Food, Photography and Lifestyle Blog

Archive for April, 2009

Texas BBQ in a real Smokepit


Ok I admit I am a tease at times, knowing well that most of you will never have a smoker like this, however if you are creative, you don’t really need it, you could do this also in home made “solutions” that are simple, cheap and cheerful.

Excuses for the images as they were taken with a very bad P&S Camera.

 

But if you feel inclined to get your own 2000 Lb heavy smoke-pit, you should talk to these people, www.gatorpit.net which shipped this one all the way to Hong Kong.

 

Texas Smoke Pit

Texas Smoke Pit

If you try to attempt any of these recipes, do it for dinner, the first time I used my smoker it was for a lunch time event, and I ended up sleeping at the poolside, waking up every 2 hours to keep my fire going!

 

Start your fire well before you want to start cooking as it takes about an hour to heat up a beast like this. Once hot, make a habit of almost constantly throwing on a mix of soaked wood, be it apple, Cherry, Cedar, Mesquite with charcoal, every hour in order to get a almost constant supply of smoke.

 

The HOT end of the Pit

The "HOT" end of the Pit

The Beef Ribs will come out almost black, but that’s not due to being burned but due to the rub and the constant smoke.

 

Her I share some recipes that I regularly do with you:

 

Texas style Rub for Beef Ribs

Ingredients:

¾ cup Paprika Powder

¼ cup Salt

¼ cup Sugar

¼ cup Ground Black pepper

¼ cup Chili Powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

1-tablespoon cayenne pepper

Charcoal and woodchips as needed

 

Mix ingredients, sprinkle onto beef Ribs VERY generously and allow to marinate beef for 24 hours.

 

Place Beef in smoker for at least 12 hours at  200 degrees Fahrenheit, yes Fahrenheit, not Celsius as we do not want to BBQ but we want to smoke instead!

 

 

Texas Pork Ribs


Ingredients:

6 pounds pork spareribs

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup salt

2 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper

3 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons garlic powder

5 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 cups ketchup

3 cups hot water

4 tablespoons brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Charcoal and Woodchips as needed


DIRECTIONS:

Clean the ribs, and trim away any excess fat. In a bowl, stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup salt, ground black pepper, paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Coat ribs liberally with spice mix. Place the ribs in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F smoke uncovered for 3 to 4 hours, or until the ribs are tender and nearly fall apart.

Cook onion in a little oil until lightly browned and tender. Stir in ketchup, and heat for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring constantly. Next, mix in water and brown sugar, and season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to achieve desired thickness.

20 minutes before eating, baste ribs with sauce so the sauce does not get completely dried out.

 

Chicken with the Lamb Legs Hiding behind them

Chicken with the Lamb Legs Hiding behind them

 

Alder Planked Seabass

Alder Planked Seabass

Complete spread minus the Seabass

Complete spread minus the Seabass

From top to Bottom: Pork Ribs, Beef Ribs & Corned Beef

From top to Bottom: Pork Ribs, Beef Ribs & Corned Beef

 


Molecular Gastronomy Seminar with Dr. Herve This


On 22 April the HITDC had organized a seminar hosted my Dr. Herve This for their culinary students and also invited the Hong Kong Chefs Association members, I was happy to be one of them, but was wondering what to expect, as I knew Herve is a scientist and not a Chef, he is in fact the brain behind the new culinary cuisines created by Ferran Adria, Moto, Wylie Dufresne and others who wow their diners with their foams, emulsions, frozen gases and very slowly cooked creations.

So indeed we did not see much cooking going on, but this Scientists Culinary genius was brought out to share some of his knowledge with us. I have to tell you he gave quite an entertaining performance, and as I am a Chef it was highly intersting to see him also do some experiments.

Dr. This also atributes great importance to the emotional aspect of  cooking, as shown in the title of one of his good books showing: Cooking is Love, Art and Technique.

Dr. Herve This with Chef Andreas Muller

Dr. Herve This with Chef Andreas Muller

Molecular Gastronomy is a scientific discipline involving the study of physical and chemical processes that occur in cooking. It should not be confused with Molecular Cooking, which is the application of Molecular Gastronomy to cooking.

The term Molecular Gastronomy was coined in the 1980’s by a French scientist, Herve This, and a Hungarian born physicist Nicholas Kurti, who was a professor of physics in England. Both men were interested in food science, but they felt that empirical knowledge and tradition were as important in cooking as rational understanding.

