Posts Tagged ‘Cook’

Here are a few key items that can upgrade your cooking skills from amateur to PRO status:

•Mandoline – You can slice, dice, and even make french fries.  If you think a chef is spending time slicing that radish paper thin for your salad, you are mistaken.  If you need to get a perfect dice, or baton even, start with a mandoline slice, then finish with a chefs knife.  Need to sliced potatoes for a gratin…the mandoline is your best bet.

•Blender – I want to make an ‘xyz’ puree…BLENDER.  I want to whip up a vinaigrette or mayonnaise from scratch…BLENDER.  I feel like a pistachio cilantro pesto on my salmon…BLENDER.  I love cream of broccoli soup…BLENDER…blender.

Stand Mixer – No matter what brand you prefer, you can whip, blend, fold, kneed, grind and stuff all with the same piece of equipment. Multi-tasking at its finest, in some case you can set it…AAANNNDDD?

Ice – Being a master with something as simple as ice can make your ingredient prep. pro level.  In a fast, high volume restaurant, do you think they are always cooking your risotto or pasta from raw product to order?  Do you think every batch of sauce is cooked and held hot? Nothing helps with speed, and quality control than cooking and cooling food items in an ice bath.  Perfect for vegetables when wanting to keep a bright green color with a tender mouthfeel.  Holding foods hot changes its color, flavor, and appearance.  Cooling hot foods fast to refrigerated temperatures is also a food safety bonus!

Silpat – The most non-sticky bulletproof pan liner you can find.  It will hold up to high over temperatures, melted sugar and will keep coming back for more.  Baked goods don’t stand a chance, and neither does anything else for that matter.

•Strainer/cheese cloth combo – A chinois is also acceptable, but if you ever wondered how a chefs sauce or soup is nice and smooth with no lumps or grittiness, its because the strain out the bad stuff.  Is your gravy or cheese sauce a little to chunky?  Toss it into a strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth and save the day.

What are some of your favorite cooking tools that make you feel pro???

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We in the food industry love to figure out the best way to sell a product with a romance description, crisp food photography, and innovative packaging, because these are all the things that affect what you buy, before you have a chance to eat it.  However, there is always a bit of trickery in this process.  This could be hand placed fresh ingredients for the photo, an exaggeration of the flavor profile, and my personal favorite, playing with the standard of identity.

For instance, to call something ‘Greek yogurt,’ it’s traditionally a strained yogurt made with Greek milk with a high protein content, and thicker consistency with less sugar than standard yogurt.  This is the standard of identity which must be submitted and regulated before a product can be labeled as ‘Greek yogurt’.  You can throw all of that our the door if you label it as ‘Greek-style yogurt’.  Now you can add thickening agents, flavors, or other dairy products to have a final yogurt that tastes LIKE Greek yogurt, without having it produced in the standard way. Shenanigans.

There are many examples of this in both foodservice and retail establishments.  Andouille-style sausage, firebaked style flatbreads…the list goes on.  Whenever there is a a regulation in place for a product description, using the word ‘style’ gives us a little leeway.  If you are looking for traditional products or ingredients, avoid items labeled as ‘yada-style yada’.  The advantage of incorporating the word ‘style’ is that the product is usually at a better price point, last longer, better organoleptic properties over shelf-life, and it some cases, consumers aren’t concerned if it is authentic.  I am not saying either is right or wrong, just make sure you know what you are looking for.

There are also food items that have NO standard of identity, which then can use whatever they so desire as a descriptor.

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What are some of your favorite misleading food terms?

I would like to state right here and now, that I am the originator of the ‘Burger Crusted Steak’.  I used the same burger meat I created yesterday, and packed it around a beef filet, then made magic happen.  This is how you do it…(dun da dun da dun dunnnnnnn):

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First you make your bacon bleu burger mix:

  • 2 pounds of 90/10 ground chuck (90% lean)
  • 1-1/2 pounds raw applewood smoked bacon (pureed in food processor into a paste)
  • 8 ounces gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated garlic

Take a 6 ounce beef filet and flatten it to about 1/2 inch thickness, then season with salt.  Take your ground meat mixture, and liberally pack it around the steak:

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On a grill set to super high, grill for about 5 minutes on each side, turning 90° half way through:

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Place the burger-steak-beast on a small sheet tray, and bake in a 375°F oven for about 6 more minutes to have a nice medium-rare center (you can adjust your cooking time here to your preferred doneness).  Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before cutting into this bad boy and having a party in your mouth!

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If  winning was a Bacon Bleu Cheeseburger Crusted Filet…this would be it.  Hopeful this starts a new trend with all the hipster-foodies out there, and I get the occasional shout-out.  \\..//

Bacon.

