Bob’s Paleo Bars

Teaching culinary school certainly has perks. One of the best perks is everyone around you has an interest in some aspect of food. Some grow great gardens, some make cookies, share fish they caught, bread, pickles, wines, liquors, there is always something going around.

A favorite activity for me is taking part in recipe development, especially in the cookie department. While attempting to come up with the “World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie” it became obvious that ‘world’s best’ is a matter of perception.

Bob’s “Good Health Balls”

Some like cookies crunchy, some soft, others cake like. Then there are nuts or no nuts, milk chocolate or what degree of dark chocolate; 50% 75% 80% cocoa? Or sweeteners, honey, sugar or agave?

I hope you can start getting the picture that “world’s best” is only world’s best to that persons mouth. Certainly their taste buds aren’t speaking for everyone in the world.

Bob is our division director and quite an interesting person. He is very health conscious, an avid practitioner and teacher of Yoga (I don’t know what kind) and is careful with what he puts into his body.

Bob is the person responsible for getting me started in baking our own bread again. He gave me a bit of his sourdough starter last year and I have kept it going and feeding without any issues. The starter makes great bread!

He found a recipe for “Paleo Bars” somewhere that he began playing with to create his own version of what he calls “Good Health Balls”

Perhaps the name needs a bit of work, but the bars are delicious. I don’t think Bob would have appreciated a post title:

“Bob’s Good Health Balls”

Nope, not going there.

They go great with coffee or tea!

Good Health Balls 

  • 1 cup               toasted chopped almonds
  • 1 cup               toasted chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup             toasted chopped sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup             toasted pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup             toasted pistachios
  • ¼ cup             hemp seeds
  • 1 cup               chopped dried dates
  • ½ cup             shredded coconut
  • 1 cup               almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon    cinnamon
  • ½ cup             chopped dark chocolate (optional)
  • ¼ cup                almond butter (Other nut butters can also be used)
  • ¼ cup                coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons     pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large               eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon  organic blue agave

Pre-heat oven to 350°F while making the mixture.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, hemp seeds, figs, coconut, almond flour, cinnamon, and chocolate.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, eggs, and agave. Whisk together well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is moist and blended.

Form the dough into 1-ounce balls, lightly press onto a silicone or parchment paper-lined cook sheet.

A 1-ounce ball is 2 tablespoons. Make the balls all the same size, the weight isn’t as important as even size. If you adjust the size larger or smaller, you will also need to adjust baking time.

Use a small muffin tin lined with cup-cake liners instead of a baking sheet, if you like.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Balls will lightly browned on top.

Makes approximately 36  1-ounce morsels.

Notes: 

  • The dough balls can be successfully frozen.  This allows you to enjoy as many treats as you like.
    Store unbaked dough in a zip-lock freezer bag.

    Bake frozen balls for approximately 20 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven.
  • If you have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, try their 72% dark chocolate.
  • Costco is a great source for hemp seeds

To your health!

 

 

How To Section Citrus Fruit

Cutting citrus fruit into sections, also called a supreme, is a basic skill.

Culinary students should learn this skill in the first class they take.

However, with that said, I find it odd that in class some students don’t know how to section citrus fruit, even in an advanced class.

I also observed this student who once shown how to do it, passed it on to another team-mate to complete. They in turn, did something else. Not being my class, all I could do is observe and makes notes to myself.

Note to self: Knife Skill Test; Measurement Test for class. If you are a student, consider this heads up!

The process is quite simple and the technique applies to all citrus fruits.

If you are going to want the zest for anything, remove the zest before removing the peel. Personally, I like to dry the zest and keep it handy for quick flavor blasts in a bland dish.

Cut the top and bottom from the fruit.

Cut the peel down the side, removing the pith and exposing the inner fruit.

Cut the peel away all around the fruit.

Work over a bowl to catch all the juices that drip while you cut the fruit sections out.

Remove the sections

Using a sharp knife, cut between the membranes and slide the cut section into a bowl.

