ingredients could be vacuum-sealed at sufficiently high pressures to compact textures and concentrate flavours. Sealing into such plastic is sometimes referred to as cryovacking after American company Cryovac Inc.

French chef Georges Pralus made the leap to using a sous vide water bath as a cooking technique when he was asked in 1974 by 3-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Troisgros to help find a way of cooking foie gras without losing so much of its weight during cooking. The foie gras, vacuum-sealed in food-grade plastic and cooked at a consistently applied specific temperature, not only loss far less fat during cooking, but had a more even texture too. The technique spread quickly and is now a common tool of many professional chefs.

Since then, there has been much more research and documentation of the effects of different cooking temperatures and times on different foods, with particular attention to food safety and food preservation. A pioneer in the food science of sous vide cooking is Bruno Goussault who presented a study on this very topic back in 1974. He and Pralus both went on to provide professional training in the technique for top chefs from around the world.

How Does it Work and What’s the Point?

Detractors often dismiss sous vide as nothing more than boil-in-the-bag in an attempt to associate it with those dreadful ready-made dinners of decades ago. Of course, there’s more to it than that: for sous vide cooking, raw food is vacuum-sealed in the bag – the removal of air allows heat to be transferred by the water outside the bag directly to the food inside, far more efficiently than when air gets in the way. The cooking temperature is far lower than boiling; accuracy of temperature is critical. Boil-in-the-bag food has already been cooked and pasteurised (at high heat) so the consumer is simply reheating by immersing in boiling water. Sous vide cooking involves cooking in a bag, in water, but it’s definitely not boil-in-the-bag!

When cooking food in a conventional oven (or in a pan on the stove top) the usual method is to set the temperature to high (we typically bake things at about 180 C) and leave the food in the oven (or on the stove) until it reaches the required internal temperature to transform from raw to cooked. The internal temperature the food needs to reach is far less than 180 C so the risk is that leaving the food cooking too long results in a continual rise in temperature, to the extent that the food becomes dried out or burnt. Of course, it’s also possible to underestimate the time needed, and remove a large item such as a roasting joint too soon, when it’s still raw at its centre. Temperature probes can help with this, but the cook still needs to ensure that the food is taken out at just the right time. Experience makes that less hit and miss, as does a temperature probe, but it’s still not an exact science given the different size and shape and moisture content of ingredients.

When cooking sous vide, the temperature of the water bath is set according to the internal temperature required to transform the food from raw to cooked. Of course, it’s still possible to remove the food too quickly, before the heat has transferred to the centre of the food. But the converse is not a problem – leaving the food in the water bath for longer doesn’t cause it to overcook, as it cannot become any hotter than the temperature of the water itself. This can benefit the home cook as much as the professional, as it allows the cooked food to be left in the water bath until such time as other elements of the dish are ready, or diners are ready to eat.

The accuracy of temperature achievable in a water bath means that meat can be cooked at precisely the right temperature to allow tough collagen to break down into soft gelatin, whilst avoiding the higher heats that denature protein and can make it tough. Choosing the right temperature allows the cook to target their preferred finish, whether that’s rare, medium rare, medium… Additionally, all the moisture is retained in the meat as it can neither evaporate nor drain away during cooking. When cooking fish such as salmon in a frying pan, it can be hard to apply heat evenly enough that the outer edges do not dry out before the centre is done, especially as this is a fish that is so good when it’s a touch under- rather than over-cooked. Using lower temperatures makes it easy to cook salmon evenly all the way through, and also avoid the unpleasant streaks of dried white albumen that are excreted when cooking fish at higher temperatures. There is less advantage over traditional methods when cooking vegetables, however adherents appreciate the intensity of flavours that cooking sous vide achieves.

Lastly, vacuum sealing the food means it can be stored (sealed and refrigerated) for longer after cooking, protected against oxidisation.

Limitations & Food Safety

The advantage of cooking, say, a steak or joint of meat in a hot oven or pan is that the exterior develops a caramelised brown crust, as the sugars and amino acids react to high heat – the Maillard reaction, as it’s known. And we love it – a beautifully seared chop with a tender, pink interior is surely the epitome of meat cooking!

Sous vide cannot achieve this, because the entire piece of meat, from exterior through to the centre, is heated only to the temperature needed to take it to medium rare, for example. So, a sous vide steak really needs to be finished briefly in a very hot pan, to sear the exterior and give us the crusted appearance, texture and taste we yearn for.

SousVide-4343 SousVide-4346 SousVide-4347

That’s not an issue with all ingredients – salmon fillets are beautiful served straight out of the sous vide, evenly cooked all the way through. And foie gras, the ingredient that inspired the development of the modern technique, needs only to chill in the fridge before it’s sliced, plated and served.

