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  • Want to read: Betty Crocker Why It Works: Insider Secrets to Great Food and How to Cook Without a Book because I like understanding why the authors did certain things for recipes. Also watch some of Gordon Ramsey's Ultimate Cookery Course for live demonstrations of techniques.

Tips and Tricks

  • Mostly from Cook's Illustrated for now.
  • Starches start to break down past 180F. So maybe do sous vide instead?
  • Oatmeal: Steel-cut oats and 8-grain cereal = nutty awesomeness. Also good add-ins are pumpkin seeds and cranberries.
    • Not sure whether to go with pouring hot water and letting sit or going with microwave at 80-90% so it doesn't overflow
      • Currently preferring microwave as it's faster and keeps the heat…and sterilizes my dirty bowl :-)
  • Frying…you need oil to be hot enough to keep water in meat/veggies at 212F (boiling), so that water vapor leaving prevents oil from getting into the pores, and not letting the food get fatty/oily
    • Is this really frying then?

Sous Vide

Can alternatively tenderize the meat using a mallet or chemistry?! I wonder how that compares to 24 hours in a sous vide

Only the surface of meats (except for poultry apparently) has the bacteria, so you can cook the inside to whatever temperature you want then you're done!

  • Which is why Darin can do his smoker only to an internal temperature of 130.

Collagen breakdown for tough cuts can happen for long time at low temperatures, or short time at high temperatures.

Collagen fibers begin to break at above 160˚F and reach a peak rate at 180˚. It takes at least 3 hours for the collagen to convert to gelatin sufficiently to hold its form after refrigeration. The problem, though, is that collagen starts to contract at 140˚, and if there isn't sufficient fat to resist the contraction the moisture will be wrung from the meat before the collagen finishes breaking into gelatin. Contrastingly, enzyme breakdown is what sous vide does. In particular, collagenases activate at 113˚, peak at 130˚, and completely denature above 140˚. It takes a minimum of 6 hours at 130˚ for enzyme conversion of collagen into gelatin in a young animal (e.g., veal and lamb), and up to 48 hours in a roast from a mature animal. And it all happens well below where the collagen can contract.

  • Or just buy loins / tender cuts and don't worry about it :-)

Great site, lots of science:

Takes about 20-30 minutes to bring a refrigerated meat to temperature.

What's helping is to add a layer of salt to outside before frying. Adds a nice “steakhouse” touch.


  • 14 hours is not enough on chuck steak, gives a red juice color and is not nearly melt in your mouth yet.
  • Maybe letting it sit in the fridge for a week was helpful. I don't think so though…


It's nice to get a sear on it, but honestly, it doesn't add that much to the flavor. Mostly crispy crust for texture.

  • Maybe add some sugars next time?

Recommends cast iron skillet (can retain a lot of heat) searing with oil, then further finishing with hot flame like searzall. Super hot gas/coals grill works well too. Want the char without heating up the inside too much.

  • (Try to get a flat cut) Probably should use a cut of beef that is big and fat like a bottom round or chuck roast so Won't allow for you to cut meat “across the grain” in the end, but maybe getting a sear with just a pan is worth cutting with the grain.
  • Dad has outside wok. Thankfully a hot gas grill is good enough too.
  • Add butter and aromatics at end so that they don't burn, but caramelize instead.
    • So, I tried this, but the butter didn't add that much. Same with the garlic, when un-crushed.
      • Fun fact, if you chew up raw garlic…UGH! It's still burning in my stomach.
  • Pat the steaks dry, as a lot of heat and spattering goes into evaporating that moisture instead of developing the crust?!
    • Still want to test this one. Seems plausible though.
    • I don't think it matters that much. For sure don't just dump them fresh out of the bag. Let them air dry a little if warm, if cold then everything is gelatinous and the inside is still cold…don't cook them cold.
      • Yeah, get the inside warmed up, then fry. Want to keep the crust dry, so don't keep it warm enroute to destination with a water bath in a bag. Just let it keep airing out. The inside will stay moist.
  • Just try them out with small pieces … tomorrow!
  • Subway fast cooker is .. I'm not sure yet, but basically a broiler with fan, with maybe microwave for good measure.

Beef / Steak

Not small amount of pepper would be good.

Next time try lamb, searing/cooking a piece of raw steak, and maybe 1 hour cooked steak of tender steak meat (loin or something).

