Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jake's Food Truck review

Long time I didn't posted here anything. It is quite convenient to post reviews directly on Zomato - and I haven't usually a lot of time to post on two separate spaces.

Anyways - I guess Jake's Food Truck isn't yet long enough operational - that is why it isn't on Zomato - and that further means, I post my review here, yey!

Recently, I tasted the small burgers at SALT - and while they were not the best in Dubai - at least they were quite good - very good, indeed. When I read about Jake's I was quite excited. Maybe something more unique? The "unnamed spokesperson" which was interviewed by the Guardian, lifted my anticipation further in lofty heights: they intended to serve "gourmet food" in a more casual way - on the street. That's sounds like a promise...

We found Jake's food truck on the Jumeirah beach - close to the Jumeirah Beach hotel. Ordering was quite painless... the menu is short [burgers - 3 different ways] - drinks, we bought before at a petrol station [I fancy Coke more than Pepsi].

So it was the Heat and the Original Burger... we ordered - and we forgot the fries - these we ordered a bit later.
Order process was painless and much more personal. No electronic hockey puck as SALT. I ordered the burger medium but 'Chef' [yes, there was a probably French chef in the truck - probably the co-owner] that Dubai law doesn't allow medium burgers - but that the burger will be juicy enough.
When are chefs finally bring sous vide burger to Dubai, which are pasteurized due to a sufficient time in the heat???
Cooking time - again - ring, ring 2:0 - for Jake's. We hardly waited 5 minutes for our burgers.
Ambiance? Truth has to be told - the Kite Surf Beach is gorgeous, and cannot be beaten by the Jumeirah beach. It is nice - but not as trendy as the Kite...

We received our burger in a half carton box - while it was printed, it was much less paper/cardboard... I would prefer the more environmentally beneficial recycling paper of SALT, but sparely used like at Jake's. Anyway - it did its job to hold the burgers well enough.

The burgers themselves? Meh. First - I guess, they mixed up the burgers - I got blue cheese on mine and both had no heat. The burger we didn't ordered sported blue cheese - hence I guess, that they made a mistake. The bagel was small and tough. Not homemade - not even a great commercial bagel.
The burger patty was also quite tough - I guess overworked - not loose enough, not juicy [and fatty] enough. Fries were soft and unimpressive.

For God sake(!!!) why are they bringing food trucks to Dubai and don't get it right???

Ok - a food truck is a truck which serves food. But the contemporary idea is, that these are "establishments" which serve a very focus selection of food, very personal and very good. Jake's doesn't do this.

The burgers look like a room service product of a trendy 4 Star hotel, which wants to be different [that's why bagels instead of burger roll]. It is overpromising and underdelivering and I hate that!
To be honest - I hate to hate Jake's as well as I hate to dislike SALT!

Is it worth a detour if you are in the neighborhood? At a "naked" price of 35 dhs per smallish burger [bigger than SALTs - but there you get two burgers, which is considerably a better deal] - I would prefer to go to a near Johnny Rockets!

So - given, that Jake's supposed to be the first food truck, which is freely roaming Dubai, I am anxious waiting for better iteration of the food truck concept. At this point, brick and mortar restaurants in Dubai offering better food - which isn't necessary more expensive or less personal!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sometimes perfection is what you are not after...

I am a flaming fan/defender/promoter of Sous Vide. I believe a lot of things, simply cannot be cooked "properly" with traditional cooking methods. Doesn't matter if it is short cooked or long cooked.

See - a tenderloin for example - you could cook it a bit too rare - so it won't become overcooked and dry - but then it taste a bit metal'y and it is just too bloody - or you cook it medium, when the edges are a bit too well done, and it is overall a bit dry.

Long cooked cuts have even more problems - of course you could braise something, until its integrity loosens up - but it is so awesome to have e.g. shortribs which are meltingly tender but are still pink and juicy.
Anyway, the meat will end up much more tender, when you are cooking it sous vide.

Chicken - personally it is a big flavor "thing" for me. Sous vide will make the chicken taste like chicken on steroids (on the second look, this "picture" doesn't sound very appealing to me...). And the chicken is as juicy as it gets.

