mustard seed caviar

March 29, 2015

pairs well with fatty pork and fish.

dried mustard seeds, cold water, sugar, vinegar, turmeric, one hot chili. bring to a simmer, cover and let it cool in liquid.

texture is similar to faux caviar.


dressing: buttermilk, anchovies blend together.  Stir in aioli in mixing bowl

Salad: Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil. Dressing on the sides of the mixing bowl. Add parm cheese and gently toss salad. Finish by shaving bottarga (dehydrated fish roe)

When I went to Napa Valley couple years ago for a cooking competition, we were given a dinner at the CIA in napa valley.  The Menu were featured with honey because it was a honey cooking challenge after all.  Of course the food was amazing but there was one dish that I remember to this day and I have been wanting to recreate it.

The dish was a pork slice of pork belly.  It was golden yellow and the fat was almost see-through.  The pork belly was so tender that you could slice it with your fork and it practically melts inside your mouth.

secrets: pineapple and papaya help tenderize pork when braising in a pressure cooker.

Sweet Braised Pork Belly Recipe

score the skin side in cross hatches and place skin side down in a cold pan.  Slowly heat for 1 hour to render fat.

Place in pot (skin side down) with several cups of cold water and rice.  The rice will help draw out the fat and impurities. No seasoning required. Approx 1-1/2 hrs.

Allow to cool in the liquid. Take out and freeze.  Freezing it helps to further tender the pork while making it easier to cut and portion.

Make braising liquid which is honey, rice vinegar, water, rice wine, pineapples.  Taste for balance of flavors. Bring to a simmer.  Add the pork belly and pressure cook for 45 minutes. Allow to cool, open the pressure cooker with caution. Add salt and pressure cook for another 20 minutes.

breads continued

March 26, 2015

pre-ferments for lean doughs

pate fermentee: old wheat lean dough that is covered and refrigerated. 30% by weight of flour in the recipe

sponge: combines 1/3 to 1/2 of flour with all the yeast and enough liquid to make a stiff to loose dough.  fermentation is 1 hour.  When the sponge has doubled in size, the remaining ingredients are mixed in.

poolish: equal parts flour and water by weight with some yeast.  fermented at room temp to double in volume and recede. 3-15 hrs depending on how much yeast is used.

biga: flour and half of the flour’s weight as water and a pinch of yeast.  After it is fermented, it must be loosened with a portion of the formula’s liquid to blend into the dough. (12 hr fermentation time)

sourdough starters: wheat and rye flour used.  Grape/onion/apple/potato have high natural yeast.  new starters benefit from 3-5 feedings prior to first use.

wheat starter hydration should be 66 percent hydration. Rye require 100 percent hydration.

autolyse is used to produce lean dough.  Combine flour, water and yeast into a rough mass (briefly mixed) and left to rest for 30 min until it appears smooth.  This allows for less mixing time. **add salt last*** or else it will tighten the gluten.

Multigrain bread: soak the multigrain in hot or cold water.  Hot method: bring liquid to a boil and incorporating grains.  Cook 5 min over low heat.  Allow to cool and add to the dough. Cold method: prepped a day in advance.  Sloak overnight.  Soakers are added to the dough after it has already started to develop just until incorporated.

bread facts

March 26, 2015

flour provides structure in bread making. Increased hydration provides a more open crumb.  Sugar and fats provide flavor and determines with how open or closed the crumb is.  yeast provides texture and flavor.  Fermentation provides flavor and the crumb development.  Mixing dough determines how it rises.  Over-mixing dough will go from smooth and elastic to wet and sticky.  Under-mixing will make it not rise as well and have poor internal structure because it will not absorb the liquid properly.  The result will be wet and sticky.  Bulk fermentation is the longest after mixing.  The dough should double in volume.  ***Flavor develops in this stage of the process.***

retarding dough allows for a longer fermentation period which allows more rise in the end result and more flavor therefore less yeast should be added.

folding dough redistributes food supply for the yeast.  wetter dough requires more aggressive folding (multiple folds) and less hydrated dough should be treated more gently to avoid overworking the tight gluten strands and preserve the already developed structure.

