A New Toy in the Kitchen a Sous Vide Machine!

I have a new toy and it is a sous vide machine! You will have no doubt heard or seen it on the myriad of TV cooking shows. Of course what you don’t know is that you will also probably need a vacuum bag sealer!  The basic deal is, seal your food, meat, fish etc in a polythene bag, making sure that a) it is properly sealed and b) that all of the air is extracted . Of course this could be done with a Zip Lock type bag but much more difficult to extract all of the air.

So along with the Sous Vide machine I bought a Bag vacuum machine, which also means buying the proper bags as ordinary plastic bags, just don’t hack it ! I was so I impressed as was himself with the food cooked that I took my machine off to France this summer and I soon found out the downside of not having the Vacuum sealer. No matter how hard I sucked or squeezed to remove air from my Zip Lock bag it ended up floating in the water bath. Therefore it had to be weighted down, usually with a granite pestle and mortal! Still it worked. I am really impressed so much so that I bought another one to leave in France and another one for my son and a foodie friend has also now bought one! Maybe I should be getting a ‘ Refer a friend ‘ discount!

The basic principle of this machine (and this is just a home version so does not need oodles of storage space) is it cooks food very slowly at a low constant temperature. Consequently chicken breasts which can be quiet dry, are moist and succulent. They are in the water bath at about 140  F ( most of the online instructions are from the USA, hence the Farenheit ) for about an hour, patted dry and a quick sauté in the frying pan to give them some colour, Perfect!

Having played around, with chicken, fish, onglet ( hanger steak—-Perfect) I decided to branch out and bought a couple of kilos of Veal Cheeks. These can be very time consuming to prepare and require a lot of slow cooking, just imagine all of that chewing that cows do and today veal is ethically fine as the young animals no longer are kept indoors but free to roam. They are all young bulls but the farmer does not need an overload of young bulls for his herd, just imagine a herd with too many bulls, mayhem would ensue!

On ‘Googling ‘veal cheeks sous vide I discouvered that they need Dunking for a mere 48 hours. I trimmed the cheeks, vacuum packed them set the pan of water to a temperature of 140 F and when it reached this I  put them in the pot, making sure that they were well submerged, covered the pot with cling film to help reduce the evaporation and left them for 48 hours! Himself was given a dire warning “Do Not Touch !”

So after a couple of days, the machine beeped at me so I removed the cheeks and left them to cool, cool enough to handle. They were then trimmed and sliced, onions were also sliced and sautéed, along with some celery, garlic and mushrooms. This recipe, actually a non recipe, was created on the hoof. I added about a bottle of Malbec red wine, about 4 oz butter, some black currant jelly, salt and pepper. 

Although I bought a book called “Exploring Sous Vide” it does not really give very good temperature times and instructions. However it is a good basic guide and some useful information. I think the bottom line is that this is a kitchen gadget not for the faint hearted, BUT himself has been seen using it, to cook chicken, which comes out beautifully moist. I have to admit I have not ventured onto eggs and fish, that will have to come ( if only I was at home long enough). I receive a news letter from the author of this book and I was amused to read one day the article titled” making the perfect drip coffee using the Sous Vide Machine”! I have to say I was amused, not sure I can wait 24 hours for my morning coffee to be ready!

One thing I forgot to say! My machine is controlled by my IPhone! ( Androids also work )

The Domestic God is Cooking!!!

Himself, AKA the Domestic God has been quiet productive of late. Along, with what  has now become his “go to when in doubt fall back option” Oysters Rockefeller, he has expanded his repertoire to included, Cheese Tart, Savoie style, Cheese Soufflé, grilled Giant Shrimp with chilli enhanced salad, Sole Meunière and the latest Baked Cod with herb crust on a base of snow peas and baby corn!! I can see I will soon be able to put my aprons away and put my feet up and watch the rugby ? whilst he potters in the kitchen, or maybe not!

There is just one downside to his now kitchen independence, going shopping to buy his ingredients, where for the most part it will already be in the house. My pantry is full of basics, from flours of several kinds, to spices to ingredients for Mexican, Chinese, Japanese cuisines and more besides. I like to go to the Meat wholesale market in central London, to stock up, or I go to the largest Whole foods in London, also for their meat. I go to The central fish market, for my fish, or failing that to my local street market, I bring back Abondance cheese from France ( it freezes well) for my soufflés and tarts, he has to learn now to look first ( his cleaning up skills are now quite remarkable!)

Onto Cheese Soufflé, most cook books in the English Language call for cheddar cheese, I guess it is fine, and although has a reasonably strong flavour, does not melt that well and I find it a bit boring. If you are in the US on the other hand, dare I say it, cheese which is to be found in the average supermarket is more like soap, than cheese. I have made in the past, a wonderful hot cheese dip, made with orange processed cheese, melted along with cans of chopped tomatoes with chillies in, Umm, yummy with fresh fried tortilla chips! My friend’s daughter said, Oh, you mean it is plastic cheese and in my family the name has very much stuck!

But back to cheese soufflé, yes use cheddar if you wish but try other cheese out to see which you like the best. As I said, I bring Abondance back from the Savoie, here in central London, the price per kilo can be as much as £39, whereas, I can buy from a local farmer for about €14 a kilo and of course is far superior in flavour.

  1. 50 grms unsalted butter plus a little extra melted for greasing the dish
  2. 40 grms plain flour
  3. 1/2tsp english mustard powder, this is quiet strong but it enhances the cheese
  4. good pinch cayenne pepper, pinch salt and a grind of black pepper
  5. 300 mls milk
  6. 200 grms strong cheese, Gruyère or cheddar
  7. 6 large free range eggs, separated


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan, 200 C gas #6.
  2. Grease a 20cm Soufflé dish lightly.
  3. melt the butter in a saucepan add the flour, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook for a couple of minutes and the gradually stir in the milk making sure after each addition that it is well incorporated. Stir and bring to the boil. It should be thick without lumps BUT if you should have lumps do not despair. Either beat vigorously, attack it with a hand-held electric whisk or even throw it into a food process, DO NOT start over..
  4. remove from heat and add the cheese and the egg yolks.
  5. In a clean bowl beat the egg whites until very stiff, then carefully FOLD them into the egg /cheese mixture
  6. Spoon into the soufflé dish and bake for 25 – 30 mins.
  7. SERVE immediately with a green salad.

A trick with individual soufflés is that they can be twice baked. So simply put the mixture into individual ramekins, bake as above but for about 10-12 mins. Remove from the oven, and leave until ready to serv. remove from the ramekins, and place on a baking tray right side up, sprinkle the tops with some grated parmesan and and bake again as above unto re-risen ! Cheating? Yes! But who cares!!IMG_6860