 A couple of days, though, I was just too lazy and too hungry to turn on the water oven, seal the chicken, throw it into the water for 45 minutes and then sear it.
So I flattened it, marinated it with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, pepper, salt and chilies and grilled it on my super hot grill plate for a couple of minutes. Besides of the 4 fire alarms I caused (just on this occasion), it tasted awesome - smoky, with a garlicky, herby character.
Yes - it wasn't at all as tender and juicy as a sous vide chicken, nor it tasted so true like chicken - but I didn't cared. The marination time was enough, to brine the chicken sufficiently and keep enough moisture inside - and after all, I was not after a elaborate and sophisticated night meal, but after a fast and rustic one.

I believe, that some could apply for flank or bavette steaks - or grilled or seared vegetables and so on.
Sometimes food can be rustic and more "blue collar".

Sous vide also has its limitation - it is not the wonder technique - recently I bought a burger, which was so overworked, that even cooked sous vide, the meat tasted like a sausage.

This having said, I have a lamb shank in my fridge, which will be cooked in the water bath for 3 or so days, and my proper minced meat will also end up in a sous vide burger...
A occasional side step of my favorite techniques doesn't necessary mean, that I am neglecting my SV rig!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hühnerfrikassee - German Chicken Casserole - Sous Vide

Fresh in love, it is one of my adventures to expose my Kenyan girlfriend to German cuisine. Well- I rarely do this - I am just to comfortable with my very own style of cooking- but some dishes are just worth to do.

One of this dishes is Hühnerfrikassee. But I can't really do a traditional recipe traditionally. This wouldn't be me...

So let's start- what is chicken fricassee? It is a chicken stew in a white cream enriched sauce with some vegetable. And it is delicious! In short it is poached chicken, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, peas in a white roux based on chicken stock.

Usually, it is a simple affair- poach a chicken in vegetable enriched water until done and let it chill down. Roast some wheat flour in butter. Add stock (your chicken water) to the still blonde roasted flour. Stir and whisk until smooth. Add some diced vegetable and cook them through (put the vegetable at different times into it). Add chicken add some cream, some capers and lemon juice to taste (and don't forget to season at all times). And serve with rice.

Usually the chicken is a bit on the dry and stringy side, the vegetables are too soft (except of the peas - smart cooks put frozen peas just a couple of minutes before serving into the pot)... The sauce is usually to flour heavy, or too thin.

My attempt is slightly different!

I sous vide'd the chicken breast at 62.5°C for 1.5h. Put also the chicken legs into the bath- but the chicken breast came into the ice bath, I did increased the water to 75°C and cooked for another 2h.
The vegetables were cooked separate at 85°C for 30-45 min.
 I made a pressure cooker chicken stock (with the carcass of the used chicken, plus a package of chicken wings) and clarified it with ground chicken and egg white. Then I made a roux with less flour.
I added asparagus and peas into the roux, then added the chopped chicken meat and the other vegetable (I used carrots, turnips, leek, green asparagus, baby marrow, mushrooms and peas). I took half of the roux out of the pot and added drained silken tofu to it and blended it. This gave a lovely texture and thickness, without being overly floury.
The I just put everything together and voilà!

It was simply the best chicken fricassee I ever had. The chicken was super moist and tender and flavorful... The vegetable perfectly cooked, the sauce voluminous without being heavy!

But where is light, there is also shadow:
• I didn't seasoned the vegetable and the chicken, before putting them into the bags (except of the turnips and carrots which I put together with some salt and a pinch of sugar). I salted everything afterwards, but it would have been much better, if everything was seasoned in the bag.
• the leek had a kinda stringy texture... I'll try to cook it longer the next time!
• I forgot to buy capers (dammit)!
• I was too lazy to blend up some sauce separately to have a bit more airiness...

As you can see- nothing major.
The only thing inconvenient is, that I have only one sous vide rig- and that chicken breasts, chicken legs and vegetable have to cook at different temperatures...

