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  • The Timid Chef 3:58 am on June 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: soup, , , tomato soup, tomatoes   

    Module 1-7 Recipe: Homemade Tomato Soup 

    Summer is here, and I have been craving homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I like my grilled cheese on sourdough bread (the kind with the crispy crust) and REAL American cheese. Yummy! This recipe uses the tomato concasse technique that we covered in Module 1-7. The peeled tomatoes and vegetables are roasted which gives this soup a deep, tomatoey flavor.

    Just you know, I am not a very good photographer so don’t laugh at my cheesy pics. On second thought, laugh away. It is always good to have a good laugh.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes
    • 4 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
    • ½ onion (medium dice)
    • ½ red bell pepper (medium dice)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil (be sure you are using a good quality olive oil)
    • salt & pepper to taste (I prefer using sea salt and freshly ground pepper)
    • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
    • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
    • 14 oz. crushed tomatoes *
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (basil/parsley/oregano)
    • fresh basil & parsley for serving
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
    1. Preheat the oven to 450° F
    2. Concasse the tomatoes using the techniques learned from Module 1-7. In case you haven’t read that post yet, concasse is a technique for removing the skin from a tomato. It is so easy once you learn how to do it. (After removing the skin, I also removed as many seeds as possible. I put the skins and seeds in a cheesecloth and squeezed out as much juice as possible. I then threw away the seeds and skin and poured the squeezed tomato juice into a saucepan.  Although this is not necessary, why not save as much flavor as possible)?
    3. Cut the tomatoes in quarters. In a large bowl, gently mix together the raw tomatoes, (NOT the crushed tomatoes from the can) garlic, chopped onion, chopped red bell pepper, olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Then pour this into a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
    4. Roast in the oven at 450° F for 15 minutes. Turn the broiler on and broil for about 3 minutes (maybe a minute or so shorter or longer) until the tomatoes begin to char. Gently stir the tomato/veggie mixture and lower the oven to 450° F and cook another 10 minutes. Watch closely as these times are approximate. You want a nice char, but you don’t want them burnt. I don’t suggest you watch tv or youtube videos until you take them out of the oven.
    5. Add the canned crushed tomatoes and chicken stock to the tomato juice that you squeezed from the seeds and skin and bring to a simmer.
    6. Add the tomato/veggie mixture and fresh herbs. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
    7. Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You could use a regular blender, but the immersion blender works so much better.
    8. Add ¼ cup of the heavy cream and taste to see if you need to add more. I usually use the whole ½ cup, but some people do not like as much cream. Also, the amount of cream you use depends upon the intensity of the tomato flavor. You may need to add a little more if it’s too intense to tone it down a little.
    9. Bring back to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
    10. Serve with a shaving of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of FRESH, chopped parsley.

    *I was not able to find a 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. I bought the 28-ounce can and saved half of it to use for meatloaf tomorrow night.

     
  • The Timid Chef 3:06 am on June 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mirepois, mirepoix   

    Module 1-6 Mirepoix 

    Mirepoix

    Mirepoix

    Mirepoix is a combination of aromatics (onion, carrots, and celery). It is the foundation of many flavorful dishes and frequently used in sauces, soups, and stews.

    Mirepoix Recipe

    50% onions

    25% celery

    25% carrots

    Another way to think of it as 1/2 cup onions, 1/4 cup celery, 1/4 cup carrots

    Mirepoix uses

    Whole – If your recipe doesn’t require caramelization or to be strained at the end, it can be used whole. This is most commonly done in stocks, large batch sauces, and pureed soups.

    Finely Chopped – Uniform sizes will help with even cooking. Remember, the smaller you cut your aromatic vegetables, the shorter your cooking time.

    Light Sauté – Most recipes will call for you to only sweat, not caramelize, the mirepoix. If that’s the case, follow these steps:
    1)Melt the butter.
    2)Add in the onions and carrots and sauté until the onions are translucent.
    3) Add in the celery and cook until the carrots and celery begin to soften

    Caramelized – If you want a richer, deeper flavor to your mirepoix, caramelizing will help. Follow the same steps as above, but wait until your carrots have developed a golden brown sear before adding the celery.

    Aromatics – Mirepoix can be used to lend aroma and flavor to what you are cooking even without directly using it as an ingredient. For example, if you were to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving, you could place the mirepoix under the turkey (directly, or under the roasting rack) to impart it’s flavor.