Dr. Herve This doing an experiment with eggs

Dr. Herve This doing an experiment with eggs

A classis example of molecular gastronomy is the investigation of the effect of specific temperatures on the yolk and white when cooking an egg. Many cookbooks provide the instructions of boiling eggs 3-6 minutes for soft yolks, 6-8 minutes for a medium yolk and so on. Molecular gastronomy reveals that the amount of time is less important to cooking the eggs than specific temperatures – which always yields the desired result.

There is much more about molecular gastronomy then just the physical and chemical changes during food preparation. One fascinating area involves how the senses play their own role in human appreciation of food. Even one sense of touch can affect our perception of flavour.

The following article is written by Christopher Gallaga, who can be found here: www.achefatlarge.com Thank you Chris for letting me put this here.

Molecular Gastronomy a system of knowledge.

By: Christopher Gallaga

 

I suspect some were disappointed to learn that Dr. Hervé This, would not be conducting a “cooking show” during his seminar on Molecular Gastronomy, presented at the HITDC in Pokfulam. In his clear words he does not pretend to be a cook. I, being a lover of science, food and cooking was delighted that one of the worlds most affable, approachable and readable food scientists would be discussing the science of cooking.

 

Early in his presentation Dr. This, stated unequivocally that he was not here to answer, but rather to ask, questions. He then set about asking several empirical questions about eggs (why do they foam, how does a whisk work, which whisk is better, where is the yolk inside a shell, and so on), to which he always answered, “We don’t [yet] know.” After demonstrating the first fundamental of the scientific method: to explore phenomenon without prejudice, he then demonstrated how we could find out the true answers to all those questions (and more).

 

We delved into both elementary physics and chemistry, and were even presented with several quasi-cooking demonstrations, (a microwave soufflé, a mayonnaise “pudding” and a egg cooked by ethanol) but our professor again quite strenuously noted that he is not a cook, but a scientist. He plainly stated that the scientist and the chef are two distinct and important vocations in the creation of food, and that while they could be the closest of friend, while they both pursued their purpose with equally vigorous passion; they had very different goals. Scientists are in endless pursuit of sublime knowledge, while cooks are in endless pursuit of the more ethereal artistry of creating pleasure through nourishment. The scientists can no more drive the actions of the cook than the cook can force the science against reality. For mutual benefit the two must work in harmony in order to increase the vast lexicon called the art and science of cuisine.

 

Dr. This did provide one clear and important answer to a multi-part question that is currently on a lot of chef’s minds. He stated unequivocally that Molecular Gastronomy is the scientific study of food, while molecular cooking is an adoption of certain new knowledge and modern technology to add to or enhance the established glossary of cuisine. Throughout history we see a steady progression of food knowledge while every generation or so this fundamental knowledge is punctuated by trends and specific advancements. In time the overall food compendium adopts those specifically important features of any trend, discarding the rest. Thus it is really not a choice of either/or; it is simply that the overall encyclopedia is the big picture progress of cuisine and cooking while any trend, including molecular cookery, is the temporary divergence to a small picture specialty. Exciting in the moment, but over all just one of many contributors to a much larger base of knowledge and technique.

 

In the end, what Hervé This tried to do was to teach chefs the scientific method, to teach chefs how to ask questions and how to devise and perform experiments that will yield factual answers rather than more of the same “old tales” steeped in mystical supposition. To that end I found the lecture a value packed two-hours of learning, and will certainly take this scientific approach into improving the understanding the facts behind my chosen vocation. Perhaps in time I can help advance the knowledge contained in the lexicon of cookery, myself.

Should you feel interested to read more about him, you can always buy his book.


Shooting Tomatoes and Wine Bottles and Glasses


Yeah so what do I want to tell you here? as I am the one who is learning…..ok, I believe in sharing is learning for all, its how I learn as well, for example my flickr buddies and friends add set up shots to their images, or add descriptions how they achieved the looks, and from examining that, plus trial and error I learn a lot.

 

Set up shot for the Wine Bottle and Glass

Set up shot for the Wine Bottle and Glass

If you want to see this image with detailed explanations of what is what, click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcoveringa/3464990953/

So obviously this first few set of shots was for the wine glass and bottle, but in essence the set up is not much differece, for the Tomato shots, simply remove the flags, add a clear plexi glass suspended over 4 water glasses above the velvet, raise the softboxes to match that est voila you are where my tomatoes were.

