May 31 2010

Steppin it up

I survived intro to sauces, stocks and soups!  My hollandaise on the other hand had a painful curdling death. Will need to practice this more, but on the bright side my arm muscles are getting an unbelievable workout. 15 minutes of brisk whisking everyday, I’ll look like Madonna in a few short weeks. I attempted to re-create my bearnaise which you can see to the left. Not a bad first at-home attempt, but I was glad I made a backup bordelaise sauce for my guest.

This week we started to learn all about the different methods of cooking which include poaching, braising, pan fry, deep fry, grill, simmer.  Oh what deliciousness from glazed carrots, to New England boiled corned beef and poached salmon.  We made stir fry and veal with white wine and lemon, culminating with my favorite steak au poivre and lyonnaise potatoes.  I look very professional below lighting the sherry on fire, don’t I? And yes that is my arm! What you don’t see is my fear stricken eyes.  Please DO NOT attempt this at home.  Admittedly, it was scary but I take comfort knowing a professional chef is watching by unfazed.

Fire Burning

Steak au Poivre

Aside from cooking, I’m taking some other fascinating classes. One being Product Identity where we learn all about different categories of food from produce to meat. This past week was dairy week and we got to sample eight different kinds of domestic cheeses including a ridiculous 4 year old aged cheddar and mascarpone with raspberry to fresh mozzarella. I’m going to attempt to make homemade mozzarella in the next couple of weeks – I will keep you updated so keep on reading! Stay tuned this week for tips on buying spices, browning meats and eating out!

Say Cheese

May 27 2010

Buttery goodness

In follow up to yesterday’s posting, I thought I should share the secret of making clarified butter. But first, I should answer the question – what is clarified butter? Clarified butter is butter that has had the moisture and milk solids removed, thus leaving only the fat.  Why do we use clarified butter? Because everything is better with butter! It adds a richness and flavor unrivaled to regular oil. Its worth noting that once butter is clarified, it has a higher smoke point. Regular butter starts to burn and break down at about 250 degrees, whereas clarified butter’s smoke point is about 275-280, allowing you to cook foods at higher temperatures.  So how do we make clarified butter? Its pretty simple if you following these steps:

1) Cut your butter (I usually melt a pound at a time) into small uniform pieces so it melts quickly and place in a bowl over simmering heat (double boiler). I usually keep it on there for about 90 minutes until a nice “crust” of milk solids forms at the top (see above left picture).

2) Take your fork and gently lift the solid milk pieces from the top(see below). These can be discarded.

3) Ladle out the beautifully clear liquid butter being careful not to disturb the water that has settle at the bottom. You only want the butter floating on top (remember fats are lighter than water).  It should look like a viscous yellow oil.

4) Store in the fridge for months!

Any questions? Email me!

May 26 2010

computer issues

posts coming soon….so sorry! Stay tuned!!!

May 24 2010

Forget the birds

What to do with that leftover bread? Make croutons! Its so simple that in just 10 minutes and a few ingredients you will have a bowl of these delicious little nuggets. Take leftover drying out bread, trim the crust and cut into uniform medium dice (1/2″x 1/2″) to promote even cooking. Heat up some clarified butter (preferably for flavor) or oil and coat the bottom of the pan generously. Fry until golden brown, drain and season. You want to make sure the oil is hot enough to brown the breadcrumbs, but not too hot that they burn. I would recommend testing a few pieces before putting the entire batch in your saute pan. Crispy, buttery and delicious these croutons make a beautiful garnish for soups or tossed in a caesar salad.  It really is this simple:

Split Pea Soup with Crouton Garnish

May 23 2010

It’s better with butter

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than consomme…..Butter, Bechamel & Bacon!

From hollandaise...

We are in the thick of sauce making and learning the 5 mother sauces: Bechamel, Veloute, Espagnole/Brown, Tomato and Hollandaise. Classically French, although not used as often as they once were, these sauces are the base for hundreds of other sauces.  We turned a bechamel into a mornay (gruyere/parmesan), a veloute into chicken pot pie and brown into bordelaise.  And man oh man does hollandaise turn into an incredibly silky and delicious bearnaise (once I stopped scrambling the eggs). bearnaise

Feeling very motivated to try out these recipes, so this past weekend I made my sister’s family the tomato sauce with meatballs and my tasty vinaigrette from The Daily Dish. Unfortunately I left my SLR camera at her house so I can’t upload the pictures just yet!  I will be trying out more recipes on unsuspecting victims this week and most definitely plan on documenting my home adventure.

Can I eat this way everyday? Gosh I hope so!   So far my hemline is not extending, probably due to the sheer physical demands of this culinary school program….let’s hope it continues since I’m running around on my feet 5 hours daily in a kitchen. Eating butter everyday and losing weight – what could be better!??