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Showing posts from February, 2016

Braising and Stewing

A combination cooking method where the main item is cooked using a dry-heat method known as searing, then cooked using a moist-heat method known as simmering. Braising and stewing meats are generally tougher cuts of meats such as whole birds, beef short ribs and pork butt. These foods can withstand higher amounts of heat for longer periods of time without falling into shreds. When braising and stewing make sure the liquid covers about ⅔ of the protein. Before cooking make sure the meat is properly trimmed, tied or trussed, to maintain shape, and is properly seasoned and/or stuffed. Use a very flavorful liquid such as a stock or brown sauce for maximum flavor. Make sure to use the proper aromatics such as a mirepoix or a bouquet garni.
Steps for braising and stewing:
  1. Preheat pan and oil
  2. Sear meats on all sides (to lock in flavor and add flavor to the cooking liquid)
  3. Remove seared meat from pan and add aromatics.
  4. Add a small amount of the cooking liquid (stock or br…

Poaching

A cooking technique in which items are gently cooked in a liquid, between the temperatures of 160°F and 185°F. When poaching make sure the food is completely submerged, in the heated liquid. This technique produces foods that are extremely moist with distinct flavors, delicate colors and no crust. For fish or shellfish use a flavorful liquid such as fish stock, fumet, wine or court bouillon and aromatic herbs and spices.
Steps for poaching:
  1. Heat liquid to a full boil, than reduce heat slightly (between 160°F and 185°F)
  2. Carefully add food to the liquid and return to correct temperature (adding the food to the liquid will reduce the temperature of the poaching liquid)
  3. Maintain the temperature of the liquid, skimming the top as necessary (careful not to boil the liquid as the food may begin to break up)
  4. Cook food until properly done, then carefully remove food from the liquid (to stop the cooking process remove food from the liquid and place on a cooling rack, carefu…

Pan Frying

A cooking technique used to sear and seal the outer surface of food to lock in the natural juices. Pan fried foods has a beautiful crust on the outer layer of the food with moist and flavorful juices on the inside. Almost always, pan fried foods are coated out dusted with flour, batter or breadcrumbs. Only use enough oil to cover food about ½ to ⅔ and fry over medium to medium-high heat. Foods that are pan-fried are usually sized and shape to cook foods quickly. The use of naturally tendered meats such as pounded cutlets of pork or veal, breast or thigh cuts from chicken and fish.
Steps for pan-frying:
  1. Heat the pan and the oil (always use fresh oil with a high smoke point such as olive oil or animal fat).
  2. Season and batter the protein (coat with seasoned flour, egg wash and then breadcrumbs).
  3. Test the oil (try placing a corner of the breaded protein in the oil, when oil reaches 350° F it will bubble around the food and begin to brown)
  4. Carefully place protein in ho…

Deglaze

The process of adding a highly aromatic liquid (for increased flavor) or water to a pan to remove and dissolve the food particles (also known as fond) left over from cooking bones and vegetables for stock or sautéing a piece of meat in a pan. After adding the liquid, use a wooden spoon to loosen the rest of the food particles and reduce the heat to simmer the sauce. This process is used to create a sauce for a dish or add flavor to a stock.

Crawfish Étouffée

4 oz Butter
1 large Yellow Onions (medium dice)
2 stalks Celery (medium dice)
1 medium Bell Pepper (medium dice)
4 cloves Garlic (minced)
1# Crawfish Tail Meat
2½ tsp Spice Blend (previous recipe)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce
2 oz A-P Flour
1½ C Seafood Stock (previous recipe)
⅔ C Green Onions (chopped)
¼ C fresh Parsley (roughly chopped)
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
4 oz Butter In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until onions become translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add crawfish tails and season with spice blend, salt, both peppers, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Blend well and cook for about 3 minutes, then add flour, stirring constantly to prevent flour from sticking to the skillet.
Cook, stirring constantly for about 4 minutes, then slowly add stock a little at a time, stirring to incorporate.
Let dish cook for about 20 minutes, over medium…

