Posts Tagged ‘tutorial’


Give me a braise. (PORK BELLY)

February 3, 2011

Step 1. Find a gorgeous pork belly like this one. (The butcher rolled and tied it which made for a lovely presentation.)

Step 2. Take a look at this entry on the 3rd Ward blog and follow the recipe which takes you on a journey through seasoning, braising and cooling.

Step 3. Slice and sear the belly and use it in a delicious creation, as we did in our Noodle Bowls.

Step 4. Enjoy!



January 26, 2011

Yes, lets talk about chopping herbs for six full minutes. Pertains to the recipe for Salsa Verde


Teaching and learning. (A NEW DIRECTION)

January 19, 2011

Recently the nature of my work in the field of all things culinary has changed. After a usual busy holiday season of cooking for the masses, I am now focused on teaching cooking classes. This has been going really well since my extreme enthusiasm for cooking delicious things seems to be particularly contagious.

Specifically, I am developing classes in different venues around Manhattan and Brooklyn including the gleaming Astor CenterGer-Nis Culinary and Herb Center and an excellent art-focused mission called 3rd Ward. Each has its own style of education to offer at different levels of intensity but my mission, no matter which kitchen I am teaching in, is to get home cooks excited and empowered.

By demystifying ingredients and techniques, answering (any and all) questions applying the goods I have acquired cooking all over the world, I aim to help students make a little more sense of the fundamentals of cooking. When one becomes confident in the kitchen and armed with a sharp knife and a little understanding, the whole cooking process is streamlined. Then, the tasks at hand don’t seem quite as daunting and folks will (ideally) cook even more than they already do. I work the recipes to be accessible to the average cook, something they will prepare on their own without hesitation. Menus are created to consist of dishes that use a variety of cooking styles and a wide range of ingredients so that everyone gets as much out of a session as possible, no matter what their level of skill.

As for Up Chef Creek, I see potential for a new direction starting here too. My idea is to communicate a tiny part of a class in each post. A interesting tip or technique, a great recipe or an excerpt of a discussion that came up. In other words, things divulged from a classroom setting, turned into a blog post and, well, we can see what happens from there. Oh yes! And video… on the instructional level as well. Another new improvement that I would like to make at Up Chef Creek with the conceptualization of this new direction.

Please. Enjoy. Stay tuned.


Photo: K. Slingluff


Let’s have a roast. (TOP SIRLOIN AND MARCHAND DE VIN )

February 28, 2010

These days we see a renewed respect for humanely produced food, animal and vegetable alike. The questions of when, how and where did this come from are no longer smudged lines in a product’s history. And though it may seem like extra work to find out such details, I have full faith that some day soon it will become as commonplace as checking the date on milk. Whole, organic, grass fed, hormone free, non-antibiotic milk, of course.

So sometimes when I want the skinny on what I am putting in the oven, I wind up making fingerprints on the glass cases at Dickson’s Farmstand, located in the Chelsea Market. I started out as a neighbor, working a few doors down from these serious meat men and now we are friends, taking time to discuss dishes, the best cuts for the job as well as the various methods of getting a great product to the table. But this is not special treatment. When the lines queue up at Dickson’s, everyone is regarded as a friend and all of these fine points are regularly discussed with great care.

That is how I ended up with these two lovely top sirloin roasts, I needed a well-priced and flavorful cut of beef for an event I was catering. The beef was to be sliced, sauced (recipe below) and served over a bit of leek veloute, a roasted potato cake by its side. For portioning, I allow at least 1/2 pound per person, especially for a fancier dinner where not every slice is going to be gorgeous and plate-worthy (but definitely perfectly mouth-worthy). Several steps go into cooking a great roast. They are not complicated but should be followed well, decisions are best made in advance so there is no second guessing when time is precious.

It is important to take the meat from the fridge at least one hour before cooking to come  to room temp. This helps it cook faster, more evenly and more precisely but don’t sweat it if there isn’t time for that to happen, especially if you have a meat thermometer. That will really keep you from going wrong even if the timing is a little off. It’s the ticket.

Then sear. Do not be timid, get hot, get smoky and brown it up on all sides. After browning I use a spice rub, since the best method for this cut is a ‘dry roast’ and you want to get all the flavor you can onto the meat. I never remember exactly what I use but I am pretty sure it was a mild mixture of garlic powder, mustard, thyme, cumin, ancho powder, salt and pepper. That is my loose outline for a basic rub in addition to whatever is laying around and/or catches my fancy. Maybe a drop of cayenne, a dash of  Tony’s? Use your creative license.

From there, the following irreverant method works out great! A simple trick of cooking the roast high and mightily at 500F for 5-6 minutes per pound and then turning the oven off for two hours. Do not open the oven door, don’t even think about it. The beef will be a perfect medium rare when you take it out of the undisturbed oven two hours later. I really liked this style and it yielded buttery, tender pink beef. You can always flash cook it a little more at the end if it’s too rare but you can never un-cook it… so might as well err to the side of less-done.

More traditional methods (for medium rare boneless beef roasts) are quite varied, some cooks favor high temperatures for less time (400F / 10 minutes per pound) and others go for lower temps for longer periods of time (300F / 20-22 minutes per pound). The most important step is to consult an instant read thermometer after the first 45 minutes of cooking and every 20 or so thereafter to get the temperature spot on. There are so many variations to be had, it really is best to use the thermometer in combination with your intuition because who knows how wacky your oven is, how the shape of the meat cooks, the starting temp…etcetera. The following chart from is very helpful for getting it right, an excerpt from a post dedicated to top sirloin. Dickson’s offers this chart representing a variety of animals.

