Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Books You Need

After writing last weeks tome, I started thinking about books. I mentioned Joan Roca's book and, believe me, this is a book that any chef would be crazy not to own.

Let me say that I own approximately 700 cookbooks and books on and about food. I have read every one of them and have gleened unfathomable knowledge from them. Those books are my school, my hobby, my apprenticeship and my part of my passion. I will leave them to my children.

Anyone interested in cooking as a career or as a hobby will have a certain number of their favorite books that they constantly refer to for recipes or inspiration. At this point in my career and with my experience, I still refer to my library for inspiration on either presentation, product or technique. I'm lost without it.

It is in this vein that I offer the "list".

Escoffier - The bible of cooking. EVERY chef has it

Larousse Gastronomique - runner up to the Escoffier book. Again, Every chef has it.

Jacques Pepin's La Technique

Julia Childs' French Chef Book

Art Culinaire - Quarterly publication that is vital to any chef wanting to learn what all of the top chefs in the world are creating NOW. Fantastic stuff!

My last supper - Melanie Dunea. What a great compilation of "Last meal choices" by some of the worlds' best chefs

ANYTHING that Charlie Trotter writes.

Again, ANYTHING Rick Tramonto writes. This man is probably my favorite chef in the U.S.

El Bulli Cookbook by Ferran adria. Of course it'll set you back about $400 (and there are three of them) but it's money well spent. I recommend that you use your Ecomonic stimulus money for this one.

Alinea - Grant Aschatz. Art on a plate

Of course there are hundreds more but these are, in my opinion, the essentials. Happy shopping!

More Stuff: I am working on my next submission. Should be done in a couple of days. Last week I went to a Prosciutto party. No...we didn't eat it...WE MADE IT!!! What a great day! I have photos and a play by play. Lots of fun.

200+ for valentine's day so far. Should be a fabulous night.

New menu is rolling out after "V" day. I'll keep you up to date on that as well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cuit Sous Vide

So...in my quest to perfect the everyday average chicken breast I have come to the conclusion that Sous Vide is the way to go.

For those of you who don't know, Sous vide is a cooking process whereby a product is cooked, in a vacuum, for a VERY long time At a VERY low temperature. This process keeps the product tender, moist, quite soft in texture, and locks in flavors that might other wise leach out in "normal" cooking processes. There is a whole chain of chemical and physical events that the product does (or does not) go through with this process but that is not important here. Whole books are dedicated to this cooking method so if you need to know more I recommend that you pick up a copy of Sous Vide Cuisine by Joan Roca. It'll set you back about $150 but it is money well spent.

So, back to the subject at hand.

I marinated a 12 oz chicken breast in a little soy and sesame oil for my first try. (when you vacuum seal proteins like this, the marinade is forced into the product at a much faster rate so long marination is unnecessary) After vacuum sealing the breast I cooked it at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours. Then I plunged it into an ice bath to rapid cool it. When I was ready to serve, it took just a few minutes in the broiler to bring it back to temp and I sliced it for presentation.

Let me tell you that this chicken was different from any other I have tried. the flesh was soft and supple. Reminiscent of a well done piece of salmon, in texture. The marinade was detectable right to the center of the breast but not in an overpowering fashion. The slightly salty flavor of the soy brought out the flavor of the chicken without masking it and without out taking over the entire flavor profile.

I am VERY pleased with this process and look forward to the next step which is trying to figure out how the heck to present and plate it. I'm thinking black "forbidden"rice! Maybe a nice ginger and lemongrass vinaigrette....

Til next time......