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A Review of Joule by Chef Steps: Sous Vide Cooking Made Easy

A Review of Joule by Chef Steps: Sous Vide Cooking Made Easy

First, for those who may not be familiar with sous vide cooking (pronounced “sue-veed”), Sous Vide is a French term that describes cooking food in a sealed bag, immersed in water that is kept in the exact temperature that you set. This means steak is never over cooked, chicken is always tender, and salmon is always perfectly succulent. Needless to say, it’s a pretty awesome way to cook a whole host of foods and once mastered can really step up your cooking game. In the past, cooking sous vide required either a large expensive piece of restaurant equipment or a complicated stove top set up involving thermometers and constant heat management. However, in the last few years, a number of small home sous vide cookers have come to market and I received one of those, the Joule by Chef Steps, as a Christmas gift and have since been putting it through its paces.

The Basics: The Joule is a sleek little piece of equipment. It’s the smallest sous vide device on the market and its styling would lead you to believe it was made by Apple. Not only does its small size make it easy to store and transport, it also makes it take up very little space in a cooking vessel meaning you can use a regular pot or pan, no special bins required. The entire unit is waterproof, so no worries about ruining it if you overfill a pot. The unit is supported by a magnetic rubberized foot for use in metal pans and a sturdy metal clip for when you decide to go plastic. As far as controls go, the actual unit only has one button and a single LED. The rest of Joule’s functions are controlled wirelessly using your smartphone and an easy to use, helpful app. The app handles all the heavy lifting as far as time and temperature settings and even features video representations of how your food should turn out. joule3

My Review: First, to be completely honest, the Joule is my first experience with a sous vide cooking device.That being said, this thing is awesome. So far I have cooked salmon, steaks, and pork loins. The salmon turned out perfectly pink and juicy and was some of the best salmon I have ever had. The pork loins, of which we were able to cook 4 at once in a single pan with a single Joule and then finish with a quick sear on a gas grill, turned out juicy and succulent and was the hit of our New Year’s party. Getting a steak done to your perfect temperature couldn’t be easier. Just set everything up with a few taps on the Joule app, then when the steak is done cooking with Joule give it a quick sear for 90 seconds or so on each side to give it a great crust. Joule is definitely a great new weapon in my culinary arsenal and I am really excited to see what I can cook next with it.

The Final Verdict: With a small, tough design and an easy to use app that is constantly being updated with cool new features by Chefsteps, I have to say Joule is a definitely a great buy! Want one for yourself? Check them out here!

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Tribord Easybreath Full Face Snorkeling Mask- Should You Get One?

Tribord Easybreath Full Face Snorkeling Mask- Should You Get One?

If you follow us over at the Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel, you know that my wife and I enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling when we get the chance. I first came across the idea of a full face snorkel mask when I saw the Tribord Easybreath advertised in a video on Facebook. They looked cool and we had an anniversary trip to Jamaica coming up, so I ordered us each one to try out while we were away.

The basics: The mask feels extremely well constructed and you can tell as soon as you touch it that it is made out of quality materials. The lens, though made of plastic, is heavy duty and the silicone seal around the mask is very soft. The full face snorkel is supposed to allow you to breathe easily through your nose and mouth, unlike a traditional mask that only allows you to breath through a much smaller snorkel tube. The large dry top snorkel prevents water from getting in the snorkel meaning you don’t need to clear the snorkel if it happens to be submerged. The open face design means the largest field of vision of any mask on the market.Easybreath-Schnrochelmaske-Test

Our review: My wife really enjoyed her mask and honestly doesn’t want to snorkel with a standard mask again. She said the visibility was much better, breathing was easier, and no water got down the snorkel itself. She also pointed out that it was much more comfortable to wear over a longer snorkeling period because her mouth and jaw did not get tired from having to bite down on a separate snorkel tube. As for me, I can say the mask just didn’t work for me, mainly because I found this type of snorkel mask’s fatal flaw: Facial Hair. This mask only works if the entire silicone ring around the mask can make contact with skin. Having a beard prevents the mask from being able to seal and water just pours in.

The final verdict: Buy it, unless you have a giant beard. Want to grab one for yourself? Click here!

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Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Marsala Wine Sauce

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Marsala Wine Sauce

I have always pitied anyone who has found a belief system that prevents them from eating pork. There are just too many amazing things that come from the pig. For me, bacon alone is enough to make me call a number of religions and ways of life asinine. That being said this recipe elevates the lowly baked pork chop to something almost godly. Filled with mushroom, garlic and cheese, and slathered in a wine and cream sauce this dish is crazy good. Give it a try, I hope you love it!

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Marsala Wine Sauce

4 bone-in pork chops, each about an inch thick, 2.5-3lbs total weight

8 oz cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped

2 large shallots, minced

8 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp fresh thyme

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups Marsala wine

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large skillet up to medium high heat. To the skillet, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes. Cook until everything has softened and the mushrooms have begun to brown. Next, season with salt and pepper and add in the thyme. Cook the mushroom mixture for about another 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture has lost most of moisture and has browned a bit. Remove the pan from the heat, and with a slotted spoon remove the mushroom mixture and allow it to cool. Reserve the skillet with all of its drippings; we will use it later. Next cut a large pocket into each of your four pork chops. The pocket should be large enough to receive a fair amount of filling, but be sure not to cut all the way through the chop. To the cooled stuffing, add in the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Stuff each of the four chops with 1/4 of the mushroom stuffing and seal the opening with toothpicks. In the skillet from earlier, add in an extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and bring it up to medium high heat. Sear the pork chops on each side until just golden brown and then transfer them to your preheated 400 degree oven. Cook until just done, about 15 minutes. When the chops are done remove them from the pan to a plate and cover with foil. While the chops are resting, deglaze the skillet with the Marsala wine. Let the wine reduce by half, then cut the heat back to low. Stir in the heavy cream. Return the chops to the pan to coat with sauce and heat through. Enjoy!