At least try to use silken tofu in your cream sauces... Doesn't sound very good, but the texture is amazing, the sauce is lighter and healthier!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why To Spatchcock A Turkey

Serious Eats is one of the most amazing resources for cooking in the web - and now they are also releasing videos, which are great!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pan Sauce "Bordelaise" - Red Wine Reduction Steak Sauce

Foodwishes is one of my favourite youtube cooking channels.

Not sure, if it is this mesmerising narration or the usually pretty spot on recipes....

Here it is one of the more important sauces... a bit like a modern jus.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Is the food culture in Dubai lazy, pretentious and unimaginative?

People are often raving about Dubai - especially, if they were only on a short visit - or just heard from others of Dubai.

But what is really the food culture all about here?

I am afraid to say - but if you are asking for my perspective, I would say it is copy-paste. And not even the copy-paste from exciting new trends and concepts. It is rather a copy-paste culture of established concepts.

Do you want to have a proof: The cities "most exciting restaurants" are:

  • Zuma, Nobu, Okku - fusion Japanese
  • La Petit Maison, Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, Table 9 - French, European modern cuisine
  • Hakkasan - fusion Chinese
  • and so on.
There is not a whisper of innovation, cultural integration whatsoever!

Even worse: the dishes you can find in the restaurants are as conservative as the listing of the restaurant sound. Don't get me wrong here - I am not necessary saying, that these restaurants are in any way bad, or boring. I am just saying, they don't bring really anything new to the table!

I believe, that limitation are ignite creativity. But here in Dubai, I guess most people are not that creative?
It is strange - but you can hardly find any meat here, which is not mainstream. Despite the fact, that Dubai is muslim, you can find still a lot of pork here - but e.g. no goat, or hardly any venison or birds like pheasant or goose...
And other than leading chefs in other countries, chefs here are not curing their own meats - doing their own sausages. And the nose to tail movement also didn't really arrived here!

I am missing "experiments" like a cured lamb, goat, veal leg [similar to ham]. Or lamb bellies [instead of pork belly].

Am I the only one, who is  missing more creativity?

Monday, March 10, 2014

McDonald's Quarter Pounder Hack - that might be just the best burger to date!

This just might be a very big offence against all, who like their super posh burgers. But really, I don't care.

The story goes like that: so I went with a couple of bodies out yesterday night. And after drinking and dancing [yeah - you read right...] there is definitely a big yearning of some fatty food. And it might not be at all a big surprise, that McDonald's is not far.

In the middle of the night, even the biggest food snob don't have a big choice [except to go home and to your fridge and choose between confit chicken legs, 63ºC semi soft boiled eggs and 75 hour short-ribs... I plead guilty, milord]. But even with the most obscenely delicious and sumptuous produce in your fridge, you still don't want to invest too much time in the kitchen, when all you want is a couple of relaxing youtube videos [Fresh from the Boat is one of my favourites] and then listening to the void in space on your mattress.

So McDonald's.
One of my goto's is the Quarter Pounder. Since my hunger was bigger than what a single hamburger can handle, the McDonald's Royal with Cheese [John Travolta was absolutely right - in Europe it is not called Quarter Pounder - while it would sell eventually better than the Royal Cheese moniker] was my first choice... besides of the Big Mac.
However I do hate "American cheese". Let's face it: it is not even 100% real cheese - it is just some cheese scraps plus water, plus seasonings plus sodium citrate [or another "salt" to emulsify]. No - in this case I am not against the food additive - it is quite natural - you can make it yourself, if you are "mixing" a solution of bicarbonate and citric acid.
However the cheese usually used commercially is really crap [in the book the Modernist Cuisine at home they suggest to make your own melty "American" cheese out of super-delicious cheeses like Compte, Parmigiani, Stilton... you name it - the advantage is, that you can slice it after you melted it together and the food additive keeps the cheese from splitting].

Anyway - I am again drifting off topic, when it comes to the magics of avantgarde cuisine.

Back to the burger: I always order my QP without cheese and add real cheese at home - also today.
Previously I used a bunsenburner to melt and caramelizse the cheese - nice, but it could get better.
Since I have watched below youtube video about the best burgers in the US - one odd spot used a deep fryer with old fat, to fry the burger patties up - in the last minutes even with the cheese!