Continue all around the fruit until all sections are removed. Squeeze the juice into the bowl with fruit sections.

Discard remaining peel, any seeds and membrane.

All used up.
For total mileage, roll it in salt and give your copper pots a polish.

The sections should be free of seeds, pith and peel.

Use them in salads, salsa, on grilled or fried meats or poultry or seafood.

A bowl of citrus segments is really nice with vanilla ice cream or to accent fruit desserts.

Orange and lemon segments

Refreshing!

Georgian Style Green Beans

Anaida is someone who I consider a dear friend. She is from Moscow, Russia and has the warmest heart of anyone I have met in a long time.

I wish I had a picture of us together. She was such a joy to have in classes, she got along with everyone.

Anaida, are you out there? Can you send me one in an e-mail?

Anaida is a mature woman, in her fifties. I met her one day in one of my classes. She came up to me and asked if she could use a Russian English dictionary on the exam.

She was just learning English and here she is in the USA taking college level courses.

Certainly I would not be able to do anything remotely similar in her country. I would be lucky if I could order a cup of coffee let alone take a college level course.

It took her a couple of times, but she passed the exam and progressed to culinary lab classes. I had the pleasure of having her in my Advanced Cooking class last fall.

To Anaidas credit, some native English speakers have a hard time grasping some of the concepts the class she was in. Let alone learning a complex subject in a language you are just learning.

She inspires me to keep progressing in my French lessons.

Whole green beans in a carton.

Whole green beans in a carton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anaida shared many of her native cuisine recipes, one of my favorite is her recipe for green beans, which is included here.

She shared many gifts from Russia like these spoons,

Russian Spoons

the toothpick holder, an apron, shawl all very nice things I hold dear and use daily. Well, I use the shawl in the winter. It is Russian made and I think it contains magic warmth yarn as it keeps me nice and warm in the cold. Lordie knows, it gets cold in Russia!

Anaida returned to Moscow as her visa required as well as her international student status. She often returned to Russia between semesters and brought us back lovely gifts and made the most tasty pastries she shared with the office.

Anaidas dream was to get into the bakeshop class at the college, which she was registered and ready to do this fall. Only one hitch in the get-along.

The State Department declined her student visa based upon concern about Anaida returning to Russia as some point in the future. Since she is retired, they are doubly concerned.

Anaida’s daughter lives here and teaches. This summer she got married to the love of her life, a kind German man. Eventually they are going to move to live in his home town in Germany. Being Anaida only daughter, I doubt Anaida would choose to live so far away from her daughter especially when grand-babies come around!

Even knowing this, they still decline her access to return.

It just doesn’t seem fair.

Could it be the recent change of power to Putin? Or is someone in the state department just having a bad day?

I wish there was something I could do.

In the meantime, Let’s make Anaida’s beans.

Green Beans with Herbal Vinaigrette Dressing

“Georgian Style, you will like!”

  • 1 pound of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • Fresh Tarragon, Cilantro, Basil, Parsley chopped

Chopped herbs, use the combination you like best. Start with equal amounts of each fresh herb.

Use the amounts you like, equal of all three, more basil, or more tarragon, what ever you prefer.

If you don’t know, start with equal amounts of each, chopped together.

  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Steam the beans until done, about 5 minutes.
  • Mix the oil, vinegar and minced garlic in a bowl. Whisk briskly to combine.

    Mix oil and vinegar. I added a few herbs, but you don’t have to. Any vinaigrette and chopped herbs left over can be used for salad dressing later. Just combine whatever dressing and chopped herbs left and you have a nifty herbal vinaigrette.

  • When the beans are done, just before serving, dress the beans with a light amount of vinegar and oil.
  • Top with the chopped herb mixture.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Only use enough of the dressing to lightly coat the beans. Dress them just before serving to preserve the bright fresh green color.

These beans are simple but full of flavor. I love this recipe!

Wouldn’t these go nicely in a Salad Nicoise?

Anaida, I miss you.

Anaida’s Beans

How To: Standard Breading Procedure

Dear Tyler,

You asked how to bread something to make Tonkatsu or Parmesan style dishes. So here it is!

