You say Asado……………

Taming the fire for some long burning coals

After many changes in direction and detail, the day of the Asador came.  It all started like this.  Continue reading

Hot pork puns, Hot pork buns

Hot pork buns from the Momofuku Book

I could go full hog on this post and turn a sows ear into a purse but I am too busy bringing home the bacon to feast on the trough of puns available to me.  Just the mention of pork belly makes most women recoil with fear as they visualize themselves in their summer bikinis.  Continue reading

Putting some Chang Shui in my cooking and other strange Kombu-nations

I recently borrowed this book from work and have been enjoying it completely.  First of all it is a very fun read. I especially like the part where he talks about how he came up with the name of his restaurant “It is no accident that Momofuku sounds like motherfucker” he states. Continue reading

Dog and Pony show

More summer bounty from the garden

The past week has been filled with activity.  The garden is pumping out beautiful produce and we have been of course feasting on the bounty.  Just finished cooking a Greek casserole called Pastitsio (dubbed Greek lasagna by Saveur) using mostly what I had in the garden.

Last night I decided to finally attempt to grill pizza and top it with the tomatoes pictured above. Continue reading

Red hot tamale

Grilled vegetable tamale with poblano crema

If there is one project I have been fairly consistent about, it is the monthly entry for Deep Plate blog.  The above picture I sneaked in after teaching a class on Vegetarian cuisine, Flavors of the Southwest: Tamales.  It is the Deep Plate entry for August.

Some of you that know me well might be asking what are you doing teaching a vegetarian class, much less one based on tamales.  Well my new position as General Manager at The Kitchen Table means, that if no one else is available to teach a class, I teach it.

This was a full day class (we have been trying to get our day classes rolling) with only one self admitted vegetarian.  Continue reading

You put the mango in the coconut

July Deep plate exercise. Coconut sticky rice spring roll on Bauscher plate

One of the really exciting aspects of my new job as GM and Exec chef at the Kitchen Table is I get to research and teach classes on world cuisines that are out of my comfort zone.  In my past two jobs my main focus was on French and Italian cuisines. Now I could be writing a recipes for a Thai class, or Peruvian, Moroccan, Spanish etc.

The “Couples” class has traditionally been taught by a husband and wife team that work at the school.  Continue reading

The new reality

May Deep Plate entry: Pan fried chili rubbed shrimp on top of a quinoa and avocado salad with orange supremes

OK so I have been remiss in writing recently.  I don’t really have an excuse but certainly there has been a lot of change in my life recently and it seems time is slipping away from me at a faster pace than usual.

My new job at the Kitchen Table has been a departure from my past positions at Cook Street and Culinary School of the Rockies.  I’m still involved in cooking education but I am also involved in all the other facets of this enterprise.  From our web presence, to course descriptions & scheduling, to employee schedules, retail sales, wine purchases, formatting of recipe packs, research of course ideas, catering work, team building cooking sessions, to listening to CDs of potential bands and the list seems to go on.  Ah the joys of running a small business. Continue reading

April’s Deep Plate Entry: Deer in headlights

Wild Colorado roasted venison tenderloin with sautéed mushrooms, Lundberg rice blend and Primo Blackberry Serrano port sauce

It’s that time again.  Every month I wait in anticipation of the next plate Bauscher will send so I can start to imagine what I will compose.  It has become somewhat of a ritual.   This time I wanted to use some Venison tenderloin that a friend of ours gave us.   Chris Aamot is extremely generous and was so nice enough to give us the best pieces of the animal he took down.

My wife bought some Lundberg rice mix (we are on a brown rice kick) and my first reaction was why did you buy that.  I have always hated rice blends because they are inherently doomed from the outset as all the grains take different times to cook.  So instead of the suggested cooking method I decided to try the pressure cooker on it.  It was somewhat successful.  Surprisingly only the brown rice was not completely cooked through in the ten minutes it took to cook the rest of the grains.  I put it back on for a few minutes more and it seemed to improve.  I’m still not completely sold on it, but I didn’t throw the whole box away either.

