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Sous Vide: Pop's All You Need Guide
Learning about Food & Drink

Sous Vide: Pop's All You Need Guide

French cooking is renowned worldwide, especially because of the chef’s ability to prepare food precisely. Relying on various food preparation techniques, French chefs prepare food that contains flavor and richness with an artisan’s touch. Many of these preparation techniques have become used internationally in cuisines, including the Sous Vide technique. According to -, the Sous Vide method of cooking (in French - Sous Vide translates directly to “under a vacuum”) is a method of cooking in which food is vacuum-sealed in a bag and cooked to an exact temperature while immersed in a water bath. The results of this cooking method are truly delightful - food is cooked consistently, maintains its tenderness, and allows you to prepare your favorite meats and vegetables without having to worry about overcooking the food. If you’ve never tried this method of cooking but are interested in how to get started, this guide is for you. For today’s Pop All You Need guide, we will dive into the world of Sous Vide, providing tips, tools, and techniques that will get you to cook delicious foods in no time. 

History of the Sous Vide Cooking Method:

As we mentioned earlier, the Sous Vide method of food preparation is that of the French, but back in the day, it was not used to help cook food more evenly or even help the food taste better. Rather, Sous Vide was used as a safety measure during the late 1960s after food-grade plastic films and vacuum packaging for food were developed; according to Cook, the ability to keep packaged foods submerged in water at a certain temperature helped to make sterilizing and pasteurizing food much easier for labs, hospitals, and large food companies. 1974, though, brought the Sous Vide method to restaurants in France after a chef wanted to cook foie gras without losing much fat within the cooking process. So, after much experimentation, the chef Pierre Troisgros found that sealing foie gras in plastic and cooking it at a precise temperature, submerged in water, provided the best results, and Sous Vide was then born.

Slowly the technique made its way to other parts of the world, including the United States, thanks to the onslaught of the World Wide Web! Chefs began to take up the new way of cooking, investing in circulators (one of the main components needed to cook effectively in this method) and experimenting with Sous Vide, sharing their techniques over the internet. Slowly but surely, by 2005, the method became much more widespread, with professionals teaching classes on Sous Vide and many more cookbooks, including recipes using the technique. Additionally, with time, the price of at-home immersion circulators has also begun to drop, making Sous Vide a much more viable option for those who wanted to partake but didn’t have a commercial kitchen or tools. So, here we are today, where thousands of immersion tools have been created (all at different price points), making this cooking method viable for all!

Tools You’ll Need

Now that we’ve discussed the history of the Sous Vide cooking method, you may wonder what you need to have in your kitchen to try this for yourself. Not to worry, here is a list of a few things you will need to be able to Sous Vide in your kitchen:

An Immersion Circulator - this device is key to the Sous Vide process! Immersion circulators are devices you insert into a tub or pot of water. It circulates the water as it heats the temperature precisely and continuously for the desired cooking time. While immersion circulators used to be quite pricey and hard to attain for the at-home chef, nowadays, you can find a good quality one for less than $250!

Sous Vide Bags - You can’t sous vide without the second main component of the cooking method, the plastic sous vide bag, to place what you are cooking into. These bags are typically vacuum sealed to take all of the air out and then submerged into the hot bath to cook the items to a perfect texture. Thankfully, several different Sous vide plastic bags are available on the market today, and you can even use Ziplock freezer bags if you’re in a pinch! 

A Large Pot or Tub for the Bath - The third main component to successfully cook using the sous vide method is to place the meat, water, and immersion circulator! There are a number of different containers or pots you can use for this cooking method, ranging from a Cambro 8-quart storage container to a normal large cooking pot. It is noted, though, that plastic is a better heat insulator than the metal of pots, but you can use whatever you have handy.

Bag Clips - This one is self-explanatory, but bag clips are needed to ensure the food remains submerged in the bath for its entire cooking process.

