Cooking

IKEA -Relax its a meal not a competition.

I love this new spot from Ikea poking fun at all the Instagrammers obsessed with taking pictures of their food. The tag line at the end sums it up so well it’s not a competition, it’s a meal. When tied to the line Relax, they completely sell the concept behind IKEA kitchen design, and the companies approach to cooking and sharing a meal, sharing is about relaxed human interaction, not seeing how many people react to that photo of your meal out. Put down your phone and have a conversation people.

Roccbox Will Rock Your Pizza Craving.

I think I need this. No I know I need this. Not only does it look amazing, but the concept is simply brilliant.

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Roccbox name says it all, it´s a stone in a boxthat gets really hot very fast. This way you get stone baking properties. Not only that, this is portable thanks the compact size so you can take it pretty much anywhere. According to the video below you can bake a 12 inch pizza in just over 90 seconds thanks to an internal temperature of 932 degrees farenhite (500c). The special burner enables the inside to heat up in around 15 minutes, which is really quite fast. The stone on the inside is a refractory stone, which is ideal to preserve and disperse heat through out the cooking chamber. Roccbox features spatial insulation materials, and a silicone outer coating so you won´t get burned if you ever touch its surface. It comes with a wood burner, gas burner thermometer, a pizza peel and a recipe book. I love the part in the video where he is cooking a steak in a cast iron skillet in this thing. They reached funding on Indigogo so this thing is available for order in a handful of countries including the USA.

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Mangal

Since it’s summer and I have a backyard again, I have been on the lookout for a stylish modern barbecue. I’m a huge fan of charcoal and wood burning grills and this morning I came across “Mangal” from Cisimdesign.

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Cisimdesign is an Istanbul based firm that has been in operation since 2009. This year at the 2015 Milan Design Week, Cisimdesign introduced Mangal at Ventura Lambrate. Mangal literally means  barbecue in Turkish. The design is indicative of Cisimdesign’s philosophy of taking every day objects and transforming them into an object with a different function.

“Although ” Mangal ” suggests an object of heating and cooking, it offers a comfortable resting place with storage place in the interior.”

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The simple vessel shape is reminiscent of a vase or planter. The simple 3 leg stand gives it the appearance of perhaps a stool. The interchangeable grills are reflective of fabric patterns, another daily object transformed for another use. There isn’t any pricing info given on the website, but there is a contact email. It’ll be interesting to see if this makes it into large scale production. It’s a beautiful object, that I’d love to cook on.

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Man Make Fire, Man Cook Meat.

Summer means grilling steaks outside. I should clarify that. Summer means grilling steaks outside for me until it gets to damn hot. Then I retreat to the cool air-conditioned environment I’ve become accustomed to. The thing is, I like grilled steak. I just hate the idea of using an indoor smokeless grill. There is a solution though, SteakStones.

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SteakStones are very good looking slab that is designed to make cooking the steak both entertaining and impart flavor to what ever you are grilling. Think of them as a portable teppanyaki table for your home. The Steakstone slab gets heated in the oven, and then retains it’s cooking heat for up to 30 minutes, which is more than enough time to prepare any number of meat or vegetable dishes on it. Sizes range from small for individual portions to extra large for grilling several steaks at once.

What’s Cookin’?

For the last 4 days Kristy has been sick with a stomach flu of some sort, and because of that we have been eating at home. Yes people we really do eat at home, and I love to cook. I know most of you think we are spending our non-existent children’s  college fund on eating out, but we actually eat at home quite a bit.

Now, any of you that might be my friend of Facebook, or follow me on Instagram, or Twitter know that I can be a bit OCD in the kitchen. I have a tendency to prep, clean and cook, so when things are done I only have a few items to clean or put in the dishwasher. It drives some people nuts, but I have always had a small kitchen and it leads to efficiency.

Tonight for the 4th night in a row I am cooking at home and I decided to get one meal started for tomorrow, before I cook up some broiled cod and twice baked potatoes. For tomorrow, I am preparing  Ragu Di Carne Alla Bolognese, or Bolognese sauce that will be served with tagliatelle. The recipe that I am preparing is my Grandmother’s, and while it is actually simple to make, it all comes down to ingredients and prep. You have to finely chop the onion, carrot, and pancetta.  Yes pancetta, you can’t use bacon you buy on the grocery store shelf. it has to many sulfides and salt in it, and the flavor is just not the same. And yes I said carrots earlier. A proper Bolognese Meat sauce has carrots in it. The sweetness of them offsets the salt and acid from the other ingredients. Another thing, there isn’t much tomato sauce in here. Just four table spoons in enough sauce for 6. The whole recipe is all about balance, and consistency.  Something that is applied at good restaurants, and usually not found in package food to go at the store, or fast food joints. The recipe is listed below.