If you want to bread something so the breading actually stays on the product, you need to follow a standard breading procedure,

It is a 5 station set-up. Breading your food using this method ensures a great finished dish.

Flour, Egg wash and Bread crumbs
(To remember the order, think of the abbreviation for the month of February: FEB)

1) Ready to go product – seasoned

2) Flour – just plain flour

3) Egg wash – make it liquid

4) Bread crumbs – You can use any bread crumbs, Panko are amazing in my opinion. Instead of bread crumbs, you can also use any kind of ground nut, crushed potato chips, corn flakes, or plantain chips, Trisket crumbs, coconut, etc.

5) Final breaded product

In this post I am using catfish, but the same method works for everything you want to bread.

Prepare the product, trim it, skin it, pound it thin, what ever you want to do, do it before it gets breaded.

Season with salt and pepper and other seasonings if desired.

Here, catfish is getting seasoned with lemon ginger seasonings before breading

Dip each piece into the flour

Then into the egg wash

Then into the bread crumbs

Place the breaded items onto a baking sheet; drizzle with oil.
Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes to ‘oven fry’ or pan fry in a saute pan with a small amount of oil.

The family favorite for this is to make “Katsudon”  with thin sliced pork loin or a chicken breast sliced and pounded thin. We serve it over Basmati rice with Bull Dog Brand Tonkatsu Sauce. (I usually buy this in an Asian grocery store.)

Bull Dog Sauce

When using chicken breasts, you can cut them into fingers or slice a large breast into thirds, place each slice into a zip bag (don’t zip it!) and pound gently it so it gets evenly flattened. Season and proceed with the breading procedure.

To pan fry instead of cooking the cutlets in the oven, heat a saute pan to high, add a thin-film of oil to the pan and saute until each side is golden brown.

Pan fry in a thin-film of oil until golden on each side

Add steamed broccoli to round out your meal.

You can take the plain breaded cutlets and serve them with different sauces and sides to create very different meals from breaded cutlets.

Boil some rice, add some frozen green peas when the rice is done. The peas only need to warm through.

Place the fried cutlet on top of the rice and drizzle with Bulldog sauce.

To make a “true” katsudon, place caramelized onions over the hot steamed rice, top with the cutlet and then top it all with an egg. Cover and the steam from the cutlet and the rice will gently cook the egg. Break the egg yolk and stir it in to create a wonderful sauce. Drizzle with Bull Dog Sauce .

Tonkatsu with Bull Dog Sauce

You can create Chicken Parmesan by topping the golden brown cutlet with marinara sauce and cheese – I am partial to Asiago – but Parmesan, or mozzarella are just fine too.

Melt and brown the cheese, serve over pasta and more sauce on the side. Top it all with more cheese and serve with a salad on the side.

Chicken Parmesan

Breaded Cutlet with Lemon

Be careful when pan frying, place the cutlets into the pan so it splashes away from you, not towards you. Once the cutlets are golden brown, you can finish cooking them in the oven that has been pre-heated to 350°F.

Enjoy making these and think of other ways to serve them too. Change the sauce ( try Thai Green sauce!) and starch. Put a cutlet on a bun, add coleslaw and BBQ sauce to make it into a sandwich.Or make Chicken Piccata with lemon and capers.

Let me know if you come up with other ideas!

If you want to freeze the breaded cutlets, freeze them raw as soon as you finish breading them. You can cook from frozen over medium heat.

Love ya!

Mom

Oh, Grasshopper!

Fair warning: If you are squeamish about grasshoppers or insects, move on to the next post. Just a fair warning.

There is a student in my Garde Manger class who brought grasshoppers to class.

A pan of grasshoppers

Even though eating grasshoppers is not the mainstay diet of my readers, I thought it was so interesting I had to write about it. I am not an extreme food consumer, but if it was all there was to eat, I speculate a way would be found.

Comedienne Mary Asher and the Grasshoppers

I couldn’t bring myself to eat one, however, several students were excited to try.

