Plating Tools

To prepare a nice looking plate you need a basic set of tools.

The most important tools are molds of different shapes and sizes.
These help keep the plate tidy. Also, when stacking ingredients, you can use ring molds to define height and structure of your plate.

Squeeze Bottle:
Another very important tool is the squeeze bottle. These come cheap and I always have around half a dozen of them in my kitchen.
You put your sauces into these bottles and apply them onto your plate at the exact spot and in the exact quantity you want them.
Also, you can use them to store a sauce for some time if you don’t need everything for the dish you are preparing at that point in time.

Plating Wedges:
You can see these at the bottom right of the picture.
Plating Wedges are used to smear sauces or other soft ingredients into a desired shape on your plate.

These are needed for placing garnishes or small delicate items.
Tongs come in different shapes and sizes.
I would recommend two different types:
The large 20cm precision tongs
The 20cm Sushi-tongs. These are bent as you can see in the picture. You use these to place delicate items onto your plate and there are already items around the area you are working in.

There are several other tools you can use for plating, e.g. pastry bags, brushes, shavers, etc. For a start though, you should be able to cope with the tools listed above.

Sous Vide: A Great Way to Cook

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Sous Vide, one of those terms you run across a lot nowadays, It’s kind of hyped but still seriously underrated.
I love my Sous Vide, the results are absolutely awesome.
I don’t only use it for classical Sous Vide recipes but also in many cases where a recipe requires cooking something in water.
Now, when you cook something in water and you taste the water afterwards, you’ll most probably find that the water tastes strongly of whatever you cooked, be it meat or vegetables.
In some cases this may be the desired outcome, e.g. when you prepare a chicken soup. In many cases though. the water will be poured away after cooking with all the aroma literally going down the drain.
Because what aroma is in the water was once inside what you cooked and there is no way of getting it back in.
If you ask yourself why your vegetables taste so “flat”, not at all like those you get in a good restaurant, this is the reason. But you can change that of course.
Simply by putting the vegetables into a plastic bag, creating a vacuum in the bag and sealing it, then placing it in the Sous Vide bath for a few hours at a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees.
You’ll be astonished by the difference in the aroma.
I will be publishing some Sous Vide recipes over time where I’ll explain the different techniques in more detail.

Which type of Sous Vide?
Basically, there are two types of sous Vide. One is a longish device which you just put into an existing pot, heating up the water in that pot to a given temperature and maintaining this temperature.

The other is a device like that shown in the picture at the top of this article.
It’s a complete device including a water-container.

Personally, I would always prefer the complete device. First of all, the heat comes from all sides, ensuring that there are no zones with significally different temperatures in the water.
Then it has a lid. The Sous Vide which you place into a pot doesn’t have this. As it’s attached to the side of the pot, you can’t close the lid.
For one, this means that a lot of energy is lost. Heat travels upwards and your Sous Vide will consume a lot of power if you keep it running for several hours. 
The fully encapsuled device doesn’t have this problem. The lid ensures that most of the heat stays inside, requiring far less energy to maintain the desired temperature.
Also, the lid keeps the water in. Over the long periods required for Sus Vide cooking, water will evaporate. Replacing it with water of a different temperature may have a negative effect on the cooking progress.

Pricewise, there isn’t really much difference between these two types. It’s really more a question of the space they consume when stacked away.
If you have enough space, you should really go for the full device.

Up in the Air: The Airline Trolley Humidor

I ran across these old airline trolleys the other day and decided I’d buy some. At that time I didn’t have any idea what I could do with them but I saw some potential in them.
They were quite battered and you could see they had been extensively used.
I guess that’s why they went quite cheap.

Some time later I decided I needed another humidor for our second flat in Berlin and I thought that one of these trolleys would do quite nicely.
I removed the door and gace it a thorough cleaning.
To get it airtight I used aquarium-silicone in all edges and corners. Aquarium-silicone has the great advantage that it doesn’t have this vinegar-like odor which would spoil any cigar stored inside that humidor.
The sides of the humidor were covered in white foil, the kind that is used for covering cars in foil.
I found some nice “Pan Am”-stickers which I stuck on all sides.
The door itself was stripped down completely. I sanded it and sprayed it white.

I covered the back wall with 8mm Cedro that was left over from the large humidor I had built some time ago.
I also built in some compartments for small stuff.

I then built trays to fit into the guide rails of the trolley.

If you look closely you’ll see that the side parts of the trays that run in the guide rails go further back than the actual tray itself. I did this so that air can circulate through the humidor.

When completely pushed in they will leave a nice gap to provide a sufficient airflow.

The inside of the doors is also covered in Cedro.

Finally, I reassembled the door and put “Pan Am”-stickers on here as well.

Now it looks nearly like new and is a great eyecatcher in our Berlin-apartment.

For now I have a passive moisturising system in the humidor.

Not really good, I’m looking for something else.
I found some interesting projects on the Web using either an Arduino or Raspberyy Pi to build an intelligent moisturizing system.
I guess that’s something for one of these long, dark winter evenings.

If you’re looking into buying an airline-trolley, check out this website: