Monday, October 26, 2009

Enough sauces for this week

It is monday for you but for me it feels more like a sunday, my sunday since I work every sunday. Got it ?
Had a good day yesterday teaching sauces and emulsions and got to create a new recipe for duck.It actually came out pretty good, considering that I had not done it before. I know what you're thinking: we should not try new dishes on the customers, the first time we cook them. Well, I knew it would work well as I believe that when creating new dishes we need to feel them mentally. What ? Mental food ? you bet ! It is all about the senses. More on that later.
Back to the duck. I used duck legs which I deboned and scored the skin before further processing. For the assembly, lay down the legs flat with the skin down,season them lightly with sea salt and fresh ground pepper (not the stuff that has been languishing in your cupboard for years) cover with a blanched leaf of Swiss chard and 2 tablespoon of a forcemeat made with ground pork and olives. Yep, that's right, olives. Then roll the legs close, wrap them in caul fat and tie them. I was thinking way back when we use to roast ducks and serve them with an olive sauce. The flavors are great and it is different . Look at the pictures and you'll get the idea.

Now you see me, now you don't ! Pork and duck fats still rules, deal with it !

For the sauce I went all out, kept it simple and made duck essence. What ? Relax, this big cooking term is often misused and most cooks would not have a clue on how to do it. You see, most people believe that an essence is a highly reduced and rich stock made with lots of bones,meat ,aromatics and that it should only represent the flavor of the protein used or the main ingredient for that matter.

No, No this is not an essence ! An essence is a quick,freshly made short stock cooked and simmered entirely on stovetop for no more than twenty to thirty minutes. It actually is better than,say a demi glace when the goal is to obtain a natural stock with clean and uncompromised flavor. So,there it is, I said it so go ahead and start the argument, I can take it !
Here are a few step by step shots:

Want to see what it looked like cooked ? Check below !

Think you got that Hollandaise just right ? Not if you skip the reduction of vinegar and cracked pepper ! More pics.

Make sure you get to that ribbon stage !

Remember me telling you to think you food ? Well the class did that all afternoon as I had everyone taste the before and after sauces. Before meaning, without the necessary adjustments that we Chefs are looking for in a sauce, to make it as close to perfect as we can get it. That's what I call my sensory test for each class when I ask the class to litterally "think what they are tasting" so it register mentally and will later become a measuring stick when tasting the same food again.

Some of my friends think I am nuts ! What do you mean taste that food with my brains ? Exactly that !

Yummmmmmmmm, time for all !

Isn't that fun ? It is also lots of work but that is what some of us do and love every minute of it.
As I said before I am totally new at this so my composition on this blog is off . Since I am a big believer of practice makes perfect, it will get better. For now let me know what you think and what else I need to do for more oumph. Do not be shy in posting a comment, good, bad or otherwise.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ever heard of "monter au beurre" ?

That would be what this picture shows !
Tomorrow I am teaching a Sauces, Reductions & emulsions course, so today is prep day. For the non foodies out there it means mise en place in a very detailed way. We cannot forget the little things as they are the ones that raise the stress level. I will start with a PPT presentation that will include some history, some quiz, some recipes, pictures of before and after and, Oh Yeah the mother sauces. Remember those ? We do not use them very much anymore but I believe that they still have their uses and provide a good foundation for the myriads of sauces that we all know and make everyday, at least at the professional level. These sauces may not be used or recognized much but a few of them such as demi glace, tomato and veloutes are still pretty handy to support all the crazy and sometimes off the wall "new" dishes that this generation of Chefs and cooks come up with everyday. From tomato concassee for the ones that think they know ( you know who you are ) to Bordelaise and truffle sauce, hot and cold emulsions and reductions that deliver natural flavor, it will be a busy day. I know the great majority of my readers buy that stuff in the jar that they call mayonnaise; for me none of the pre made stuff comes close to the real thing. I do not eat it very often but when I do it becomes kind of a mayonnaise week . My course last seven hours , you heard it right seven ! So far after five months nobody has fallen asleep on me, yet ! The fifty seat theater at MCAC is the perfect setting, including big flat screen TV's, amphitheater seating, demo kitchen and teaching kitchen .
I will post some of the class pictures as I move forward with this blog thing.

I went to the chinese market for duck legs this morning and got what I wanted : real fresh duck !
Just like at home ! Had to drive across town but it is worth it. Tomorrow I will demo duck legs stuffed with an olive farce, wrapped in Swiss chard and caul fat then roasted and served with a duck essence garnished with a real olive medley (not that stuff in the can) . Yummmmm !

Will also do roasted duck with peaches and a Vermouth braised salmon with leeks and creme fraiche. More Yumm ! Since we are doing emulsions how about a gratin of fresh fruit with an almond sabayon. Stay tuned !

Friday, October 23, 2009

Got to start somewhere

A good friend of mine suggested that I should start a blog, so here I am. I have no clues as to where this will lead but I feel so curious and after reading quite a few food blogs in cyberland, it seems like a good thing for me to do. Not that I have that much extra time but I still can commit to it. I am and always have been a Chef and food is my passion, wine too. Some of us will only eat for pleasure ! Remove that ingredient and I will get skinny in no time, yeah right !

I am currently teaching Continuing Education classes at Milestone Culinary Arts Center in Dallas Texas. If you had told me years ago that I would someday teach, that would have been the equivalent of being struck by lightning, twice in a row. Well, here I am in action . More later .