The sauce was made using some preserves made by a local company called Primo Preserves.  I’ve met the owner of the company several times and he is really nice.  His preserves are always a mix of fruit and chilies, in this case Blackberry Serrano.  I thinned the preserves out with a little port and added the liquid from the venison after I seared it and deglazed the pan.  The sauce packed some heat but worked well with the dish.

It is a fairly easy dish that most home cooks could reproduce.  I have been thinking a lot more about dishes like this since I started my new job, which like the title of my post makes me feel a little like a deer in headlights.   So much to learn about all the areas of the business and so many new ideas to try and implement.

Last night I was the lone chef instructor for a Tuscan menu.  I had only partly observed a class and had not really worked in the kitchen before.  It is always a challenge to figure out how to move in a new kitchen and you work inefficiently until you figure out the space.

The class went off without a hitch and all the clients were very happy, but the kitchen was a disaster area when they left.   It took the dishwasher and me a little more than an hour to clean the space.   The next time I’m teaching I will have a much clearer view of the task ahead and will prepare accordingly.

Earlier that same day on my way into work I stopped by to pick up an order at Italco Specialty Foods in Denver and found out that Il Mondo Vecchio Salumi is just down the street.  I stopped in, saw their facility and tasted some their salumi.  Very interesting and I hope to bring in Mark one of the owners and chief salumi makers to teach some classes at the Kitchen Table some day.

Don’t Ha ve a Gao, it’s just the inspiration for the March Deep Plate entry

Ha Gao on Bauscher March Entry Plate

Terrible puns aside,  I have been wanting to make these little shrimp Dim Sum treasures for over 6 years now.  Chinese New Year issuing the year of the Tiger seems an appropriate time.  Ha Gao are made from a wheat starch dough and can sometimes be cut with tapioca flour.

One of my must stops in San Francisco, is Yank Sing, a Dim Sum restaurant.  I don’t even think of the price and just grab whatever catches my eye when they come by with their cart.  I’m sure many locals might recommend cheaper places in Chinatown (I’m all ears) and it seems like Yank Sing has a  feel that is more catered to Westerners.  Regardless, it is amazing and you can tell it is at the height of freshness.  One of my favorites is the shrimp dumpling or Ha Gao.  I love that you can see the cooked shrimp through the thin translucent glutinous wrapping.  It kind of breaks the limitations of a traditional ravioli where you have no idea the surprise that lies inside.  There is a leap of faith in a traditional ravioli.  I have taken that leap with less than satisfactory results at some restaurants and overwhelming deep sustaining blissful delight at others.

During the IACP conference, Andoni Aduriz, presented a dish he described as the thinnest new pea ravioli ever.  The tiny peas were wrapped in a completely thin transparent veil of poaching liquid.  He had created a dish that has the sensation of a ravioli but was completely transparent.

Andoni's pea ravioli

Ferran Adria also has taken this concept even further by creating his Olive Oil Sphere.  Spanish EVOO mixed with a hydrocolloid and then dropped into a calcium rich water bath which allows it to form a membrane as thin as the one around an egg yolk.

My hope was just to replicate the thin transparent wrapper I got at Yank Sing.  Not so easy as I was to find out.

Following the recipe presented on a package can lead to unusable results.

Look at the recipe. The big white log beside the package is what I eventually came up with

If you follow the above recipe you end up with great papier maché mix.  The ratio I came up with to create the above white log is 1 cup of wheat starch to 3/4 cup of boiling liquid.  I would be nice to know if that is the ideal ratio.

I then rolled the tube into a longer tube of 1 1/2″ in diameter and cut the tube into 1 inch thick medallions.  My children thought they were marshmallows.

Individual medallions of dough for the Ha Gao

I then took my Chinese cleaver and pressed those medallions into as thin a wrapper as possible.  I pleated the top edge, filled the cup with my shrimp filling and sealed the two edges.  Easier said than done as the dough can break apart if you are not careful.