lean dough: mix until its smooth but still tears as you check for gluten window.

scaling and pre-shaping to allow uniformity in proofing and baking.  The reason why we preshape is to obtain a tight smooth skin that will trap gases during further fermentation.

resting happens after pre-shaping to help relax the gluten and rebuild the co2 that was lost during scaling and preshaping.  This is a short fermentation period, approx 15-20 min.

final shaping

final proofing: proof until when you press down and it slowly comes back up and still leaves a dent.  If it spring up and there is no indentation; proof longer.  If you press down and it does not come up it means that it has over proofed.

custards and baking

March 26, 2015

tips: egg yolks provide a softer custard. whole eggs produce more structure to check the doneness of custard, when you shake it, the surface ripples back and forth not in concentric rings. The custard needs to be completely cool to fully set.

stirred puddings and creams contain milk, sugar and starch.  the starch must be fully cooked to thicken and remove the raw flavor of the starch.  The starch in the mixture prevents the coagulation of egg proteins.  vanilla sauce which is thickened by egg yolks instead of starch should never be boiled.

crème brulee ratio of egg to milk should be 1:4-5. 1 egg yolk to 4-5 fl oz of milk. the sugar crust should be a thin layer of sugar to coat. finish the sugar in two intervals to prevent hot spots or burnt spots.

crème caramel: use whole eggs. egg to milk/cream ratio is 1:1.5.  The reason why you’re using whole eggs in this recipe is because it is to be unmolded and the structure needs to be strong enough to keep its shape.

pastry cream: contains a bit of butter and cornstarch (thickening power stronger than flour).  Similar to pastry cream for soufflé.  1 egg to 5 oz milk ratio using whole eggs.  Same method as soufflé pastry cream.  the pastry cream finish consistency must come to a boil and leave a whisk trail to be completely done.

pastry cream for soufflé: egg yolk plus whole egg 2:1 ratio. milk to egg ratio is 5:1. Through thorough testing, the way you can tell if the pastry cream consistency is correct for soufflé is that it leaves a trail when you whisk it and form soft peaks after you fold in the egg whites before you bake it.

the difference between a custard and a pudding is that a pudding has a thickener.

mousse is similar to a pudding, however you want to cook the egg yolks in a double water bath with some liquid and sugar or make a pate bombe which is egg yolk that’s whipped on high and a sugar syrup poured in it and whipped until a mass forms and is cool.  Mousse also contains gelatin and meringue and heavy whipped cream to soft or medium peak.

types of meringues

swiss: done with a double boiler, heated to warm/hot to the touch but not burning hot and then whipped.

Italian: cook sugar syrup and stream into soft peak meringue until desired consistency

French: whisk and gradually add sugar.

Last Weekend

March 26, 2015

Last weekend I went to New Paltz for a trail at a family owned pizza place.  The staff were friendly and I met up with a new friend from the CIA.  During that trail I learned a bit and I will share with you here.

Nichole from the Cia was the kitchen manager there.  She was recipe testing for a new menu she was developing.

pickled vegetables: (no green veg) red onion, beets, carrots, turnips all work very well.

ingredients: peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves, bay leaf, vinegar, sugar, salt, water.

taste for seasoning and balance in taste. should be a good balance of sour and slightly sweet. bring to simmer, stir to dissolve, pour on the veg while hot and pickle overnight.

crab cakes: crab lump(shredded), crab claw(whole), mayo, red onion, hot chili, egg, panko (or anything that will absorb moisture), Worchester sauce, mustard, lemon juice

mold, bread both sides. pan fry 3-5 minutes until breading is golden brown.

alfredo sauce: brown butter, heavy cream, nutmeg, allspice, salt, parm cheese, egg yolk.

combine in that order. done.

Follow the link for a in depth description.