Pepper

Pepper is one of the most popular spices in the world and it is used as a flavoring in both cooking and as a condiment. Peppercorns come in a couple of different varieties and flavors; black, white, green and pink peppercorns.
Black peppercorns have the most pungent and rich flavor of all. They are green peppercorn that have been dried from weeks until they turn black and wrinkled.
White peppercorns have a less earthy, pungent and rich than the black peppercorns. They are black peppercorns with the husks removed and is used to flavor light colored sauces without changing the color.
Green peppercorns are fresher than the others with a lighter more delicate flavor. They ate normally pickled in a brine or vinegar and jarred or canned and sometimes freeze-dried.
Pink peppercorns are often available in a brine or dried (my choice), they have a mild, sweet aromatic flavor.
A mix of all four of these Peppercorns creates a fresh peppery flavor for any dish, mainly delicate fish dishes.

Salt

Salt is very simple ingredient that is widely used throughout the world as both a cooking ingredient and as a condiment. It is used as a flavoring, seasoning and a preservative for cooking. Odorless but is very strong flavored salt is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is an ingredient that is used in every cuisine and is a high commodity in today's  food industry.
There are many different varieties of salt:
Iodized Salt
Standard table salt with iodine or starch added to prevent clumping.
Kosher Salt
An additive - free salt with a wonderful flavor and texture. Kosher salt has larger crystals with a jagged shape.
Pickling Salt
A fine-grained, additive - free used to prepare pickles and sauerkraut.
Rock Salt
A grey is colored salt with very large crystals that is very rarely used in cooking. Mainly used to make ice melt faster in older model ice cream makers.
Sea Salt
A fresh flavored salt available fine- or course - grained that is mainly used by chefs for its pure flavor.
Tabl…

Paprika

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Paprika is a fine red powdered spice made from grinding a very mild variety of sweet red pepper pods. Paprika can be anywhere from a mild spice to pungent, it can fairly sweet with a slight hint of bitterness, but not very hot. Makes a very nice garnish and it intensifies the beauty of lightly colored cream sauces. This spice also is used in a large variety of dishes, including vegetables, mustards, salad dressings and ketchup.
In the Spanish culture the peppers are first smoked, then dried calling it Smoked Paprika  (one of my favorite spices). Paprika is very  popular with the Hungarian cuisine but is used widely all over the world.
Store paprika in a cool, dark place, in an air tight container. If it begins to turn brown and loses its smell and flavor, then it's time to replace it.

Different Types of Kitchen Equipment

Just like knives there are lots (and I mean lots) of different types of kitchen equipment. From cutting boards and peelers to melon ballers/parisienne scoops, measuring cups and spoons to measuring bowls and scales. I could go on and on and on, you get the picture. It is no doubt that Chef's need a lot of equipment in order to put food on the table for customers every day and night. When it's crunch time during service, the tools you need is a hot rag or very thick towel (for grabbing hot pots, pans, etc.) and a pair of tongs. 
Equipment Used in the Kitchen
Peelers The peeler is a very indispensable kitchen tool with a slotted blade, designed for removing a thin layer from various fruits and vegetables. There are two main types of peelers, the Y-shaped peeler and the straight peeler. There is also the mechanical peeler, but it is not often used in the household nor the restaurant industry.
Whisks/Whips A whisk or whip is Beat, blend or whip certain foods to incorporate air for f…

Blue-veined Cheeses

Bleu/Blue-a white with blue-green veins,    cylinder shaped cheese made from whole cow's milk or goat's milk. It has a tangy, piquant flavor with a semi-soft and sometimes crumbly texture. Gorgonzola- a medium yellow cheese with blue marbling made from whole cow's milk and/or goat's milk. It has a tangy, piquant flavor with a semi-soft and dry texture. MaytagBlue- a medium yellow cheese with blue marbling, cylinder shaped cheese made from whole cow's milk. It has a strong, salty flavor with a hard crumbly texture. Stilton- a cylinder shaped, medium yellow cheese with blue marbling made from whole cow's milk. It has a mild, piquant flavor with a hard crumbly texture. Roquefort- a cylinder shaped, white cheese with blue-green marbling made from raw sheep's milk. It has a sharp, pungent flavor with a semi-soft, crumbly texture.