Pleated top edge of dumpling and filling

A long time ago a friend and co-worker at CSR,  Chris Clarke,  gave me a stack of small metal dumpling steamers.  I was finally able to put those to use.  I cut out some wax paper to put on the inside and sprayed it with vegetable spray so they didn’t stick.  I have a small French copper sauce pot that the steamer inserts fit into perfectly.  I put in about a cup of water, brought it to a boil and placed my stack on top.  It took about ten minuted for them to cook.  The dough became somewhat translucent (with more practice I could make them thinner) and became firm.

They were quite good, but I have a way to go to replicate the ones at Yank Sing.  I would probably have to make 20,000 before I could get anywhere close to the speed of a guy I saw on You Tube.

Here is the picture I will submit to Deep Plate for the upcoming March entry.

The Recipe: Yield 24 dumplings

2 Cups of wheat starch (see above brand)

1 1/2 Cup of boiling water

2 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. salt

Mix all dry ingredients, add oil then pour the boiling water in a little at a time.  Bring together as a dough and knead to get a nice homogeneous dough.  Roll into a log 1 1/2″ in diameter and then cut into 24 x 1″ thick medallions.  Cover them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  Use a Chinese cleaver to flatten them or a rolling pin.  Get them as thin as possible, but still workable.  Pleat the top edge to create a pocket, fill with shrimp mix and seal into a crescent shape.

Filling:

1 lb. peeled and veined shrimp

1 T. finely minced garlic

1 T. finely minced fresh ginger root

3 T. soy sauce

2 T. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek

1 bunch of scallions finely chopped

1 T. chopped cilantro

Mix together in a bowl:  soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sambal, sugar, garlic, ginger, green onion and cilantro.  Chop the peeled and veined shrimp into small pieces and mix with the above mix.

Cook Street September 180º Class

Here is the final slide show of the food created by the students of the September 180º class.  They were a good class on the whole and I am content the last class I had a part in teaching was a positive experience.  It really is the students and the dynamic of each group that determines the overall experience of the class.

I accompanied my wife to a Denison gathering at the Sink recently and I am always struck at how conversations strike up between people from completely different classes.  What does a person from the class of 71 have in common with a person from a class of 91?  Dorms, teachers, town, weather, sports, events are maybe the only common threads that can run through a conversation where the two parties reminisce over their experience.

It is a moment in time encapsulated by all the people and events that form that moment.  It is the reason you always feel so disconnected when you go to your own reunion or when you go to visit any space you haven’t been to in a while.  The space has moved on without you.  It has forged new temporal connections and relationships.  It is probably one reason why I am trying to encapsulate all these moments in a blog.  I might be able to reconnect to them when I am older and can reflect on the past.   I hope the visual record of each these classes will help the participants recall their own experience or at the very least allow them to remember the dishes we cooked and they might be able to reflect on that stage in their culinary evolution.  I wish my instructors from l’Academie de Cuisine had created a similar visual record for me to refer back to, but of course that was in the days of Kodachrome.

Addendum:  Another element I was struck with during the Denison gathering at the Sink which was put on by the couple that own it and who are also Denison alumni was the commitment by them towards green energy use and offering grass fed beef options from my friends at Lasater Beef.  This is a CU burger and pizza joint that has been around since 1923 and is right on the Hill.  They certainly don’t need to take the direction of green energy use or using more sustainably raised meat but they are blazing the trail and setting an example to the next generation.   Plus as the owner Chris Heinritz explained “it has paid for itself and is the right thing to do.”  Did anyone see Michael Pollan and Steve Ells on Oprah this past Wednesday?  Anyway, it was refreshing to see Oprah introducing these heroes of sustainability and of positive change of our industrial food system to the people who can make the biggest difference in our food system: Mothers and future mothers, and of course Chefs.

Félicitations 180° September Class

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