Babys First Sous Vide

As with any of life’s beautiful milestones, it’s important to document and share with friends and strangers through the art of blog. Today’s chapter is devoted to sous vide. About five years ago, I had a client asking me if I ever tried to sous vide anything. After saying, “what??” three or four times, he finally spelled it for me. The spelling was less helpful than I imagined, but at least I had something to Google later. Back when my client was starting to sous vide, the circulators were big, taking up a lot of counter space, and were expensive. This type of novelty cooking was totally out of my budget, so I decided to just stick with the Weber grill and my trusty ol crockpot. But, times have changed, my friends. Thanks to Kickstarter funding, genius engineers, savvy app developers as well as inexpensive overseas manufacturing, we have sous vide for the masses. The new style sous vide immersion circulators are much smaller, use a separate water container (like a stock pot) and are full of cool tech. So, I’ve said sous vide 6 times now and haven’t explained what it is. I’ll be brief. Basically, sous vide is a cooking method where food is vacuum sealed and submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. Sounds relaxing! I spent a few weeks researching reviews of immersion circulators before I made a purchase decision. You can get a simple, low tech version with 800 watts of heating power and a digital readout for around 80 bucks. The next step up has a bluetooth connection with 900 watts of heating power and is Alexa enabled for around $125. The prices on these change all the time, so pop one in your Amazon cart and keep an eye it. I’m sure there will be crazy Black Friday deals if you give one as a gift (to yourself). Which one did I choose? Well, the Apple/ Telsa styled, techy cool version that kept catching my eye was the Chefsteps Joule. I liked it for the low profile design, 1100 watts of power, the user friendly app that communicates through bluetooth and wifi to your smartphone or even Alexa, it also sports magnet base as well as a clip to use with a variety of containers. Decision made and ordered!

Update… The Joule just arrived today. We were planning a Kitchfix dinner tonight, but I had some organic asparagus in the fridge. Rather than suffer an epic sous vide fail with an expensive cut of steak, I decided to give it a try with the asparagus. I bought some of the BPA-free sous vide vacuum bags on Amazon. It was a kit with 20 reusable bags and a hand pump for less than $20. Decent price and worked great. I added some salt, pepper, fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil to the trimmed asparagus before sealing up the bag. I gave Alexa the command for the Joule to cook asparagus and it started humming. Once the Joule was all warmed up as noted by an alert on my phone, I added the bag to the water 180 degree and watched it cook. After 10 min, we had perfectly snappy asparagus. Really, really delicious. This week, will will try out some chicken and maybe a steak. I’m excited!

Update 2… we did organic chicken breasts from Whole Foods. Simply seasoned with lemon pepper and salt. It was some of the most tender, juicy and delicious chicken I’ve ever had. Sous vide success story!

Update 3… we tried a Pre Beef grass-fed filet and a grass-fed top sirloin. I just seasoned with salt and pepper, then did a reverse sear in a cast iron pan. Just like the chicken, the steak was perfectly cooked and so delicious. I’m impressed how well sous vide cooking does. So good, it’s in my regular rotation!!   In the future, I may add a second circulator so I can do meat and veg at the same time. Let me know if you have any sous vide dishes I should try or if you have any questions.

 

Joule Sous Vide
Chefsteps Joule Sous Vide

Sous Vide Asparagus

 

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RPM Steak – Paleo Date Night Review

I’ve mentioned previously that we don’t go out to eat all that often anymore.  It’s difficult to find restaurants with gluten free, paleo options that we trust.  This weekend, though, we had an amazing dining experience at RPM Steak right here in Chicago.  Winner, winner, grass fed meat dinner!

RPM Steak has been quite the hot spot since it opened last year.  Co owners Bill and Guiliana Rancic have created a beautiful dining venue in the heart of River North that is attracting foodies, celebrities and even President Obama who dined there last October.  If you want to get a table on a weekend, you can expect to wait months for a reservation.  On a whim, I searched on open table Saturday afternoon. An 8:30pm table for 2 popped up  – WHAT?!  Before I knew it, we were dressed in our finest impromptu date night attire and an uber taxi was whisking us up Dearborn.

The restaurant itself is beautiful.  It’s has an open concept, but the darker colors and wood tones keep it comfortable, yet swanky.  If you’ve been to RPM Italian, it’s almost the inverse of their bright white, but just as sleek.  They were running slightly behind, so we headed to the four-sided open bar. There are booths that flank three sides and people sitting and standing about 2 rows deep all around the bar.  It was crowded, but does that matter when you’re there to be IN the scene?  I didn’t think so.  We ordered a glass each of the Sonoma County, CA Complicated Chardonnay to start.  The bar area started to thin out a tiny bit when our table was ready around 9pm.

Find the Hidden Red Shoe - It's Good Luck!
Find the Hidden Red Shoe – It’s Good Luck!