Reminiscing back to my earlier years in culinary really gave me a humble look at my life.  I try so hard and hunger for knowledge and it is the same way now as it was when I first started.  Now I am working towards my Prochef exams in hopes of being a culinary teacher in the near future.  They say the best students make the best teachers, and I agree with that saying.  Right now I am staying proactive in my independent studies to discover new and better ways of cooking based on my readings.  Every good chef should know something about baking so I am fervently studying my baking and pastry book.  I learned a lot working in a bakery, however, the answers to why often eluded me. Although some Michelin chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and Heston Blumenthal have their own way of baking things, I want to try the different methods and observe the results; And also understand why certain methods can or should be done a certain way.

Notes through my studies

March 13, 2015

Provided to you earlier were some kitchen life hacks that were invaluable.

Through my readings, I discovered few more additions to add

1. Salmon cooked to 145F is Serve-safe perfectedly cooked, however, for best taste, cook to only 120F.  It will retain the color and still flake.

2. When poaching, poach at a temperature slightly above your desired internal temperature.

3.  Poaching in oil in the oven can produce sous vide results.

4.  To obtain as much lemon or lime juice as possible, roll the fruit across the cutting board with ample pressure.  Dipping it in  cold water after you squeeze it can help extract more juice.

5.  When dealing with pork or beef steak.  Make a knick in the fat to prevent it from tightening up and curling when cooking.  It will help keep the meat flat during the sautéing process.

6.  The best accompaniments to showcase vegetables as the star ingredient is to serve with delicate flavors such as toasted nuts, flavored cheese curds and brown butter.  i.e. lemon cheese curds.

7. When cooking burger patties, create a well with your thumb on one side of the patty and place the indented side down on the hot grill.  This will allow the patty to retain its shape during the cooking process.

In Culinary School, Making rice pilaf was the most boring thing imaginable. The steps to making CIA rice pilaf.

clarified butter, add chopped shallots, and garlic.  Sweat and add long grain rice.  Toast the rice until you smell a nutty aroma.  Add chicken stock 1 1/2x rice yield. Add bay leaf and thyme.  Bring to simmer and into the oven with lid on.  Cook for 12-15 minutes. Check doneness by tasting.  Once its done cooking, take lid off and fluff with fork. Keep some place warm until it’s time to serve.

What is so great about that? there is nothing exciting about rice pilaf from that standard recipe.  You can argue and say there are so many great rice dishes like fried rice, or saffron rice or risotto, however, those recipes take a lot more ingredients and some take rather expensive ingredients like cheese, saffron, or cream, etc… so we’ll just focus on making the best rice pilaf here.

Rice pilaf Accompaniment for Fish:

ingredients: Evoo, lemon zest (lemongrass), thyme, chervil, garlic, shallots, star anise, cinnamon stick, long grain rice, cardamom seeds

combine all except rice and fresh herbs. sweat down, add and toast rice until aromatic.  Add stock or water.  Season with a little salt and pepper. (you can add more later to taste, add a bit now for an extra dimension in flavor).  Bring to simmer, add lid and into the oven for 12-15 minutes or until done.  Add chopped herbs, season, stir and fluff.  Serve with poached fish.

Rice Pilaf for Meats:

ingredients: Evoo, lemon zest, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, yellow onion, bay leaf, cloves, thai bird chilis (deseeded), turmeric powder and heavy cream.

Heat Evoo, add yellow onion, cloves, star anise. Sweat down the onion and chilis until aromatic. add garlic and cook until aromatic.  Add the long grain rice and toast.  Add the zest of a lemon, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and turmeric and heavy cream.  Let it infuse for one minute and add in chicken stock or water.  Bring to simmer, put on lid and into the oven.  12-15 minutes or cook until done.  Test by tasting.  Take out the flavoring agents such as star anise, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves.  They should all be on top of the rice.  Fluff rice with a fork and keep warm until service.  The turmeric powder adds a earthy nutty flavor and cream gives the rice another dimension of flavor.  However, this causes the rice to change from a pearly white color to a mustard yellow color.  If you want to keep the rice white, emit the turmeric powder. Serve with a spicy braised lamb shank or any meat.