Changes Coming To ChefSteps

Rainbow-Chip-Macaron-ChefSteps

ChefSteps has always been a collaboration between our team and a community of curious cooks who share our interest in the hows and whys of cooking. Feedback from the ChefSteps community is what drives us to keep improving. We’ve learned that many people enjoy ChefSteps because our videos are entertaining, the recipes and techniques are inspiring, and the explanations are helpful. And when we don’t get something quite right, your questions help us fix it.

Some people have indicated that they would like to learn new kitchen skills or master challenging recipes through a more structured class, with guidance from our team. So we’re going to try that. Beginning in late October, we will offer a paid class on preparing French macarons. Daily releases of recipes and techniques will continue to be free-to-learn.

Charging for premium in-depth classes, which are chosen by community voting, allows us to focus on creating content that benefits you, rather than sponsors and advertisers. It also helps us prioritize support for members who prefer more guidance.

Thanks to our community members for their participation and engagement. We’re so grateful you continue to seek culinary inspiration and guidance through ChefSteps.

If you’d like to be notified when the French macaron class becomes available, you can sign up here:
http://chefsteps.com/courses/french-macarons

Sincerely,
The ChefSteps Team

Listening to the ChefSteps Community

Chocolate-Macarons-ChefSteps

A few weeks ago ChefSteps launched our first “vote for new content” poll. Our goal was to engage you, our community, in helping us decide what recipes to develop and which techniques to share. By an overwhelming margin, you all voted for a short course on how to prepare perfect Parisian macarons.

We took the result seriously, and Grant and Ryan have been hard at work shooting the videos for this course. It’s going to be great. We’ll show you how; step-by-step, French macarons are really made by pros like Pierre Hermé.

And for those of you who voted for other content, don’t worry. Some of those ideas, like vegetable pastrami, are certain to be developed by the kitchen team in the near future.

Aside from voting for new content, we’ve been asking some of you what the most valuable thing the ChefSteps team can do to help you become a better cook. Many of you have responded by asking for more short courses. With this in mind, we’ve just launched our second poll so you can vote for which new course we should work on next. Check them out, and then pick the one that you’re most interested in. And please, share your vote with any friends and family members that you think would be interested in one of our courses; you can share via Twitter, Google+, Facebook, email or some other preferred social platform that we don’t even know about yet.

— Chris

A DIY Christmas Spectacular | We Built a Gaggle Roaster

So we occasionally get up to some elaborate DIY exploits that involve cooking, fire, and metal fabrication. We’ve staged some pretty large exploits in the last couple of years (we’ll be sharing some photos from those events soon), but I thought some of you might be interested in the relatively small one we threw together for a holiday celebration last Saturday night.

The Construction Phase
We dubbed the device “The Gaggle Roaster.” It’s a rotisserie spit that can carry half a dozen geese, each one dangling by its legs. We did this so the weight of the bird would stretch the skin taut, and so that we would get radiant heat shining over the entire surface of the bird. This ensured evenly cooked birds with really crispy skin, which was a major goal. Each bird rotated at about 2 rpm. We geared it so the birds would counter-rotate, which means that each bird rotated in the opposite direction of the one next to it—there was no good reason for this other than it looked cool.

I sketched out the idea for this about  a week prior to the party. Our group of makers — including several of our friends at Furlong Fortnight Bureau — gathered to rapidly build and test the device at our friend Rusty Oliver’s shop (The Hazardfactory) between the hours of 5 pm and 3 am.

Our constructors included Neal Stephenson, myself (Chris Young), Rusty Oliver, Nathan Pegram, Daniel MacDonald, and Larry Felser.

We also fabricated a giant roasting pan, complete with our own custom gas manifolds to roast some vegetables to go with our geese. On full blast, this is probably something like a 500,000 BTU/hr stove top.

Here’s a view of Rusty Oliver (left), Daniel MacDonald (center), and Nathan Pegram (right) working on final assembly:
Rusty-Oliver Kevin-MacDonald Nathan-Pegram
Here’s Nathan tensioning the very long bike chain that drives the gearing:
Our careful engineering efforts involved load testing with about a 4X geese-overloading factor:

The Party Phase
Here are some photos from the actual gaggle-roast. No sous vide was involved, we went old-school — like 16th century British old-school.

Basic Cooking Method:

  1. Build a linear chain-driven, counter-rotating rotisserie spit that will suspend half a flock of birds.
  2. Build a large hearth with high emissivity material (firebrick is ideal)
  3. Build a very large fire that is at least 25% longer than the length of the spit, so that the ends of the spit see as much glowing infrared energy as the center.
  4. Once firebrick is warmed up, suspend birds and begin roasting. Surface temperature of birds should settle around 160 °F / 71 °C until core temperature of bird reaches something like 140 °F / 60 °C.
  5. For the final sear, move the geese closer to the fire and turn up the intensity of the radiant heat by blasting large volumes of air at the fire. A leaf blower or Shop-Vac blown in reverse will do nicely.
  6. Once the surface temperature of the birds reaches something like 270 °F / 132 °C, remove the birds and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Carve and serve with a giant pan filled with choucroute and new potatoes.