Ping Pong Balls - You may wonder, why would I ever need ping pong balls to cook? While it may seem odd, ping pong balls provide quite a service during the sous vide cooking process. While the water in the bath circulates thanks to the immersion circulator, you want the temperature to be constant during the cooking process. Thanks to the laws of chemistry, heat constantly leaves the water as it moves, so the likelihood that the temperature will ebb and flow too much and leave the food uncooked despite the cooking time you allocate. This is where the ping pong balls come in handy - they work to become a good insulator for the water, helping to maintain a constant temperature and therefore allowing the food to be cooked each and every time evenly!

What Can I Make Sous Vide?

Now that you know what tools you will need to prepare your food, you may think, “What foods can be prepared using the Sous Vide cooking method?” Well, there’s quite a lot that can be made this way, including but not limited to:


Steaks and other meats and poultry

Seafood

Vegetables

And even eggs!

Most commonly, steaks or chicken are prepared in the sous vide method, given its ability to cook the meat thoroughly while maintaining the tenderness and moisture of the meat during the cooking process. According to Serious Eats, sous vide cooking offers unparalleled control over anything you try to cook and provides perfect results each time. If you’re interested in a delicious chicken with flavor and juiciness, try cooking it sous vide! Make sure to season your meat before you place it in the plastic resealable bag (either a sous vide bag or a Ziplock freezer bag) to give your desired flavor during cooking. Then, place the bag in the water bath and make sure the bag sinks (it should if properly sealed) and follow this timing chart to cook the chicken well! Finally, it’s recommended to finish searing the chicken in a skillet or cast iron pan to give it that nice golden color and finishing flavor, and you’re good to go! The same goes for meats like steak, pork chops, and all other food items you wish to cook using the sous vide method.

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International Holiday Dessert Favorites
Learning about Food & Drink

International Holiday Dessert Favorites

The holidays are a joyous time all around the world. Depending on where you may find yourself, the celebrations can reach large scales, with an abundance of Christmas Markets, large Christmas Trees, parades, and much more, further spreading the holiday cheer that many look forward to each year. Like the large occasions, the food excels just as much, especially within the sweets department! Cookies, cakes, and other desserts make the holiday season so much more special, with pies, decorated cookies, and flavors of peppermint, apple, and cinnamon filling the air, leaving us reminiscing on the times of the times we shared around the fire with our loved ones. All around the world, different countries enjoy the same holidays in their ways, with versions of desserts that make this time of the year special for foodies and families alike. Today, we wanted to take you on a journey worldwide to see all the delicious desserts enjoyed by cultures during this time of the year to inspire you to try some of these out for yourself! 

Polish Pierniczki (Polish Gingerbread Cookies)

This Polish dessert, also known as the Polish Gingerbread Cookie, is a classic treat passed out to children on December 6th yearly by St. Nicholas (or Święty Mikołaj in Polish). The city of Toruń has been known famously for making gingerbread cookies since the Middle Ages and used to be cut into beautiful shapes using intricately carved wooden molds. Today, though, pierniczki is cut into various shapes and other beautiful designs, and even shaped as Santa Claus! 

To make these cookies, you’ll need eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, dissolved baking soda, honey, and all-purpose flour. Simply beat two eggs with sugar until light, add to the eggs the spices, baking soda dissolved in three tablespoons of water, and honey, and mix well. Gradually add the flour and mix the ingredients until a stiff dough forms. Once the dough is formed, wrap it in plastic to let it rest for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are up, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and roll the dough out in preparation to cut it into your desired shapes! Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes and let the cookies cool before icing them (if desired). 

German Christollen (Stollen Bread)

A true German classic holiday dessert, Christollen (also known as stollen bread), has been around for hundreds of years and has become a worldwide popular Christmas pastry! Its candied fruit and nut remind so many of the happiness of the holiday season, with its sweet flavor complimenting a nice coffee or other warm winter drink. This delicious bread originates from Dresden, Germany, and can be dated back to 1329, thanks to a contest in which bakers baked a loaf of bread with the finest butter, sugar, raisins, citron, and other ingredients. The Bishop of Nauruburg at the time had enjoyed the bread so dearly that he ordered a specific amount of grain to make only stollen. It became an element of the Christmas season during 1424 when Christollen began to be sold at the Christmas Market, also known as the Streizelmarket. Today, Christollen or stollen bread, in general, is available worldwide at grocery stores and specialty stores alike! You can also make it at home and, while time-consuming, will be sure to wow your loved ones and transport you to the snowy holiday season of Germany. 

