Wednesday, November 27, 2013



Holiday cooking is a chore that must be done but it doesn’t have to be a bad chore.  With a few time saving ideas, it will go smoothly and allow more time for family and friends.With the holiday season fast approaching, my thoughts are running with anticipation of the time spent with out-of-state loved ones who will be visiting.  There is a lot of prep work to do, which usually is not a problem, but on the actual holiday, cooking time steals from my family time.

This year, I got busy early.  I mixed my stuffing ahead of time and vacuum sealed it with the Vacupack Elite.  I put it into the freezer and now all I have to do is cook it in the bag in boiling water and it will be just as tasty and fresh as if I made it that day.  I also put aside cookies and pies the same way.  I can simply take the cookies out of the freezer the night before and thaw for serving the next day.  The pies can be taken from the bag and popped into the oven to quickly bake them just before serving so that they are hot, fresh and flavorful. 

Fresh vegetables are pricey during this time of year and waiting for sales is tedious.  I simply use some of the fresh vegetables that I vacuum sealed and froze during the harvest season.  I thaw them out for salads and vegetable dip trays. 

 All of us groan at the thought of eating leftovers for days and days.  If you vacuum seal your leftovers, you can freeze them and use them for meals later.  Frozen turkey leftovers will make excellent soup later in the winter when you crave a hot and healthy meal.  Or, make the soup now and freeze it for heating later.  Individual serving packages make hot soup a convenient lunchtime idea instead of the old, tired sandwich and chips.

Turkey can be vacuum sealed and frozen for sandwiches, too.  You can make individual serving sizes and just take out what you need when you need it.  Leftover stuffing might taste good the day after the holiday meal but it can get a little tiring after that.  Instead of wasting it, vacuum seal it, freeze it and use it another day!

I usually start my holiday shopping and cooking about a month in advance and having a vacuum sealer is a valuable time saving tactic.  I cook a lot of things (like pies, cookies and stuffing) ahead of time in large batches and divide them up, one package for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas.  

The Vacupack Elite is a top of the line vacuum sealer built for durability.  It has a moisture trap that diverts moisture away from the pump, which makes for a tight bag seal with no leaks.  It cannot be beat for sous-vide cooking, which is becoming more and more popular in the United States.  Instead of canning food, storing it for sous-vide cooking is a safer and more reliable way of storing food.  Purchasing large quantities of meat and poultry when it is on sale and cooking it in the sous-vide method for storage will save money and free your time for other activities.

From the PMG crew to you and your family, we wish you all the very best Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.  

Written for PMG

By Jacqueline Moderson 
SEO Professional Writer

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Sous-Vide Cooked Meals. The Basic Understanding of the Process.

Sous-Vide, exactly what is it? 

Used in many gourmet restaurants, sous-vide is a modern cooking technique which involves cooking food that is vacuum sealed in airtight plastic pouches at a very consistent, precise temperature for long periods of time. The basic nature of this cooking technique allows you to prepare food to perfection while, at the same time, eliminates anxieties about overcooking.The sous-vide method yields better and different results than conventional cooking. The textures and flavors developed by this unique cooking technique cannot be replicated using any other conventional cooking technique. Apart from producing extraordinary results, sous-vide method is tremendously simple and foolproof. Capturing the true aroma and food flavors, it retains the nutritional value, gourmet taste, and natural juices of the foods.

To cook food with the sous-vide method, you can vacuum seal food in sturdy plastic bags certified for this purpose. Drop the bags into specifically controlled water bath. However, this method can vary from 20 to 30 minutes for food items like scrambled eggs and lean fish, and it can go to as long as 72 hours for items like tough meats such as spareribs. The time taken to cook a given portion of the food to be brought to its desired temperature depends on its thickness and not overall weight. Tender food items like beef or pork tenderloin, shellfish, fish, and lamb chops are required to come to desired temperature to be luscious and ready to eat. Tender steaks and chicken breasts normally take one to two hours cooked sous-vide, depending on thickness. The best part of sous-vide technique is that, unlike other cooking methods on the grill, oven, or stove, sous-vide is forgiving. Many times, food is left undisturbed for much longer in the water bath, yet still retains the texture, flavor, and appearance of these food items.

Although any kind of meat is perfect for sous-vide, it works well with delicate or tender foods, such as lamb, beef, pork, or fish, ensuring that these items are not overcooked. You can also use this method to prepare béarnaise sauce, cheese, yogurt, and custard-style ice cream base as well. Basically, anything that needs precise temperature can be a contestant for sous-vide cooking. Moreover, as the sous-vide process locks in natural flavors of your food, you can apply seasonings with a light hand.Many foods like one-dish meals, fruits and vegetables are delectable straight from the bags. Meat items, such as fish and poultry, are also ready to eat, but may do well when browned on the grill, under the broiler, or sautéed in a skillet. Consider, for instance, grilling or broiling steak. You normally cook a steak at temperatures ranging from 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 Celsius to 500 F or 260 C. As a result, the steak becomes charred on the outside while the inside can still be uncooked. Thus, your steak could be overcooked when exposed to such high temperatures.