Another issue to keep in mind is that of food safety, particularly for those with compromised immunity. The bacteria that is commonly found in food can be categorised into three groups – pathogens (which are harmful to us), spoilage (which, as the name implies spoil the taste and texture of food but are not, on their own, harmful to us) and friendly (which confer health benefits). Pathogens such as Clostridium botulinum (which produces the deadly toxin that causes botulism), Clostridium perfringens (one of the most common causes of food poisoning), Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes are all capable of growing in a vacuum. They can be eradicated by the application of minimum temperatures for sustained periods. Of course, for some ingredients, the temperature required to achieve a desirable texture in the food is not high enough to destroy any pathogens. In this case, it’s crucial to consider the source and quality of the raw ingredients and to observe strict hygiene practices. If storing food after sous vide cooking, it’s also advisable to reduce the temperature quickly, by immersing the sealed pouch into an iced water bath. Read more from sous vide expert Douglas Baldwin, here.

Sous Vide in a Domestic Setting

There are a number of brands that sell sous vide equipment to commercial kitchens. These are generally too expensive, and potentially too bulky, to be of interest to, or in the financial reach of, home cooks. Many have resorted to jury-rigging contraptions using digital thermometers and rice or slow cookers. Some even manage with the tap, a kettle and an insulated cool box! And a few have even attempted sous vide cooking on the stove top, necessitating constant addition of hot or cold water and minor adjustments of the heat level, to maintain the required temperature.

But for home cooks with a serious interest in the technique, and the budget to afford it, appliances aimed at the domestic market are now available.

One such brand is SousVide Supreme, founded by Doctors Michael and Mary Dan Eades. They were motivated to investigate the technique after enjoying a particularly excellent pork chop served by a Las Vegas hotel’s room service team, during a visit to attend a medical conference. The nutritionist couple promote a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet and also have a background in the restaurant trade, so when they realised there was a gap in the domestic market, they resolved to jump in and launched their domestic sous vide products in 2009.

Their range includes two vacuum sealer machines, two (different sizes of) sous vide water ovens and accessories including plastic pouches and cookery books.

sousvidesupremepromopack

The SousVide Supreme Water Oven is currently available on Amazon for £354, the Vacuum Sealer is currently £99. Alternatively, a Promo Pack of water oven, vacuum sealer, basic sous vide cookery book and 50 vacuum pouches is currently £450.

Our SousVide Supreme equipment arrived shortly before Christmas and we’ve had it out a few times already since then. Thus far, Pete and I have made a foie gras terrine (our first project, in deference to the role of Georges Pralus) and we’ve cooked steak (plain) and chicken (with flavourings). We’ve been very pleased with how all three came out and we found the vacuum sealer and water oven very straightforward to use. I’ll be sharing some recipes and feedback with you going forward.

Do take note that the oven is large, and needs some strength to lift when full of water.

 

Kavey Eats received a SousVide Supreme Promo Pack in exchange for sharing four posts about SousVide Supreme and my experiences with the equipment. This is the first such post with more to follow in coming months. As usual, I will be 100% honest about my opinions, whether good or bad.

 

I am inexorably drawn to kitchen gadgets and have always had to fight my tendency to collect electrical white elephants. Of the new gadgets I’ve encountered since I started writing Kavey Eats I adored the Thermomix, the jug blender and the mandoline slicer, was pretty pleased with the deep fat fryer and the spice and nut grinder and not very impressed at all by the soup maker, to name just a few.

But I’d not even heard of the Masha until I saw it featured on my spudtastic friend Gary’s blog, recently.

As many of you will know, using a food processer makes for horribly gluey mashed potatoes. Using a hand  blender is enormously messy and, if you can make it work for you, creates a similarly elastic puree. A potato ricer is slow and faffy but it does produce beautifully fluffy mash. An old fashioned potato masher obviously works well too, but again, takes a little time and elbow grease.

Masha-1299 Masha-1301

The Masha looks a lot like a hand blender but the way it works is closer to an electric potato ricer: blunt plastic blades push the potato through holes. The fibres aren’t hacked apart so they don’t release too much starch, hence the potato doesn’t turn into gluey wallpaper paste. It doesn’t splash the content of the pan everywhere as can happen (to me) when using a hand blender. And it’s quick and very low effort.

Of course, it can be used to mash any root vegetable and I am sure it would work similarly well on anything in the squash family too. I have a soft spot for Swede and Carrot mash, which it handles easily. It can also be used to puree fruit and vegetables for young children. Here’s a link to the manufacturer’s video showing it in action.

Masha-1302 Masha-1303

We probably wouldn’t have bought this gadget at this point, not because we don’t like it – we actually think it’s great – but because Pete is fit and strong and doesn’t mind spending a few minutes mashing our spuds the old-fashioned way (and because, frankly, our kitchen cupboards are actually overflowing, with boxes now sat in piles on the floor). However, we do think it’s a great tool and would be a particular boon for fluffy-mashed-veg-lovers with reduced arm strength. Retailing at around £32, we think the price is fair too.

 

COMPETITION

MPL Home is offering a Masha to one Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me about your favourite meal featuring mashed vegetables.

Entry 2 – Facebook
Like the
Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow
@Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a Masha from Kavey Eats and MPL Home! http://goo.gl/3HNm7A
#KaveyEatsMasha
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hashtag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 30th August 2013.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a Masha, with free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by MPL Home.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

Kavey Eats was sent a review sample Masha by MPL Home. All opinions are my own.

This competition is closed. The randomly selected winner was Kieran Walsh.

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