  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery finely chopped
  • 1/2 a cup of diced mushrooms
  • 1/4 pound of unsalted pancetta (you can get it at Whole Foods or any Italian Deli)
  • 3/4 pound of ground veal,pork, and beef (each portion equals 1/3 the total)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

In a deep sauce pot heat the olive oil and butter until the butter has melted. Add the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms and cook them until they have softened and begun to lightly brown. Add in the pancetta and ground meat mixture and cook them until the meat changes color. At this point slowly add the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer until the wine has evaporated and reduced by half. add seasoning, tomato puree and a little bit of the chicken stock. Cook slowly, in a covered pot stirring occasionally and gradually adding in all of the chicken stock. Cook over a low heat for 1 and a half hours letting the sauce simmer and thicken. At the 1 and a half hour point add in the heavy cream and cook uncovered until the sauce has reduced. Serve with tagliatelle pasta.

Swiss Diamond Cookware Review

swissdiamondAbout 6 months ago, I decided it was time to replace all of the non stick cookware in my kitchen with something that was bit more up to date and safer. After some initial research, I discovered Swiss Diamond cookware and was hooked. More importantly they have it at Halls and it was on sale. This meant not only did I get it at sale price I got my Hallmark discount as well which brought the price point way down. I’m going to first talk about why I went with Swiss diamond from a health perspective, then I am going to give you my view on this cookware after six months of use.

First the health reason. Swiss Diamond does not have any  DuPont Teflon non-stick surface coating on it. None. This is a very important feature for me because if you are using any pot or pan treated with DuPont Teflon there is guarantee that the Teflon is leaching from the pan surface under heat and passing into the food you eat. It is a known fact that every human in a modern society has trace levels of Teflon in their body. The chemicals — perfluoronated compounds — have been used for decades with very little government oversight. Scientists say they are surprised at the chemicals’ pervasiveness in the environment, which they said raises concerns about their potential impact on public health. Perfluoronated compounds have been found in the blood of virtually every person tested for them in the United States, including children as young as 2. The compounds have been linked to cancer, developmental problems, liver damage and other ailments in animals, though there is no general agreement about their effects on humans.

Swiss Diamond is not using DuPont™Teflon® non-stick coatings.Their unique coating composition is manufactured by Swiss Diamond, without any components from DuPont. Teflon® and PTFE are not the same. In the addition Swiss Diamond uses PTFE. PTFE is the component that gives non-stick properties to the surface of the cookware and many other consumers’ products. Swiss Diamonds patented inherent coating is reinforced with Diamond Crystals which are amalgamated into a nano-composite (mixture of extremely thin particles). Thus it requires lower quantity of PTFE, much lower than most of other non-stick products. About 3% of what is commonly used on other cooking surfaces.

OK now for more Science and Chemistry. When you manufacture a pan with PTFE there is another chemical that is used,  PFOA. “PFOA” means (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) and is an agent used in the manufacture of PTFE, It is certainly right that the “PFOA” could be hazardous to the health if not properly eliminated in the fabrication processes while manufacturing the PTFE. Swiss Diamond does not use PFOA at all. If you are buying cheap pots and pans that are coated with Teflon and PTFE, there is a pretty good chance that there are trace elements of PFOA in them. That means under heat and normal use, PFOA, PFTE, and Teflon all enter your body through your digestive system. So after finding all of this out, I went with Swiss Diamond cookware. I could have done Allclad Stainless, or cast iron, or ceramic, but for me Swiss Diamond made more sense and here is why.

The pans themselves are a joy to use. Light weight and sturdy they are made for heavy kitchen use (not restaurant use though). Each pan has a solid heavy handle that feels great in the hand and is ergonomically designed to improve grip and performance. The surface is tough and can withstand using some metal utensils as well as silicon or wood (These pans will not take the abuse of electric beaters, immersion blenders or knives, but neither will anodized). They can be placed in the oven up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, and they are dishwasher safe.

In my use over the last six months I have noticed that pans have an amazing uniform heat distribution across the bottom of the surface helping to improve cooking performance. The omelet pan is hands down the best one I have ever cooked with. One thing though, and this comes from Swiss Diamond. Medium High Heat is the maximum recommended. If you preheat the pans on high or cook at the highest setting on your stove you can damage the diamond crystal cooking surface. This hasn’t been an issue for me. because of the good heat conductivity and the construction of the pans, I can get great results even at medium to high heat temperatures.

You will get some fond when searing meats, I have found the fond to be less than with anodized or cast iron, so you may need to add more of a thickening agent when making pan gravies.

Over the course of 3 months I purchased a small set of these. Pans ranging from 6 inches to 12 inches, 2 sauce pans, and the omelet pan. All have worked wonderfully.  In addition to the traditional set, it should be noted that Swiss Diamond makes a full set of cookware for magnetic induction cook-tops that feature a core for induction cooking. Since I don’t have one of those fancy new space age stoves I can’t give any advice here.

Bottom Line, I recommend these over any other non-stick cookware set. I couldn’t be more pleased.SWISSDIAMOND6010

Pros

• Durable nonstick diamond crystal surface.
• Uniform heat conductivity.
• Oven-safe to 500 F (260 C).
• Dishwasher Safe
• No Teflon, or PFOA chemicals

Cons

• A bit pricey
• Not high heat recommended
• Dishwasher safe but not recomended for constant washing  (occasional dishwasher use)