Quick Aioli Cheat

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2 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Tablespoons Chives
2 Tablespoon Tarragon
Zest of one lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Cup Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper

Add all ingredients except mayonnaise to food processor and whirl together. Add mayonnaise and blend together so it is a consistent sauce with flecks of herbs throughout. Serve with chilled asparagus, salmon, etc.

Garlic Confit

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1 cup peeled garlic cloves (45 cloves or so)
About 2 cups canola oil

Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Add the cloves to a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat. The cloves should cook gently: small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface. Adjust the heat as necessary and move the pan to one side if it is cooking too quickly. Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

Refrigerate the garlic, submerged in the oil, for up to a month.

 

Salt: When, Why, How much – A Primer

There are so many kinds of salt available now that it’s become difficult to know which to use for what. Some generalizations can be made:

  • A box of inexpensive kosher salt is ideal for salting large amounts of water for boiling vegetables or pasta.
  • Fine salt, either bought fine or ground, is best for seasoning foods in which the crunch of coarse salt would be too much.
  • Sea salt, ideally the rather gray looking sel de Guérande, contains essential minerals and a delicate marine flavor.
  • Fleur de sel is ideal in tiny pinches placed on delicate foods.

What is fleur de sel?

Fleur de sel is a kind of sea salt that is harvested in some parts of France by trapping sea water in lagoons and letting the water dry. As the water evaporates, salt begins to form on the surface of the pond in a characteristic flower pattern. The salt is raked off, allowed to dry slightly more, and marketed as fleur (“flower”) de sel. If you look closely at a pinch of fleur de sel, you’ll see that it’s made of flat crystals.

Fleur de sel has a delicate flavor and looks great on top of small servings. It’s expensive, so use it at the end.

When do I add salt?

It varies, if you have plan ahead, season fish and meat a couple of hours before cooking and then pat them dry before browning. This gives the salt time to penetrate the food. Because salt draws water out of foods, which can interfere with browning, the foods need to be patted dry.

If you don’t have time to salt meat ahead of time, salt just before browning or just before serving.  Broths and sauces should be salted just before serving in case you want to reduce them to concentrate them. Boiling down liquids increases the concentration of any salts they contain.

Why is some sea  salt wet?

Sea salt is what’s called hygroscopic (a substance tending to absorb moisture from the air).  To prevent this, some companies add a magnesium compound to the salt to keep it dry. This also makes it easier to pour.

 

French Madeleines

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons for pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

Equipment 

  • 2 12 shell madeleines pans
  • Stand mixer

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 12-shell pans with melted 4 tablespoons butter and brush in each mold (cooking spray will work as well, although I prefer butter).

Whisk together flour and baking powder.  Melt butter and place in a bowl to cool to room temperature.

Add eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, around 3 to 5 minutes.  Add vanilla and zest and continue beating for another minute or so. Fold in the flour mixture until just blended, then drizzle the cooled butter over the batter and incorporate completely.

Using a teaspoon, fill shell molds with batter until almost full. Carefully press batter to distribute it evenly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until madeleines puff up and are golden brown. Remove pans from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 minutes, then invert and tap madeleines onto the rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Allow to cool completely if planning to store and/or freeze. Serving madeleines warm from the oven is preferable for a special treat

 

Culinary Fun Fact: How To deglaze a pan

Deglaze is just a fancy word for adding liquid to the pan you’ve used to sauté meat or fish. To properly deglaze, pour excess oil or butter (fat) out of the pan and add a liquid, traditionally wine, but it could be vegetable or chicken stock or even simply water to dissolve the juices that have caramelized and adhered to the bottom of the pan.

Deglazing is often the first step when making a pan sauce.

Basic Crêpes Batter

1¾ to 2¼ cups whole milk
4 large eggs
½ tsp kosher salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus additional butter for the pan

Add 1¾ cups of the milk, the eggs, and salt into a blender.  Blend for a few seconds to blend everything together. Remove the lid and add the flour. Cover and blend until very smooth. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and blend until combined.

Transfer the batter to a large glass measuring cup with a spout.  Allow the batter to rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. If resting for more than an hour, store in the fridge.  When you’re ready to make the crêpes it should be as thick as heavy cream but not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in up to ½ cup of the remaining milk.

Heat an 8-in crêpe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. Using a paper towel, spread about ½ tsp butter around the interior of the pan. The butter should sizzle upon contact but not instantly turn brown. You don’t want the pan to be so hot that the butter burns.

Pour about ¼ cup of the batter into the center of the pan, and at the same time lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan, and the bottom is nicely browned, usually around 1 minute. When the first side is ready, use a knife, spatula, or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats and then cook until the center is firm and the second side is browned, too, which will occur quickly in as little as 20 seconds more.

Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more butter as you cook.

Thinking Of Opening A Restaurant: Equipment

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Large Appliances

Stoves:

Open Burner: Direct, adjustable heat.

Flat Top: Thick Steel plate over the heat source that provides indirect heat.  Requires flat bottomed cookware and time to adjust settings.

Ring Top: Concentric rings and plates that can be removed to expose the burner.  Indirect or direct heat.  Has a higher BTU than an open burner.

Conventional Oven: Indirect heat source located at the bottom with adjustable shelves.

Deck Oven: Food is set directly on oven floor.  Single or multiple levels available.  Think pizza oven.

Convection Oven: Fan blows hot air through oven allowing food to brown more efficiently.  Often used for pastries and baked goods.

