Last night was Cooking With Keri, 101, at The TreeHouse, and here I am with my fabulous students (minus lovely Mic, who graciously played photographer):
I am the first to admit that my outline was, um, a little lofty for one class, so I am going to include the outline here and expand on a few things, as well as fill in the blanks on things we didn’t really talk about.
The Outline (as best as I could format it I will keep working on it):
Cooking with Keri
1. Meis en Place
A. CHOP CHOP!!
i. Onions, Shallots, and other things that make you cry (don’t forget that we kept the root end on the onion for easier chopping)
1. Garlic, and why I don’t even bother!
ii. Fancy French tomatoes!
iii. Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin – round veggies
iv. Size matters – cooking times
v. Chehper Chicken – creating pockets and butterflying
B. What else?
i. Ingredient measuring and prep
ii. Seasoning – you need more than you think (we didn’t really touch on this , but seasoning usually requires being more heavy handed then you think – also, preseasoning can be an important way to add flavor)
iii. Timing is everything – have a timeline (and plan to hold ) (refer to the sauces sheet – you can hold things warm in a low – 200 degrees or so – oven when needed, or tent with foil. Also, chop things an appropriate size to keep cooking times close so things come out at the same time)
iv. What’s your problem!? (No really – what prep questions do you have?)
2. Easy Cooking Techniques
i. That brown stuff is flavor! (now this one we did – remember that baking soda sprinkled in your flour can help things brown, and I would aim for a bit more color than we went for when cooking our chicken. See this chicken post for an example)
ii. That black stuff is NOT! (oven finishing – it’s your friend) (this is why I finish food in the oven, so it doesn’t burn on the outside while staying undercooked on the inside!)
B. Grilling – my dirty little secret (Grilling makes everything taste better.. we seriously grill frozen pizza around our house!)
i. (see “size matters” – it really does here!)
C. Oven frying
D. Roasting – the better one pot meal (this is what we did with the veggies that we put the chicken on top of)
i. Breading method (remember I said that when I do bread, sometimes I don’t bother with a wet step, which I do use in this post for my stuffed pork chops)
E. Moist cooking methods –
i. The crock pot is a penny pincher’s dream (we didn’t get to this at all, but the crock pot is my favorite moist cooking method.. another class, perhaps..)
ii. Steaming veggies (I do it in a covered glass container with a tablespoon of water (at most) in the microwave)
A. Thickening – the Roux/Slurry debate (this is the part where Keri confesses to having snuck cornstarch in to thicken things during culinary school before her rouxs would work) – bottom line, use what works for you.
i. For a Corn Starch slurry, use equal parts CS and COLD water, blend together and add to HOT (I like it to be boiling) liquid you wish to thicken, a little at a time, whisking and checking for consistency
ii. For a Roux, use equal parts melted or liquid fat and flour, and remember to “cook out” the roux for a few minutes at least (if you want a “blonde” or “light” roux) to get rid of the floury flavor. – then add warm or hot liquid (cold is MUCH harder to incorporate), one ladleful at a time at first, to the roux pan and whisk, adding until all liquid is mixed in, and then heat to finish thickening. You need about 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon fat to thicken 1 and ¼ cup liquid.
B. The pan sauce (I told you that brown stuff was flavor!)
i. Deglazing – choose your liquid wisely (I used Vermouth to deglaze our chicken pan in class, and then reduced it and added salt and pepper. Some other ideas were included in the sauce ideas handout )
1. A mention of “tomato product” some cooks like to deglaze with “tomato product” when cooking with dark meats (beef, game meats, etc) – this could be a tablespoon of tomato paste and a bit of water or broth, or even tomato juice mixed with broth. The acidity can add a nice complexity to the finished sauce, making it rich and deep in the background.
2. What else do I do?
a. Add ins – making it your own (herbs, in any form, are your friend.. play around with them or try the suggestions on the sauces handout)
b. Finishing, texture, seasoning (don’t forget to taste and correct seasoning!!) If a sauce looks dull in appearance or not complex enough in flavor, finish by swirling in a pat of butter (or veggie spread product if you prefer) or good olive oil off of the heat – it will add sheen and depth to your sauce.
C. Cream sauces
i. The magic of liquid cheese (what more is there, really?) You were there, you saw the magic. I can make liquid cheese where none existed before.