     
  • The Timid Chef 2:47 am on June 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bouquet garni, , ,   

    Module 1-4 Bouquet Garni and Sachet d’Epices 

    A bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs and aromatics (such as celery or leeks) tied together with cooking twine and simmered in stock, soups or sauces to add flavor and aroma to a recipe. The classic is fresh thyme, parsley stems, and a bay leaf. In modern cooking they could be thyme, celery, and parsley that is wrapped in a leek leaf and then tied with a piece of twine. I like using parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf that is wrapped up with a strip of lemon zest.

    bouquet garni
    bouquet garni

    The difference between a bouquet garni and sachet d’epices is how it is held together. A bouquet garni is held together with a piece of baker’s twine, whereas, a sachet d’epices is held together in a piece of cheese cloth or muslim drawstring bag.

    sachet d'epices
    a sachet d’epices

     
  • The Timid Chef 10:30 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: herbs de provence, spice blend   

    Module 1-8 Herbs de Provence Recipe 

    • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
    • 2 tablespoons dried savory
    • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
    • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
    • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
    • 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers (optional: provides an undertone of fragrance)

    Mix all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

    This is one of the few decent videos I can find on this spice blend.

    If you don’t have a spice blender, put the herbs between wax paper and roll with a rolling pin until crushed.

    Herbs de Provence can consist of other herbs besides what is used here.

     
  • The Timid Chef 9:47 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Module 1-9 Ratatouille 

    I have included two recipes for Ratatouille. I like both of these recipes and they use some of the techniques we have learned (and it is sooo good).

    Here is a recipe for Ratatouille from America’s Test Kitchen. I have tried both this recipe and the one that follows. I can’t make up my mind which I like more. This recipe uses a Dutch oven and so yummy.

    WALKAWAY RATATOUILLE FROM AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN

    Visit Cooks Illustrated to learn more.


    This video and recipe is from Escoffier Culinary Academy. It is a little on the lengthy side, but he does an excellent job of explaining EVERYTHING. Enjoy!

     
  • The Timid Chef 9:06 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: concasse, ,   

    Module 1-7 Tomato Concasse 

    Tomato concasse is more of a cooking technique than recipe. It involves boiling scored tomatoes in water. You will then proceed to peel, remove the seeds, and then chop them. The end result can be served alone, as a base for tomato sauce , or in a variety of dishes.

    Tomato Concasse

    Ingredients:

    2 Beefsteak tomatoes

    If you have a skimmer it will make this process much easier.

    Procedure

    Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes and blanch them for 30 seconds. This loosens the skin. Immediately shock in cold water; peel off the skin with a paring knife. Then slice through the equator and remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes in an even dice.

     
  • The Timid Chef 7:11 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Clarified butter, Ghee   

    Module 1-5 Clarified Butter and Ghee 

    Clarified Butter

    Frying foods in butter is not a good idea due to its low smoke point. It burns quickly and will leave your dish with an unappetizing bitter, burnt flavor. Clarified butter is the answer to this problem.

    Butter is not 100% fat; it is about 80% fat and the rest is water and milk solids. Once you remove the water and milk solids you are left with clarified butter which has a high smoke point (somewhere around 400 degrees F). Clarified butter gives your food a complex buttery flavor that is plain yummy.

    Ghee is a type of clarified butter that is heated longer than clarified butter. The longer cooking contributes to a stronger and nuttier flavor. It also has a higher smoke point than regular clarified butter.

    Clarified Butter Recipe

    Clarified Butter

    1 – 2 cups UNSALTED butter

    Cheesecloth (if making Ghee)

    • STEP 1 Melt butter in saucepan over low heat, without stirring, 10-15 minutes or until melted and solids separate from fat. (be careful NOT to burn and tie your hands behind your back if you are tempted to stir it).
    • STEP 2 Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Skim off foam. Slowly pour off clear yellow liquid, leaving behind the residue of milk solids that has settled to the bottom of the pan. Cover; store refrigerated.
    • STEP 3 Use clarified butter for frying and sautéing. Use it in place of oil, it works the same, but give a great buttery flavor.

    If you wish to make GHEE continue cooking until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn brown.

    Ghee
     
  • The Timid Chef 5:13 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cookware, dutch oven, Kitchen Gadgets, madein, nonstick frying pans, stainless steel, stainless steel cookware   

    Module 1-3 COOKWARE and KITCHEN GADGETS 

    Here is an informative youtube video that covers cookware and kitchen gadgets.

    Let’s Talk Cookware

    Which pots and pans do you really need? What is the difference between nonstick, stainless steel, and cast iron skillets? What is a Dutch oven and do you really need one? I will try and answer these questions and more.

