Showing posts with label Cooking Class Monday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking Class Monday. Show all posts


The Definitive Guide on How to Peel an Egg

It sounds so easy, so simple. Peel an egg. I am a home economist and an avid home cook. I have peeled a lot of eggs but when I took on the challenge to make pickled eggs for an organic farmer friend, I had no idea of the challenge that lay ahead.

I have lost count of how many eggs I have peeled but it is in the neighbourhood of at least 100 dozen. That's 1200 freaking eggs! Even with easy peeling eggs this is a lot of eggs! What was I thinking when I said yes I would help him out?

His organically raised free range hens produce an egg with a very hard shell. I swear you could drop it and it wouldn't break. Under that hard shell is a very tough membrane. Producing picture perfect peeled eggs has been a learning curve. Here is the system I use ...

Step 1   Do not use fresh eggs. Stale work better.

Step 2   Place eggs in a pan of cold tap water.

Step 3   Heat to boiling and turn off heat. Let sit in hot water with lid on for 12 minutes.

Step 4   Forcefully dump eggs into sink so they will crack. If all eggs do not crack, crack them. The more they are cracked the better.

Step 5   Place in ice cold water and let soak for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Step 6   Using a stainless steel spoon peel the eggs. Be sure to get under the membrane and gently move the spoon around so the shell is loosened from the egg. If you use a silver spoon it will become very tarnished very quickly. The air sac is usually on the blunt end of the egg and this is a good place to start.


Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Sauce

I am all for scratch cooking. In fact that is almost what I always do. But every once in awhile you come across a sauce or seasoning mix that you will just never make from scratch. That is how I feel about this artisanal black bean sauce.

I am still on a black bean binge using my wonderful sauce. I read the label to find the business name of the product. It was in very small print. The ingredients were all natural and even before opened, refrigeration was recommended. There is no sugar, no salt, no preservatives. It is the real deal.

When I lived in Calgary I found a little Chinese restaurant that made and sold their own black bean sauce. After a few years they discontinued production and I have not used black bean sauce since. The mass produced version in the grocery store does not even come close to the flavour of small batch. 
I researched the Ying Ying Soy Food and found a family business using certified non-GMO organic soybeans grown in Ontario close to their factory in Oakville. They describe themselves as 'family business making artisan tofu'. They make small batch tofu in the traditional way using nigaru as the coagulant rather than calcium sulfate in the modern mass production. 

The only information I could find on the black bean sauce was right on the label. After reading everything about them, I am so happy to have crossed paths. Their products are sold widely throughout Toronto and London, Ontario. The rest of us just have to find a friend to bring some home.

I am so fortunate to have Pine View Farms all natural pork tenderloin in my freezer. To use anything less with this artisanal black bean sauce just wouldn't be right.

Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Sauce

1 Pine View Farms pork tenderloin
2 tbsp. Ying Ying Soy Food black bean sauce
1 tbsp. oil such as sunflower, canola or corn

Prepare your tenderloin by removing the silverskin. This is a very tough tissue that will not soften with cooking. A sharp boning knife is ideal but any sharp knife will work.

Position the tip of a boning knife about 1/2 to 1 inch from one end of the visible silverskin. Push the tip under a strip of silverskin about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Angle the knife slightly up toward the silverskin as you slide the knife down the tenderloin, freeing the silverskin. Use your free hand to hold the silverskin taut as you cut. If your knife isn't extremely sharp, you may need to use a slight sawing motion to work down the tenderloin. Once you've cut all the way through the end of the strip, turn the knife around and cut off the end that's still attached. Repeat until all the silverskin is gone. (From Fine Cooking).

A tip with pork tenderloin - this cut tapers making one end much thinner than the rest. This will cook more quickly and easily over cook. Just fold it back and tie with cooking string so the tenderloin is the same thickness throughout.

Preheat a cast iron pan on medium low heat and add oil. Season tenderloin with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in pan and sear on all sides. Turn heat to low. Baste the tenderloin with the black bean sauce and continue cooking until meat reaches an internal temperature of about 150 F. Remove from pan, place on cutting board and tent with foil. The meat will continue to cook. 160 F is the perfect internal temperature for medium rare. Rest for 10 minutes and serve.


Cooking Class Monday - Working with Gelatin

I don't use gelatin very often. Lately it has only been when I am making marshmallows. So yesterday when I wanted to make a panna cotta, I had problems. I made two different recipes and neither worked. My White Chocolate Panna Cotta was lumpy and did not properly set. 