It is my favorite food group.  In a previous post I used bacon puree to make bacon chips.  I have taken bacon slime to new heights with what I like to call a ‘3B slider’.  I wanted to make the ultimate bacon slider using fresh blended bacon puree seen below. This is 100% real applewood smoked bacon pureed in a food processor.

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For the burger patty, I blended together:

 

  • 2 pounds of 90/10 ground chuck (90% lean)
  • 1-1/2 pounds of bacon puree
  • 8 ounces of Gorgonzola crumbles
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated garlic

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This mixture will be a lot looser than your average ground beef so I think it works best as a slider.  I formed these bad boys into small patties, then cooked them on a SUPER hot grill for about 1 minute and 30 seconds a side.  I assembled them on small dinner rolls with buffalo aioli, 2 hour caramelized onions, green leaf lettuce, and garlic pickle slices:

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Juicy and flavorful doesn’t even begin to describe these little nuggets of joy.  I also recommend cooking them to about medium well (yeah thats right!) to have a super nice crust to the patty.  You have a combo of salty and creamy from the bacon-gorgonzola patty, sweetness from the onions, and heat from the buffalo aioli.  You can thank me later.

Let me know what you use bacon puree in!

 

Here is a quick explanation on how metabolism works in regards to your diet.  Yes, many factors affect your overall metabolism (age, sex, muscle, physical activity), but this analogy will discuss why smaller meals more frequent is the way to go for successful weight loss.

  • YOU ARE A MACHINE – You are a car.  You run on fuel, and get a certain amount of miles per gallon (this is your metabolism).  Some gas is better than others, however for this explanation,  we are converting gas into general calories.  So to sum it up, the amount of miles you travel compared to how much gas you have in the car will represent how well your metabolism is working.
  • RAN OUT OF GAS – Let say you have no gas in your car.  Your car will, of course, not move.  It is a fact that when you consume little to no calories, your metabolism is inactive.  Your body will stop utilizing gas (calories) as its energy, and start breaking down the internal car parts to move.  I don’t think I have to tell you that this is bad.  Many people who are on a very calorie restrictive diet who also work out a lot will find it hard to lose weight because your body is trying to hold on to as much as it can to function normally, while using what it does’t think is important as energy. YOUR CAR WON’T MOVE WITHOUT GAS.
  • TO MUCH GAS – Your car has a gas tank that can expand and can hold WAY more gas than it needs.  You can fill it up as much as you want, and your car will work VERY hard, but your car will move SLOWLY.  All of that gas is weighing your car down and decreasing your miles per gallon.  You are producing excess exhaust and making your engine parts dirty.  Overfilling your gas tank will cause some gas to spill out and unfortunately, your car absorbs this excess weight as ‘hard to use gas’ aka…fatty fat fat.  YOU DON’T NEED ALL THAT GAS.
  • JUST RIGHT – When you fill up your gas tank just enough to get to your next destination, you win.  You have found that happy medium of the right amount of gas for the right amount of miles. When you are traveling, and you are running out of gas in this mode, you will coast to the next gas station to refuel (coasting is my way of saying fat/weight loss).  You are getting the best miles per gallon because you are not being weighed down, and you have gas to move.  Your parts are running very efficiently and your system know how to handle the waste.  For longer road trips, you can add more gas to the tank, but just enough to handle the extended distance. JUST ENOUGH GAS IS GOOD.

As stated earlier, this is in regards to your diet.  If you have a high tech car with super premium gas, you will have better performance.  Certain model cars just work better than other.  Upgrading your car parts will increase its ability to run.  Now how hard is that to understand???

Eat smaller meals more often Speed-Racer!

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Now you don’t have to wait for a ‘celebrity’ chef to walk through your doors to fix your failing restaurant.  Here are 4 simple things you can do to turn around your failing establishment…

  1. CLEAN – Clean your kitchen, clean your dining room, clean the outside of your restaurant.  For whatever reason people seem to forget that a clean restaurant inside and out is a lot more inviting than a dumpster.  Once you do a massive cleaning job on your place, the general upkeep really isn’t that hard or time consuming.  Once you get a great score from the health department, give me a shout out and post your results for all to see.
  2. SIMPLIFY – Unless you are a high volume, large capacity restaurant, long gone are the days of the 10 page menu.  Streamline your menu so consumers know what your schtick is.  This will also greatly improve your food cost, cut down on prep time, and make it easier for the BOH to execute.  Would you rather be great at a few things or not so good at a lot of things?
  3. MODERNIZE – Go to your local fast casual restaurant, and you will notice many are moving away from that old person basement look of random junk everywhere.  The best part about a modern, open, inviting look to your dining room is that it is not expensive.  Just like in the TV shows, you most likely have plenty of good stuff in your restaurant, you just need to remove the bad.
  4. TRAIN – I had no idea that so many employees don’t know the true meaning of customer service!  Regardless if they know your menu or are knowledgable about your wine list, they should be proper, polite, and responsive to your guests needs.  Since you should already have SIMPLIFIED your menu, it will be that much easier to train your staff.  Make sure there is some type of chain of command for any situation, then your place will start to run itself.