Grating Cheeses

Romano/Pecorino- a cylinder shaped cheese made from whole sheep's milk, goat's milk or cow's milk. It has a very sharp flavor with a very hard, dry and crumbly texture. Parmesan/ParmigianoReggiano-a light yellow cylinder shaped cheese made from part-skim cow's milk. It has a sharp, nutty flavor and a very hard, dry and crumbly texture. Asiago- a light yellow, cylinder or flat block shaped cheese made from whole or part-skim cow's milk. It has a mild to sharp flavor and a semi-soft to hard texture, depending on the age.

Hard and Cheddar-type Cheeses

Cheddar- a wheel shaped, light or medium colored cheese made from whole cow's milk. It has a mild to sharp flavor, depending on the age and a hard texture. Gouda- a wheel shaped cheese with a wax coating made from whole cow's milk. It has a mild, creamy but slightly nutty flavor with a hard but smooth texture. Provolone- a cylinder shaped cheese with a light yellow to golden brown color, made from whole cow's milk. It has a mild to sharp flavor, depending on the age with a hard, elastic texture. Manchego- a light yellow cylinder shaped cheese made from whole sheep's milk. It has a full and mellow flavor with a semi-soft to firm texture, depending on the age.

Semi-soft Cheese

MontereyJack- a light yellow cheese, usually in a wheel or block shape, made from whole cow's milk. It has a mild or pungent flavor with jalapeño pepper and semi-soft to very hard texture, depending on the age. Muenster- a light yellow cheese with a orange rind, in a wheel or block shape, made from whole cow's milk. It has a mild to pungent flavor, depending on the age, with a semi-soft, smooth but waxy texture. Fontina- a medium yellow colored cheese in a wheel shape, made from whole cow's milk or sheep's milk. It has a nutty flavor with a strong aroma and a hard texture.

Soft and Rind-ripened Cheeses

Brie- a disk of light yellow cheese made from pasteurized whole or skim cow's milk or goat's milk, sometimes made with cream. It has a buttery yet pungent flavor with an edible rind and a soft and smooth texture. Camembert- a disk of light yellow cheese made from raw or pasteurized whole cow's milk or goat's milk. It has a slightly tangy flavor and a softy and creamy texture with a edible rind. Limburger- a block of light yellow cheese with a brown exterior, made from whole or low-fat cow's milk. It has a very strong flavor and aroma, with a soft, smooth but waxy texture.

Fresh Cheeses

Chèvre- a white, logged shaped cheese made from goat's milk. It has a slightly tangy flavor and a soft, creamy texture. Cottage- white curds of cheese made from whole or skim cow's milk. It has a mild flavor and a soft, moist texture. Cream- a white, block shaped cheese made from whole cow's milk and cream. It has a mild and slightly tangy flavor and a soft, creamy texture. Feta- a white, block shaped cheese made from sheep's milk, cow's milk or goat's milk. It has a salty, tangy flavor with a soft and crumbly texture. Mascarpone- a soft, pale yellow cheese made from whole cow's milk and cream. It has a slightly tangy and buttery flavor and a soft, smooth texture. Mozzarella- a white, oval  shaped sphere made from whole or skim cow's milk or buffalo's milk. It has a mild, sometimes smokey flavor and a slightly elastic, tender texture, depending and the age of the cheese. Ricotta- white, soft curds of cheese made from whole, skim or low-fat cow's milk.…

