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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.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

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!

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.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

Fresh Herb Turkey Burgers with Havarti and a Honey Sriracha Mayo

Fresh Herb Turkey Burgers with Havarti and a Honey Sriracha Mayo

It’s Summer time and the recipes should be easy. That’s what “they” say, right? It all sounds so simple, until you start adding in the qualifiers. There are so many ideas about what easy Summer recipes should be. They should be quick to throw together and quick to cook. They should also taste and look amazing. They should be healthy. They should also be something you can cook indoors and out, for yourself or for company. The whole thing gets pretty messed up fast. I do, however, have a great solution in this single burger recipe. Seriously, this recipe hits all the notes.

Now, I am normally of the opinion that there is only one kind of meat in this world that burgers should be made of and that meat is beef. Occasionally, however, I do branch out and, with the weather this summer being so obnoxiously hot, I’ve wanted a burger on the lighter side.To make that happen, I’ve replaced the normal beef with turkey and added some great ingredients to make the burger patties taste great and stay moist. One of those ingredients is anchovy paste. I know it sounds weird, but don’t leave it out. It’s not going to make your burgers taste weird or fishy, in fact you won’t even know it is there. What it will do is add a subtle saltiness and richness throughout your burgers that, if you left it out, you would severely miss. To top the burger I have chosen Havarti cheese, a mild cheese that tastes buttery and melts awesome, and, instead of ketchup and mustard, my Honey Sriracha mayonnaise. Put it all together on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, and red onion, and you have a burger so good you’ll hardly remember it’s not beef.

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Fresh Herb Turkey Burgers with Havarti and Honey Sriracha Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

 

For the burger patties:

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey

1/3 cup finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup finely chopped basil

1/3 cup finely chopped scallions/ green onion

1-2 cloves fresh garlic, finely grated

1 Tb anchovy paste

1/3 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise

Salt and pepper

For the Honey Sriracha Mayo:

1/2 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise

1 Tb Sriracha, more if you like it hotter

1 Tb Honey, more if you like it sweeter

Note: I usually go hotter and sweeter

For Serving:

Havarti Cheese

Red onion

Lettuce

Tomato

Quality Burger Buns of your choice, toasted

Cooking Process:

Combine all of the burger ingredients, mix thoroughly, and season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 portions and form into patties. Cook on a grill or cast iron skillet at a moderately high heat, doing your best to only turn them over once. In all, it should take somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes. Just make sure your burgers are cooked through. While your burgers are still hot, top them with a few slices of Havarti cheese. Slather both the top and bottom of your toasted burger buns with the Honey Sriracha Mayo. Place the cheese topped burger patties on the buns, apply the desired amount of lettuce, tomato, and onion, 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.

 

The Renaissance Beard Is Going Fishing in the Mountains

The Renaissance Beard Is Going Fishing in the Mountains

Well boys and girls it’s summer which means I like to get the hell out of Dodge when I can. I am telling you this because the frequency of my postings will be affected, but don’t be dismayed. I will try to post what I can from the paradise that is mountainous terrain, trout streams, and lakes, but if I can’t there will be some great stuff to come when I return in a few days.

To tease you a bit, the next post will be a Movie and a Meal and I bet you can’t guess what it is. Here’s a hint:

Leave your guesses as to what I am cooking in the comments!

 

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.

Movie and a Meal: Smokey and the Bandit Edition

Movie and a Meal: Smokey and the Bandit Edition

This is movie and a meal, where I suggest a classic movie for you to watch and provide the recipe to a signature dish that is featured somewhere in the film. This go around the movie is Smokey and the Bandit and the dish is a spicy sloppy-joe like sandwich called the Diablo Sandwich.

If you’ve never seen the 70’s classic Smokey and the Bandit, you have no idea on what you’ve been missing. There are so many reason to watch this movie. Here’s just a few:

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– The movie’s signature car, the Pontiac Trans Am. It’s just flat out pretty. My dad had this exact car. He got an unbelievable amount of speeding tickets in it.

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-This is a movie written by a bunch of 1970’s stuntmen for the soul purpose of allowing them to take all their favorite car stunts and cram them into one film. This alone is reason enough to watch the movie. These guys really destroy some stuff, like a two seasons worth of Top Gear amount of stuff. Jeremy Clarkson would be proud.

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-The plot is ridiculously simple. The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) makes a bet with a tall man and a midget, named Big and Little Enos Burdette, to move 400 cases of illegal beer from Texas to GA in a set amount of time. The whole while the Bandit is chased by a Texas sheriff named Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason). It’s the perfect turn your brain off and relax film.

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-Jackie Gleason. Need I say more?

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-CB Radios. This movie is practically a doctorate level course in the use of CB radios and trucker lingo. Think of it, you could be as cool as the kids in the picture. They are laughing because they just found out what a lot lizard is. And now you are probably crying because you just Googled what a lot lizard is, and it’s gross.

