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Posts Tagged ‘chef’

Although I struggled in school, I adored taking small quizzes and surveys (most from Cosmo which is probably why I struggled with the ones that evaluated real knowledge!)  Being Friday and too hot to concentrate on much of anything, I thought I’d share a few online quizzes (ranging from silly to difficult).  All are free and I learned at least 1 thing from each of them – enjoy!

TLC has two quizzes on-line:
Global Easts and Techniques (here)
Name that Utensil (here)
While neither one is especially difficult, I found the utensil game to be too easy to be fun – the other went from easy to tough and back again.  Ironically, I scored worse on the utensil game!

AllAboutYou.com offers a quiz to assess your potential to become a chef (it’s mostly tongue-in-cheek but still fun).

Epicurious has really good content in their Julia Child Quiz but you have to mark it manually.

20 questions on mushrooms (with instant feedback) are given to us by Auschef.com (this was originally part of a promotion to give away prizes – you do not need to register to play and this is a pretty academic test that I struggle with – I suppose I am more of a fun guy since taking the test :))

Go For something totally different, play the Cooking Academy Game (be patient and wait past the advertisement – the game will come up in less than 10 seconds here)

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I really could buy a thousand cook books – ironic seeing that I rarely follow a recipe, avoid measuring things and have little to no storage room for them.  This is a book that reads like a blog – quick, sweet, practical.

Each tip is about 2 small pages (the book is just larger than your typical CD case) and is collected from a different chef from around the culinary world.  Small chef bios educate us to who the contributors are, what makes them what they are and help provide insight to the tip.  There are quirky comments and out takes from each Chef who shared their tips with Francine Maroukian (who has also contributed to CHOW).

This well organized book breaks fast facts into 8 chapters:
Technique
Meat & Poultry
Fish & Shelfish
Produce
Rice, Beans & Past
Kitchen Staples
Desserts & Baking
Equipment

More than 75 small articles in this lovley little book.  The illustrations are endearing and the advice is very practical.  I have benefited from these quick and easy tips – including finding new ways to dry parsley, bringing pork (so simple and interesting), improve your sauces, fold burritos, improving tomatoes and more.  It is well indexed and each tip will take no more than a few minutes to peruse.  The book is remarkably priced and available from the publisher in addition to many of your typical on-line sources, often at a discount.  At $17USD you are in for a treat indeed!

You can read this much like a novel as opposed to a cookbook – a lovely lunch date in my opinion.  I have sipped slurpped many bowls of pho and browsed these pages at random.

I got my copy at one of the most lovely stores in the world (and in Toronto to boot) named The Good Egg.  More about them at a later date!

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Today is a bit of a cop-out but I feel it’s validated.

I had single most memorable food experience of my life in Chicago at a restaurant named Alinea.  I’ll spare the details for now.

If you’ve read some of the past posts here you’ll recognize the name Fernan Adria.  He is the mastermind of el Bulli in Spain – his restaurant has been named best in the world 4 times.  He is experimental and not a fan of calling his food molecular gastronomy.  He creates cooking techniques that the world has never seen before.  I have never had the pleasure of going – with 2,000,000 requests for reservations per year and less than 8,000 sittings I may have to wait a while for my opportunity to try one of his 5-hour feasts.

Grant Achatz is the mind behind Alinea.  Thomas Keller sent him to visit El Bulli and the 3 days changed the way he cooked forever – so much so that he quit shortly after returning from Spain.  Chef Achatz has won the James Beard award for best chef in the USA in 2008.  He won this in the middle of battling tongue cancer.  His food was stunning, shocking, exciting.  It was a symphony and enthralling.

Achatz has released a cookbook and matching website – Alinea Mosaic.  Some of his techniques will be next to impossible to replicate – such as the Anti Griddle which “sears” food at -30 Fahrenheit.  The Mosaic website is a companion to the cookbook – forums to ask questions, share results and ideas on how to cook this stuff at home.  It’s supported by the staff of the restaurant and is an amazing attempt to make these apparent oddities more accessible at for us who are inspired.

All of this is a long journey to today’s feature link.  One brave soul in the US is trying to cook the entire cookbook.  She is funny, quick-witted and a brave soul.  She has accomplished French Laundry at Home so I give her a fighting chance.  Her first attempt in October was a signature dish – bacon with butterscotch (a great dish that was fabulous at the restaurant) and she did a wonderful job.  I highly recommend checking out Alinea at Home for a different take on the cutting edge!

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Tuna Salad

This is a bit of a twist on a traditional favourite – pieces are based on Michael Smith (Food Network Canada); it’s a lovely alternative to the traditional mayo-infused goodness that is slathered on crust-free wonder bread or Subway’s bread bombs (credit to Rob of F’Coffee for that term).  This is just simple goodness.

There’s no room for measuring to make Tuna Salad – use your best judgement, have some fun with it.  If you like it spicy, add more hot pepper flakes – if you don’t, feel free to skip. 

1 Can of Tuna.  You could use the real deal and get some sushi-grade tuna and do this raw.
Mustard seed (Anton Kozlik’s Triple Crunch Mustard is my favourite)
Lemon Juice
Hot Pepper Flakes
Fresh Parsley – I like flat leaf.  The gentle giant uses cilantro instead.
Olive Oil.  The flavour is important – choose one you like and that will come through the Tuna.  This will be a deal maker or breaker.
Finely diced gherkins or other pickles
Green onions or chives
Salt and Pepper

If you want to make the spice come through further (not necessarily hotter – though that’s certainly possible), marinate your chilli flakes in the olive oil covered for 24 hours in advance.  This will infuse the oil with the spice and will radically transform the flavour – this can also add a lot of heat depending on the amount of chilli you have set in the oil.

Chef Smith recommends rice paper wraps – I’ll have it on anything, including a spoon.

Enjoy!

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I am not a die-hard Foie Gras fan, though it is something that raises my curiosity.  I’ve had some fabulous fois gras and some not-so-great.  I haven’t had a tonne of it but enough to know what it is and that some people love it.  I also know why people hate it (the whole force feeding thing and the practice of some “farmers” who actually staple geese to the ground).  It can be a guilt-inducing food.

It was outlawed in Chicago for some time.  A famous Hot Dog store (Hot Doug’s actually classifies itself as an encased meat emporium) actually got charged daily as it sold a foie gras hot dog in the middle of the ban.

Dan Barber is a chef who travelled to Spain and met a third generation farmer named Eduardo Sousa.  Eduardo’s family has figured out how to raise an ethical version of foie gras – it’s also award winning and controversial as it challenges the definition of foie gras and the people making it.  I love how they have coloured the foie gras as well.

Eduardo has changed the rules.  He sticks his nose up at the traditional methods, farmers and chefs who chase foie gras.  He has catered the diet of his livestock and worked with nature to get the best of it. 

Here’s a video of a 20-minute speech that walks you through the whole thing (of course it’s free).   The explanation of the title of this blog is at the 14 minute mark of his speech.

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