Chilean Pan de Pascua Fruitcake

Another delicious treat enjoyed during the holiday season hails from Chile and is reminiscent of the German stollen bread we mentioned earlier. This bread, also known as Pan de Pascua, is thought to have descended from German stollen and Italian panettone but adapted to match the South American region's spices, liquors, fruits, and nuts. Typically this bread is served with cola de mono, a spiced alcoholic coffee drink, and another Chilean holiday tradition. However, it would pair well with coffee, tea, or even as a nice standalone dessert.

To make Pan de Pascua, you will need a few things: butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, strongly-brewed coffee, and brandy (you could use pisco or rum), among other ingredients. Making this bread takes a bit of time, but you will be thrilled you did! The results are picture-perfect and great to share with friends and loved ones during this holiday season.

Filipino Bibingka

Another holiday favorite hails from the Philippines and is known as Bibingka. This delicious coconut rice cake is a staple for Christmastime in the Philippines. Its savoriness combined with the sweetness of the coconut makes for a decadent treat that would be perfect to serve with a nice hot coffee or even hot chocolate. Many find Bibingka to be a staple of their childhood, reminding them of the time spent with family and friends, celebrating Christmas with loved ones. Bibingka is a savory dessert, but it is the true definition of home in food.

To prepare Bibingka, you’ll need some rice flour, salt, baking powder, butter, sugar, coconut milk, fresh milk, a salted duck egg, grated cheese, some raw eggs, grated coconut, and a pre-cut banana leaf. For this recipe, you’ll start off by preheating the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and combine rice flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing them together well. Cream the butter and add in sugar while whisking, and then whisk in the eggs until everything is well mixed. Gradually add in both coconut milk as well as fresh milk and whisk again for 1 to 2 minutes more. Lay the banana leaf onto a baking pan, pour the mixture into the pan, put it in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Once you take the Bibingka out of the oven, top it with the sliced salted egg and grated cheese, and bake the cake for an additional 15 minutes until the top is medium brown. Once cooled, brush with butter and top with grated coconut!

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Healthy Appetizers: Pop's All You Need Guide
Learning about Food & Drink

Healthy Appetizers: Pop's All You Need Guide

With the holiday season quickly approaching, there’s no question that appetizers are a fan favorite among most. According to KRCA, about 64% of consumers worldwide mention that they would much rather snack throughout the day than eat multiple larger meals, so there is no doubt that appetizers fit well into this sentiment. There is much to love in these finger foods as well; there are many restaurants, for example, that turn larger food items into quick-to-eat yet filling smaller versions that can easily make a meal of their own. Appetizers set the mood at parties, with finger foods making an excellent pairing with drinks while talking to friends or loved ones. So many of the appetizers we consume are full of calories and fats that may cause more harm than good. So for today’s Pop’s All You Need Guide, we wanted to share some healthier appetizers you can enjoy that will be sure to keep you full and healthy this holiday season (so you can indulge some more of your food favorites!).

What Are Appetizers?

Before we look into different appetizers you can prepare, we wanted to look at what an appetizer is. As noted by Delighted Cooking, appetizers are considered finger foods served typically before a meal and range from simple to complex, depending on the occasion and who makes them. You may also hear the names hors d’oeuvres, antipasti, or starters in lieu of ‘appetizer,’ but they all mean the same thing! Additionally, you can make a wide variety of appetizers, so you’re bound to find a recipe that works for your special occasion. Whether you’re planning a holiday party with friends or a much more formal get-together, there will likely be a healthy and easy-to-prepare appetizer for your needs.