Yong made them nice and crispy and made a Korean style teriyaki sauce and another of his teammates, Andrew, covered them with dark chocolate. Some were paired with cheese on a cracker.

Yong was telling us how in Korea, they raise grasshoppers in very clean ‘grasshopper farms’. I visioned tall blades of lush grass with jumpy, springing green grasshoppers leaping blissfully from blade to blade.

It was fun to watch the adventurous eaters explain: “crunchy like a grassy twig”, “Can I pull the legs off?”, “I don’t like the wings”, “Are they overcooked?” “They make me want to jump around.”

Snacking Grasshoppers

Chocolate Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers with cheese and crackers

Serving Grasshoppers

At least he didn’t bring in hissing cockroaches.

Rungis Market

Rungis Market is located just outside of Paris, France. It is the largest wholesale food market in Europe. The Tokyo Fish market and Rungis rival by claiming each is the largest in the world.

The Rungis Market has huge areas dedicated to fish, meat, cheese, produce and flowers. The place is a city all its own and that city is mostly alive at the very wee hours of the morning. In fact the fish house closes between 5 and 6 AM. Other houses soon follow.

We joined up with a culinary school from Scotland to make the minimum 20 for our all around tour. Phillipe was our guide for 2 years in a row and quite a good guide too. He told us stories of how the fish they are seeing now aren’t as large as fish they got in the past due to over fishing of certain species such as Tuna and Salmon.He told us of growing fields in northern Africa where acres of produce is grown and shipped in to the market.

This market was once located in the Les Halles area of Paris. The army came in and moved the entire market overnight to the new Rungis location. The entire re-location was hush-hush and only revealed after the move was complete.

We were outfitted in silly thin paper coats for sanitation, ice and water all over the floors (slippery) and fish everywhere being hustled about on flat beds, forklifts and all in a rush to finish their business by 6AM. You had to watch and listen for the ‘beep-beeps’ as the fish were hustled where ever they were rushing them to.

The meat house was akin to being in a nightmare. Meat carcasses hung everywhere – pigs, cows, goats, lamb, and even horse. Although the horse was not in when we were there they do, on occasion, carry it.

One pork house had pig heads in a pile. One guys job was to yank the tongues out and toss the tongueless head into a big wheeled basket full of other tongueless heads. One fell out as it was tossed, the next worker came by and  it out of the way of the wheels and moved the entire grotesque basket to another room behind big blood smeared doors.

I know these are cow heads, not pigs. The pigs were in a pile getting their tongues ripped out, these got the distinction of being hung on steel pegs for some reason.

Later that evening on a menu, when seeing “Tête de cochon”, I thought to myself, yeah, saw that kicked too. Next?

They sell birds with the feet and heads on so the type of bird can be identified.

The produce markets are displayed like incredible masterpieces of produce arrangement. Such beautiful fruits and vegetables!

The cheese house features cheeses aging in all stages. There are several cheese Americans would consider spoiled by the amount of mold forming on the outside rind. There is even one cheese you need to knock the bugs out of before you cut it. It looks like a cantaloupe inside and out. The cheese is very tasty. I wish I could remember the name of it.

My favorite cheese is a goat cheese called “Pouligny St. Pierre”, so yummy.

The flower market is spectacular. I wished I could buy a bunch for my hotel room but, they only sell them by the truck load it seems.

This market is a must visit for food tourists. The only thing is you need to have a group of 20 to qualify for a tour. If you go, ask for Phillipe if he is still there. He is a great guide and speaks wonderful English, and French and probably several other languages as well.

We had the best croissants, hot chocolate and cafe au lait at this market. Phillipe arranged for us to stop in one of the restaurants that serve the vendors after our tour. He had to make a special request because the restaurant was typically closing for the day when we finished with our tour. The restaurant is located next to the fish house.

There were coffee stands and a bar inside the meat house. It was odd to see all the meat workers in their chain mail guards over clothes with scimitars strapped in steel sheaths.

