Black Garlic

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I use garlic in everything. Like fresh herbs, this is a necessary aromatic to boost the flavor in many dishes. I’ll often mix things up and use roasted garlic when I want a deeper, caramel, and sweeter flavor in dishes like roasted butternut squash soup with curry. In the springtime I use green garlic (also called spring garlic) in everything as a substitute for regular garlic and you can also sprinkle onto finished dishes because of its milder aroma.

Now there is another option; Black Garlic. Black garlic has been around for a while, but now a local company is producing it and distributing in places like Whole Foods. Black garlic actually goes through a process of fermenting and has a smokey- molasses flavor and has the consistency of dense dried fruit. It doesn’t work as a substitute for garlic in everything, but it will enhance the flavor of a lot of dishes. One great use is to purée it into a sauce or stock to give it a richer, deeper flavor. I could see it in a mole, pasta sauce, pesto, or in a rich brown sauce for a steak. I tried it puréed with anchovies, spring onions, and fresh herbs to create a paste for marinating meats and fish.

I’m looking forward to playing around with Black Garlic in new recipes especially now that green garlic is waning. I’ll try and tweet about new uses I come up with.

Uchi- The Cookbook

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When I visited the restaurant Uchi in Austin Texas a few years ago I was very impressed by their innovated take on modern Japanese cuisine. I had a great meal there and now I can try to replicate those dishes at home with chef Tyson Cole’s new cookbook.
This is my pick for cookbook of the year for 2011. I like the section on “components” where you can create “an accessory” or “yakumi” that you can use to accompaniment other kinds of dishes. The book is beautifully photographed and has inspirational recipes to try creating at home. Like last years cookbook pick from NOMA, a lot of the ingredients will be hard to find. I would’ve liked to have seen a sources list to help me find the obscure ingredients.

Sous Vide Demi At Costco

Sousvide Supreme, the maker of sous vide oven units for the home cook, has just released a smaller version of their water oven called the Sousvide Demi. I was shocked to find out about this release while shopping at my local Costco store where they are offering the unit packaged with a cookbook and the vacuum sealer for purchase (online only).

You know that sous vide cooking is heading towards the mainstream when Costco starts selling the machines, and that’s a good thing. Sur la Table is also selling the Sousvide Supreme Demi in five different colors for sale online only for $299.

I will be getting one of these new machines in the near future and I’ll be reviewing it after I play around with it for a while. I have used the larger unit and think the smaller size will be better suited for a home kitchen.

New Kitchen Toy, Err, Tool

As I bounce around from kitchen to kitchen, I find it necessary to have access to a computer and the internet. My iPhone’s screen is to small for most applications and my laptop is to cumbersome to carry around with me. My newest purchase is an iPad and it’s the perfect size for my traveling kitchen companion needs.

The iPad has become an invaluable tool for me in the kitchen and on the go. I’m able to access all of my recipes that I have previously cataloged as well as any other recipes that I can find on the Internet. I’m able to carry around all of my menus as well as being able to run up and down the isles of the supermarket with my ever-changing digital shopping list. I’m constantly tapping away on the large touchscreen to add things I need to pick up at the grocery store and to update my menus. I’m even writing this blog post on the iPad!

I’m still exploring all of the available apps that you can download for the iPad and I will be reviewing the essential ones that I use in an upcoming post.

Food Handlers

I have been searching for the perfect pair of tongs for quite some time now.  Tongs are an extension of a chefs hands and are a crucial and underrated piece of kitchen equipment.  So why is it so hard to find a good pair of tongs?

One of my biggest complaints about the tongs I have used in the past is with the locking mechanism.  It seems that they lock up at that exact moment you need to pull that prawn out of the sauté pan before it over cooks.  This is often attributed to either very cheap metal or materials or poor design.  There are some expensive tongs out there that have tried to address the locking mechanism problem with little success.

The fact is: the tongs need to be open and ready for use OR closed for storage.  I have found a set of tongs that has addressed these problems and paid attention to many of the necessary details.  The iSi Pro Tongs are made of 18/10 stainless steel, are solid, and heavy duty.  They have THREE locking positions that stay locked when using and they completely disassemble for thorough cleaning (they are also dishwasher safe) and the metal doesn’t fold over like other models that trap food and make it hard to clean.  The iSi Pro tongs also has three different edges at the bottom that are convenient for grabbing a variety of different foods.  The tip of the tongs are for grabbing small precise items, the serrated side for grabbing meats or pasta, and a gentle rounded edge for grabbing delicate items like salad.

The look of the tongs are sleek and compact with non slip areas where your thumb and finger are positioned.  The only problem I can foresee is they might be a little heavy for some people or if you’re using them for long periods of time like in a professional restaurant kitchen.  Also, the price might seem a bit steep weighing in at around $25.  Overall if you’re going to own one pair of tongs for your kitchen I would highly recommend the iCi Pro Tongs.