  • Want marbling on the inside of the meat, not fat sticking on the outside. (personal preference)
  • Chuck, brisket, large chunks of hard fat…I end up cutting them off.
  • Bottom round, has marbling, easy to cut into steaks, fairly lean still, and 90% as “fall-apart” as chuck.
  • Not Brisket: Unless it tenderizes by the end of today, it's pretty annoying to chew still. Big thing of fat on the outside too that you're paying to cut off.
  • Lean cuts (eye of loin, others), you apparently need to cook them at lower temperature so they don't toughen. But not below 130 F for more than 3 hours as bacteria grow at those temperatures and times.
    • But then again, the lean cuts when warm and freshly seared, are tender perfect too. Try again another time.


Helps to tenderize meat, I think. But….sous vide should do that too, right?


1 sugar cube = 3 grams of sugar.

I did too much salt last time, almost a full small glass bowl (3/4 cup = 225 grams) for 6 pounds of beef. 1/4 to 1/2 of that would probably be good. Need to test in separate bags as the broth will meld

Why isn't my hand burnt when I put it in a 350F oven?

Basically, dry air isn't as great of a medium for energy transfer / cooking as water is. A humid oven would burn your hand very quickly.

Current Setup

  • Is Ziploc freezer/storage plastic ok? Yes, but you can use canning jars if you want to too, it'll just take longer.
    • Now … why is canning jar ok?
  • Cover with plastic wrap for longer cooks to prevent a bunch of water loss from evaporation
  • Power going out, Might want to get a UPS if power might go out
  • Clip bag onto side of pot with binder clip
  • More in-depth tricks at here

Why can't you just use your stove?Will test out soon

  • There's no temperature feedback, so you have to manually check the mean temperature of the given setting and you're just hoping that the resistance of the bi-metallic switch stays consistent over time.
    • Cycle time is ~12 seconds on medium (and will probably be the same for the whole range, the duty cycle just changes), which is reasonable.

Why Bang Bang Control for Stove ?

Why can't we have “dimmed” stoves and crock-pots with high switching frequency? From StackExchange

  • It's doable with a TRIAC, but it's a more expensive triac due to
    • high power 2KW vs 100W light bulb
    • Lots more switching noise and EMF
    • Dissipates even more heat at the triac than to the pot
  • Also, there's plenty of thermal mass in the glass-ceramic cooktop or the normal metal heater such that the large variation in temperatures due to ~10s switching frequency only makes a small change in the temperature at the top, not to mention the thermal mass of the heavy bottom pot + pot of water helps a ton too.
  • So, not done very often. If you really need higher switching frequency DIY with a switcher or use a gas stove.

On the other hand, things like corded hand drills rely on having variable speed control and are reasonably high-powered. I guess they use TRIACs! (probably because they have to).

For a store-away solution, use a 120V outlet in one unit like this one. Great review of lower temp (250F max I think), higher temp is a few bucks more.

Popular screws-in-back solution is STC-1000, $17, Adjustable setpoints down to +/- .3C.

Another that uses PID is ITC-100.


  • Baking is essentially a chemistry experiment, so be sure to follow the recipe exactly / make small changes at a time.
  • Protein absorbs moisture very well in baking. So, all-purpose flour (10-12% protein) will absorb water more than cake flour (6-8% protein).
  • Salt acts as a sort of flavor enhancer, making sweet cotton-candy-like things more buttery and vanilla-y, and bitter things less bitter!
    • Also, be sure when baking to use unsalted butter, as you want to control the amount of salt used and you don't want it to actually come out salty!
  • Butter
    • To make whipped butter (for easier spreading later), whip room-temperature butter with a whisk! And maybe add some sugar/honey when you're at it
    • Quick way to soften it to room temp is to cut it up into small pieces when you start. By the time you're ready for it, it'll be nice and soft.
      • Why room-temperature?
  • Sugar
    • Brown sugar keeps cookies moist because of invert sugar, drawing in moisture, etc.


Dutch windmill cookie. Decent recipe with a lot of spices, including pepper!


  • Combination of the above for tweaking cookie texture:
    • Chewy ← Gluten ← Melted Butter
    • Eggs
      • Yolks make cookies rich
      • Whites cause cookies to puff and dry out
    • Baking Soda reacts quickly with acidic ingredients (such as brown sugar) to create lots of gas bubbles
    • Baking Powder works slowly and allows for an even rise (and gives you a fine tight crumb and smooth top)
cooking.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/14 11:05 by admin