Different Types of Cheese

Cheese comes in lots of different, colors, shapes and textures. The most common cheeses are made from the milk of cows, goats and sheep. The color, flavor and texture are determined by the type of milk used to make it or the way the cheese is made. Mold and bacteria are used to flavor, shape and age several different cheeses. Different types of cheese may be grouped into several categories, such as: Fresh Cheeses
Soft and Rind-ripened Cheeses
Semi-soft Cheese
Hard and Cheddar-type Cheeses
Grating Cheeses
Blue-veined Cheeses

Mint

There are many different varieties of mint, each with its own distinctive flavor and aroma. Spearmint is the most popular mint, with its pointed, serrated leaves it is most commonly used to make mint jelly to accompany lamb. Spearmint historically was used for its digestive and mouth freshening qualities. In several different parts of the globe it is used to make preferred teas.
Peppermint being the second most popular form of mint with longer, darker leaves and a stronger flavor is a cross between spearmint and water mint. Peppermint oil is a very popular ingredient in toothpastes, chewing gums, sweets and aftershave. It is also considered to be an effective decongestant and antiseptic agent. Apple mint is also a popular form of mint, just not as popular as spearmint and peppermint, with softer green leaves and a more subtle fruitier flavor. Lemon and pineapple mint also have a soft, fruity flavor and is good for making summertime beverages.

Cilantro/Coriander

Cilantro is the leaf of the coriander plant and one of the oldest known herb, it looks similar to flat leaf/Italian parsley. Cilantro is used widely throughout the world but mainly in Mexican and Thai dishes. With a distinctive fresh pungent smell, cilantro is a required herb  in curries, Dhal (an Indian dish made from a variety of legumes), chutneys, and kebabs. It has been also known to treat indigestion.
The spice coriander seed or ground coriander comes from the seed of the plant. Coriander is a relative of the carrot family, with a sweet, musky flavor. Coriander is a great spice for gingerbread, cookies, cakes, biscuits, stuffing, pork dishes, and cheese dishes.

Tarragon

Tarragon also called "little Dragon" has a distinctive strong flavor similar to licorice. French tarragon has a very sweet vanilla flavor compared to the coarser flavored Russian tarragon. This herb goes well in the traditional béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise and flavored vinaigrettes. It is also excellent in cream and egg-based sauces served with salmon or trout, chicken dishes and great chopped in salads.
It is easily deserved to be on or our most popular herbs today. Tarragon was also thought to be an aid against flatulence.

Sage

Native to the Mediterranean and North Africa, Sage has a very potent aroma and a musky flavor. It is commonly used these days in culinary for flavoring sausages and fatty meat stuffing such as pork and goose. One of my favorite dishes sage is used in, is veal saltimbocca where it is used to flavor the oils in which the veal is cooked.
During the medieval times sage was used for treatment of colds, fever, epilepsy and constipation. It was also used by country folk to make sage wine and tea, cheese flavoring and in sage tobacco.  People also used it as a mouthwash, a hair tonic and for teeth whitening.

Oregano

A wild variety of marjoram, with a very robust flavor. This herb is a native to Europe and also has a slightly musty flavor with a warm welcoming aroma. Used by the ancient Greeks as a antidote to poison, a disinfectant, to make perfumes and as a preservative. Today this herb is highly favored in the kitchen and primarily used in Mediterranean dishes, such as pizza, eggplant and tomato dishes.

Dill

An ingredient native to southern Europe and western Asia is a hardy annual with fine feathery green frond and tiny clusters of yellow flowers. It grows wild in Spain, Portugal, and Italy and thrives in warmer temperatures. Dill was once used as a medicine to treat flatulence and hiccups. Now it is mainly used in Scandinavian cooking and goes well in potato salads and highly used in the process of making dill pickles. It can be used in creamy sauces, a wide variety of egg dishes and oily fish dishes. An example of a excellent dish is gravadlax, a dish made by marinating fresh salmon with salt, sugar, pepper and finest chopped dill leaves.