I HAVE THE PAH-OWAH!!!!
3. Make it look pretty
A. Presentation – clean edges, dirty mind; pile it up; saucy plate = pretty meal, etc. Little things can make a big difference – we eat with our eyes first, so consider presentation. It can be little things, like making a small pool of your sauce on the plate and placing your protein on top of that, or piling your starch in the center of the plate, placing veggies around, and crowning the whole thing with your protein and a drizzle of sauce. Don’t just plop it on the plate, get creative! And before you present your creation, for goodness sakes wipe any crumbs, sauce drips, etc, off from around the edges of the plate!
Thus endth the Outline.
(and begineth the Sauces Handout)
Pan Sauce Possibilities:
Vermouth Citrus – remove protein and hold warm, add ½ minced shallot to pan and saute until translucent; deglaze pan (off heat) with ½ cup Vermouth, add the zest and juice of one half lemon or Orange, reduce to desired consistency over med-high heat, taste and season. Return Protein to pan and turn to coat in sauce
Dijon Lemon – remove protein from pan and hold warm, deglaze pan with juice of 1 lemon; stir in ½ teaspoon Dijon and 1 teaspoon dried dill. Heat through and drizzle over protein
Keri’s Cheatin’ Sauce Supreme– remove protein from pan and hold warm, add 1 tablespoon flour and butter/fat as needed until fat in pan is equal to flour, cook roux 2-3 minutes,; deglaze pan with ¾ cup milk (this will incorporate easily if you have heated it prior to adding – if not at least make sure it isn’t straight out of the fridge) and stir over heat until sauce thickens – season to taste. Also tasty with some sauteed mushrooms sliced into sauce. Serve over protein.
Beef/ Lamb/Dark Sauces
Keri’s Cheatin’ Sauce Madeira – remove protein from pan and hold warm, deglaze pan with ¾ cup water or beef broth/stock over high heat. Reduce liquid by half, then add 2-4 ounces Madeira and allow to reduce to desired consistency. Stir in 1 tablespoon cold butter and adjust seasoning before returning protein to pan or spooning sauce over protein.
Mushroom Sauce – remove protein from pan and hold warm. Add to pan 1 cup of sliced mushrooms and 1 diced shallot. Cook until mushrooms release liquid (scraping bits off bottom of pan as you go) and shallot is translucent. Add to pan 1 cup beef broth or red wine THAT YOU ENJOY (the flavor will concentrate) along with ½ teaspoon dried Thyme, and reduce over med-high heat to desired consistency – thicken with a slurry of equal parts corn starch and cold water if desired. Spoon sauce and mushrooms over protein.
Keri’s Cheatin’ Sauce Chasseur – A variation on the Mushroom sauce but a bit more complex. Remove beef (really best to do this one with beef) from pan and hold warm. Cook out 1 tablespoon tomato paste in pan for 1-2 minutes, then add 1 diced shallot, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, ½ clove minced garlic, 1 cup beef broth, 1/8 cup white wine, 1/8 cup brandy, ½ teaspoon dried Parsley, and ¼ teaspoon dried Tarragon and reduce to 1/2-1/3 original volume (desired consistency.) Finish sauce with 1-2 teaspoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste. This is a perfect WOW sauce to serve with a roast (brown the roast before cooking in oven or crockpot and use browning pan to make sauce – it can be held and reheated, add butter just before serving)
Béchamel Sauce and Varieties
Basic Béchamel – Heat (but don’t boil) 1 Quart milk and hold hot
In 2 quart stock pan melt 6 teaspoons butter
Add 6 teaspoons flour and whisk until combined with butter and cook 2-4 minutes until Roux starts to turn slightly tan, then add hot milk 1 cup at a time and whisk until combined – whisk over heat until sauce thickens.
Keri’s Beloved Cheese sauce – Stir 4-6 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese and dash of Louisiana hot sauce into prepared Béchamel off of heat – serve over anything, and EVERYTHING.
Mornay Sauce – Stir 1-2 cups of grated Gruyere cheese and 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg into prepared Béchamel off of heat. (This classic French sauce is AMAZING for making a grown up Mac and cheese)
Mustard Sauce –Stir 2-3 teaspoons of prepared mustard (which ever you like) in to prepared Béchamel sauce off heat – add dill or thyme if desired.