So I still had a pan with fat on my stove. Heated it up extremely hot, fried the burger patty of the QP on one side; flipped it - put cheese on [I had emmenthaler] and fried it also on the other side - napping the hot oil over the top of the burger - over the cheese!

The cheese melted obviously - but also crisped up. I just added Dijon mustard on the QP bun and added on top a bit of my homemade sriracha... and bam!

Honestly - I was surprised, how delish the burger was! The cheese was perfectly molten - but had some crisp, which was unusual. The patty was a bit overdone - but due to the [good] crumbly texture, it wasn't really a problem - much more pronounced was the crispy exterior of the meat itself.

This made me wonder - is a Shack Stack or a Johnny Rocket burger better than that?
I would say, they are different. But better? No! This is one of the most awesome burgers I ever had! It even slightly surpasses a sous vide burger [as this will be never as crispy].

So here you have it- you can make hack a simple [and comparable cheap] quarter pounder into the most delicious burger in 5 minutes or less!

Your welcome!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chicken Hearts...

So I posted, that cleaning and prepping chicken hearts are pain in the butt.

You might ask: is it worth it.

I have breaded these little morsels in panko breadcrumbs [yeah - more work] and fried them up.

The taste - well not bad. Just alone, they are crunchy but taste like the chicken hearts in a chicken soup [a somewhat traumatic experience out of my childhood].
With these bread pickles, they taste just about right.

Well - I guess, I just cooked them wrong. When I sous-vide them, I intended to "braise" them on a rather high temperature of 72ºC. But the meat didn't became flaky and soft. Just the opposite... slightly chewy. Not enough, to make the experiment a failure. But still enough, to be a bit underwhelmed.

So next time, I will cook them at 62ºC [like a proper SV chicken] - and hope, that the texture becomes better.

But yeah - I can imagine now, why some people just raving about grilled chicken hearts...

My verdict: Almost delicious!

Delicious: Egg Yolk Butter

I like butter. No - wait, that doesn't do it justice: I love butter.
Real butter. Best is when it is French. And made out of cured milk.
Besides of being a meat addict, I could really live without it for a couple of days, when I would have fresh bread and good butter.

Everything is better with butter!

I also like eggs. And it is "more than merely likelihood when it comes to poached eggs.
And when it comes to eggs, there is only one progression to poached egg: a sous vide egg [or also called 63ºC egg]. Now if you keep the egg for 45 minutes or so, it is perfectly runny, but with an insane luscious texture - more like the most amazing sauce.

But what if you are forgetting the eggs in the waterbath and "cooking" for several hours?
Then you end up with the most amazing hard boiled egg.
Only - it isn't hard boiled. It is solidified. But perfectly smooth [not these grey, dry, crumbly Easter eggs, you know]. 

The best: you can spread these egg yolks on bread [the egg white is partly watery - but partly also solidified - however if you know sous vide eggs, you are dismissing the egg white - give it to your bodybuilder friend... and let him shut up].
It makes mayonnaise on bread obsolete. Because mayo doesn't taste so rich and intense like egg.

But there is one problem: if you are spreading the egg yolk on bread, what are you doing with the butter?

Everything is better with butter!

So I thought: why not squish both things together. And add some medium coarse sea salt [don't salt, or salt less, if you are using salted butter]. And maybe some spices - I really like shichimi togarashi - so I used it.
And? It is amazing. You have the buttery taste with the richness and amazing "egginess" of the yolk.
Don't tell your doctor. Seriously don't - he/she will not let you leave, before you are promising him/her, that you won't do it again. But - you will. Promise!

The funny thing is, that nobody yet had the idea, to do this kind of cold and solid hollandaise. At least I haven't found anything in the limitless internets...

So what would be better than butter with egg yolk?

Maybe if you add meat butter! Yes, bone marrow - would make it ridiculous. And even unhealthier. 
As I don't have bone marrow at this point, it is just speculations. Delicious speculations soon to be tested...