Jan 262014
 
Wonderbag

This non-electric cooker is about the size of a small ottoman.

If you’re like me, the cold weather has kept you at home instead of dining out. I’ve had my share of delivery, though that gets expensive and repetitive after a while. Time for Wonderbag*.

Wonderbags are non-electric cookers that capture the initial heat from boiling to continue the cooking process. After heating food to a boil, you put the sealed pot inside, close it up, and let it work. The insulated bag does the rest.

Wonderbag

The pot should be as hot going in as it was coming out.

And does Wonderbag work?

Yes. If used correctly.

Food cooks in a completely closed environment. It’s important to use less liquid than normal since it won’t evaporate through cooking. Also, fill up the pot close to the top and make certain the top is sealed when it’s removed from the stove. The more heat that can be retained, the better it will work.

There are several recipes on the Wonderbag site to aid beginners. It’s probably a good idea to try one off the site before getting extemporaneous. Me? I jumped right in.

Wonderbag

We tried this Chinese Beef recipe from the Wonderbag site.

My first attempt at pasta e fagioli was a little watery. However, the Chinese beef from the Wonderbag site came out perfect, as did the vegetable soup I made without a recipe. In all, it’s a great device. I’ll use it from now on in place of a crock pot.

The company believes in doing good as much as it believes in good food. They donate a Wonderbag to a family in Africa for each one sold. If you’re interested, they’re available on Amazon.

*I was sent a Wonderbag to try by the company.

Nov 132013
 

If you believe in dining with the stars, then feast on the sights of the the Michelin Guide 2014 winners before making reservations:

Three Stars

Alinea

Two Stars

Grace *
Graham Elliot
L2O
Sixteen **

One Star

Acadia
Blackbird
Boka
EL Ideas *
Elizabeth *
Everest
Goosefoot
The Lobby *
Longman & Eagle
Mexique
Moto
Naha
North Pond *
Schwa
Senza *
Sepia
Spiaggia
Takashi
Topolobampo
Tru

* New to 2014 Michelin guide
** Elevated from last year’s one-star rating

Visit the Michelin site for the complete list of this year’s star & bib gourmand winners.

Sep 122013
 

Williams-Sonoma’s head of culinary programs, Vladimir Niza, was in town yesterday to open the high-end retail chain’s first U.S. cooking school at their 1550 N Fremont Street location. After a media tour of the new store’s layout, Niza set to the task of showing our group how to make tagliatelle with tomatoes and pesto.

Williams-Sonoma Cooking Demonstration

A pesto-in-progress!

Throughout the demonstration, Niza showed off the features of the kitchen as well as techniques that Chef Jennifer Goodman will have available for courses. High-end Vitamix and Imperia products and cookware from the Williams-Sonoma line were also used.

I admit that a course or two might satisfy my culinary curiosity about whether these items are worth picking up. Though I’m sure I would have a hard time justifying a $200 iPad stand with screen and blue-tooth speakers in any case, right? Right. Deep breath. I’m seriously considering a Vitamix, though.

Williams-Sonoma Fresh Pasta

A close-up of our freshly made pasta.

I will admit to learning a few things: blanch your basil to bring out flavor and make it last longer; add toasted pine nuts towards the end of the blending process so it doesn’t become chalky; heat tomatoes through so the rawness isn’t jarring to the cooked dish; and always sprinkle raw sugar into the mix to bring out the tomatoes’ sweetness.

I’ve never made pasta from scratch for myself, and while Niza made the whole process seem easy and straightforward, I suspect it was the culmination of his culinary training and the high-tech gadgets in the test kitchen. I will try making the pesto on my own, though.

Williams-Sonoma Showroom

A feast of cooking gadgetry.

Prices for the classes will range between $65 children’s classes all the way to $1,500 bespoke offerings. Two hours courses are $75, three hour courses are $95, and four hours courses range between $155 to $175. Classes are open to all skill levels and are limited to ten people. Lest you think you’ll have to go it alone, everyone is paired up during a class.

I’m interested in the Butchery Nose to Tail, but should probably take the Essential Knife Skills class first. What do you need to brush up on to be a culinary rock star? Check out the list of available classes.