Cowboy Caviar:

This classic appetizer makes for the perfect savory option. Chock full of vegetables and beans, Cowboy Caviar won’t leave you feeling overfull before you even enjoy the main meal. Perfectly paired with chips, this dip is light yet still full of flavor and will be sure to have your guests returning for seconds (and thirds). Cowboy caviar is also a wonderful recipe to prepare if you are short on time as it requires no baking or cooking time, only a few minutes to chop all the ingredients and mix them.

You’ll need a few items to prepare this delicious appetizer: three Roma tomatoes, two diced avocadoes, a third of a cup of diced red onion, 15oz black beans rinsed and drained, 15oz of black-eyed peas rinsed and drained, one and a half cup frozen thawed sweet corn, one bell pepper, one deseeded and diced jalapeno pepper, and a third of a cup of chopped cilantro. You’ll also need olive oil, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder for the dressing. The instructions for preparing Cowboy Caviar are simple, requiring only four steps! First, toss together tomatoes, avocado, onion, black beans, black-eyed peas, corn, pepper, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro in a bowl. Mix the olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and garlic powder in a separate container. Once both are complete, mix them together in one large bowl! Make sure to keep the Cowboy Caviar refrigerated after preparation and serve it with tortilla chips for the ultimate treat.

Classic Vegetables and Dip:

Another easy, healthy, and delicious appetizer that will be sure to keep your guests satisfied without feeling too full before the main meal is the classic vegetables and dip! This is the most versatile of the appetizers we’ll discuss today, as there are infinite possibilities for putting this together! Additionally, vegetables and dip take very little time to prepare, making it the perfect appetizer choice if you’re low on time or busy preparing other foods.

Some vegetables you can use for this appetizer include:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Snow Peas
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Radishes
  • And so much more!

Various dips make this appetizer delicious, ranging from classic ranch dressing to creamy poppyseed dressing to sour cream and onion dip! Depending on the available time, you can prepare the dressings at home ahead of time, or, if time is limited, you can find packets and premade dips and dressings you can prepare in minutes.

Cucumber Smoked Salmon Bites:

If you’re looking for something a bit fancy to serve your guests, Cucumber Smoked Salmon Bites make for a savory and refreshing treat that will surely set the meal off on the right foot! Additionally, this dish is hefty with nutrients, thanks to the combination of cucumber and salmon together with cream cheese to balance everything out. According to Prepare and Nourish, the ingredients in this appetizer are naturally low-carb and GAPS diet-compliant, making this a perfect guilt-free appetizer for anyone looking to watch their carb intake.

What makes cucumber smoked salmon bites so wonderful is their versatility; depending on your preferences, you can add or change your toppings to fit the tastes of those attending your get-together. For example, you can add everything bagel seasoning to give these salmon bites more of a salty flavor, dill to provide a bit of tang, or even simply season with salt and pepper to give the salmon bites a simple yet balanced taste that will be sure to wow your guests. Just like the appetizers we mentioned before, this dish is straightforward to prepare and only requires a few ingredients and steps to get you started. All you will need are some cucumbers, full-fat cream cheese, smoked salmon, a lemon, fresh dill, capers (for garnish), and some everything bagel seasoning.

Charcuterie Boards:

Charcuterie boards are a popular appetizer choice that fits any holiday (or even a simple picnic) party. Fruits, cheeses, and meats, all presented in a beautiful layout, make this dish beautiful to look at and even more delicious to eat. Additionally, this appetizer makes for a highly customizable experience and pairs perfectly with wine (if you’re serving during this party). Some perfect pairings for your next charcuterie board can easily be found at your local grocery store and may include cured meats like turkey or ham, various kinds of cheese (mozzarella, gouda, swiss, and so many others work well with this!), olives and nuts, fruit, dried fruits, crackers or small pieces of bread, and some jelly or jam. Additionally, you’ll need a board to place all of these items on; typically, charcuterie boards are wooden and quite large in size, and you can find them at your local store. For garnish, add some fresh rosemary and thyme around the board to add a little greenery (it makes the board smell great too). Your loved ones will surely enjoy this appetizer, and this combination will also be easy on the stomach before lunch or dinner is served!

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