Best of the Forum: Dumplings, Kid Food, and One Rich Dish

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Hmmm. What to do with all that leftover duck liver?

Duck liver—everyone’s got some lying around in the fridge, right? Okay no. But if you’ve always wanted to cook with the stuff, take inspiration from community member Manfred, who rolled some up into great-looking dumplings for the gorgeous soup you see above.

Oh, and speaking of liver…

Apparently forum friend Rob ain’t afraid to combine some rich flavors. Check out this decadent-yet-easy dinner: English Muffin, Chicken Liver Pâté, and a perfect sous vide egg. Bonus: This would also make the sickest breakfast in bed ever.

You’ll eat it and you’ll like it.

Brendan Lee shared a thought-provoking article on kids’ menus, and the dangers of raising a generation who dine only on chicken fingers, mac-and-cheese, and hot dogs. This fires up several of his forum-mates, who weigh in on the prickly subject of picky eaters.

Our forum’s the best, man. Join ChefSteps today to get in on the conversation. 

Best of the Forum: Cool Carrots, Coffee Talk, and One Badass Dinner Party

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Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

Crazy-Cool Carrots

Remember how your mom told you not to play with your food? Jeremy White doesn’t. He did some epic carrot games this week. Want help with those modernist techniques? Ask him all about them.

“The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.”

It was an exciting week here at ChefSteps—we launched our comprehensive and super-fun Coffee class, complete with Dark Matter, a slick new recipe named by community member Jon Low. Care to weigh in on your favorite ways to level up the stuff in your cup? Gear up your best Linda Richman accent for some coffee talk.

Seven Courses and a Show

While we were chowing down on barbecue and watching our beloved Seahawks suffer a crushing defeat, community member Sebastian was serving this ambitious coursed feast. The party paused the meal to watch the halftime concert, but from the looks of things, Katy Perry’s got nothing on this fellow.

Sign up at ChefSteps today to get chatting with our lively community of cooks.

The ChefSteps Coffee Class Has Landed

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Is there such a thing as perfect coffee? Hard to say, but one thing’s certain: with a little education and experimentation, you can refine your home brew to make your version of a perfect cup—with just the right sweetness, acidity, strength, and mouthfeel. And once you’ve discovered it, you can use that perfected method every dang day.

To create our comprehensive new Coffee class, ChefSteps partnered up with world-renowned experts James Hoffmann and Ben Kaminsky to teach java fans everything they need to brew a beverage that will far surpass the stuff at the local café.

So, what’s inside?

* A foolproof method for mastering extraction—the groundbreaking concept behind the world’s best coffees.
* Guides to buying roasted beans, coffee equipment, and essential books for your home library.
* Step-by-step techniques for French Press, Chemex, and Aeropress brewers, plus an amazing technique for Quick Cold Brew coffee.
* 2 pre-brewing tricks for achieving the smoothest brews.
* 4 super-cool coffee recipes—including a novel technique for making coffee “chocolate.”
* A video lecture series from our experts.
* A whole new outlook on your morning brew.

This class is all about dialing in your daily brew—choosing your favorite roasted beans, picking the perfect brew techniques, and refining your recipe—until that morning ritual isn’t just about caffeine intake, it’s a full-on culinary experience. This is the drink that coaxes you awake each and every morning. Don’t you want to get it just right?

Join ChefSteps today for the first word on new classes, recipes, and amazing culinary techniques. 

Coffee Class Contest: Keep Naming That Recipe

UPDATE: The contest is over—congrats to Jon Low, whose amazing name Dark Matter won us over completely. He’ll get a free class and unending glory. But do watch this video to hear some of the many brilliant ideas our community came up with. You guys are seriously brilliant.

Recently, the ChefSteps kitchen concocted a chocolate-like substance made out of coffee—part of our upcoming Coffee class—and oh man, is it tasty.

But when it came time to naming this caffeinated treat, we turned to you.

The contest entries have come pouring in. And there are some serious standouts, we must say. We were so impressed, we stopped shooting another forthcoming class (stay tuned for word on that one) to share a random sample of the thousands of submissions we’ve received so far. Think you’ve got something better than Soylent Brown, Beanoise, or Black Tar Heroin? Submit your idea before midnight on February 4. The winner gets the class—full of cool techniques, unique recipes, and fun brew science—for FREE.

Join ChefSteps today to get the first word on contests, new classes and recipes, and much more.

Coffee Class Contest: Name That Recipe

What’s that stuff in the video?

It’s our new recipe for “chocolate” that’s made with coffee beans instead of cacao beans. It’s chocolate, without the chocolate. It looks like chocolate, it acts like chocolate, but it ain’t chocolate. At least, not technically.

Pure chocolate is made by combining ground cacao beans, cocoa butter, and liquid soy lecithin to form a smooth, creamy liquid. That liquid is then made into your favorite sweet treats—cast into individual chocolates; drizzled over granola bars; combined with milk powder to make milk chocolate—you get the idea. With this recipe, we simply replace the cacao beans with roasted coffee beans, and then follow the exact same procedure. The result is a robustly flavored, velvety coffee paste that behaves just like chocolate. What to do with it, you ask? Pretty much anything you’d do with regular chocolate.

