Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

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Father's Day Extravaganza

As most of you know, Father's Day is coming up here in a few weeks (June 17th if you forgot). Here are a few awesome gift idea's, plus recipes that you can use with these gifts. I recently just got two demo products from the kind people over at Molecule-R and SousVide Supreme that would be perfect for the Father who loves to cook. 

Molecule-R is a Canadian based company with the purpose of bringing the molecular gastronomy world into the home kitchen. In recent years, molecular gastronomy has revolutionized the world of haute cuisine by pushing back the boundaries of creativity. Up to now, creating avant-garde dishes was reserved for a small culinary elite as amateur cooks simply did not have access to these types of  products. Be sure to check out their website for great gift kits!

SousVide Supreme has quickly evolved into a leading culinary brand for sous vide cooking, for both home cooks and culinary professionals, offering a full range of affordable water ovens, vacuum sealers, sous vide accessories and cookbooks. The products have received rave reviews from users around the world; the SousVide Supreme water oven itself was awarded "Best in Category for Cooking Electrics" at the 2011 Housewares Design Awards and was named a 2010 Best of What's New product by Popular Science Magazine. Be sure to check out their website for great gift ideas! 

Molecular Burger

Sous-Vide Burger Ingredients 
  •  24 ounces freshly ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Ketchup & Mustard Spheres, recipe follows
Preheat SousVide Supreme to desired final temperature (120 degrees for rare, 130 degrees for medium rare, or 140 degrees for medium). 

Divide meat into four equal 6-ounce portions and gently shape each into a patty. Season generously with salt, pepper, and lay slices of garlic on top of each patty. Place patties in individual sandwich-sized zip-lock bags. Seal bags, leaving one-inch open at top corner. Slowly lower bags one at a time into pot of water by holding onto the open corner. Press air out of bag as it is submerged. Seal bag just before last corner is submerged. This is also known as water displacement method. You don't want to vacuum seal the patties because it will compress the meat to much. Add the burgers to the SousVide Supreme and cook for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours (do not cook burgers longer than 4 hours if your temperature is below 130 degrees).

Remove burgers from bags and carefully dry on paper towels. Season again with salt and pepper. Heat 12-inch cast iron skillet over high heat with vegetable oil until oil begins to smoke. Add patties and cook until well browned on first side, about 45 seconds. Flip patties (add cheese as desired) and cook until second side is well browned, about 45 seconds longer. Place patties on buns, top with condiments as desired and serve. 

Ketchup & Mustard Spheres Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup ketchup 
  • 2/3 cup mustard
  • 1/2 cup water, divided 
  • 2 sachets of Agar Agar, from Molcule-R Culinary Revolution Kit
  • 3 cups of vegetable oil, divided 
Divide vegetable oil (1.5 cups each) into separate containers, I used drinking cups. Place in freezer for 30 min.
You will need two small sauce pans, one for the mustard and one for the ketchup. In the first sauce pan place the Ketchup, 1/4 cup of water and 1 sachet of Agar Agar, whisk and bring to a boil. Repeat process for mustard. Make sure you whisk them to remove any clumps of Agar Agar. Once boiling, remove from heat. 

Remove vegetable oil from freezer. Using the pipette provided by the Molecule-R Culinary Kit, pipe up some of the ketchup mustard and add drops of the ketchup to the cold vegetable oil. The droplets will slowly sink through the oil and encapsulate. Using the provided slotted spoon, gently remove the ketchup spheres from the oil and put into a water bath to rinse. Repeat steps with remained Ketchup and Mustard. When dropping the mixtures into the oil, drop them from from a distance. This will help the spheres break the surface tension and drop to the bottom. Depending on how many sphere's you make, you might have to change the water bath. I found that residual oil gathered on the water surface make the spheres clump together when removing. Remove from water bath, drain as much water off as you can with the slotted spoon and use as needed.

Molecular "Egg Sandwich"
If your Father and/or Husband is a Nerd and loves to cook, he's going to love this and the Molecule-R Kits
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 Sodium Alginate sachet
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Agar Agar sachet
  • 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup Mango, diced
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp calcium lactate
  • 4 slices marble pound cake (I got mine at Starbucks)

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Line a broiler pan with aluminium foil, and position broiler rack on top of pan. Lightly coat the rack with the vegetable oil. 

Combine the brown sugar and cayenne in a shallow dish, stirring to incorporate. Press 1 side of each slice of bacon firmly into the spiced sugar to coat well. Arrange the slices of bacon on top of the broiler rack in a single layer, sugar-side up. If there is any sugar remaining in the dish, sprinkle it on top of the bacon slices evenly. Bake until the bacon is crisp and bubbly, 20-30 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then to a plate to cool. After bacon has cooled, transfer to a cutting board and large dice the bacon. Set aside, you can make this several hours in advance and serve either warm or at room temperature. 