 

Now for the food. During the course of the movie, Sheriff Justice orders this recipe specifically by name when he stops off for gas and a quick bite to eat while pursuing the bandit. He has it served with a Dr. Pepper. I know this is a ridiculously easy recipe but what do you expect? This is food for people in a hurry, prepared at a back roads truck stop. Anything made at a place that in trucker lingo is called a “Choke and Puke” isn’t going to be gourmet, but you do know its going to be fast to make, good to eat, and filling.

The Diablo Sandwich

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Ingredients

1 lb ground beef

1 onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic diced

1 8.5 oz can of whole kernel sweet corn, drained

1 10 oz can of Rotel canned tomatoes with green chiles

4 tbsp of ketchup

1 package of taco seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

Hamburger buns, sour cream, and lettuce for serving.

 

Brown the ground beef and drain off most of the excess fat, leaving a little to insure the vegetables don’t stick. Add in the onion, celery, and red bell pepper and cook them until they are soft and the onions are beginning to become translucent. Add in the garlic and cook it until it is soft. Add in the taco seasoning, corn, Rotel, and ketchup and stir to combine. Turn the heat down and allow the mixture to simmer together for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

To serve, spoon the meat mixture onto toasted hamburger buns and top with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded lettuce. This sandwich is best enjoyed with an ice cold Dr. Pepper and a bunch of napkins (this is one messy sandwich to eat.)

This recipe can also be prepared by using ground chicken or turkey as a substitute for the ground beef. Some cheese melted on top also makes a great addition to the sandwich.

Enjoy!

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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.

 

Cheesy Tomato Sausage and Spaghetti Casserole

Cheesy Tomato Sausage and Spaghetti Casserole

 

 

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This recipe is based on a family favorite that my grandmother would make for us when we were kids and she would watch us at her house on the weekends. My version changes very little from the original recipe and there were reasons for that. This is one of the simplest, easiest, and most comforting foods I know of and I have yet to run across someone who would turn their nose up at it.

 

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

 

Pasta– One pound of spaghetti

 

Breakfast Sausage– 2 packages of regular breakfast sausage links, approximately 28 links total. Make sure you get plain breakfast sausage and not one of the flavored ones like maple or something, if you do this will more than likely turn out terrible.

 

American Cheese Singles– The exact amount of cheese you use is entirely up to you and depends entirely on how cheesy you like things. My only rule pertaining to this is don’t skimp on the cheese.

 

Canned Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes– Two 28 ounce cans

 

Basic Canned Tomato Sauce– Two 8 ounce cans

 

Olive Oil– just enough to thinly cover the bottom of the frying pan when browning the sausage

 

Fresh Garlic– Three fresh cloves

 

Dry Red Chili Flake– I use about a teaspoon but you can use more or less depending on how spicy you like things or whether or not small children may be eating this. If for any reason you want to leave this out it won’t mess up the final product.

 

Salt & Pepper– to taste

 

Water– about ¼ cup for deglazing the frying pan after the sausage is very brown.

 

Here’s How to Make It:

 

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In a large skillet, add the olive oil and bring the pan up to medium-high heat. Add in the sausage links and cook them until they are done through and brown on the outside.

 

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Once the sausage is cooked through, break each link into bite size pieces with a spoon. You can usually get about three pieces per link.

 

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Peel the garlic cloves and smash them flat on the cutting board by laying them under the broad side of your chef’s knife and banging it with the heel of your hand. Add the smashed garlic and the chili flakes to the pan with the sausage pieces and cook until the garlic is softened.

 

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The next thing we are going to want to do is get all the good tasting brown bits from the sausage unstuck from the bottom of the pan so that they will become part of our sauce. To do this we add the quarter cup of water and as it bubbles hard we use our spoon to scrape the brown bits up. This should be fairly easy as the water practically boils them off for you. (For those who may not know, this process is called deglazing and is usually done with wine or some other form of alcohol.) You can see in the picture above how golden brown the liquid in the pan is, that’s the brown bits floating and that’s flavor for our sauce.

 

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Next add in all the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. With your spoon, break up the plum tomatoes. Let the sauce simmer stirring occasionally.

 

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While the sauce simmers, put  your pasta on to boil and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

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Pull your pasta and drain it just short of it being done. You want it a little under done as it will be baking in the sauce and will absorb moisture during cooking. If you don’t pull the pasta a little early it will become overdone and mushy.

 

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In a large glass baking dish, combine the pasta and the sausage sauce. The sauce will still be slightly watery but it will thicken in the oven. Dot the mixture with the American cheese singles while being sure to push the cheese down into the casserole. Once you have reached your desired level of cheesiness, place the casserole into the preheated oven.

 

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Your casserole will be done after about 30 minutes or when your casserole is bubbly and beginning to take on a little bit of browning on top. 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.