With this luscious new recipe—part of our coming-soon Coffee class—we managed to use one of our favorite things (coffee) to pay homage to one of our other favorite things (chocolate), with delicious results. But giving it a good name proved trickier.

So it’s up to you, clever ChefSteps community. What should we call this caffeine-packed confection?

How do I suggest a name?

Submit your proposed recipe name by midnight on Wednesday, Feb 4 by including it in the comments below. Share as many monikers as you like, but be sure to include your email address when you submit, because the winner (chosen by the ChefSteps staff) gets the new Coffee class FOR FREE.

What do I win?

Yours for the taking: awesome advice from two of the world’s foremost coffee nerds—delivered via fun, fascinating videos along with step-by-step tips and techniques—along with four recipes, including the unnamed delicacy above. Learn to make the most of French Press, Chemex, and Aeropress brewers, dive into easy-to-understand coffee science, and connect with other java lovers along the way. This class is comprehensive, interactive, and totally results-based—you’ll have a great time learning to up your coffee game, and wind up with perfect home brew.

The winner will be announced—and thoroughly celebrated—within the class, scheduled for release in early February.

So get those creative juices percolating, coffee lovers. We can’t wait to see you win the name game.

The ChefSteps Coffee Class Is Here!

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Coffee drinkers, consider this your wake-up call. We’ve just released a brand-new coffee class brimming with techniques and tricks to help you perfect the all-important drink that coaxes you to life on the daily. Created in partnership with java Jedi James Hoffmann (Square Mile Roasters, World Barista Champion) and Ben Kaminsky (co-founder of Barismo, US Cup Tasting Champion), the class will offer step-by-step instructions for leveling up what’s in your cup. From a novel No-Press French Press technique to in-depth instructions on mastering extraction—the secret to any perfect brew—you’ll learn everything you need to know to make coffee that rivals the stuff at the world’s best cafes.

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This being ChefSteps, we’re also including fun techniques for cooking with coffee—from an easy rub for flavoring steaks and chicken to an amazing modernist confection to wow and delight your dinner guests. Kaminsky demos his Liar’s Latte, a delicious, dairy-free twist on the frothy favorite, while Hoffmann explains how to hold a proper coffee tasting, and offers a guide to the best gadgets on the market. Learn how to buy the best beans, optimize your grounds for extraction excellence, and ensure your Chemex game is on point. Supported by four sexy instructional videos, a behind-the-scenes lecture series, and plenty of pretty photos, this class promises to propel you headlong into the fascinating world of first-rate specialty coffee—we believe you’ll emerge fully energized to go forth and achieve your own perfect cup.

Sign up now, home-brew enthusiasts. Crazy-good coffee is within reach.

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Enter your email below to get the first word on our Coffee class release, or visit the forum to start talking coffee.



Best of the Forum: Sausage-Making, Chicken Wings, and the Organic Food Fight

Prolific forum member Cheryl—spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine's candies.

Prolific forum member Cheryl spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine’s candies.

Watching the sausage getting made, and liking it.

Debunking a popular expression, Cheryl takes us inside her process for making homemade sausage. Dig that foot-long on a bun, meat lovers.

Whatever the question, the right answer is “wings.”

We are unabashed fried chicken lovers at ChefSteps, so if you’re going to put a picture of really pretty wings on the forum, we’re going to pay attention. Check out these Buffalo-style beauties from James—then quell the inevitable craving with our recipe for crispy-tender wings. Ugh, so hungry now.

Uh-oh, someone mentioned the “O” word.

Ever notice how the word “organic” tends to bring out the fight among foodies? Our community kept it civil this week when a Question of the Day focused on the issue. Care to weigh in? The forum would love to have you.

Join ChefSteps today for access to hundreds of recipes, techniques, and comprehensive classes.

Cooking and Recipe Ideas: 5 Ways to Get Inspired

 

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Not spending a lot of time in the kitchen? Don’t beat yourself up there buddy; it happens to the best of us. The antidote to that epicurean ennui? Re-inspire yourself with novel techniques and tools, a chatty community of fellow food enthusiasts, or a new look at old classics. Here, we’ve got a bunch of ideas that involve all those things. Let’s get cooking.

Treat yo’self to a new tool

Sous vide can help you create the tenderest meats and vegetables, sure, but did you know it’s also an awesome way to make no-fail Crème Brûlée? You can get started with sous vide using nothing more than a pot and a thermometer, but investing in an immersion circulator is the fastest way to master this convenient, highly predictable method. The good news is, they’re pretty cheap now. And once you’ve got yours, you can embark on an epic journey into the surprisingly wide world of this remarkable cooking technique.

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Remember a forgotten tool

You know that pressure cooker gathering dust in your pantry? Bust that out, clean it off, and start exploring amazing recipes and techniques like our Kung Pao Carnitas. And if you’ve got an immersion blender in need of work, put it to use making Green Pea Mash to go with Sous Vide Salmon—a complete dish that’s delicious, healthy, and ridiculously easy to prepare.