Using either a blender or hand blender combine the 2 cups of water and sodium alginate sachet and blend. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 15 min. In a small sauce pan whisk the milk and agar agar together and bring to a boil. Place the yogurt and milk mixture in a liquid measuring cup (with a spout) and mix together to incorporate. On a large, flate plate or baking sheet. Pour a thing layer of the yogurt and milk mixture into the center of a large circular cookie cutter. Repeat this until you have 4 even circles. You may need to pick up the plate and tip it to make an even layer for the "egg white." Refrigerate for 2-3 minutes until set. Remove from fridge and add a second smaller circle in the middle of the larger, you're trying to get that egg white look with the raised center. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Place the mango, sugar and calcium lactate into a blender and puree until smooth. Remove the sodium alginate bath from the fridge and spoon 1 Tbsp of the mango mixture into the bath. Be gentle and try to make them look like an egg yolk. Repeat this to get 4 mango yolks. Turn the yolks making sure it is coated with the sodium alginate and let in bath for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, gently remove the mango yolks from the SA bath and transfer them to a water bath. Swoosh them around to remove the excess sodium alginate.

Take your same large cookie cutter that you used for the yogurt egg whites and cut out the circular pieces of pound cake. Plate the pound cake, using a pastry spatula gently transfer the yogurt egg whites onto the top of the pound cake, then add your mango egg yolk on top and sprinkle with the candied bacon. Serve and impress!

Song of the Recipe

Being a Father's Day themed post, I figured this would be an appropriate song. I love this version with James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti. Two amazing talents, but completely different. 

Dutch Oven Bread

I am really starting to enjoy baking bread, it's so easy and satisfying! The weekend I decided to make my lasagna I thought late Friday night "you know what, I want some homemade bread with it."  Sure it was like 11PM, but that's the beauty of this bread recipe, you just throw all the ingredients together and let the dough sit over night so it becomes nice and fermented. Then just turn it out, give it a few little kneads, throw it in the dutch oven and waaaallaaaaa homemade bread! Give it a try, you won't regret it!

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + some for dusting

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise over night (18 hours preferably) at room temperature. 

The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 min. 

Shape into a ball, using more flour if necessary to keep from sticking. Place a clean dish towel flat on a work surface and sprinkle with flour. Place the dough on the dish towel, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and place another dish towel on top. Let rise for 1 to 2 hour or until doubled in size. 

About 20 min. before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place dutch oven in the oven as it heats, as to heat the dutch oven. When dough is ready, carefully remove dutch oven from oven and remove lid. With the seem side up, brush the outside of the bread with some olive oil and sprinkle the top with Kosher salt. Cut a few 1/2" deep slits in the top, in the design you want...I forgot to do that. Carefully place dough in the dutch oven, again seem side up. If need be shake the pot to redistribute the bread, it may not look beautiful but it will look great when baked. 

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Carefully remove bread from Dutch oven and let it cool on rack for at least an hour. Slice and enjoy!
Song of the Recipe

Nothing says bread baking like some blue grass and fiddle shredding! Not the most famous group, but they are really awesome and you should check them out. 


Did you know that Lasagna may in fact be British and not Italian?? The Forme of Cury is the oldest cookbook written in English. It was compiled about 1390 by the master cooks of King Richard II. Researchers studying it made a surprising announcement in 2003 - the book contains a recipe for lasagna. The dish, called loseyns in Old English (prounounced "Lasan"), consists of noodles rolled as flat and wide "as paper," cooked in broth, layered with cheese, and baked. This recipe predates any Italian reference to the dish, which leads to the surprising conclusion that lasagna may be British. You learn something new everyday! :)

The recipe for Loseyns in The Forme of Cury
  • 2 containers (15 oz ea.) ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 oz. diced prosciutto
  • 2 jars of your favorite sauce or sauce recipe below
  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • Lasagna noodles, fresh or dry
  • 1/2 lbs Mozzarella, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

In a small saute pan, saute prosciutto until crispy, about 5 min. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and prosciutto; set aside. 

In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown ground beef. Add in your jar sauce of choice and let simmer until your ready to assemble lasagna. If you're using the sauce recipe below, disregard that last step and follow the directions there. In a large pot, boil salted water and cook pasta noodles as per box directions. I usually buy store bought fresh lasagna noodles, you can usually find them in the cooler section. Cooking time for fresh is about 4 min, cooking time for dried about 10-12 min. 

In a 13x9 inch baking dish. Spread about 1 cup of the meat and sauce mixture on the bottom. Top with lasagna noodles, then add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture and another cup of sauce; top with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese; repeat. Top with remaining noodles to cover, add another cup of sauce and top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. 

Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove tin foil and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until bubbling. Let stand for 10 min before serving. Garnish with fresh basil. 

Sauce Recipe (optional)
  • 1 3/4 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a Dutch oven, cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. 

This is a great red sauce in general, you can make a large batch of this and can it or freeze it for quick meals. 
Song of the Recipe

I've been in love with Incubus for awhile now and seeing that this is a Food blog, I figured the title would be appropriate :)

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