Here are some photos that Ryan grabbed during the event:

Plumes of Combustion
Geese in Silhouette
 A Gaggle of Roasting Geese
 Turning Up The Heat!
Glowing White Hot

Forging Crispy Skin

And, yes, this was really delicious.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday — Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps is Chris Young, Grant Crilly and Ryan Matthew Smith.
Sign up for our free online sous vide cooking class and join our forum.

How to Make Perfect French Press Coffee

ChefSteps-French-Press-Coffee-Grounds

At our Town Hall Seattle lecture, we went through the steps on how to make the perfect cup of French press coffee at home. For those of you who couldn’t attend or for those of you who were there, but want to go over the steps again, here they are:

1. Use coarse, freshly ground coffee. We are enjoying Herkimer coffee at the moment.

2. Measure your ingredients. I like 70 g of coffee to 1000 g of water. Most French press pots don’t hold quite this much, for example, I can usually only get 700 g of water in mine, so I’ll use 49 g of coffee to 700 g of water.

3. Add the coffee to your French press pot, pour over just boiled water—if you want to get really nerdy, you can obsess about the temperature of the water. Make sure you saturate all of the grounds evenly.

4. Give the coffee a stir and then wait for 4 minutes.

5. The secret step—that I learned from Tim Wendelboe — is to skim the raft of finer floating grounds off the top before plunging the press after 4 minutes of steeping time.

6. Enjoy within 15 minutes. Nothing is worse, in my opinion, than stale coffee.

Note: If your coffee is a bit sour, you will want to grind it finer and if it’s a bit bitter you want to grind it more coarsely. Keep the steeping time and the brewing ratio constant.

ChefSteps is Chris Young, Grant Crilly and Ryan Matthew Smith.
Sign up for our free online sous vide cooking class and our forum.

It’s Always Thanksgiving at the Pike Place Market!

Thanksgiving is just days away and if you’re like us, you’ll have some last minute shopping to do. We love supporting our local vendors, especially those at Pike Place Market, who happen to be within walking distance from Delve Kitchen. Loyalty and personal relationships go a long way when you’re looking for the best produce, seafood, meat, bread, cheese and spices out there. The Pike Place Market offers all of those and lots more.

We have created a Pinterest board of our most frequented, favorite local food vendors as a local shopping guide for your key ingredients. While you’re on our Pinterest site, please follow us and be sure to check out our other boards featuring more of our favorite things.

ChefSteps is Chris Young, Grant Crilly and Ryan Matthew Smith. Sign up for our free online sous vide class here.

Thank You For Helping Us!

Sous-Vide-Salmon-Preparation

Thank you to everyone who took the time to watch our new video and complete the survey questions that followed it. Your input is invaluable and will help us make the necessary adjustments to our online sous vide classes. As we complete production of the first course modules in the upcoming weeks, we look forward to even more of your input as you go through the coursework.

Cheers,
Chris, Grant, and Ryan

 

Thanks 513Eats, Local 127, and Woodland Pork

513 Eats, Woodland Pork, and Local 127

Just a quick post to thank our friends from Cincinnati who dropped by yesterday to check out what’s going on behind the scenes at ChefSteps and try our Salmon 104°F recipe. On the left is Illene Ross from 513Eats.com and on the right are Justin Dean from Woodland Pork and Steven Geddes, the chef at Local 127 in Cincinnati.

Justin is raising amazing heritage breed pigs the old fashioned way at Woodland Pork, and then curing a range of traditional European-style pork products like dry-cured hams, coppa, and lomo.

Local 127 is the first restaurant in the country to feature Justin’s work. Check out the video below to see Steven and Justin at work. And at about 5:50 into the video you’ll see some really happy pigs living the way pigs should. Grant and I cannot wait to get some Woodland Pork into our kitchen.

So We Have This Pig… (Poll)

Grant

So after breaking down our 163 lbs / 74 kg pig last week—with props to Tim Ferriss, our butcher-in-training—we’ve been busy using up every bit of pig, from nose to tail. Sure, a lot of this work will end up in our sous vide course, but in the meantime we’d like to know which cuts you would most like to see as a demonstration video and step-by-step recipe?

Vote below, and then check back soon for the video and recipe that results.

Cheers,
Chris, Grant, and Ryan

Visual of the Week: Spilled Wine

feature_winewall

Warning: Alcohol was abused and wine glasses were injured during this shoot.

Here at ChefSteps we’re lucky to have the talented photographer Ryan Matthew Smith as a cofounder. We’ve been shooting thousands of new images to tell the story of cooking in a way never before seen. But sometimes we just shoot something that we think will look cool.

wallpaper at 1920×1080
wallpaper at 1920×1200
here ya go Dale :) 1440×900

Sous Vide BBQ with Matt and Tim

Sous Vide 'Cue

Our two mystery guests on Thursday were Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame and tech-entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body. Tim has a new book coming out soon called, what else, The 4-Hour Chef. We put Tim and Matt to work as guinea pigs for some of the skills we’ll be teaching in the sous vide course, including the sous vide barbecue you see Grant Crilly explaining in the photo above.

To those of you landing on our blog for the first time, we’re still running our poll about your level of experience as a cook. Help us create the perfect course for you here.