Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Posole Soup

This Mexican soup is common around Christmas time, but I like it all the time. I make it with chicken stock, sliced onions, dried chili peppers and garlic added to browned chunks of pork, after this simmers a few hours and becomes tender I add hominy. This ladled into big bowls and simply garnished to taste with diced avocado, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon or lime. It has the rich flavor of slow simmered pork and corn tortillas, which are made from the same treated corn that is hominy. Other additional options can include fried tortilla strips, crisp lettuce, diced red onions and diced jalapenos.

Monday, October 27, 2008


My kids have been begging for these for a while now, so with a burst of Saturday morning energy I made a small batch. Just three basic steps of making vanilla pastry cream for the filling, pate a choux as the crispy hollow pastry and the chocolate ganache sauce to dip them. When the shape of these pastries are round they are called profiteroles but if they are made into longer shapes then they are called eclairs. These are really good when dipped into caramel sauce also.

Pate a choux
1 cup water
3.5 oz butter
3/4 cup flour
4 whole eggs

1. Bring water and butter to a simmer, add flour and stir well.
2. after 2 minutes of stirring and cooking on low heat, start adding eggs on at a time off the heat.
3. When all eggs have been added, place mixture into a piping bag with a #8 tip (large)
4. Pipe out 30 round balls onto sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake at 400F for 30 min then let dry out in the turned off oven.

They will be golden brown with hollow centers.

4 oz chopped dark chocolate
4 oz heavy cream
1. Bring cream to a bowl, add to chocolate.
2. After 2 minutes, stir till smooth.

Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or bean
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon butter

1. Bring the milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil.
2. Mix the corn starch with the egg, break up any lumps.
3. Add a splash of hot milk to egg mixture (tempering) then add the egg mixture back into the milk, while stirring.
4. When the mixture thickens take off the heat and stir in the butter, let cool and put in a piping bag with a small tip.

To assemble: stick the pastry cream tip into the pastry and careful fill with the pastry cream, then dip the tops in the chocolate ganache. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Duck legs for Winter

Winter is coming fast and with it are all the cold weather comfort meals, one of my favorites is slow braised duck legs, these are slowly cooked in wine, aromatic vegetables and fresh herbs. The legs take on all the rich flavors of the simmering liquid and become falling apart tender. The next step is to take the duck legs and put skin side down in a non stick pan to crisp up the skin, while this is going on the vegetables are removed from the broth and reserved, the stock is strained and simmered till reduced to a sauce consistency. Arrange the duck with the vegetables on a platter and spoon the sauce over the crispy skinned duck legs.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Back to School in New York

Culinary Institue of America, Hyde Park, New York

Pork Tenderloin Roulade Canape

Tea Smoked Prawn & Orange Salad

Country Style Terrine with Fennel, Watercress & Apple Salad, Red Onion Confiture in Apple

After many months of studying for my Professional chef certification test, I made the trip to upstate New York to attend the famous Culinary Institute of America. I have always heard about its reputation as a leading culinary school, but I never have seen it. Its campus is beautiful and right on the Hudson river with all the trees turning the fall colors of red and gold. The test was a series of written and practical tests over the course of four long days, it was hard enough cooking in a new kitchen and learning where all the equipment was, but having master chefs standing behind you watching every move and taking notes, sometimes a little stressful. They were very fair in there evaluations and could find any flaw, any egos the testing chefs had were quickly deflated.We all did well and are glad at the same time that for now testing is over, the word is we will be back in a year for the pro chef III certification.

Friday, October 03, 2008

All the Nutrition without the Calories

One of the proficiency's of my upcoming chef exam is mastering healthy cuisine. We are given nutritional guideline's and have to come up with a three course menu that falls with in the guideline's, it makes you rethink every ingredient and cooking method. Low in fat but high in flavor and chock full of nutrients. For me it was easy because I eat pretty well and have experience cooking for cardiac patients. I choose a region and style of cooking that is normally low in fat to start with, the Mediterranean. For my main course a took a 4 ounce skinless chicken breast and pounded it flat then spread a pure of green olives, garlic and parsley, rolled it up and saute in a non stick pan to cut down on cooking fats. Steamed spinach and Bulgar wheat with a stewed tomato and saffron sauce. The dish is flavorful, colorful and only 323 calories.