Archive for May, 2010

Professional Garde Manger

May 24, 2010

To manage cold food preparation in a creative fashion is what Garde Manger is all about. The basics and skills needed to handle the station can flow through into the home kitchen as well if you follow along in this book. For the professional this book will be a way to refine your skills in Catering, Banquet service and general foodservice operations. For the home cook this book will open your eyes to the wonderful world of Garde Manger and help you develop skills that will assist in your home cooking and possibly moving into a professional setting.

The book is broken down into 18 chapters, starting with the Garde Manger Profession and finishing with Buffets and Food Bars. You will learn the very basics of production and follow through with design, plating and adding condiments and decor to round out the recipe. The different levels and expectations of cold food are laid out quite well in Chapter one and certainly leave no stone unturned. If you are a novice in the kitchen you may want to study the book a bit first to pick up the terminology so you can better prepare yourself for what’s ahead.

The recipes and methods for preparation are easy to follow and include step by step instructions with pictures and diagrams. If you take the time to look over the recipe before you begin then you have mastered the first rule of the kitchen. Read everything and set your station or area up with the needed ingredients and kitchen tools to get the job done. Once you work through the first selected recipes you will gain a measure of satisfaction and accomplishment that will carry your through the book.

I’ve enjoyed reading through the book and have utilized several recipes in my professional kitchen as well as adapting them a bit to my home kitchen. I look forward to utilizing these recipes to enhance my cold food preparation skills and as well as giving me some new ideas in cold food production. This book certainly deserves a nice spot on my culinary shelf and I’m sure you will enjoy it as well.

The Great Big Cheese Cookbook

May 24, 2010

As a newly appointed Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board I’ve been working overtime incorporating a variety of Wisconsin cheeses into my menus. It’s been great to have this collection at my fingertips to go through and see what has already been created utilizing the wonderful flavors and varieties of Wisconsin Cheese.

This inspired collection of recipes are every bit as good as their pictures and descriptions. I’ve made several recipes, most notably the Chocolate Moussecarpone Tarts which were well received at our last Catering function. The simply addition of rich creamy mascarpone cheese to melt chocolate gave a velvety richness to the tart as well as a beautiful presentation platform atop the chocolate tart shell. That’s just one of over 300 classic and modern recipes presented within the cookbook from celebrated chefs across the country. Classics such as fondue, or Wisconsin Cheese Straws blend well with Steak and Gorgonzola Thyme Crust followed up with Wisconsin Cheddar Peach Shortcakes.

Cooking with cheese comes easy if you follow the opening pages of the cookbook. It walks you through choosing, handling, storing, freezing and cutting and trimming the cheese. You are also given a “Perfect Pairing” guide at the end to help with pairing cheese with suggested wines and beer. There is even a Cheese substitutions guide to assist if you are in a bind. If you don’t have Brick then try Havarti or Muenster and if your Pasta dish is lacking in Parmesan then try grating on some Asiago.

Where cheese comes from truly matters, and unless you have quality milk you can’t produce quality cheese. No matter how happy the cows are in California; the difference is that Wisconsin has Happy Cows AND Happy Customers.

Chef’s Choice Professional Knife Sharpening System – Model 130

May 21, 2010

When you are looking at a pile of onions, fresh peppers or 10 pounds of tomatoes that need to be diced for fresh Salsa you certainly want the sharpest knife on the rack. Instead of pushing through the food and possibly slicing a finger or two from the added pressure you want to be able to glide through your work without a lot of knife force and effort. Ripping and tearing into your food leaves a mess, your bread is squished flat and your ripe tomatoes are splattered all over your cutting board. So you end up spending large sums of money to have your knives professional sharpened and then you try your best to keep a steeled edge as needed. Sooner or later, that edge will dull and you are back to the basics of forcing your knife through food.

Now with the M130, all your knife sharpening options are at your fingertips and in one compact appliance. You can now have that professionally sharpened edge for all your knives including Asian style, pocket, military and hunting knives, as well as all serrated and straight edge kitchen knives. By pulling your knife through the numbered slots you can be assured that the process is simple and straightforward without any guess work. “Stage 1, using 100% diamond abrasives, sharpens the edge. Stage 2 is a super-hardened miniature steel that develops a shaving sharp edge with ultra-sharp microscopic teeth, providing a superior edge “bite”. In Stage 3, a revolutionary flexible stropping disk polishes the edge to hair-splitting sharpness. Using these stages in different combination produces custom edges, suited to a particular cutting task.

If you want a sharp steeled edge then use 1 & 2, if you want a professional knife style edge then use 1 & 3, or you can use a combination of all three depending upon your task. The sharpener also takes the correct angle guesswork out of the process so you simply glide your knife through the marked slots at an even pull to get the best edge possible. The company guarantees “fool-proof sharpening”

In testing out the station I’ve sharpened chef knives, boning knives, fillet knives, serrated knives, military knives and pocket knives. Many knives I thought were too far gone to be of use but this Sharpening System brought the edge right back. I now have several sets of knives in my collection that were once cast offs. The hardest I’ve sharpened to date were an older style chef knife from the 1960’s, along with a U.S.M.C. K-Bar knife. Both knives needed a few additional passes through stage 1, but the stage 1 & 3 system gave the knives renewed life.

I highly recommend this system for any home cook and foodservice professional that needs to have the sharpest knives on the rack. You will not be disappointed.

Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized Eco-Friendly Non Stick 12-Inch Stir Fry Wok

May 14, 2010

As a professional chef I run across all sorts of cookware and kitchen gadgets that are supposed to be the latest and greatest for the kitchen. However, this wok just so happens to be the next best thing, and I picked it up at my local Le Gourmet Chef in Hagerstown, MD.

This wok does the job of providing even heat throughout your cooking process. The surface is super slick but gives you a nice foundation for stir fry’s, stock reduction, or working up Pho Noodle bowl recipes. Cleanup is a breeze, with paper towel no less. The nicest feature is the stay cool recycled stainless steel handle. Some of the key features are:

* Exclusive Ceramica nonstick technology is PTFE/PFOA and petroleum free ceramic-based nonstick interior helps to reduce oil consumption and preserve the environment
* Hard anodized pan construction provides superior heat conductivity, requiring less energy to achieve desired cooking temperature
* Riveted stainless stick handle stays cool on the stovetop and is made from 70% recycled stainless steel
* Packaging is made from 100% recycled materials and is printed with soy ink
* Oven and broiler safe for

The deep rich browning created by this pan is uniform and flavorful. Don’t let the competition sway you, cooking till black is not the new brown! So, if you are going green, get this cookware, it’s certainly your next step! Simply put, the ultra smooth non-stick surface is smoother than glass; thus cooking requires little if no oil and clean up is a breeze with a simple rinse and wipe.

As long as you stay away from aerosol sprays you will have an enjoyable experience with this cookware or any cookware for that matter. If you must spray in your oil then I suggest you buy an oil mister because spraying from a can simply adds residue that ruins pans and takes away from the flavor of your food after buildup occurs.

Hog Wild BBQ

May 2, 2010

From the depths of Edinboro University as my assistant at our Delta Chi Fraternity parties Dean Wells has truly risen to hold high court with the best of the best BBQ Pit Masters. He now runs his own BBQ operation, Hog Wild BBQ, with a truly huge self contained and designed smoker. As Hawkeye once said on M*A*S*H* he should have a Pit Boss Gold Medal with “…little riblet clusters.”