Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Javier Colon - The Truth

Friday, January 28, 2011

Knife skills......

This is a great recipe to work on your knife skills. If you've got the time and patience, try to cut all those 1/4" vegetables into very uniform cubes. The best way to do that - cut 1/4" slices, cut those into 1/4" sticks, cut those into 1/4" cubes. 

Chicken and Root Vegetable Soup
Serves 8

1.5 pounds chicken breast
3 cups potatoes
2 cups each parsnips, celery root, leeks
1.5 cups each carrot, onion
1 cup turnips
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons butter
6 sprigs fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
1 fresh bay leaf (or 2 dried)
8 cups fresh chicken stock
3 tablespoons Sherry (optional)
  1. Cut chicken into 1" cubes. Peel and cut all root vegetables to 1/4" cubes. Finely dice the leek.
  2. Heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until wilted. 
  3. Add the chicken and combine with onions. 
  4. Add all the remaining vegetables. Combine and cook 2 minutes to barely heat through. 
  5. Add the stock, thyme, bay, Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  6. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the Sherry and cook for 3 more minutes. 
Note: This recipe is simple, but it takes a long time to cut up the vegetables. Plan on one hour total time. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Knife



Probably the single most important kitchen tool is a sharp chef's knife.  Most experts say that a good cook can survive with just a chef's knife and paring knife. I think that unless you have pretty small hands, just the chef's knife will do for 95% of prep cooking.

A sharp knife makes preparing vegetables, meats, herbs, fish - anything you cut - faster, easier and safer.

Notice carefully the adjective 'sharp' before knife. Even the most well constructed and expensive knives are worthless if they are not sharp. Professional chefs are almost maniacal about knife sharpness.

Before we go over the benefits of a sharp knife, let's make sure you know how and what to do to keep a knife sharp - there are two aspects to it.


  1. Regular use of a steel or ceramic knife sharpener. This step is a 10 second task that should be undertaken  either every time you cook, or at least once a week if you don't cook that often.  Simply run each edge of your knife across the rod, holding it at about a 15 to 20 degree angle. This process is usually called 'honing' and serves to straighten out minor imperfections in the blade edge as the knife is used. These tools can be obtained for around $15-20. 
  2. Annual professional sharpening. This is known as "restoring or recreating the edge". Eventually, even regular honing will not keep a knife sharp. For usually $10 or less, a professional knife sharper will restore your edge to razor sharp perfection. Check with a local hardware store or at  farmer's markets, which often  have a knife person around. 

You do not need an expensive electric sharpener. Many of these tools are ineffective, hard to use and sit idle even when you ought to be using them. The every day/every week task is easy, and that annual-ish resharpening breathes new life in your favorite knife.

You also don't need an expensive knife. The current wave of Santuko knives, designer ceramic bladed knives and so on.....all fine. But mostly this is the result of marketing, not some new breakthrough in cutting. A moderate quality knife, kept sharp, is far more important than a few hollow ridges or flashy ceramic colored knife.  

How Sharp is Sharp? 

Your knife should be SO sharp that a tiny slash with the tip of the blade can slice a fresh tomato, or rip through tough plastic packaging. Except for some of the toughest root vegetables - like turnips or rutabagas - a chef's knife will almost glide through. This makes cutting faster, easier, less tiring and even safer.

Yes safer.

A woman named Kathleen Finn wrote an account of her training at a Paris cooking school, titled The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry. Nice book. But the title holds an accurate phrase, in a way.
  • You're less likely to cut yourself with a sharp knife, because it's less likely to slip off the skin of a vegetable or other item you're working on.
  • Since the sharp knife cuts more easily, you'll require less force to cut things, which decreases the chance of an accidental cut.
  • If you do happen to cut yourself, a cut from a sharp knife will hurt less and heal faster than a cut from a dull knife. Why is that? Because the rough edge of a dull knife creates a more ragged cut. Consider a scalpel, compared to a sharp steak knife compared to a dull everyday kitchen knife.
When I started cooking seriously after college, a very good knife was one of my first investments.  I bought a Portuguese knife from Alfred Zanger company, which unfortunately no longer import knives. However, I still use it regularly (and got it resharpened last month).

When the Zanger knife took an unplanned vacation in Wisconsin for a year (really, I travel with my knife and once forget it at my friend John's place), I purchased a very inexpensive and popular Swiss chef's knife from Victorinox.  Frankly, it is equally as good as the Zanger, which is equivalent to a $100+ German knife.




   
















If you want to read more about my recommendations for important cooking tools, read this article: Kitchen Tools You Can't Live Without.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Soup

You can tell by the recent recipe choices that it's the dead of winter down here in Houston. Boy can it get chilly. You even need a light jacket some mornings. Brrrr.

Actually, it doesn't have to be below freezing to feel a chill. Damp, dank days in the 40's, especially with a drizzle, still make one long for a warm soup and fresh bread. So that's what I'm planning for tonight.

Chicken and Root Vegetable Soup
Serves 8

1.5 pounds chicken breast
3 cups potatoes
2 cups each parsnips, celery root, leeks
1.5 cups each carrot, onion
1 cup turnips
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons butter
6 sprigs fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
1 fresh bay leaf (or 2 dried)
8 cups fresh chicken stock
3 tablespoons Sherry (optional)
  1. Cut chicken into 1" cubes. Peel and cut all root vegetables to 1/4" cubes. Finely dice the leek.
  2. Heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until wilted. 
  3. Add the chicken and combine with onions. 
  4. Add all the remaining vegetables. Combine and cook 2 minutes to barely heat through. 
  5. Add the stock, thyme, bay, Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  6. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the Sherry and cook for 3 more minutes. 
Note: This recipe is simple, but it takes a long time to cut up the vegetables. Plan on one hour total time. 

Recipe for a new knife user

Decent knife,
Resharpen frequently with a steel, ceramic or other simple sharpending device.
Once a year, new edge.

The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry. Author, title 
enjoyable book,
True about cuts.....

Cut a lot of onion,
Cut a lot of vegetables

- Slice open a plastic bag - a light swash across the bag with the tip of a sharp knife will slice it open. A dull knife will hardly be able to cut open even a simple plastic bag.

Chili, Soup,

Side by side comparison

The Single Most Important Tool in Your Kitchen

Chef's knife and it has to be sharp.

blah blah blah

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3rd Post - Headlineof

Content of 3rd 3dbb post.