    If you are new to cooking (or a terrible cook like I used to be) please don’t skip this page. The information presented here is important for cooking success.

    Let’s begin our discussion with some great videos:

    Skillets and frying pans

    • Cast Iron skillet – is an incredible (and inexpensive) work horse that belongs in every kitchen. They can be used for pan-frying, sauteing, searing, baking, braising, broiling, roasting, and more. Here is a link on cleaning and seasoning your cast iron skillet. Note: Cast iron is not a good choice for acidic foods. Here is an article from America’s Test Kitchen on cast iron skillets.
    • Stainless Steel skillet – the key to using a stainless steel skillet is to ensure your pan is sizzling hot before adding food. Place your skillet on a heat source before adding oil. Once the skillet is hot, add the oil. The oil will shimmer. Continue heating until you can see the first wisp of smoke. This is when you want to add the meat. The trick is not getting the skillet too hot yet ensuring it is hot enough. If done correctly, food will not stick and cleaning is very easy.
    • Nonstick skillets – the only time that I use nonstick skillets is for fish and eggs. I can think of no other reason to use them.
    Toxic cookware and safe alternatives

    DUTCH OVENS (aka cocotte)

    Lodge Dutch Oven

    Dutch ovens are a heavy, thick-walled pot with a tight fitting lid that is made out of cast iron. They can be used to braise, fry, stew, bake, slow cook, and poach food. They are a must-have for combination cooking techniques. Choose one with an enamel coating.

    Here is an article about cooking with dutch ovens and why you should have one by America’s Test Kitchen.

    Another great article on dutch ovens: 6 Rules to follow when cooking with a dutch oven.

     
  • The Timid Chef 3:35 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chef Knife   

    Module 1-2 The Chef’s Knife 

    Let’s start by watching a video on honing vs. sharpening a knife.

    This video covers Basic Knife Skills.

    In the kitchen you need the right tool for the right job. This begins with a quality chef’s knife that you will use for almost any task that takes place on the cutting board.  The chef’s knife is probably the most used tool other than your pots and pans.

    I am not an expert on chef’s knives. However, I can share the websites that I found helpful. I was surprised at how expensive chef’s knives can be. I have seen them as low as $19.99 and in excess of $300. (Yes, that is for only one knife). Initially, I didn’t see the importance of spending more than $20 for a knife. However, as I did my research, I realized that an affordable, quality knife is important. There are very few recipes that don’t require you to carve, dice, or chop something.

    There are a few qualities that are important to consider when shopping for the right chef’s knife for your kitchen.

    • It needs to be sturdy enough to last
    • It needs to stay sharp or be easy to sharpen
    • It needs to comfortable to use

    As a home cook and gramma I don’t feel that I need to spend $300 on a knife. However, I did want a quality, functional knife. I decided to see what I could find for $100 or less. The Mercer Culinary M23510 Renaissance 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is what I chose. It has an affordable price tag below $50 on Amazon.

    Mercer M23510 8-in. chef knife

    What to look for in a knife

    Mercer verse Wusthoff knives

    In my research I learned that you should go to a cutlery or cookware store so that you can try before buying. There are many reasons why I chose not to do this with the primary one being, “I didn’t want to.” Instead, I looked at several review sites on chef’s knives. One of my favorite review websites is  America’s Test Kitchen. I love this website and have learned a lot there. They have recipes, equipment reviews, and prescription-based video classes. The downside that it is a prescription service. However, they have a lot of information that is free.

    Today.com – This website provides reviews of several chef’s knives that are under $100. Although, I didn’t go with one of their recommendations, I think any one of these would be a great addition to a home kitchen. They have reviewed several knives that are under $100.

    Reviews.com – I chose not to buy there recommended starter knife and chose a Mercer knife instead. I don’t like the idea of a handle made from plastic. However, Amazon reviews their top pick in excess of 4 stars.

    Wirecutter.com – Their budget pick is the Wusthof Pro 4862-7/20. From what I have read, Wusthof knives are one of the top picks in the chef’s world. This knife sells for around $30.00 on Amazon. I didn’t chose this knife because I didn’t like the shape of the handle.

    Anatomy of a chef’s knife

    The handle: A good handle is one that feels comfortable and ­secure to you. You shouldn’t have to strain to hold onto it, and it shouldn’t feel slippery when wet. There should be enough clearance on its underside that you don’t bang your knuckles as you chop (the height of the blade affects this).

