11/17/11

The Baker's Dozen Of Culinary Class: #13

WEEK #13 CULINARY CLASS:
In preparation for Thanksgiving our culinary class made turkey 3 ways--stuffed with aromatics and roasted whole on a bed of mirepoix, restaurant-style--butchered, seared and roasted on mirepoix, and deep-fried. And of course, the fixin's: a mashed potato-sweet potato mixture, green beans, cranberry sauce, and gravy. No big surprises, since I've been making Thanksgiving dinner for about 30 years. After so much trial and error, I've found the ultimate for perfect roast turkey: buy an organic, free-range bird that hasn't been frozen, brine it overnight, coat it liberally with paprika, roast with a buttered cheesecloth over the breast for the first hour, baste liberally during cooking, let it sit 20 minutes before carving--it's always moist and tender. (see recipe) But, this year, we're having something different: pork loin stuffed with apples and walnuts and deboned turkey leg stuffed with cranberries and wild rice. The latter I learned in class this week--how to debone the leg, roll it and tie it (same trussing technique as the pork loin). Video one below shows Chef Charles Fredericks butchering a turkey, video two demonstrates how to truss meat.
Roast Pork Loin Stuffed With Apples and Walnuts:
2 1/2 lb. boneless center cut pork loin roast, butterflied
salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Granny Smith or Pippin apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary plus several sprigs
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
5 cups mirepoix: a mixture of onion, carrot and celery chopped into uniform size, in the ratio of 2 parts onion to 1 part carrot and 1 part celery
8 oz. chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine--some of the Syrah you will pair with the dish will work well
Toast the walnut pieces under the broiler. Remove and let cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the shallots and garlic in oil until the onion is translucent--do not brown. Add the apples, minced rosemary, and brown sugar and cook until the apples start to soften. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Set aside to cool, then stir in the walnuts.

Tie Before Trussing
Have your butcher butterfly the roast or do it yourself by slicing through it lengthwise partway--leaving 1 1/2" intact so you can open it up like a book. Put the roast on plastic wrap and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Pound the meat with a meat tenderizer until is is flat. Remove from the wrap and salt and pepper both sides. Run the stuffing in a line down the middle and roll up. Use cooking twine to tie it up in three places, then truss it securely (see video). Put the mirepoix in a deep roasting pan, put the roast on top, arrange sprigs of rosemary around the roast and add the chicken broth. Roast in the oven about 1 hour, until internal meat temperature is 135 degrees, basting with the broth in the pan a few times during the cooking process. Remove roast, tent with foil to keep warm as you make your pan sauce reduction.
Strain the broth and put into a saucepan. Add the wine and cook over high heat until reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the twine that trussed the roast, slice into 1 1/2" pieces and drizzle with sauce. Enjoy with a glass of the handcrafted 2008 Jason-Stephens Estate Syrah.





11/11/11

Veterans Day and the Kitchen Table Gang Trust

Baby Boomers like me grew up under the shadow of the Vietnam War. I was a child at the tail end of the 1960s and marched with my parents in peace and civil rights marches. Back then, police were called "pigs" and the military was hated because it drafted brothers, sons, and boyfriends to fight a war that most of us didn't want. I'm still a pacifist and wish our military had not gotten involved in the Middle East, but age and experience has tempered my views of the military. Having met young people who enlisted to make a living in this tough economy, with military enlistment their only hope for a college degree, I have compassion for our troops. Most of them are just kids, just out of high school, and probably naive about what lies ahead in the battlefield. So, when I heard a heartfelt message from Michelle Obama to support our troops, I looked at the Kitchen Table Gang Trust website, run by veterans, which can provide addresses for active military personnel serving in harm's way. I packed beef jerky, ziploc bags and wipes to protect from the dusty wind in Afghanistan, cans of tuna and salmon, nut bars, dried fruit and good Columbian coffee.
A friend of mine, Adam, just returned from half a year in Kabul working as a engineer for a contractor. He was in a restaurant next to the store that was blown up in June, so spent the rest of his time there either in the guarded compound or going out in the field in a heavily armored convoy. Life is precarious in Afghanistan--both for Americans and Afghans. It's difficult to imagine living in fear for one's life, another reason I feel compassion for our young people who find themselves there. You can read about Adam's experience on www.empowertothepeople.org/

11/10/11

How To Fillet A Fish Like A Pro

Chef Charles Fredericks SBCC School of Culinary Arts
WEEK #12 CULINARY CLASS:
Another excellent class with Chef Fredericks who explained the difference between round and flat fish, covered two cooking competencies: searing and poaching, and how to make court boullion and beurre blanc and how to fillet and break down fish. The first video shows Chef cutting off the top fillet (I wish I'd kept my iphone on longer so you could see the beautiful clean cut he made), the second is the separation of the lower fillet and the third shows the removal of the skin--once again, I cut the camera too soon, so you can't see how perfectly he sliced it off without any flesh left on the skin.
Bright red gills of salmon
In selecting whole fish for optimum freshness, there are 5 points to examine:
  1. The eyes should be clear, not opaque
  2. The gills should be bright red, not dull or dried
  3. The skin should be glossy but not slimy
  4. The scales should be tight, not falling off the fish
  5. The fins should be moist, never dry or cracked
Incidently, the fins of a salmon are one of the two indicators of whether the fish is wild caught or farm-raised: farm-raised salmon will show fusing of the fins together and have thick bones because they are fed calcium to give them extra weight (more weight=more money) and are constricted in their movements, leading to less use of their fins.

