Tag Archives: sous vide

Little sous vide cheesecakes

I am no stranger to gadgets. My dad used to say “un’altro gadget” (another gadget) but, although I made mistakes early on, everything I buy I pretty much use and enjoy: it earns its place and keep in our kitchen.

For instance, some years ago, I looked at sous vide cooking but, back then, the domestic sous vide machines were pretty big and I just knew that the space they took up, I’d rather  put an ice cream maker in, given my heritage.

But a few weeks ago, we had friends Natalie and Micah round for lunch and Micah mentioned they had a sous vide and how things had changed; that they were now little bigger than stick blenders and you stuck them in a pan that you already had. And how they cooked the most amazing meat [and fish and other things].


The Joule sous vide, with plug for size comparison

So I looked and I bought.

Although the Anova is pretty popular (Martha Stewart’s chef uses one), it didn’t work that well for me – I couldn’t get it to work with the app and I am such a technophile that this mattered to me. (It doesn’t have to work with an app, you can just use the machine.) So I returned it bought a Joule instead which ONLY works via an app, which may annoy you but I love it. The app has all sorts of pre-set timings and temperatures and it’s soo easy. The Joule is also more powerful than the Anova (all but the Anova Pro which is much more expensive).

If you are thinking, WTF is she on about, then you can read  all about sous vide here. But it is, essentially, cooking food at a very precise temperature in a water bath.

I cooked a chicken breast in it and it was amazing, so moist and let’s not even get started on the steaks it cooks. It doesn’t brown but you can finish meat off in a frying pan for a final sear. The beauty of sous vide, other than it cooks to perfection, is that you can prep food and leave it, which really suits the way I cook.

But, cheesecakes.

You can also use sous vide to cook little cheese cakes and chocolate puddings. You can adapt this one below by adding fruit compote at the end or a biscuit base. We made them with Oreo cookies (use the double filled ones, one per portion – so if using the recipe below you would use six – blitzed in a blender and distributed amongst the jars and pressed down, then you put the cheesecake batter on top – you can use any extra crumbs to put on top of the cheesecakes just before you eat them) but you could use digestive biscuits with a bit of melted butter to bring them all together if you fancy a more traditional cheesecake base.

You need six 135ml mason-style jars. I use these ones.  They are perfect for these mini desserts and many others you can make sous vide. You can also use Weck jars (use the seal and the clips and I guess, regular jam jars but I haven’t yet.

Sorry about the Amazon link for the jars but Lakeland will start selling them come the autumn.

Ingredients for six people

(Six double fill Oreos if using)

225g cream cheese

110g of caster sugar (note to self: you can use less sugar than this as you find it a tad sweet now, go for 80g)

110g creme fraiche

Three eggs

Grated zest of a lemon (I always use organic when I use the zest of citrus fruits)


You can do this in a food processor but it’s not difficult to mix it up by hand. Mix together the cream cheese and the caster sugar, then add the creme fraiche, the lemon zest and the three eggs one at a time. Make sure everything is really well combined.

If you are using a biscuit base you will already have pressed it in the jars.

Distribute evenly amongst the six jars up to the ‘thread’, seal until they are finger tip tight (ie you can unscrew using just your finger tips), set your sous vide to 80C and 90 mins, and when up to temperature, submerge the jars (I use a jar tong, be careful of your fingers).

When done take out, cool then refrigerate for a couple of hours.

I know this recipe isn’t relevant to those of you without a sous vide but you know…if you like kit I’ve given you lots of reasons to buy some.

Vacuum sealing


One of the single most useful things I have in my kitchen is completely unattractive to look at and completely unattractive to talk about, and yet it’s really valid (I’m looking for another word for useful and I cant’ think of one). Especially at this time of year if you have lots of produce to freeze. It’s my vacuum packer. I got it last year when I briefly considered getting into sous vide cooking (to cook sous vide – or under vacuum – the food needs to be vacuum sealed). Of course to begin with, I was looking at vacuum packers that were all gorgeous and stainless steel. Until I discovered that the reviews on them were not good.

So I got this one. Which I’ve been using for nearly a year now and can report is excellent. But it has, from what I can see, two features that this one doesn’t and I don’t think you need these two extra features (the extras being that the more expensive one holds the bag in the machine – you don’t really need this, and it has an extended vacuum button which I’ve never used).

So I would do yourself a favour and buy the cheaper one. They are ugly, ugly machines. But that doesn’t matter. What they do is useful and I promise you that if you get one, you will be vacuum sealing everything in your path.

Why do you need a vacuum sealer? Why let me tell you.

By taking the air out of food, it keeps longer. But I don’t really vacuum pack food for the fridge, because no food in my fridge really stays there for that long (although I did once vacuum pack a doorstep of parmesan cheese which I kept in the fridge). No, where vacuum packing comes into its own is for food you store in the freezer. By sucking the air out of a bag of food it takes up less space, you end up with a freezer of what looks like industrial space food which I think is COOL and it doesn’t suffer from freezer burn. Seriously you will be vacuum packing every single item in your freezer.

Here are a few tips. You can’t vacuum pack liquids unless you have a chamber vacuum sealer. These are expensive. So you do need to have a bit of technique if you seal something with liquid in it or that’s soft. You can either just seal it, vacuum part of it but stop before it’s squashed your bread rolls into pancakes (this takes practise), or freeze the item in a normal container first, and then vacuum pack it (I did this with the blackberries you see above, I froze them on a tray first and then vacuum packed them). You can’t seal anything if there is any liquid breaching the seal.

You can, if you are so inclined, also vacuum pack stuff like shampoo bottles before you go on holiday so they won’t leak. But that’s a step too far even for me. I have, in the past, vacuum packed some nuts that my partner couldn’t stop eating with the words STOP written on the packet. And I have vacuum packed jumpers to stop moths getting at them. It works brilliantly.

You do need special bags for vacuum sealing – and the most economical are on a roll, so you can cut them to size. Just make sure they will fit into the width of sealer you have (most do). But you can also ‘seal only’ so you could seal a packet of peas, for example, in their shop bought bag rather than clipping it shut.

Those of you with whom I’ve shared my sourdough starter in the last year, have also had it sent to them vacuum packed. You lucky, lucky bastards.