In the following shots you can see the very clear difference between having soft-boxes or having soft-boxes and flags, Flags are black pieces of board, that prohibit light spill on something, i.e. the black boards you see blocking part of the light from the soft-boxes. In fact they block 3/4 of the light of the boxes…..almost making them obsolete.

Have a look at them first:

 

Wine glass without the Flags, Pretty good right?

Wine glass without the Flags, Pretty good right?

Now look again:

 

Here same shot but with the softboxes from the back to front flagged for 3/4th!!! who talked about LARGE diffused light sources?

Here same shot but with the softboxes from the back to front flagged for 3/4th!!! who talked about LARGE diffused light sources?

Despite that in the last image the stem of the glass really disappears in the background, its a much better shot and a much crisper look isnt it? BTW I am at a loss as to why I cant get any highlight into the stem……if anyone has any tips, pls let me know!!

Another problem I had was with the Wine Bottle, why oh why when the soft-boxes were even pointing downwards why didnt i get highlights all the way down the bottle…..? they seemed to disappear just midway the bottle. how weird is that, and no I am NOT trying to bounce my lights of the black, light consuming velvet…haha. again if you know why, pls let me know, it will help me improve! here the proof to the pudding, disappearing highlights midway bottle:

 

The Bottle base just dissapears

The Bottle base just dissapears

The following shot perhaps gives more clues as there is a glass in the shot and shows more what going around, but still to me it has no answers:

 

The Glass holds key information to lighting experts, but I cant decipher it!

The Glass holds key information to lighting experts, but I cant decipher it!

Ok down to the Tomatoes of this post now, one of my friends and Colleagues is Angelo Mc Donnell, he is a great Chef, an artist and a serious Competition Chef as well, he brought out this book called “Hot Tomatoes” , its sold at amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Tomatoes-Angelo-McDonnell/dp/9889938715 Now Tomatoes I have a soft heart for, they arent vegetables, they arent fruits, therefore they can be treated with both salt and sugar, if you know what I mean. Add to that the colors and shapes they posses, it just means you have an enormously versatile ingredient. Angelo in his book he really shows he understands this to the point!

Anyway I have tried to shoot his book cover idea, i.e. a “hot” Tomato, or a tomato on fire, as you can see from the amazon.com link above. 

1st Challange: how to light it well

2nd Challange: how to show the flames well

 

Dripping rubbing alcohol (90%) on the tomatoes, but that burns to clean, what to use to burn something and show good flames?

Dripping rubbing alcohol (90%) on the tomatoes, but that burns to clean, what to use to burn something and show good flames?

 

Shooting Tomatoes the regular way, just sprayed wet with good lights and vibrance seems to go me much better off!

Shooting Tomatoes the regular way, just sprayed wet with good lights and vibrance seems to go me much better off!

 

A last but not least shot which was edited to desaturate all, except for 1 Tomato which creates quite a dramatic effect!

A last but not least shot which was edited to desaturate all, except for 1 Tomato which creates quite a dramatic effect!

So you can see I have lots to learn but also do my share of sharing so others can learn from me or my mistakes (mostly)!

I have on purpose not shared lighting settings and positioning as this goes into so much details, and needs so much trial and error, if you are interested in that, visit my flicrk stream which has most those detals on each shot.

Ciao

Marco


What not to do to your Chef?


JUst a funny Video, its nothing new, but its something you should be aware of if you are a young apprentice!

Do not piss your Chef off like this, its just bound to create a new job environment for you!

Hapy Cooking!


Romanesco Cauliflower, or Broccoli?


Source: Wikipedia & almostachef.com

A Fractal Vegetable, Romanesco Cauliflower

A Fractal Vegetable, Romanesco Cauliflower

 

 

Images: Marco Veringa

 

Romanesco broccoli is an edible flower of the species Brassica oleracea and a variant form of cauliflower. Romanesco broccoli was first documented in Italy (as broccolo romanesco) in the sixteenth century. It is sometimes called broccoflower, but that name is also applied to green-curded cauliflower cultivars. It is also known as coral broccoli. It is rich in vitamin Cfiber, and carotenoids.

The vegetable resembles a cauliflower, but is of a light green color and the inflorescence (the bud) has an approximate self-similar character, with the branched meristems making a logarithmic spiral. These odd characteristics are often a delight of math-minded persons, who dubbed the vegetable terms like “fractal food”.