However, with the sous-vide method, your food will be cooked precisely and gently at the desired temperature. In this example, your steak can cook at 134 F or 56 C for perfect medium rare. This is because the water transmits heat to the sealed food 10 times more proficiently than air does, thus imparting complete safety to the food. 

Writing for PMG 

Sipia Mahajan  
SEO Professional Writer. 

Professional Marketing Group Inc.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Saving Money, while Enjoying Great Holiday Meals!

Saving Money, while Enjoying Great Holiday Meals!

For some the holidays are a great time to celebrate and enjoy the season.  For others it can be a daunting task to embrace the season on limited budgets.  

Usually the grocery stores offer wonderful sales.  It can be hard to resist the frenzy surrounding the holiday season, this includes grocery shopping.  Most of the year our fridge is pretty manageable.  A few days of meals available but plenty of room for air space and wondering what there is to eat.  

Then comes a holiday and the expected guests.  We all want to be that great host that has plenty of the favorite traditional dishes.  We prepare and plan, think and cook, bake until we have enough food to feed an entire city. Or so it seems looking at the spread. 
Does your fridge look like this, with not an inch of available space? 

Of course everyone enjoys your meals. The best food all year. But realistically, they have not eaten more than the usual meals day in and day out.  What do we have left? Food and more food and more food to deal with.  

This is the time to make sure your VacUpack vacuum sealer is on the counter and handy to use.  
Stock up on bags now so you are prepared the day of.
Being prepared for the holiday meals will save enough money to pay for the bags you will use all year long. The best time to pack up lunches, quick dinners and snacks all from the left over holiday feast.   We don't want to see you like this, finding the hidden treasure in the back of the fridge weeks later.  

Rotted food is the #1 largest increase in our food budgets today.  Vacupack your fresh, cooked, frozen or cupboard foods and hold back the cost of increasing food prices.  The amount of food wasted after a holiday can be staggering.  Don't let this happen to you.

 Separate the left overs into meal size portions, vacuum seal and either freeze or refrigerate.  An organized fridge all vacuum packed will keep for extended time. Allowing the consumption of the foods in the days and weeks following the holiday.  Open and reseal as needed.  


Go ahead buy that extra tasty treat. You are prepared with a secret weapon to save money. Taking full advantage of your Vacupack, saving your holiday food budget from disaster.  

Happy Hollidays 

Thursday, November 21, 2013




Many among us love fast food, just pass by at the drive – through and pick up your favorite burger, pizza slice or hot dog, a regular practice for many of us.
 There are bad fast foods, very bad fast foods but also not so bad fast foods available in the market, but I think that you can make something better than that.
I do not have any intention to tell you here not to eat fast food or lecture you about health issues related to eating fast food, many chefs, a hundred times more famous than me, are touching that subject in and out, so I leave that to them.
Fast food companies do not cook, even though they make it look they cook like a celebrity chef, they purchase products from a food processing company and basically just re-heat the products they serve. 
I have worked for such a food processing company as product development chef for several years and dare to say that I pretty well know how the fast food industry works behind the counter and in their ‘kitchen’.
To give you a peak, we made, among others, burgers for a famous burger giant, good burgers, well produced, HACCP proof, super fast frozen, tip top product. They, these burger guys, have in every outlet around the world a special, only available to them, designed oven where staff places the burger on the base of the oven and your perfect burger drops, at the other side of the machine, on your bun after four minutes and twenty five seconds.  
 Sounds like magic? It is not, you can do the same at home, quality patties and even better quality fries and buns      
With increasingly worrying stories about the health aspect of fast food, heart diseases, obesity and what not, making fast food at home becomes more and more popular.   
The best thing about making fast food at home is that YOU choose the products to use.
Meat from a trusted butcher, buns from your favorite bakery shop and maybe you like to make your own sauce and fries.
Now here is the problem. I know. I hear them too often.
“I have to start making everything from scratch every time and I hate that”.
Here is your solution, make batches at a time, vacuum pack what you make and freeze it. If you have a family of four, pack four burgers per bag, no waste. 
Buy fast food ingredients on offer, you may save money as well, minced meat, chicken wings, sausages, vacuum pack and freeze.
When you freeze potatoes they will turn sweet after a while but you can freeze homemade French fries.  Cut potatoes in French fries shape, fry at 170 degrees Celsius or 338 F. for three to four minutes until cooked, drain, cool, vacuum and freeze. When you use them, just fry golden and crispy at 180 degrees Celsius or 356 F and you have the perfect fries.   
Vacuum packing and freezing prolongs the shelf life significantly and your products retain its freshness. 
The burger patties I spoke about earlier have NO seasoning whatsoever, if that works for them it works for you, just form the patties, vacuum and freeze.
Below a very easy, but tasty, recipe for fried chicken wings that you can use for the vacuum/ freeze method. Season the wings, vacuum and freeze is all you need to do to have a great fast food snack in your freezer. Give it a try. 

