How to/ Basics

Emulsified Sauces and How to make Hollandaise

August 10, 2014
Thumbnail image for Emulsified Sauces and How to make Hollandaise

Emulsified sauces are one part chemistry, one part culinary magic. Take two ingredients which, “like oil and water”, should not blend together, and with a little effort, they become one delicious whole.

An emulsified sauce is literally the blending of fat (butter or oil) and water (wine, vinegar or egg yolk- which is more than 50% water). Combine them together with heat, centrifugal force, or just a vigorous whisk and you suddenly have one sauce where there were once two separate ingredients which typically do not play well together.

The scientific term for this refusal to mix is “immiscible” which is defined as two liquids that are incapable of being mixed, caused by surface tension between two molecules. However, when it comes to emulsified sauces, there are other forces at play (heat and/or movement) which will cause one part to incorporate into the other.

The best known emulsified …

Read the full article →

Steak au Poivre

July 12, 2014
Thumbnail image for Steak au Poivre

Like most classic dishes, steak au poivre has as many versions as there are colors in a jumbo box of crayons. Food historians think that the dish originated in the Normandy region of France in the 19th century. Lore has it that it was a favorite late night meal in bistros and bordellos due to the reported aphrodisiac qualities of pepper. By the early 1900′s the dish was popular in Paris and Monte Carlo restaurants, yet there’s no shortage of controversy there either. Several French chefs of the era laid claim to Steak au Poivre. The popularity remains today and you are likely to see a version of a pepper crusted steak with covered with a sauce made in the same pan on every American steak house menu and most French bistros.

Traditionally, Steak au Poivre is made with beef tenderloin (filet mignon) but rib eye, New York strip …

Read the full article →

All About Pepper

July 7, 2014
Thumbnail image for All About Pepper

A little bit about pepper….

You might be surprised, but pepper is the most traded and most popular spice in the world. Peppercorns are the fruit (aka drupes) of the tropical vine, Piper Nigrum. When the fruit is ripe, it turns red, but sometimes it’s picked and processed before it’s ripe which then changes the pepper.

The flavor profile of peppercorns can change like wine, depending on where the pepper is grown, when it is picked, and how it is processed. Also like wine, descriptions of the peppercorn’s favor can vary widely; floral, cedar, fruity, smoky, citrus and licorice are commonly used. Vietnam may be the world’s largest producer of pepper but the most coveted peppercorns hail from Telicherry, in India, where the spice originates.

Peppercorns07a

What does the color of the pepper tell you about it?

  • Black peppercorns are the mature fruit of the pepper vine, picked when between
Read the full article →

How To Make Vegetable Stock

June 17, 2014
Thumbnail image for How To Make Vegetable Stock

In previous posts we’ve talked about the basics of making any kind of homemade stock, learned how to make chicken stock and veal/beef stock and now it’s time to look at making a vegetable stock.

While vegetable stock may not have some of the “body” of a stock made with bones, it can still add significant flavor and is excellent for enhancing vegetarian dishes, soups, stews, curries and risottos. Use a light vegetable stock in the same way you would use a light chicken stock; for poaching vegetables, cooking a rice pilaf, or as an addition to a light sauce or light colored curry. Use a darker, roasted vegetable stock, for soups and vegetarian chilies and stews. Consider adding dried mushrooms to a vegetable stock to add color and enhance the flavor (mushrooms are a flavor enhancer because they contain glutamic acid, a naturally occurring version of MSG).

There …

Read the full article →

Soft Shell Crab Piccata Plus How To Clean Soft Shell Crabs

May 17, 2014
Thumbnail image for Soft Shell Crab Piccata Plus How To Clean Soft Shell Crabs

Friends, we’re now in soft shell crab season, which typically runs late April through September. The season seems to have started late this year, but with the weird weather all over the country, that’s not surprising.

Soft Shell Crab Primer:

Just what are soft shell crabs you ask? Soft shells are Blue Crabs which have molted their hard shell to grow a larger one. This phase only lasts a few days until the new shell hardens. During the “soft shell” phase the entire crab can be eaten, “shell” and all. Blue Crabs, with their blue tinged claws (hence the name), are found on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and are very popular in Maryland. In the soft shell phase they are most commonly fried, sautéed or tempura battered.If possible, buy soft shell crabs still alive. If you are only able to find ones which have been cleaned, then make sure …

Read the full article →

How To Make Veal Stock

May 3, 2014
Thumbnail image for How To Make Veal Stock

In a previous post featured Stocks 101, all about the ease, affordability and impact of making a great stock from scratch. Since we’ve already covered making a chicken stock, the next stock in your repertoire should be a beef or veal stock.

Everyone should make a true veal stock at least once to experience the wonder of the flavor it imparts to a dish. Veal stock is typically used as the base for French onion soup and in meat sauces. Cook book author and food writer Michael Ruhlman says that veal stock has the “qualities of humility and generosity—it brings out and expands other flavors without calling attention to itself” and this is true. Take a small amount of veal stock demi-glace, swirl it with butter, and you have an instant sauce for homemade pasta. Add shallots to that swirl and it’s perfect over a grilled steak. Veal …

Read the full article →