Looks aside, romanesco is delicious. Its flavour is somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower, with a sweet, vegetal nuttiness – and it’s bereft of the slightly bitter edge cauliflower can have. Apparently, children tend to like it for this very reason.

 

According to USDA nutritional information, green cauliflower provides extra vitamin A and slightly more vitamin C than basic white. Orange cauliflower has higher levels of beta carotene, and purple is an effect of anthocyanin, which may help prevent heart disease. All cauliflower is low in calories and rich in vitamins C and K, folate, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamine. And like other cruciferous vegetables, it may help prevent some types of cancer.

And if this wasn’t all interesting enough here is a link really interestingly talking all about fractal food, featuring Romanesco! http://www.fourmilab.ch/images/Romanesco/


Portrait of an Alien


Kohlrabi or also called German Turnip.

(sources used: wikipedia.org)

 

This perfect vegetable with its ridiculous Alien look and “tentacles” is often forgotten in the bottom drawers of the fridge, until its slowly going off.

Kohlrabi raw

Kohlrabi raw

 

 

If you ask me only because people know way too little about this little gem. Believe it or not but it belongs to the family Brassica Oleracea Gongylodes Group, or in easier terms Cabbages, Broccoli and Cauliflower.

 

Kohlrabi’s taste when eaten raw resembles a crispy and juicy Apple, however less sweet, the Texture resembles more a stem of broccoli or a cabbage Heart. Smaller Kohlrabi’s are better as the texture didn’t turn “woody” yet, so smaller then 8 cm in diameter would be best. Kohlrabi can be found both White, Purple and Green which is more common, they can be eaten as well raw as cooked, and also the stems and leaves can be eaten.

 

Kohlrabi is grown from July to November in Northern Europe, is a good source of Vitamin C, as well as magnesium and phosphorous, which are useful in the absorption of calcium.

 

The name Kohlrabi comes from German Language and means literally “Cabbage Turnip”.

This fine specimen is off course weeks old as I had to peel away almost all of its intersting leaves as they were all yellow and hanging down. As with everything freshness is paramount, but blucky for me this vegetable can easily keep for weeks without the main bulb deteriorating.

Kohlrabi in Creamy Dill Sauce

Ingredients

350 Gram Kohlrabi quartered
225 Gram Carrots shredded
25 Gram Butter
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Chopped Dill
150 Ml Cream
Salt and Pepper
 
1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

 

Method:
  1. Thickly peel the kohlrabi to remove the woody outer layer. Slice thinly and cook with the carrots, butter and stock for about 10 minutes, until tender.
  2. Blend the Corn Starch with very little cold water and mix under the vegetable stew. Stir well.
  3. Return to the boil and stir in the Cream and Dill, adjust seasoning and serve hot with your main dish.  

 

Raw and Cooked

Raw and Cooked

Raw and cooked close up

Raw and cooked close up

 


Painting the new Flat


So today was the day, we had to paint now as its my last good day off before we move in, so Alex was there, he is my oldest son of 14, turning 15 soon, and my youngest of 3 years old……the middle one was lucky enough as he started school today and came along only afterwards to point out where we made mistakes! haha

 

Jens seen in his room his wall is half blue, just the Mcqueen sticker is missing

Jens seen in his room his wall is half blue, just the Mcqueen sticker is missing

Jens can be seen here in his new room, posing in front of his half white and half blue walls which are separated by a Mcqueen banner running across it, he has a Mcqueen bed too……imagine the smiles on his face.

BTW almost all pictures here are taken by my eldest son Alexander Veringa, with my camera, he seriously has an eye for compositions, doesnt he?

 

Jens

Jens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King (the middle one) was at school today so he was luckily saved the child labour abuse. 

I find this next picture really shows Alexander’s compositional strength…..I would never have done this, i would have always just zoomed in closer and closer……I am a happy guy I can learn something from my kids here! They rock my world in many ways I gotta say!

 

Jens on Erotic red

Jens on Erotic red

BEWARE — DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IF YOU DONT LIKE MONK LIKE NUDITY…….KIDDING hehehe

 

Monk painting on Erotic red which was picked by my wife.....that promises!

Monk painting on Erotic red which was picked by my wife.....that promises!

As dinner needs to be cooked I need to seed up this post, I am needed in the food department! I leave with some more pictures!

 

Our Corridor

Our Corridor

Kings Room

Kings Room

 

Wifey painting Erotic Red

Wifey painting Erotic Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least another clone shot of Alex last night!

Last but not least another clone shot of Alex last night!