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Play with powders

Go modern with these five powders—all integral to creating novel textures and flavors in the kitchen. A good start: our Mayo No.4.

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Make some friends

Getting to know an online community of enthusiastic cooks is a great way to stay inspired. The ChefSteps forum, for instance, is full of recipe ideas—like the Breakfast Pizza pictured below, from Erin Z—beautiful images, and hard-to-find advice for ambitious food folk who want to take their skills to the next level.

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Rethink a classic

Maybe you’ve made many soufflés, maybe you’ve never attempted that airy, always-impressive dessert. Either way, follow in the footsteps of all the happy cooks who’ve found success with our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé recipe.

Not into sugar? Then learn the art of restaurant-level meatwiches with our house specialty, the Au Jus Burger.

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Feeling fired up? Join ChefSteps today for hundreds of recipes, techniques, tips, and tricks. 

 

Best of the Forum: Ramen, Food TV, Two Pretty Plates

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Salmon wrapped in prosciutto, with lentils—a beautiful dish from ChefSteps member Davo.

Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

Painting with food

Wow, behold this work of art from user Stevie Provencio! In lieu of paints, Stevie worked with ChefSteps-inspired creations like Beet Fluid Gel and Reconstructed Roast (using Teres Major steak). Inspiring, right? Check out those recipes to start creating your own masterpiece tonight.

Good taste in TV

Hungry for Netflix fodder? Our forum has plenty of advice on food shows with which to fill up your queue. Heston Blumenthal proved a favorite—if you need a snack while you watch, whip up Heston-inspired Thick-Cut French Fries or Sous Vide Pork Belly.

Rad-looking ramen

David Henley presented us with a pretty killer photo of his Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Curry Acorn Squash. Doesn’t look like the work of a newbie ramen-maker, but we’ll take him at his word.

Join the ChefSteps forum today to meet our entire community of super-cool cooks.

Getting Started with Modernist Powders

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You’ve likely heard tell of the fairy dusts employed by modernist chefs to create novel textures, amp up flavor, and just generally have a lot of fun with food. In fact, these powders aren’t storybook fodder at all—they’re developed in the service of food science. (And despite their high-tech origins, most are derived from natural ingredients). The stuff that makes Velveeta melt so winningly? You can use that to transform any cheese into something equally gooey and delectable. The bonding powder developed to make artificial crab, meanwhile, can help you create an uncommonly well-textured beef roast.

To begin playing with powders, check out these five ingredients—all available online and all essential to the modernist kitchen. Use them in our recipes and techniques, and you’ll see how they got their magical reputations.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a food-thickening agent that’s common to bottled salad dressings and other condiments, including ketchup and the ever-so-popular Sriracha sauce made by Huy Fong Foods. To create our Blini-topping Beet Fluid Gel, we used xanthan along with a hydrocolloid called low acyl gellan, which helps create a smooth, shiny product that envelops your tongue in bright beet flavor. (Psst: If you want to learn (a lot) more about hydrocolloids, enroll in our Fluid Gels class). 

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Sodium Citrate and friends

You say you love baseball; we suspect you’re partly in it for the stadium nachos dipped in spicy, technicolor cheese sauce. The secret to the superior melty-ness you get with the processed stuff? Melting salts. A cornerstone of the commercial cheese world, salts such as sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, and sodium caseinate allow manufacturers to create sterile products that don’t “oil off”—an industry term that refers to the tendency of the fats in melting cheese to separate from the proteins.

Tinker-prone chefs have taken advantage of melting salts to alter the texture of great cheeses, creating slices that have all the melty, creamy quality of the plastic-wrapped stuff you’ll find on supermarket shelves, but also the wonderful complex flavors of the best fromages. If you want to try the technique at home, make Nacho Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Sauce, or Melty Cheese Slices.

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Activa

Ah, meat glue—an unfortunate nickname that undersells the game-changing possibilities of Activa, also known as transglutaminase and capable of bonding proteins together to create glorious frankenfoods. First developed to make imitation crab, Activa can improve texture and flavor in everything from fish to fried chicken. But one of our favorite applications is this Reconstructed Roast—a killer technique for taking home-cooked beef to the next level.

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MSG

Everyone loves throwing shade on MSG—the sodium salt of glutamic acid that’s used as a flavor enhancer, primarily in Asian food. For the moment, we’ll leave it to Smithsonian magazine to dissect the veracity of MSG’s unseemly reputation, and just tell you that it can seriously up the umami factor in all sorts of stuff, offering a pop of flavor that can really level up a dish. If you’re dubious, definitely don’t try it in our Potato Chips, a simple example of how MSG can be used to make a good food great.

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Citric Acid

Love sour candies? Then you’re already a fan of citric acid, which lends a tart contrast to all sorts of sweet foods. We sprinkle it into our bright Lemon Curd, a tasty topper to dishes both sweet and savory.

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Want to learn more about modernist cooking? Join the ChefSteps community today.