    The bolster: The bolster is the thick portion of metal where the blade and handle meet. The bolster can add strength and stability to a knife as well as act as a ­finger guard for your gripping hand. Some forged knives have only partial bolsters, which don’t extend all the way to the blade’s heel, and some knives, especially Japanese-style knives, have no bolster at all. An advantage to partial- or no-­bolster knives is that you can sharpen the full length of the blade, right through the heel. As you hold a knife, notice the slope from the bolster to the blade. It may be pronounced or gradual, but neither style should make you feel like you have to tighten your grip.

    The heel: The heel is the broadest and thickest part of the edge with the greatest heft. It’s meant for tasks that require force, such as chopping through poultry tendons or the hard rind of a winter squash. Watch out for knives that “thunk” at the heel when rocked. The heel shouldn’t abruptly stop the rocking motion. Nor should it be so curved that the blade wants to kick backward.

    The spine: This is the top portion of the blade, and it typically has squared edges. Note whether the edges feel polished or sharp and rough, which can potentially irritate your gripping hand. The spine should also taper at the tip; a thick tip will be hard to work with.

    The edge: A good chef’s knife should be sharp right out of the box. To evaluate sharpness, try slicing through a sheet of paper. A really sharp knife will make a clean, swift cut. (Of course, if you have the opportunity, chop some food, too.) Also note the line of the blade. A gentle curve from the tip to the heel can help the knife smoothly rock back and forth during chopping and mincing.

     
  • The Timid Chef 2:13 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cooking videos,   

    Module 1-1 Foundation Videos 

    I learned to cook by watching free cooking videos. There are so many, and you could spend a lifetime watching all of them. I am sharing the ones that I found most helpful. (I would love it if you would share your favorites).

    If you are serious about becoming a better cook, don’t skip watching the ones I have included here. They are not long and you will be amazed at how much you will learn from them. As in anything else, a picture (in this case a video) is worth a thousand words. You can watch all of these videos in less than an hour. You will be glad that you did.

    VIDEOS

    Experimenting with taste with Chef Bill Briwa – This is an awesome video. If you are thinking of skipping this one DON’T. You will be pleasantly surprised.

    Choosing a chef’s knife – A comparison of the Mercer Renaissance and the Wusthof Classic chef’s knives. The Wusthof has a solid reputation in the cooking world but can be very expensive. The Mercer is a less expensive alternative and was the one that I chose.

    How to hone a knife – Honing and sharpening are not the same thing.

    How to use a chef’s knife – This teaches you some very useful techniques in the proper use of a chef’s knife. If you are new to the kitchen, this is a “MUST” watch video. You will learn how to hold your hand to prevent being cut, how to dice an onion, how to chiffonade herbs, how to julienne, and the oblique cut. Pay careful attention how the instructor holds her hand while cutting. I call this hand position “the claw” which will keep you from accidentally cutting off your fingers. I would suggest buying a few inexpensive vegetables (onion, celery, or carrots) and practice these techniques.

    Practice your knife skills with Chef Bill Briwa – The name of the video speak for itself. I love Chef Briwa’s videos. He is an amazing teacher. If you really like his videos, he has a full video course in “The Great Courses“. You can either purchase the DVD or receive this cooking course in a download for around $50. I have watched every single video available by him. I cannot stress how great his videos are. I learned more about cooking by watching his videos than I did anywhere else.

    An overview of basic knife cuts – Uniform size is important so that everything cooks at the same speed. When starting out, practice your knife cuts at a slow and steady pace.

    The following are free videos from SaltedTV. This is a cooking-video subscription website. This is not one of my favorites websites, but they do have several helpful videos that are free to the public. They are only a few minutes long and teach valuable techniques. If you want to join a paid cooking website, I do not recommend this one. The best I found was Rouxbe. Their subscription service is only $9.99 per month and has the feel of a real culinary school. It is the best site I found other than the online cooking school.

    How to cook bootcamp – This is a cooking “bootcamp” that is mostly free. It covers grilling, steaming, roasting, sauteing, searing, and frying. It is extremely informative and a must for those wanting to learn proper cooking techniques. If you don’t watch any of the other videos, you need to watch this.

    An overview of common kitchen knives

    An overview of beef and pork ribs

    An introduction to fats

    How to deglaze a pan

    Everything you need to know about baking pans

    How to render bacon

    An overview of common peppers

    An overview of onions

    An overview of seasoning

    How to tenderize protein

    If you are serious about becoming a better cook, these videos are an important part of the learning process, and I highly recommend watching them. Yes, I have watched every single one.

     
    • The Timid Chef 4:34 am on June 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      If you are having difficulties traversing the website: Click on categories on the sidebar and follow the modules in order.

      Like

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