I have to apologize for the quality of the photos here, I was trying to be discrete about taking photos. I must say that considering the job these men do, their all white clothing was actually not too bad.

To to end this lovely visit, the produce and flower pavilions.

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Lobster-cide

No more “lobster-cide”; I can’t kill lobsters anymore. Being a chef, and an instructor who used to be able to teach such things to poor unsuspecting students, this isn’t something you’d admit out loud.

I was reading Domestic Diva MD‘s post on having to cut up a chicken and kind of understood what she was crying about. I can butcher chicken and birds quite well, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Suppose that is because they are dead when they arrive on my cutting board.

This is a wooden chopping board with a chef's ...

Image via Wikipedia

Lobsters, on the other hand, come in live and kicking and probably pretty frustrated by having their claws banded shut. (thank goodness!) or OUCH! pegged shut. ( The would probably be more angry than frustrated.)

Lobsters shipped for consumption in the United...

Image via Wikipedia

They flicker their feelers at you, roll their odd eyes and foam at the mouth for desire to be back in the water.

They try to walk around so you have to watch them or put them where they can’t get away.They often pack fresh seaweed with them so they have something familiar on their death ride besides a waxed box with ice. That is most likely not the reason, but it is my guess for now.

In order to kill them correctly, you need to rub them between the eyes to calm them down and ‘put them to sleep’ before plunging a 12″ razor-sharp knife into their brains.

“Kills them instantly.” says Eric Ripert

Has he ever been a lobster? How does he know?

I can’t do that anymore. I am bothered by being able to do it in the first place. Once they are dead, no problem, just can’t kill them.

The last time I had to kill lobsters was for a dinner party I was doing for a friend in Atlanta. 14 lobsters for the appetizer.

14 live and kicking lobsters. I could hear them scratching around inside the box, slightly muffled by the seaweed packed in the box with them.

I placed them in the kitchen sink. I got creeped out by so many large weird leggy things scrambling around in the sink, I had to put some of them back in the box.

Then the killing started.

Rubbing the space between the eyes, they calm down. Ready, Aim, Plunge and split the thing in two.

OH! How it writhes and wiggles after!

After forcing myself to do all 14, I was a total basket case. Crying, kneeling down begging forgiveness for taking their lives, who was I after all to decide it was their time to die?

It was quite a horrible struggle emotionally and morally. I won’t kill lobsters anymore.

Not that way. If necessary, I’ll put them into a perforated hotel pan and pop them into a fully active steamer and slam the door shut for 8 minutes.

When I return, voila! Lobster meat. The shells have turned red and there lies the perfect ready to eat lobster, after you rip off its tail and claws.

(I worry about the students who ‘get a kick’ out of learning this. Glad they only get 1 lobster)

Melt some butter and Bon Apetit!

Just don’t ask me to kill them anymore.

Garde Manger Finals

Garde Manger Finals means this is the last of the class posts for a few weeks.

Our final full week of Garde Manger had students exploring some aspects of molecular gastronomy and perfecting carving skills.

While the students did a great job with various carving skills, I got the impression this class would rather actually cook than play with making garnishes.

Gulf Oysters, Blood Orange Vinegar Pearl, Duck Fat Powder

Which is why they had a couple of days to play with a bit of molecular gastronomy. They used tapioca maltodextrin to create powders from olive oil, bacon fat and duck fat. It was sprinkled on french fries, chips, oysters and played within general.

They played with spheres, making pearls and eggs from various liquids like cucumber juice, blood orange vinegar and coffee. Not together of course. They created a jellied piña colada layered sphere – coconut, rum, pineapple – nice concept but awkward to serve and eat.

They cured watermelon in vacuum pack and served it with a seared duck breast and corn jus.

Using the Pâté de Fruit method, they were given an assignment of creating a jelly that would melt in the mouth or inside of something.

Examples being: a jellied stock with a morsel of meat, chicken or fish inside a dumpling. When cooked, the dumpling is full of the flavorful liquid inside. A surprising bite.

