Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cutting Chicken

Laura and I learned how to cut up a chicken the other day at our knife skills class. We bought ourselves a Rocky Jr chicken to make Gordon Ramsay's "Sticky Lemon Chicken" (pictures coming soon).

Rinsing the chicken (and trying to get it to do the chicken dance)

Preparing to remove the wing. Cutting the chicken up would have been much easier if we had a really sharping boning knife, but we made do with Laura's short Chef's knife.

Wings off. Removing the first leg. Unfortunately tore the skin over the beast slightly.

Removing leg two.

The cuts look nicer if you pre-score the skin. It helps if the knife is really sharp though. This knife pulled at the skin a little more than I would have liked.

Finishing the cut my removing the leg from the body from the interior side.

Prepairing to remove the spine.

Cutting through the ribs to remove the spine.

Removing the spine from the breast - it's still attached at the neck and shoulders - a little pulling and cutting does the trick.

Splitting the breast in two.

6 pieces now - 2 breasts, 2 leg/thighs, 2 wings.

Follow the line of fat between the leg and the thigh and it cuts quite easily.

I prepared the leg in a wierd way that Gordon Ramsay demonstrated in his Sticky Lemon Chicken video. I cut around the bottom of the bone and scaped the skin and ligament down, then cut the bone at near the foot. Gordon says that it helps the leg cook faster - I don't really understand how, but I think it looked abit nicer for our dish.

We cut the breasts in half, so that the pieces would be roughly equal in size.

The final 8 pieces. I also de-boned the breasts. It wasn't necessary for our recipe, but there were only few remaining bones (because some of them broke off when I was removing the spine). Boning the chicken was pretty easy. I think this took about 20 mintues or so - but I'm sure I could do it much, much faster with a bit of practice.

Ta Da!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Knife Skills Class

Last Monday, Jerome and I along with two of his co-workers, went to a knife skills class in San Francisco. It was held at Chef Joe's Culinary Salon, which is a cute little cooking school run by Chef Joe. First we were shown how to cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces and then how to do all the different types of cuts for vegetables.

Jerome got the job of recreating the cutting of the chicken after the demonstration.

Ania practicing on an onion.

Jerome working on some carrots.

Mike dicing up a storm.

The demonstration board, showing all the types of cuts we learned.

Tomato Chowder Recipe

A recipe I got from my friend Jean, who got it from her friend Mary who I think found it in her mothers recipe box. Jerome and I made it to go with some really good goat cheese and bread that we got.

"Mary's Tomato Chowder"
2 cups potatoes, chopped fine
1/2 chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups canned tomatoes (we used fresh cherry tomatoes instead)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Combine all ingredients, bring to boil and simmer until vegetables are tender

Cheese Sauce
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp worchester sauce
2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese

Melt butter; add flour, then other ingredients. Cook slowly until cheese melts. Add to vegetables, bring to boil, and serve.

Tomato Chowder

Jerome peeled the cherry tomatoes by putting them in boiling water and then into an ice bath right away. It worked surprisingly well even with the small tomatoes.

Chop, chop, chop.

A colourful chowder base

Smushing up the tomatoes.

We had one extra potato so we made a little plate of salt and pepper chips.

Everythings almost done

Jeromes chips came out nice and crispy.

The final cheesy tomato chowder.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Risotto with peas, scallops and basil oil

Really nice scallops we got at Schaubs meat market
Fresh peas from Sigona's Market
Fresh cherry tomatoes only $1.99 a pound
Jerome was stuck to the risotto pot. He did a great job!
De-podded peas, basil oil and basil, a very green meal
The finished scallops and risotto. Everything was chaotic at the end so we missed some picture opportunities.
But from Jodie and Mike's responses, it turned out pretty well.
The final product

Risotto with peas, scallops and basil oil recipe

Friday night we decided to try our hands at two things we'd never done before, scallops and risotto. After looking for recipes, we settled on one that included peas and basil oil. We found it here but the link seems to be broken now, so I've included the recipe we jotted down to make it with as it was very tasty. The photos will follow in another post. It turned out very well, Jerome cooked the scallops perfectly and the fresh peas we found were excellent. Fresh vegetables seem to be a big plus for cooking in California.

olive oil
1/2 vidalia onion, diced
2 c. arborio rice
2 c. white wine
4 c. chicken stock
1 c. peas
1 lb. scallops
1/4 c. basil, chopped

Make basil oil: In food processor, combine basil and about 1/4 c. olive oil. Blend well. Set aside.

1. Heat a little oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add rice. Stir until heated and almost translucent.

2. Add wine in 1/2 cup increments, stirring nearly constantly. When out of wine, switch to stock until rice is soft and creamy, and won’t absorb more liquid.. This process should take about a half hour. Stir in peas.

3. Heat a second pan over high heat. Dry scallops with a paper towel. When pan is very hot, add scalops. Cook about 3 minute on each side.

4. Arrange a portion of rice in a dish. Top with scallops. Dallop on about 1 T. of the Basil-oil mixture for each serving.

Gordon Ramsays Beef Wellington Recipe

We found this beef wellington recipe via a youtube video of Gordon Ramsays F-Word show. It was really interesting how he broke down a fairly intimidating dish in a very simple way. It can be found here: Beef Wellington Video We then really wanted to make it for a special Valentines Day dinner, and so found the full recipe here: Beef Wellington Recipe. As you can see from the pictures, it turned out really well, especially seeing as it was our first try. I tried it again later, but didn't have the good thermometer so it ended up more well done than I'd have liked. All in all though a winning recipe that has lots of impact.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Valentines Day Beef Wellington

Preparing the mushrooms

Cooking the water out of the mushrooms

Our cut of beef filet

The water evaporating out of the mushrooms

Beef seasoned and seared
Lathering it in English mustard
A layer of cling wrap, panchetta, mushroom and beef

All wrapped up, ready to chill
Egg washing the puff pastry liberally
All the parts are together and ready to go
Wrapping everything up tightly
Now hoping the cooking will go well
Egg washed and slit on top, ready for the oven

Waiting semi-patiently

Thermometer says its the right temperature and it looks done

Wellington wine to go with the beef wellington
First cut looks perfect
Hungry after all that hard work
Perfectly cooked and very tasty