1 Kg Chicken wings (cut in half, drummet and wing)
1 Nos Large onion (cut into rings)
1 Tbsp Turmeric powder
Salt and crushed black pepper
Oil for frying
Season the chicken wings with the turmeric powder, salt and pepper.
Heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius or 356 F and fry 4 to 5 minutes.
Check for doneness
Drain the fried wings on kitchen paper.
Fry the onion rings in the same oil for two minutes 
Top the chicken wings with the onion rings and serve hot with a sauce of your liking, ketchup, mayonnaise, tomato sauce or hot sauce.
Note: You can use other small cut chicken parts as well, like I did in the picture.
Oh, if you still decide to go to the drive- through, don’t forget to ask them to include these wings in their menu.    

Written for PMG 
By Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn
Culinary expert in recipe development and proof reading.

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Friday, November 15, 2013



Ok, you have invited some of your best friends for dinner, now you need to decide what to cook to prove that you have the quality of a professional chef.
You are not the most experienced chef and spending hours of preparation time is not your thing also.
Well sous-vide cooking is your best friend or will definitely become your best friend after you have given this cooking method a try. And that try is so easy to do.
Sous-vide, it sounds soft and sweet like the finished products it achieves, means nothing more than “cooking in vacuum”.
Sous-vide has taken professional restaurant cooking by storm over the years. It can now turn your home kitchen to a level you never imagined.   
All you need is a vacuum sealer, good quality vacuum bags, a stockpot and a digital thermometer. 
This will do for starting sous-vide cooks. When you fall in love with the concept and you will, believe me, you may want to invest in a thermal water circulator.
The whole secret is to bring meats and vegetables in a vacuum sealed bag under low temperatures in a hot water bath, to the desired serving temperature. 
To achieve this part of the process, you need a good quality thermometer and a bit of effort to keep that temperature steady. 
Once the serving temperature has been reached and that may vary, pending on the cut of meat you use, you need to keep that temperature steady. Preferably you should not have any variation in temperatures and maintain the temperature within the range of one degree Celsius in temperature.
This can be a bit tricky but with a bit of dedication you can overcome this hurdle.
A good way of keeping temperatures of water steady is to keep the water moving or swirling, I know of people who use a small aquarium pump for this, the pump creates bubbles and swirls the water, it proves to be a really good tool.       

To keep things simple, let’s take an example, a sirloin steak of 2.5 cm or 1 inch thickness.
Season the steak to your liking, salt, pepper, a rosemary twig, onions, garlic, the choice is yours.   
Place the steak in a vacuum bag and vacuum seal the bag, using one steak per bag.
A good quality vacuum bag is important. This is to avoid any leaking if or when the bag submerges in the water bath. 
Now you need to heat your water. 
There are many guides about sous-vide cooking temperatures and times but for the steak in our example you can follow this guide.  

A rare steak 120 F or  49 Celsius
A medium rare steak 130 F or  56 Celsius
A medium steak 140 F or  60 Celsius
A medium well steak 150 F or  65.5 Celsius
A well done steak 160 F or  71 Celsius
It will take about 45 minutes for a steak of this size, straight from your fridge, to reach this temperature.
Now here is the good part, if your guests are an hour late, no problem. Just leave the bag with the steak in the water and it will be perfect, but make sure your temperature is steady.
When you are ready to serve, remove the bag from the water, take the steak out of the bag and let it rest for 1 or 2 minutes, the slow sous-vide cooking method ensures that the steak is evenly cooked so there is no need for a long resting time for redistribution of juices.
The only, little, disadvantage of sous-vide cooking is that the method does not brown your meat.
To get a perfect looking steak on a plate just pan sear the steak in a hot pan with a little oil until nicely browned on both sides. This will take about 30 seconds on each side.
And there you are, the perfect steak. 
Five minutes preparation time, more time to greet and chit chat with invited friends or family and the applauses are all yours.
Once you have mastered the temperature control, sous-vide cooking will become an integral part of your cooking adventures. I am sure of that. 

Written for PMG 
By Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn 
Culinary expert in recipe development and proof reading.