We sat down and were presented with the gluten free menus (which I requested in the reservation). There is really not that much difference with the regular menu as their gluten free menu is huge and impressive.  We were then greeted by our AMAZING server, Chrissy (or Krissy?  sorry!) who told us she is Celiac and we can rest assured that they take gluten free seriously.  Chrissy then sent over one of their five sommeliers to help us navigate the extremely extensive wine list.  Once that order of business was complete, we turned our attention back to the dinner menu.  We decided on:

Appetizers

  • Oysters:  Sourced from the west coast – you get 6 for $18.  These were some of the best oysters I’ve had.  They come topped with a very light sort of ceviche relish that included jalapeno, cucumber, lemon and lime juice.  I would go back and just order these with a glass of champs!
  • Thick cut bacon:  Chrissy told us this dish is life changing and she was right.  It had a nice sweet maple glaze and in a way, it reminded me of french toast – it was that thick!
RPM Thick Cut Maple Bacon
Apps from Heaven

 

Main Course

  • 20 oz. Grass Fed Bone in Ribeye (sourced from Slagel Farms):  Even though there is a bone in it, this steak is HUGE!  I thought Chuck would definitely be bringing some home, but he powered through and ate the whole thing.  I had a bite and it was seasoned perfectly and very juicy.  He also ordered the butter and bone marrow sauce to complement it.
  • 8 oz. Grass Fed Bison Filet (sourced from High Plains):  I expect bison to be leaner than other meats and it was, but was still full of flavor and tender.  This was a generous, thick cut portion and as much as I wanted to finish it, I did have to give Chuck my last few bites (which he ate on top of his 20 oz. without a problem 🙂 )

Sides

  • Hen of the Woods Mushrooms:  You don’t often see these on a menu and they are Chuck’s favorite mushroom, so we had to get them.  They had a delicious woody flavor, as you’d expect, and were just divine.  The serving dish didn’t move far from Chuck’s setting and I had to strategically grab some while he was busy chewing.
  • Roasted Cauliflower:  Sounds boring, but it’s one of our staple, cruciferous vegetables.  This was like no cauli I’ve had before.  The roasted florets were very soft and came in a very light tomato type of sauce with lime.  Sounds odd, but it worked really well.

RPM Steak hit it out of the park for us on all counts:  food (with bonafide paleo options), service and ambience.  It is also a bonus that it is part of the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants.  We had some gift cards that we were able to use which softens the blow when the check comes.  It is spendy, but it is worth checking out.  Don’t forget to request Chrissy as your server – she is the best! Thank you RPM Steak for an awesome date night!

Surprise! Chef Josh “Live” – Kitchfix in our Kitch

Before we were Paleo, we’d eat out or order food at least 5 nights of the week. These days it is a big deal if we go out once or twice a month. There is so much involved in going out now like researching menus ahead of time, worrying about cross contamination and hoping the wait staff truly knows what dietary restrictions mean. Now that we cook so often, we’ve really honed our skills. Because we use high quality ingredients, we often find that we prefer our own food to a restaurant. In spite of all of this, Chuck said we were going out to dinner on my birthday last month. He wouldn’t give me any details, but assured me it was completely Paleo compliant. We are very strict with diet so I was really curious and excited.

I came home after work and patiently waited for him to finish a real estate showing in our building so we could head out. I was sitting at our kitchen island drinking a cup of bone broth when he got back. Then, I noticed that Chef Josh Katt was walking in behind him. I recognized him as the chef behind Kitchfix, a service that delivers pre-made food including Paleo friendly options. We order from them every single week and had met Josh before. “Weird” I thought, “was his showing with Josh Katt?!” That’s when Josh said “Hey! I’m going to be cooking for you tonight!” Shut the front door! This was totally a dream come true. You cavemen and women know that preparing Paleo meals day after day can get tedious and laborious. I’ve always wanted someone to just come over and cook me dinner without having to worry about any part of it. Chuck hit this one out of the park! After freaking out, I swapped my dress for comfy clothes and my bone broth for red wine. Although Josh said we could sit at the table and he’d serve us, we opted to remain at the island. That way we could all talk together and watch him create a 3 course masterpiece. He pulled out tons of ingredients that he brought and started cooking. It was amazing. Our menu consisted of:

First Course – Seared scallops with chorizo and bacon crumbles

CJK First Course

Second Course – Lamb chops, brussel sprouts, micro-greens and a perfectly spicy sauce

CJK Main Course

Third Course – Pumpkin crème brulee in a pumpkin garnished with strawberries, pomegranate, diced apple and bacon.

CJK Pumpkin Creme Brulee_

Chef Josh also left us with a box of their Kitchfix cookies (delicious!) and gave us some of their Kitchfix Paleo granola (which you can find at many Mariano’s grocery stores around the city!) Thank you, Chuck, for making my birthday so special and for always knowing just what I want (or need). Thank you, Chef Josh, for taking the time to cook for us. Your food is amazing and we had the best night!

For those of you who live in the Chicago area and want to try Kitchfix yourself, here is our referral link.

We’d love to know what you think!

Veggie Selfie Contest for $50 Door to Door Organics Gift Card

Super cool giveaway!  The prize? An awesome $50 gift card to Door To Door Organics Chicago.  To enter, Just snap a pic of yourself with your favorite vegetable.  Post your Veggie Selfie on Instagram with the following hashtags #veggieselfie #doortodoororganics #mepaleo.  Or post your Veggie Selfie to Facebook and Like MePaleo and Like DoorToDoorOrganics Chicago.  Easy peasy!

Check out Rene and her greens…

Rene's Veggie Selfie
Rene’s Veggie Selfie

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