Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide

While this blog has been silent over the last few months, I have been very active. My culinary adventures range from teaching classes to catering, and dining at new restaurants to eating up new cookbooks. I have even resolved to cook my way through one of the Mayo Clinic Cookbooks in the next year and to finish reading Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking by the end of the summer. With obviously lots to say, I am going to dig right in and try to get caught up.

Last week I enjoyed my 31st birthday and with it some lovely culinary gifts. This years' tributes were Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide from my husband and a really cool Microplane Cut Resistant Glove from my mother-in-law. Both are items I have been wanting to play around with for a while now. I have used the glove three times already over the past week: shucking oysters, slicing with a mandolin and zesting. As far as the cookbook, I have been fascinated with sous vide cooking (which I will explain more in detail below) since I first heard about it over a year ago.

So, what is sous vide, and what should you really know about it? Sous vide involves vacu-sealing food (sometimes with other ingredients such as a marinade) and then slowly cooking the items for long periods of time. A sous vide machine is used to help regulate the temperature of the water. One recipe locks a marinade and pork tenderloin together before slowly cooking them for 12 hours. Yes, 12 hours. As you can imagine cooking at a low temperature for an extended period of time results in very flavorful, perfectly cooked delicacies.

My first very rough attempt at sous vide (a year and a half ago) took the shape of marinating salmon in a ziploc bag that I then pulled the air out of (a straw works nicely for this). I placed the bag in a simmering pot of water for over an hour and monitored the temperature closely. The salmon was incredibly tender and has become one of my favorite dishes. Keller's book takes this style of cooking to a whole new level. And in the style of his previous books, will be a better addition to my coffee table collection than a practical addition to my kitchen's bookshelf.

As I dig into this new culinary tome, I am excited to share with you any recipes I do try or new techniques I learn. And, should you find yourself in my neighborhood, I am happy to peruse the pages with you over a cup of Joe.

While I am on the topic of fabulous foodie gifts, do you have any to share? What is the best foodie gift you have received or one on your list?