Leafing through the Modernist Cuisine Collection

I’m hardly the first person to write about receiving the Modernist Cuisine Cookbook Collection and I am sure all of you that have been coveting this collection have already heard all the stats about the book (lbs. of ink, 2,438 pages etc.). Continue reading

Using my new CVap oven

The CVap in its home

The past two months have been crazy at the Kitchen Table.  In December we set new records for class sales and gift cards.  January has brought tons of eager cooks and wine enthusiasts to our Table.  All this has meant the time I wanted to spend experimenting with the CVap oven I won during the 2011 Starchefs ICC has been trimmed.

The oven arrived at my back dock all wrapped in black plastic and on a palette.  The delivery guy dropped it off and took off.  Continue reading

2011 Starchefs – International Chefs Congress – Day 3

Ground Zero

This morning we were able to catch up on sleep as I wasn’t expected to be at the Congress until 12:30pm.  We took the opportunity to head down to ground zero.  Continue reading

But if you try sometime….you’ll find….you don’t need to knead

My first attempt at No Knead Bread

So I have been curious about the no knead bread craze for awhile but it wasn’t until I read this blog post that I was motivated to try Jim Lahey’s famous NYT recipe.

I’m definitely a convert.  This is the easiest dough I have ever worked with and can literally be made in about 10 minutes.  Then you wait a day, crank up your oven, bake it in a covered stock pot for 30 minutes, remove the lid and finish the bread for another 15 minutes. Voila. 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

Zevro Gravity

Zevro gravity spice rack and vacuum seal storage containers

I was approached by Mike at Open Sky about getting free samples of products from a company called Zevro.   So I signed up for the samples and they sent me three Vacuum storage containers and a magnetic spice rack. The containers rock.  Four clips to insure that the lid does not come off and it uses a standard Vacu-Vin suction gadget to remove the air in the container.  The containers fit inside each other when not in use for even greater efficiency in long term storage.  I instantly thought camping or rafting.   This is the perfect container for that use.  As far as chefs are concerned,  some of the flaws are that they are not perfectly stackable and they are not square so they take up more room than necessary.  Square containers are harder to remove all the contents from, but perfectly stackable and neat on shelves are a big draw for chefs.  Zevro also offers a rectangular set and you can find them on my open sky storeOXO has containers that are very popular amongst chefs as they have a push button air sucker and you can clearly see the contents of the container.   Removing the air from a container is very important as it dramatically increases the shelf life of a product. For example, put brown sugar in a non air tight container and it dries out and turns into rock sugar.  Even an airtight container will keep it moist for a long time.  Put it in a vacuum container and it will stay moist forever.  The guy growing medical marijuana in my previous post would love to have these to store his product.  I can think of many other legal uses, but specifically for a chef they can be used to store a whole panoply of herbs and spices as well as all the new fangled hydrocolloids every chef needs to have in their tool chest.

This spice rack caught my eye and I love that you can attach them to a magnetic strip.  Mike at Open Sky arranged for me to offer you a 15% discount on the spice rack offered at my store and if you want to buy it, then when you check out type ZEVRO15 as the coupon code to receive the discount.

Magnets are big draw as they open a whole new option for storage.   The unit they sent me is a good space saver, but I would prefer a magnet strip I can screw into the wall wherever I want and place these spice canisters.  The design of the canisters are not optimal for my use either.  Chefs like spices in whole form.  As soon as they are ground they lose tons of aroma and intensity as all the surface area comes in contact with oxygen.  Most people should throw away most of their spices in their spice drawer as certainly they are quite dead.  Maybe you have seen the McCormick’s ads that show a spice container with their old label that says “if you have one of our spices with this label throw it  away.”

Buy whole spices as much as possible and buy a coffee grinder to grind your spice mixes.

So I would prefer a spice container with a vacuum seal as well as quick access to my whole spices and the ability to pour them out easily.  A few tweaks and these would be great for amateurs and pros alike.  However, if you like to buy pre-ground spices or make your own blends and are low on space these could work very well for your needs.

On a side note, I spent some time updating my store on Open Sky and all of you should check out the new stuff I recently added.  Father’s Day will be here before you know it and you might find just the right product to make him happy at my store.

Why do you do what you do?

This is a very inspiring presentation on why some ventures are successful and others are not.  Should cause reflection on why you do what you do or why you are not doing what you should be doing.

Putting it all out on the table

The front of the school

The first day at a new job is always interesting.  What to expect?  What to discover?  New people to meet and get to know.

After a fairly long courtship and multiple interviews I have been hired as the General Manager for a small recreational cooking school, kitchen supply store and European style espresso bar called the The Kitchen Table.  The school is located in a small shopping mall off of Belleview called the Landmark Shopping Center. Continue reading

Cooking for the week or how to survive the recession

Cheddar broccoli soup

After my last couple of posts which found me amidst the beautiful people of SOBE who appear to be gliding through this recession carefree, concerned only with their next beautification surgery or whether to choose an Iphone over a blackberry; it seems a bit deflating to write a post about how to cook cheaply for the week.

We are a family of five and since I have been unemployed for the past 2 1/2 months (until yesterday) producing the dinner has fallen on me.  This has been a blessing as it forced me to reflect on the very topic of this post.   I want to feed my family good nutritious food my children will eat Continue reading

Making Dulce de Leche in a pressure cooker

When I went to Uruguay last year I ate at the Bouza vineyard and they serve me a flan with two quenelles of dulce de leche.   I’ve read it is not hard or long to make in a pressure cooker.   So I am giving it a shot and will give you my play by play.

The dish I had at Bouza winery

First of all you use Borden’s Sweetened Condensed milk.  You can use other brands but don’t you just know Borden’s is better because of the picture of Elsie the cow on the front.  This product holds very strong childhood memories of our time living in Algeria. My parents would bring this stuff camping and my brother and I would eat it by the spoonfuls.  We would put it in our coffee and generally scarf the stuff down.  I know that Dulce de Leche also triggers powerful memories for everyone in latin America that grew up on the stuff.

How could you not trust Elsie?

I did a little research on other blogs so that I would have a starting point on my experiment.  They all said to take off the wrapping off the cans. Easy enough.  Then came all the different methods of cooking.  Most called for putting the cans in a pan. Filling it with water to 3/4 of the way up the side of the can  and cooking it covered for up to 3.5 hours.  I stumbled on another recipe which gave me a recipe for the same technique in a pressure cooker.

Now in my new role as a stay at home Dad playing Mr. Mom, I have become very acquainted with my pressure cooker.  I never really used them until last year.  In France people use their Cocotte Minute all the time.  They are great and especially in our mile high city where we are lacking some air pressure.  I purchased a Fagor pressure cooker.  I have been told that Khuns are better, but I saw a few destroyed while working at CSR.

My Fagor

The blog I consulted told me to submerge my label free cans with water.

Covered with a 1/2" of water

I put the lid and cranked it full blast until I saw the pressure indicator pop up.  I turned down the heat to the lowest possible setting and let it cook for 30 minutes.  The blog recommended 20, but I wanted a very caramelized product.  Once my timer went off, I poured cold water on the surface of the pressure cooker until the pressure indicator sank.  I took the cans out and put them in the fridge (you could put them in ice water).  Don’t try to open them hot or you might have a sticky clean up job.

I told my son we would open them the following day and when he got home from school that day he was quick to remind me.

Voila, ready for consumption

It was very firm (cold) and very caramelized.  After the sampling,  I would agree with a slightly shorter cooking time of 20 minutes.  My son and daughter loved it.


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