When filleting and slicing fish, it's important to have a very sharp knife and make smooth cuts. Dull knives and sawing at fish will damage the cell structure of the flesh and degrade the texture.


Torii Mor Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Reduction Sauce:
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
11/2 oz. container of demi-glace*
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
1 bottle (750mL) Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
2 14.5-oz. cans low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
salt & pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 1½-pound well-trimmed 8-rib racks of lamb, preferably frenched

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, garlic, and Herbes de Provence to pot. Sauté until vegetables are deep brown, about 8 minutes. Add demiglace, wine, and broth to pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered
until reduced by half, about 11/2 hours. Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids in strainer to release all the liquid. Spoon off any fat from surface of stock; return stock to same large pot. Simmer until reduced by ?, about 15 minutes.

Mix butter and flour in small bowl to a smooth paste. Whisk paste into stock. Simmer sauce until slightly thickened and smooth, whisking constantly, about 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Transfer to small saucepan,
cover, and chill. Rewarm before using.) Combine fresh herbs in a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. oil and mix until herbs stick together. Season
lamb racks with salt and pepper. Firmly press ? of herb mixture over rounded side of each rack. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Place on large rimmed baking sheet. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat remaining olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 lamb rack to skillet, herbed side down. Sauté until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn lamb over and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes. Place lamb, herbed side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Repeat, fitting remaining lamb racks on same sheet. Roast lamb until thermometer inserted into center registers 135°F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes. Let lamb rest on sheet 15 minutes. Cut lamb between bones into individual
chops. Arrange 3 chops on each plate. Drizzle with sauce. Serves 8.
Read about our visit to Torii Mor and the Great Oregon Wine Trail.

11/2/11

Comfort Food -- The Best Mac 'N Cheese Recipe

WEEK #11 CULINARY CLASS:
This week in class, we made two types of potatoes--hash browns and Potatoes Lyonnaise, roasted tomatoes, and Eggs Benedict. Chef Fredericks explained the technique behind Hollandaise sauce to avoid having the sauce "snap" or curdle.
3 Important Tips For Making Successful Hollandaise:
1. Use clarified butter--as you can see on the chart from last week's post, clarifying butter raises the smoke point 75-120 degrees--so clarified butter has a wider range of stable temperatures during the cooking process.
2. Add water to the egg yolk at the beginning of the process. If your temperature is getting way too hot, adding water will lower the temperature to 212 degrees (water boils at 212 degrees).
2. Keep the temperature of the ingredients between 90 -145 degrees so the yolks don't harden. They will begin to set around 145 degrees. The optimum temperature is about body temperature: 98 degrees. You don't need to use a double boiler if you can keep the heat of the Hollandaise low--if in doubt, use a double boiler!
3. Use the proper whisk and proper whisking technique--use a balloon whisk with many wires, designed for sauces.
Hollandaise is an emulsion--the blending of two dissimilar ingredients together. No, the emulsion is not between the egg and lemon juice! The emulsion is between butter and air, with the egg yolk being the emulsifier. The lemon juice is a flavoring component which is added after the basic sauce is made.
HOLLANDAISE SAUCE:
1 lb. butter
2 egg yolks
juice of 1/2 lemon
splash of Tabasco sauce
Clarify the butter by bringing it to a hard boil. At first, the butter will look opaque, but after a couple minutes of hard boil, the surface between the bubbles will begin to be clear. The butter in the photo is just about ready--you still see some streaks of opaque milk solids on the surface. When the surface is clear, pour the butter into a measuring cup and let the milk solids settle to the bottom. You can pour the clarified butter from the top. You should get a 75% yield from your butter--meaning that the water that evaporates out and the milk solids that settle our represent 25% of the original butter.

Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and heat until it is just below a boil. In the top of the double boiler that is set on the counter, whisk the egg yolks with about 3 Tbsp. warm water. Begin to drizzle in the butter, whisking continuously. As Chef Fredericks mentions in the video, if too much butter is added and the mixture looks greasy, whisk faster until it is incorporated. If the sauce becomes too thick and starts to clump up, drizzle in warm water and whisk thoroughly--adding in small amounts until the sauce is smooth again. It should be a lemony yellow color. Whisk in the lemon juice and Tabasco. Then, cook over the double boiler, whisking continuously, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but then flow off the spoon. Serve immediately. The warmth and high protein content of Hollandaise provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so do not let it sit out more than an hour and do not reheat it.

If the Hollandaise breaks, put about 3 Tbsp. warm water into a clean bowl and drizzle a bit of the broken sauce into it, whisking furiously. Continue whisking as you slowly add the broken sauce--it will come together but will never have exactly the same smooth, creamy texture and fluffiness as a well made sauce. Makes 1 1/2 cups of sauce.
Chef Charles Fredericks Making Hollandaise:
video
Year after year, macaroni and cheese is at the top of the list of foods our kids want for Thanksgiving. This recipe is extra rich and cheesy. I asked for this recipe years ago at Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch in Los Angeles, home of great Southern food.
Aunt Kizzy's Macaroni And Cheese Recipe:
2 lb. dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
2 cups of evaporated milk
4 cups + 3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp. black pepper salt to taste Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scald the milk (heat in a saucepan--do not let it boil). In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and whisk the flour into it. Cook over low heat, whisking, for a couple of minutes--do not let the mixture brown. Whisk in the warm milk and cook until smooth. Add 4 cups grated Cheddar cheese and pepper; add salt to taste. Mix with the cooked pasta and put into 8" baking dish. Top with extra grated cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Pair with California Cabernet Sauvignon.