Thyme

A delicious aromatic Mediterranean herb that grows wild and best on Rocky ground. It has small greyish-green leaves with purple flowers. It's aromatic leaves have antiseptic properties cultivated and used by the ancient Egyptians in oil form for embalming, perfume baths and the purification of rooms as well as its culinary usefulness. There are a number of varieties of thyme (around 28) including Lemon thyme, English thyme and silver thyme.
Thyme is one the most commonly used kitchen herbs particularly used in soups, stews and stocks, adding a earthy, sweet pungent flavor. Thyme is mainly used in the French cuisine as the key ingredient of bouquets garni and herbes de providence. It pairs very well with Mediterranean vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant. It is widely used in marinades for beed, pork, lamb, game and baked fish.

Chiffonade

A knife cutting technique used for shredding herbs and leafy vegetables, such as spinach or basil, into fine thin strips. In order to chiffonade basil, you would neatly stack the leaves on a pile. Then roll the leaves tightly, lengthwise. Use your knife to thinly slice the leaves to form a beautiful chiffonade of basil. Carefully separate the shreds by lightly fluffing the pile.
Makes a beautiful garnish.

Basil

An aromatic herb, of the mint family and native to the Indian and Iranian cuisine. Used mostly for cooking but also may be used for medicinal purposes.
It is most commonly used as the main ingredient in Pesto: Pesto

4 C Basil (tightly packed)
5 Garlic Cloves
⅓ C Pine Nuts
⅔ C Parmesan Cheese
¼ tsp Salt
⅛ tsp Black Pepper
⅔ C Olive Oil Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Adjust salt to taste.

Parsley

Parsley, also known as garden parsley, with more than 30 different varieties, the 2 most common are curly parsley and flat-leaf parsley. Mostly used as a garnish( I prefer not to use parsley as a garnish) for culinary dishes. Parsley also has value as a medicinal herb, treating medical problems such as urinary tract infections (UTI) and diabetes.
Not only does basil make a great, so does parsley. Parsley Pesto 2 Cups fresh Parsley leaves (roughly chopped and tightly compressed)
3 Roasted Garlic Cloves
3 Green Olives (pitted)
½ Cup Walnuts (shells removed)
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper Place all ingredients, except for olive oil in the food processor. Purée, pouring olive oil in slowly until a smooth paste has formed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scallions

Also known as green onions, spring onions, yard onions, etc., there several different names for it. They are edible plants, similar to an onion in flavor, with hollow green leaves resembling giant chives. Scallions have a milder flavor than most onions and can be eaten raw or cooked. Most people enjoy raw scallions fresh in salads or on baked potatoes (I prefer the baked potato). Many recipes gives you the option to substitute the scallions for the chives. Scallions can be a great garnish to add a little green color to a lot of dishes (so you don't have to always rely on chopped parsley for a color on the plate).

Rosemary

A woody perennial herb with dark green, needle-like leaves and spires of small, white, pink, purple or blue flowers. It has a very pungent fragrance and may be used for cosmetics and decorative purposes, as well as culinary uses.
Rosemary adds a great flavor to lamb, pork, chicken and salmon as well as several soups and sauces. A native of the Mediterranean region, rosemary grows wild on dry shrub and is cultivated all year round.

Cooking Tools for a Chef

The tools of a Chef and/or cook are very important. The tools you use will make or break the job you are given to do, which is feed people. Chefs and cooks use different types of tools, but I can just about guarantee one thing they all have in common, a hotpad (a thick towel for grabbing hot pots and pans), a knife of some sort and a pair of tongs. Those are the basic tools needed to create a great meal. The knives that you use in the kitchen is very important, kind of like your best friend. I believe that if you take very good care of your knife, he/she (whichever you should call your knife) will take good care of you. She won't hurt you or let you look bad unless you hurt or make her look bad, like a relationship. But you have to make sure you use the right knife for the right job. There are hundreds of different types of knives, but some of the most common are chef's knife, paring knife, utility knife, bread knife and fillet knife. Each knife has it's own uses. Case an…