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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!

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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Renaissance Reviews: The X-Gear Camper Tool

Renaissance Reviews: The X-Gear Camper Tool

Whether you are actually camping or just on a long car trip, it’s always nice to have a set of compact and foldable metal silverware with you when you are on the go because, if you are like me, you have probably found yourself in situations where disposable plastic silverware just doesn’t cut it, both literally and as a figure of speech. To be honest with you, I have never heard of the brand X-Gear and this little piece of gear was a total impulse buy but it did catch my eye for a very good reason. Over the years I have owned all kinds of Swiss Army knives and multi-tools, with many of them having had flip out silverware on them, but they have all suffered from the same fatal flaw: they were all small and made you feel like you were eating with children’s utensils. This X-Gear Camper Tool does not suffer from this problem and if anything the utensils seem a little big. This translates into a set of camp utensils that actually feel usable. The spoon is actually big and deep enough that you can eat soup with it and everything is built sturdy enough that it doesn’t feel like you will break them at any moment.

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The tool features a knife, fork, spoon, and bottle opener, all of which are made of stainless steel. It also separates into two pieces allowing you to have a fork in one hand and a knife in the other. Moving the fork up into the usable position unlocks the two halves and allows them to be separated giving you a fork and bottle opener on one side and a knife and spoon on the other. The knife is very sharp but it is also quite slick. The knife lacks any kind of nail groove or grip assist for easy pulling that is usually found on most folding knives which makes it a little hard to get a hold of and for me this is probably this product’s biggest and only downside.

 

 

 

It’s compact and folds down to about 4 inches which makes it incredibly easy to throw in a bag or glove compartment. The quality is good and they are polished like you’d see with decent regular dining utensils and they are thick enough to prevent them from bending during use or storage. All in all, I would recommend one of these, especially since you can pick one up for about 10 bucks.

 

 

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.

 

 

Great Depression Cooking: The Channel on YouTube That Will Make You Stop and Think

Great Depression Cooking: The Channel on YouTube That Will Make You Stop and Think

It’s rare I find something as awesome as this and I don’t want to write too much about it for fear of detracting from it. This is the Youtube channel of 98 year old cook, author and great grandmother, Clara, who recounts her childhood during the Great Depression as she prepares meals from the era. She passed away in 2013. I accidentally stumbled across her channel. I found it to be amazing, hopefully you will too. Below is one of her videos. You should watch the rest of her videos which you can find by clicking here.

Watch 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.

Things Everyone Needs in Their Kitchen: Three Essential Knives

Things Everyone Needs in Their Kitchen: Three Essential Knives

If you are going to be a good cook and have fun in the kitchen, you need to have some good knives. Having a dull knife or the wrong knife for the job can make cooking any dish seem like hard work and can suck all the joy out of cooking. Knowing what knives to buy can be difficult since the variety of knives on the market is mind blowing. Most housewares stores have entire sections dedicated solely to knives containing everything good quality cutlery to the worst gimmick being hocked by a D-list celebrity chef on TV. Navigating your way through the choices can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. You just have to start with the basics. Every kitchen really only needs 3 good knives: A chef’s knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife. With these 3 core knives you can tackle practically any culinary endeavor.

Now, let’s look at each of them individually:

 

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A good chef’s knife– This is any good cook’s go-to knife and is by far the most important. This is the knife with which you will do most of your cutting work so, if you can only afford one knife, make sure this is the first one you get and that it is a good one.  You should look for a knife that has a nice comfortable weight but still feels balanced. The best way to ensure good balance is to look for a knife with full tang construction, where the metal the blade is made of extends into the knife’s grip. Because this is the knife that a cook ends up using 80% of the time, the blade needs to easily hold a sharp edge. To that end, a high-carbon stainless steel blade in the German tradition is a good choice as it’s easier to sharpen, but the Japanese style blades and ceramic knives are known to keep their edges longer. Chef’s knives come in a variety of sizes but 8 inches is usually the best length to start.

serrated 

A serrated bread knife– Not only is this knife going to be useful for slicing breads of all kinds it also has other uses. A large serrated bread knife is perfect for any food where smooth edged knifes such as chef knives just don’t get a good grip on the target, resulting in slippage and/or the need for excessive force while cutting, either of which can cause dangerous loss of control, accidents, and crushing of delicate or squishy foods. These make cutting tomatoes a breeze.

Paring Knife 

A paring knife– It only makes sense, when dealing with smaller foods, such as limes, cherry tomatoes or shallots, to use a smaller knife for better control. You wouldn’t use a jack hammer to push in a thumb tack, so why would you use a ten inch chef knife to carve a radish into a rose? A small, sharp paring knife will give you maximum control and lighter weight, with less chance of skipping off of the smaller cutting surface and lopping a finger off.

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.