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How to Make Japanese Golden Curry- The YouTube Edition

How to Make Japanese Golden Curry- The YouTube Edition

I love Japanese golden curry. It’s one of my favorite dishes. In fact, I enjoy it so much that this is my second post about it. If you are interested in rereading the original post you can get to it by clicking here, but you are definitely going to want to make this recipe instead of the old one. With the amount of times I have made this dish, I have made lots of improvements over time and this newer version is definitely better. Below is the full recipe and the how-to Youtube video. Enjoy!

Japanese Golden Curry

 

1 ½ – 2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

10 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, sliced

2 large Sweet onions, Vidalia if you can get them, chopped medium fine

1 Tb Garlic paste

1 Tb Ginger Paste

1 tsp Sambal Olek chili paste

3 Tb soy sauce

2 14.5 oz. cans Sliced carrots, drained

1 package S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix, medium hot is the most common and the preferred

2 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock

1 Tb Olive oil

8 Tb Unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

 

Bring the olive oil and butter up to high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Season your chicken with salt and add it to the pan. Cook it until it is lightly browned and cooked through. When it is done remove it from the pan, and reserve it on a plate. Add in the onions. When they first go in they will look like they are too much. I know, two whole large onions seems ridiculous, but they will cook down. Reduce your heat to medium/ medium high. We don’t want to scorch or burn the onions. You are looking to caramelize them and this can take time. It is, however, worth it as caramelizing them will provide the sweetness that is very essential to the curry as a whole. When the onions have taken on a light tan color, add in the garlic, the ginger, the chili paste and the mushrooms and continue cooking until the onions are a nice deep brown and the mushrooms are soft. Next, add in the chicken stock and soy sauce, stir, and bring everything up to the boil. At this point, add in the curry mix, block by block, stirring the whole time. As you stir, the curry will begin to become quite fragrant and begin to thicken. When all the blocks have dissolved and the sauce has begun to come together, reduce the heat to low. Add in the cooked chicken and the carrots and allow it all to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice and enjoy.

 

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How to Make the Ultimate Mac and Cheese

How to Make the Ultimate Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the quintessential American comfort food, but it has a long history before becoming the sad, yet incredibly crave-able boxed dinner. As much as I love boxed mac and cheese, because what truly American child doesn’t, I would be remiss not to share with you where its true origins lie. Macaroni and cheese makes its first appearance in the 14th century in both Italian and Medieval English cookbooks, with recipes that basically consist of handmade pasta layered up with butter and cheese and baked. In 1796, the first modern recipe for mac and cheese appears in a cookbook by a woman named Elizabeth Raffald. It’s the first time a mac and cheese recipe begins with a cream sauce, what the French call a Bechamel, laced with cheese, making it what the French call a Mornay.

Macaroni and cheese became the American staple and comfort food that it is through President Thomas Jefferson. He experienced the dish in Europe and made extensive notes. The first pasta extruder that formed and cut macaroni noodles in the US was designed by Jefferson and installed in his home at Monticello. In 1802, he served mac and cheese at a state dinner. Can you imagine? At one point in time, it was totally acceptable to serve a dish so simple as macaroni and cheese to foreign dignitaries?

In the US, the dish has 2 real forms: baked and stove top. Baked mac and cheeses are more dense and usually have some form of bread crumb or Parmesan cheese type crust. Stove top versions, like my recipe, are more creamy, rich and decadent. Although my recipe has a number of ingredients, it involves fairly few steps to prepare and can be made within the time it takes for the noodles to boil. Below, you can find the full how-to YouTube video and the recipe. If you haven’t already subscribed to the Renaissance Beard YouTube channel please do so. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb elbow macaroni, I use Italian Cavatapi

8 oz sharp yellow cheddar

8 oz aged whited cheddar

8 oz Gruyere cheese

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

1 Tb mustard powder

1 Tb garlic powder

1 Tb onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

4 cups whole milk

Note: In the video I use about 1/2 of a pound of cubed ham and a large bunch of scallions. These are just examples of ways to doctor up a standard mac and cheese. Also the amount of cayenne can be cut or ignored completely for the heat challenged.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt the water with a few teaspoons of salt, and add in the pasta. Stir the pasta to ensure nothing sticks and boil the pasta to package instructions, usually 8 to 10 minutes. While the pasta is boiling, bring a large sauce pan up to medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. When the butter is melted add in the flour and dry seasonings. Cook the flour and seasonings for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. This cooks the raw flour taste out and wakens up the flavor of the spices. Next, add in the milk, stirring vigorously, and cook until it has reached a gravy like consistency with no lumps. At this point you should have a nice smooth off-white sauce. Turn the sauce down to low, stir in the cheeses, and stir until you have a nice smooth cheese sauce.

Drain the fully cooked noodles and add them into the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Add any extra ingredients you might enjoy, like the ham and scallions I used. Just make sure that whatever you add is fully cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

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