Combi Oven: Temperature, moisture content and air flow may be controlled.  Used for cooking and holding food.

Salamander: Open Box like apparatus with heat source located in roof.  Generally used for intense browning (glacages)

Grill: Heating source (built in or added) is located below a heavy duty cooking rack.

Walk-In Refrigeration: Used for cold storage or freezing.

Reach-In Refrigeration: Larger version of a home refrigerator/freezer.

Under Counter Refrigerator and Refrigerated Drawers: Used primarily around the work areas.  Some drawers designed to hold specialty products such as fish.

Small Appliances

Ber Mixer: Immersion blender either electric or battery powered.

Electric Blender: A machine that purées, Emulsified and crushes. Composed of a solid housing containing motor base and the blending jar  Never fill more than 2/3 full.

Electric Food Chopper or Buffalo Chopper: Heavily built machine with a rotating bowl that passes under a hood where vertical blades chop the food.

Electric Food Processor: Heavy motor encased in plastic or metal housing with a detachable bowl and cover and various blades with specific functions.  It can chop, blend, mix, purée, knead, grate, slice and julienne.

Electric Meat Grinder: Freestanding motor housing, as well a feed tray, and blades of varying sizes.

Electric Meat Slicer: Substantial machine with a metal encased motor as the foundation and a circular cutting blade attached.

Mandoline: Hand slicer supported by folding legs with a number of different sized blades used to cut vegetables into a variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses.

Steam Jacketed Kettle: Used to make large quantities of stocks, soups, sauces and pastas.  Two quarts to one-hundred gallons.  Steam circulates through the kettle walls to provide heat.

Tilting Shallow Kettle: Large stainless steel unit with a hinged lid for making large quantities of sautés and braises.

Hand Tools

Channel Knife (Canneieur): Small Knife used to channel fruits and vegetables into decorative patterns.

Chef’s Fork: Longer handled, longer toned fork that keeps the chef’s hand from the heat.

Chinois: Conical strainer with a handle.

Chinois Etamine: Bouillon strainer.  Constructed with fine metal mesh.

Perforated Chinois: Used when fine straining is not necessary.

Food Mill: Metal basket utensil with interchangeable discs and hand crank used to separate solids from skins, seeds, etc.

Kitchen Scissors: Sturdy shears to cut butcher’s twine. Or kitchen paper or for trimming fish or poultry.

Needle Nosed Plyers / Tweezers: Used to remove fine bones from fish.

Parisienne Scoop: Melon baller.  Used to cut fruit or vegetables into small balls.

Pastry Spatula: Long thin spatula used to assist in cake decoration.

Ricer: Basket or cone shaped utensil with small holes and a plunger used to force small foods into grains.

Scales: Essential in pastry making.

Scrapers: Numerous styles:

Metal Bench Scraper: To clean off workspace.

Plastic Bowl Scraper: To remove dough from mixing bowls.

Spatulas: Large metal ones used to flip vegetables, meat, poultry.  Rubber, composite, wood spatulas also used for various techniques.

Spider: Long handled device with a shallow almost bowl like shaped disk of mesh or perforated wire.

Spoons: Wide variety of sizes and shapes and materials.

Stem Thermometer: Measures degrees through a metal stem two inches from the tip.

Tamis: Used for fine straining of liquids, aka tammycloth.

Tongs: Helpful in turning, lifting and plating food without puncturing it.

Trusing Needle: Long skewer like needle used to truss poultry.

Vegetable Peeler: Small fixed or pivoting blade with a handle used to peel vegetables and fruit.

Whisks: Thin, flexible wire whips used to incorporate mixtures. Balloon whisks have large somewhat spherical centers to incorporate air into foods such as egg whites.

About Emulsified Sauces

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  • Made by combining two normally incompatible liquids through the incorporation of a binding or emulsifying agent.
  • Egg Yolks: Classically most common emulsifying agent.
  • Sabayon: Egg yolks and flavoring components whisked into a foamy mixture over a hot water bath until they are thick and airy.  Clarified butter is then added in a steady stream and whisked until smooth.
  • Clarified Butter: Butter that has been slowly melted, allowing most of the water to evaporate and the milk solids to separate and settle in the bottom of the pan.
  • Warm emulsified sauces will break or curdle if not prepared or held properly. Ideal temperature 120 degrees (49 degrees Celsius)
  • Possible reasons for failure:
    • The sabayon was I sufficiently cooked.
    • The sabayon was overcooked.
    • Clarified butter was incorporated too quickly.
    • Excessive heat made the butter separate from the yolks.
  • If sauce broke, ways to restabalize:
    • Beat a few drops of water into the sauce, working it in from the bottom inner edge of the bowl and using a small wire whisk gradually bring the whole sauce into the process.
    • If the sauce broke because it was too hot, add a few drops of cold water.
    • If the sauce broke because it was too cold, add a few drops of warm water.
    • If the sauce appears about to break, dip the bottom of the bowl into ice water bath and whisk constantly until the sauce smooths.
  • Warm Emulsified Sauces
    1. Clarify Butter.
    2. Cook sabayon over hot water bath, whisking constantly.
    3. Slowly add warm clarified butter, whisking constantly.
    4. If too thick, add drops of warm water, whisking constantly.
    5. Season with salt, cayenne and lemon juice.
    6. Hold at 120 degrees (49 degrees Celsius).