ID-100107994Feel free to send me a check when your bottom line goes from red to green.  If you need someone to come in and do it for you, I am much quicker to respond than those ‘celebrity’ chefs!

ID-100105597For whatever reason, I get upset over the smallest things when I go out to eat.  I want my dining experience to be as smooth as Sinatra.  Here are a few that make me want to chuck plates at people…

  • IT’S NICE TO SEE YOU – Please pretend that you are happy to see me and appreciate my business.  I don’t care if you are having a bad day.  If you ruin my day, your boyfriend/girlfriend problems are going to be the least of your worries.  You also won’t have any tip money for gas to get home.
  • DOING IT ANYWAY – As you walk me through the labyrinth of tables during a prime time dinner service, we arrive at my table which looks like someone has been using a circular saw on a 2×4.  Crumbs, napkins, plates, and a tip are all on the table, and you tell me to have a seat and we’ll get this cleaned up right away, then you run to get the busboy??? If anything, I would feel better if YOU yourself started to clean the table and offer your condolences since you should notice my big bald head starting on fire.  The same goes for when you give me a dirty glass, plate, or flatware.  I KNOW you saw it and gave it to me anyway.
  • COLD BUTTER – Excellent! The server has brought out what appears to be a fresh loaf of crusty bread that is warm to the touch, as well as a ramekin/pat/ball/stick of butter.  As soon as I try and scoop some up with my knife and smear it on my artisan bread, I sand a hole in my piece because the butter is right out of the FRIDGE!  How do you expect me to spread something that has the viscosity of modeling clay on my hand crafted slice of pumpernickel?  Maybe if you planned ahead and let my butter temper for a bit, I would not hurl my ice cube butter ball through your window.
  • BUSINESS SAVY  – Do I want to try your…”insert up-selling item here”??? You mean the one I saw a commercial for, and read on your billboard, and saw a big picture of in your front window, and is on the specials board in the front of the restaurant, and is on the table tent, and is on the new menu insert, and is written on your actual menu?  If I wanted it, you would know already.
  • GGOOOGOLEDEND – That is exactly what it sounds like when you walk up to me while I am enjoying my meal, and obviously chewing it, then ask me questions. I don’t care if it is a fine dining restaurant or Shenanigans, a server should almost be like a ghost and provide you with everything you need without interfering.  Please wait for me to stop talking to my party or chewing my food before asking if my meal is to my liking.  When you walk up to my table, I will acknowledge your existence before you can speak.  In return, I will never snap my finger, or yell for you to cater my every need.
  • TIMING IS EVERYTHING – If I wanted a buffet I would have went to a buffet.  Thank you for bringing my appetizer, salad, and entree all at the same time.  Could you please just mix them all together and give me a shovel?
  • NOT MY PROBLEM – One server is slammed while the other ones are in the back playing Candy Crush and watching water boil.  They casually walk past tables with empty drinks, and dirty dishes.  I SEE YOU not doing anything so why not grab a dirty glass and bring it to the BOH before I start unscrewing all of the salt and pepper caps.
  • KING OF THE CASTLE – I try to keep a low-ish profile at a restaurant because it’s a public place.  If you decide to bring everyone and their mother and THEIR kids, could you please try not to invade my dining experience?  I don’t want to hear you scream, I don’t want to have a staring contest with your child, and I don’t need to know how your last doctor visit went.  Maybe even make a small effort to clean up after yourself or organize your dirty tableware.  I’m sure this is how you act at home too.

What are some of your restaurant pet peeves?

So I had this idea to puree bacon and spread it out on a silpat, then bake it to see what happens!!!

For this I used 4 strips of bacon, and 1/2 egg white

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Puree the bacon and egg white together in a food processor until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

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Spread it out over a silicon baking sheet as thin and smooth as you can get it.  I tried shaping this before baking, but this mixture shrinks quite a bit, so it is better to spread it out and see what fun shapes you can get.

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Bake this in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes or until it is nice and golden brown.  Remove from tray and place directly on some paper towel to absorb the excess bacon fat.

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Congratulations!!!  You just made bacon into something that still kind of looks like bacon.  It does have a cool texture and maybe if you use enough to fill a whole pan, you might get even cooler and bigger pieces.  This would be great on a BLT or as a sneaky salad garnish.

BACON!!!!