They made 4 different kinds of gravlax; a salmon cured with salt, sugar, herbs and spices.

I plan on working more of these things into the garde manger curriculum. These techniques are found out in high-end and cutting edge restaurants so why not explore it while in school.

The final assignment was to do an hors d’oeuvres party for 40 people. They had to plan, set up and do the entire event.

I think they did a terrific job.

Garde Manger II starts at the end of March. That session will feature curing meats, smoking, pate, terrines and all the other sides of garde manger.

Enjoy the slide show.

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Another week in Garde Manger

Chilled Mussels with Miami Mustard Sauce

This week in Garde Manger we did a study of hors d’oeuvres and started to learn some basic vegetable carving.

We had one small event with 125 grazers, several evening events and now to work on a grand finale buffet the week after next.

Next week we focus on getting carving skills perfected and learning some molecular gastronomy elements for contemporary garnishing applications.

The most fun comes when the teams plan their final presentation that must incorporate everything we have covered so far in class.

This means I am expecting a spectacular centerpiece using carvings, sculpting vegetables, tallow or salt dough. One of the pieces I teach them is a carved daikon peacock. easy to do yet looks very complicated.

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This Week in Garde Manger – Sandwiches

This week in Garde Manger class they learned about making pickles, condiments and sandwiches. While most people know what a sandwich is, very few can actually make a ‘really good’ sandwich.

Sandwiches draw odd emotions from people. Some love them and some actually get angry at poor little sandwiches. There is a blog where the host actually uses the ‘f ‘ word regarding sandwiches. He seems quite hostile towards them. Amazing.

Really? Get angry at a sandwich?

Some have sworn them off for life, some get sick of them after eating sandwiches day after day after day. (Remember, we always have a choice.)

Some eat the same one always. For instance whenever I go into a Subway or Quiznos, I always order the BMT or Italian, toasted. Hands down, that is my favorite sandwich where ever I go. At home I make a wide variety, but not the Italian ones. I buy those out. Why? I don’t know, it is just the way I do it. My sandwich quirk.

I love a good sandwich. Here is what makes up “good”.

The four sandwich elements:

  • Bread –  sliced varieties, artisan, rolls, buns, wraps, look around, choose what you love or looks great
  • Spread – mustard, ketchup, chutney, relishes, aioli, mayonnaise, dressings , tapenade, taziki
  • Filling  – sliced meats, cheeses, vegetables, bound salads, fruit, cured meats, tinned fish, fried chicken, fish or vegetables
  • Garnish – lettuce, sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, sliced apples or pears, arugula, spinach

All elements contribute to either a great sandwich eating experience or one that simple stops the growling in your stomach.

Choose great ingredients from each category and you will end up with a nice product. Shake it up and do something different.

Personally every time I eat, I want it to be an experience. Even if it is a snack. Since I have no desire to be fat, overweight or insolent, and considering how much I love food, there isn’t any time for poorly flavored or poorly prepared food.

Student assignments included: muffuletta, gyros (with grilled lamb leg), Italian hoagie, Maine lobster roll, Rubens, open face French radish and ham, Cubans and more.

We did an “Ultimate Dog and Burger Day” but I forgot my camera that day so no photos, sorry. If anyone sends me some of the Dog and Burger Day, I’ll add-on to this post.

Students made mustard, different ketchup styles: mushroom, yellow pepper and tomato – none like Heinz, pickles, aioli, and side things like vegetable chips and Greek fries.

Turkeys and prime ribs were roasted, cooled and sliced. Lamb legs were roasted and grilled. Whole pork loins, seasoned, marinated and roasted for the perfect Cuban sandwich with ham, mustard and pickles. Students made pita for the gyros. (The week after next they start making their own cheese.)

Our kitchens smelled so good!

Next week they start hors d’ oeuvres, canapes and carving skills. Wait till you see what happens to simple vegetables. They also have their first event: “Grazing with Student Chefs” with 125 guests showing up to graze. Come back next week and see what happens.

The students did a fantastic job this week. See the photos of their work and tell me what you think!

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