Then I made a Buttermilk Panna Cotta. After following the recipe to a T, and it was in the refrigerator setting, I knew something was wrong. I could still see the gelatin grains in the mixture and this should not be. So, with nothing to lose, I put the panna cotta into a pot and gently warmed so the gelatin would melt. You cannot do this with buttermilk, however. The buttermilk immediately curdled and it was ruined.

Most recipes do not actually tell you how to properly incorporate the gelatin. You need to know only two basics to achieve a silky smooth gelatin product.

First, the powdered gelatin must be softened in cold liquid. You can use cold water or some of the liquid from the recipe. Be sure not to leave it in a pile in the cold liquid. All the powder must be mixed into the water.

After a couple of minutes the gelatin should be hydrated. Secondly, the granules must be melted by adding a hot liquid. Be sure the liquid, again it should be something from your recipe, is boiling or piping hot. Stir until the grains have melted. Stir with a spoon and if you do not see any specks on it after removing from the liquid, then you know the gelatin has been melted and incorporated properly.

Now it is ready to add the rest of your ingredients. To set the gelatin, depending upon the amount of gelatin used and the other ingredients, it can be left at room temperature. This works well for marshmallows. But for a panna cotta with cream and milk, it should be refrigerated.

Plain gelatin is the structure for this Champagne and Raspberry Congealed Salad. Click for the recipe.

I have only used powdered gelatin and have never worked with gelatin sheets. To find good instructions when using gelatin sheets, just click here on David Lebovitz's blog. He also has several interesting links for more information on using plain gelatin.


Cooking Class Monday - How to Clean Your Pasta Machine

I posted this once before but I thought a repeat for Cooking Class Monday was in order.

After my pasta making I wanted to clean my machine.  I really thought there might be an easy way to get out all that stuck pasta dough and flour.  Nope!  This is the story from Imperia.  That is the machine I have.  It actually didn't take that long.  Just wait until the dough that is stuck is really dry.  I cleaned it while I was watching television.

Cleaning your Pasta Machine – the rollers must never get wet!!!
The rollers on your pasta machine are made from carbon steel.
If you wash them with water, they will rust, no matter how careful you are.
Rusted and pitted rollers, will tear in to your pasta as you process it, and will ruin it.
  • you may clean the main frame with warm soapy water and a soft sponge
  • work carefully, to ensure that water does not spill onto the rollers
  • dry immediately 
  • clean the rollers by turning the handle, and running a pastry brush back and forth across each roller
  • Italian cooks have been doing it like this for generations!
  • store your pasta machine in a dry area


Cooking Class Monday - Layer Cake Tips

Layer cakes conjure images of towering red velvet or chocolate birthday cakes. The art of scratch cooking seems to have gone by the wayside as we celebrate our special occasions with a slab cake from the grocery store. There is something about a layer cake that makes a person smile. It is a birthday, a retirement or a wedding. Make one for your next special occasion. 
Be creative with garnishing. Using an ingredient already in the cake is classic. Here I have candied lemon slices and chopped pecans.
Be sure to properly prepare your cake pans by first buttering and then dusting them with flour. Shake out excess flour. I also line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper for easier removal of baked cake.
Mark to slice cake in half for four layer cake.
After baking, if your layers are not all the same, trim them to make them even. For a four layer cake, bake two cakes and cut each in half horizontally. Place toothpicks as markers so you can cut the cake in two equally.
You can bake your cake layers in advance and triple wrap in plastic, freeze and they will keep for weeks. Create fillings. Lemon or orange curd keep especially well in the fridge, for a week or longer. Some frostings keep well, especially cream cheese frosting. Most finished cakes will keep well in a fridge for at least a day.
Crumb coat. Waxed paper protects cake plate.
Before frosting cake, place strips of waxed paper under it to keep the cake plate clean. Slip these papers out when finished decorating.
An offset spatula works well for applying filling and icing.

Apply a crumb coat first. This is a thin layer of icing to keep the crumbs from messing up the final icing layer. Let the crumb coat dry for half an hour before applying decorative layer of icing. I like to ice sides first and then the top. Be sure your icing is not too stiff or it will be more difficult to apply. Thin by adding water a few drops at a time and whipping.


Cooking Class Monday - Pressure Cookers

Using a pressure cooker offers two benefits. You can use less expensive foods for healthy meals and you can cook them quickly.

I regularly cook dried chickpeas without presoaking in 15 minutes or a turkey stock in 30 minutes of active cooking time. The term active cooking time indicates the prescribed cooking time but you must allow the cooker to cool to room temperature before you can remove the lid. This may take 10 to 15 additional minutes.

A pressure cooker is a specialized heavy aluminum pot with a lid that locks into place and seals tightly. The lid has a rubber gasket to create the seal. The lid has a regulator that maintains the build up of pressure.  Pressure cookers come with either a jiggle top or with a gauge that rises with the pressure.

Under pressure a higher temperature and greater humidity are reached and the food cooks more quickly. Modern pressure cookers have safety features if too much pressure builds up in the pot.

Liquid is required. The pot has measurement lines to indicate half and two thirds full. The pot must not be filled more than two thirds full. Be sure to submerge any solids so you can accurately read the fill level.

Place food and liquid in pot; secure lid and place on high heat. Once pressure has been reached, reduce heat just to maintain pressure. You can judge that the pressure has been reached by the sound the pressure regulator makes. It will have a constant stream of steam. Start your cooking time now. Continue cooking for the prescribed time and then turn off heat. Allow pot to cool naturally until no steam is being released from pressure regulator. Now the lid can be opened safely.

Pressure cookers can be purchased in most home cookware departments. Price varies from $49 to $250. Usually they are made of an aluminum core with a stainless steel outer surface for easy cleaning and attractive appearance. Their aluminum base maintains a more even temperature so the food does not burn on the bottom.

All parts should be hand washed. The rubber gasket should be removed and washed to remove any greasy or sticky residues. Dry thoroughly before placing the lid on for storage.

Foods that take a long time to cook are ideal to prepare in a pressure cooker. This includes the less tender cuts of meats, dried beans and grains, stews and stocks. The active cooking time will vary but usually is between 10 and 45 minutes. Vegetables and other foods that cook in less than 15 minutes are not good candidates. They will turn out soft and mushy.

Turkey Stock
1 turkey carcass
1 onion
1 stalk celery
1 large carrot
1 or 2 bay leaves
Whole spices including black peppercorns, juniper berries, allspice to equal 1 teaspoon 5mL

Remove all fat and skin from the carcass and discard. Place bones in the pressure cooker. Roughly chop the onion, celery and carrot. Add to pressure cooker. Add whole spices. Fill with cold water to the 1/2 or 2/3 line. Place lid on pot and secure. Place pot on high heat. When the steam regulator allows a steady stream of steam to escape reduce heat just to maintain this level. Cook like this for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the pot to cool naturally until no steam escapes from the regulator. Open.

Strain the solids through a colander over a large bowl. Discard solids. The liquid is the stock and can be used right away, be frozen or pressure canned for future use or pressure canned.

Oxtail Stew Cádiz Style     as shown above
Oxtail is commonly discarded. The gelatin in oxtail creates a silky mouth feel resembling fat but without the calories. The garlic mellows out with the long cooking time so please use the prescribed amount. (Adapted from Tapas the Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas)

2 lbs small oxtail                                                            
1 head garlic, separated and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine, optional                                    
1/4 cup canola or olive oil                                                
1 cup water                                                                       
1 cup chicken broth                                                            

Combine all ingredients in your pressure cooker pot. Cook as prescribed in the instructions above for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let pot cool naturally.

Pour the stew into a strainer. After cooling, pull the meat off the bones and return the broth and meat to the cooking pot. Discard the bay leaf and clove. In a food processor or blender purée the garlic and onion. Beat in about 3/4 cup of the broth gradually, then stir this mixture into the pot. This recipe may be made ahead and reheated. Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer.


Cooking Class Monday - How to Clean a Scorched Pot

I have burned a lot of pots in my day but I have never burned one this badly. I wish I had taken a picture before I soaked it overnight in water and baking soda.  I would have cried if that would not have made me feel defeated.  This was not just some cheap old pot.  This was my beautiful All-Clad pot.  It was the bottom of a double boiler unit that held a ceramic pot insert.  So you can see, I was not about to give up without a fight.

Even after soaking overnight it is a mess.  I scraped out the loose bits but there is still no way I can use this pot yet.

Now it is time to go to the internet for ideas. This is how it looks after try #2. I filled the pot half-full with water, added a cup of vinegar and brought it to a boil. Then I added two tablespoons of baking soda. Prepare for it to fizz when adding the baking soda.

I used the boiling water and vinegar with baking soda method twice.  I am encouraged.  I finally feel like this pot will once again return to its rightful place among my favourites.

I have scrubbed it a bit with SOS but lots of the burnt food is still not releasing.  The last trick from the internet is to boil water with detergent in the pot.  Claims are this will release all the burned stuff magically.  I used dishwasher detergent because it was handy.  Perhaps laundry detergent would also work.  Within minutes the burnt matter was coming off in sheets.  Yippee!  My pot has been salvaged to live many more happy days making wonderful food. 

To summarize, cool pot.  Then fill with water as needed and add 1 cup white vinegar.  Bring to a boil and add 2 tablespoons baking soda.  Let sit overnight.

Remove as much of the burned matter as possible.  Repeat if necessary.

Scrub with soap pads as much as possible.

If there is still a lot of burned on food, fill the pot with as much water as needed.  Add detergent and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and soak overnight.  Look at that!  Amazing!  The burnt pieces just fell off.  Next time I might just cut to the chase and boil with detergent from the get go.  Trust me, there will be a next time.

Shine up with a soap pad.  Tada!  There is still a little bit of staining but I trust it will come out with use.  I am just so thrilled that I can continue to use this lovely pot.


Cooking Class Monday - Meringue

It is a new year and a great time to try something new.

I have hatched the idea of Cooking Class Mondays!  Yeah!  Each Monday I will share a favourite cooking or kitchen technique.  Often it will be simple and sometimes it will be more detailed.  Are you prepared for this journey with me?  I hope so.  Here we go!  Join as a Follower or Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss any of these great ideas.

And if there are any bloggers out there that would like to join in, let me know.  You don't have to commit every week but if you are in the mood and want to join in that would be awesome.  Just email me at sgalvin 'at'   Wouldn't it be fun to have a Virtual Cooking School!  Of if you would like to guest post, just let me know.  I would be honoured with your participation.

Meringue Basics

For the best volume, use fresh eggs at just slightly below room temperature. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator about an hour before using.

Use only a grease-free glass or metal mixing bowl. Any fat in the egg whites will inhibit the meringue. Plastic bowls hold oils and therefore are not good for beating egg whites.

Beat whites until foamy and then add cream of tartar. Cream of tartar acts as a stabilizer for the meringue.

If you are making a pie with meringue, be sure to spread the meringue evenly over the filling right to the crust so that it doesn't shrink when you slip it under the broier to toast it lightly.

Wait until soft peaks form before adding sugar. Use granulated sugar. The sharp edges of the sugar crystals helps to incorporate air into the meringue. Add gradually. Beat until soft peak stage for most recipes. This means that the meringue will form a peak that falls over. If you require a stiff peak, then just whip a little longer. Be careful not to over whip or the meringue will become dry and unworkable.

Angel Food Cake         

  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites (11 to 12 large eggs)
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) sifted confectioners sugar (sift before measuring)
  • 1 cup (100 g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together confectioners sugar, flour and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
Beat whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating and continue beating just until whites form soft peaks. Beat in vanilla.

Fold in dry ingredients one quarter at a time with a rubber spatula.
Gently pour batter into ungreased tube pan. Smooth to make even.
Bake until top is light golden, cake retracts a bit from pan and springs back when touched lightly, and a tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Invert pan onto neck of a bottle or a large metal funnel and cool cake completely. To remove cake from pan, run tip of a long, narrow knife between outer edge of cake and pan. Cover pan with a plate, tilt  and gently tap bottom edge against counter top. Lift pan from cake.

Slice with a serrated knife. Serve with strawberries.

Here is a Gallery of Other Desserts that have been made with MeringuesThe recipe name is a link to the recipe on my blog.

Oeufs la Neige

Meringue Filled Coffee Cake

Valentine's Meringues and Pavlova


Cooking Class Monday - How to Clarify a Stock

It is a new year and a great time to start a new project. I introduce Cooking Class Mondays! Yeah! Each Monday I will share a cooking or kitchen technique. Often it will be simple and sometimes it will be more detailed. Are you prepared for this journey with me? I hope so. Here we go!

And if there are any bloggers out there that would like to join in, let me know. You don't have to commit every week but if you are in the mood and want to join in that would be awesome. It would be fun to have a Virtual Cooking School.  Or if you would like to guest post for my Cooking Class Monday, I would be honoured to feature you.

How to Clarify a Stock
An easy, however time consuming way to clarify stock, is to freeze it overnight. In the morning, place the frozen stock in a colander lined with 3 layers of cheesecloth and put in the refrigerator. When the stock freezes it creates a gelatin mass that acts as a filter as the stock melts. The ice also keeps the fat solid so that it does not cloud the stock. The result is a beautifully clear stock or consommé. This is called the gelatin filtration method of clarifying stock. It can be used for any type of meat or fish stock.