Below is a cooking chart for top sirloin roast recipe. Remember you should always use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness of a roast. The internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees during resting time, remove the roast 5-10 degrees before desired doneness.

Doneness Description Meat Thermometer Reading
Rare Red with cold, soft center 125-130 degrees
Medium-Rare Red with warm, somewhat firm center 135-140 degrees
Medium Pink and firm throughout 140-150 degrees
Medium-well Pink line in center, quite firm 150-155 degrees
Well-done Gray-brown throughout and completely firm 160-165 degrees

When cooked to desired doneness (accounting for the 5-10 degrees of carryover cooking), it is mandatory to let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed and redistributed into the meat and not be lost with the first cut. Ok! Now you have the earned the right to slice up your materpiece and enjoy. The following recipe is an awesome and easy sauce. Marchand de Vin (Winemerchant’s Sauce) goes exceptionally well almost any grilled or roasted beef, a great acidic kick to cut through the rich flavors of well-raised meat.


(adapted from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander)

1/2 cup shallots, minced

1 tablespoon sherry or sherry vinegar

1/2 cup red wine

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

pan juices from cooked meat (optional)

6 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces

salt and cracked black pepper

  • Place first four ingredients in a pan and reduce liquids until the almost gone, but shallots are still moist.
  • Add parsley, lemon juice and meat juices, if using. And stir in butter until just melted.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


Boost baking confidence. (MONKEY BREAD)

December 21, 2009

I see this recipe’s success as a beacon of good fortune in this year’s holiday baking which will start soon! Monkey bread is one of those things everyone has eaten but me, a popular treat remembered from grandmas or hometown bakeries. I have no such memory, but having heard of it so many times and after seeing this fine old recipe, I decided it was time to get acquainted with good old monkey bread. Not to mention it was snowy outside and what is more awesome than a fresh baked bread-something in all that wintry glitter. Plus all of the ingredients were on hand so, no one had to go trudging.

I might have mentioned before that I don’t love baking but once in a while, when distractions are few, I’ll flour up. This day I did not surprise myself by immediately adding too much water to the dough, followed by a great deal of swearing, also a part of my baking ritual. To remedy this problem, I added extra tablespoons of flour until the dough was just manageable. I was careful about the additions since the recipe described it as a sticky dough. I let it be pretty gooey, but floured recklessly while kneading and it was okay.

Kneading, traditionally done with one’s hands, is often replaced in recipes by food processors and/or standing mixers. Not having a piece of machinery should not discourage one from trying a recipe. Especially in the case of making dough, there is always a way to accomplish it without being plugged in. Kneading by hand involves a few more minutes of effort but it will always work, and sometimes the results will be even better since your hands get to witness all of the changes the dough will go through. A good example of this is making pasta. Pasta dough will always come out better by hand because you will know exactly when it goes from just a basic dough to actually silky and soft, with a faint sheen on it (this takes  about 15 minutes of real work). In a mixer you would never see this change happen and either stop too early or blow straight past this little miracle and overmix completely. For monkey bread, the dough only gets worked for about 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and cohesive but make sure you give it a good workout anyhow.

When making a yeasted bread, like this one, kneading is important but the crucial thing is the rise. In my experience, recipes often underestimate the time it will take for the dough to truly double in size. So my big advice is: wait. Wait not until it is almost-maybe-double-but-definitely-bigger, no. Wait for it to be definitely doubled, alot bigger, puffy and alive looking. Sometimes it is only a matter of an extra ten minutes, but it might be an extra hour. There are many factors that could cause your yeast to take more time than the yeast in the recipe. So. Just. Wait. It will make all the difference in the final product. Promise.

To make my monkey bread work I also had to rig a bundt pan since I don’t have one. The solution was a regular cake pan (10 inches) with a ceramic ramekin placed in the center. Any sort of round vessel than can stand the oven’s heat would work, a tin can, little clay pot, etc. just make sure you grease it along with the rest of the surface. Butter or some non-stick baking spray will do the job well.

With so much technical blah-blah, don’t want to forget to include how awesome this stuff is. A wreath of bread that is made up of little breads! Each ball of dough personally dipped in cinnamon butter and rolled in brown sugar, then plopped into the pan. The pieces rise and bake together into a fragrant, caramelized work of art. As forgiving as it is delicious, if all of my opposable thumbs can bake it, yours can too.


(adapted from America’s Best Lost Recipes)

1 stick + 2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 package rapid rise (instant) yeast

3 1/4 cups flour + extra for kneading

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup light brown or raw turbinado sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • Grease a bundt pan or something similar. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and turn it off when it comes to temp. This is the perfect environment for the dough to rise.
  • Start the dough by melting the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pot.
  • Add the milk and water and heat gently to about 110 degrees F.
  • Place the warm milk mixture in a measuring cup and add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the yeast. Within a few minutes the yeast should bloom, making floury looking bubbles on the surface. (If it does not….start over with new yeast!!)
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the liquid ingredients.
  • Stir until ingredients are incorporated and the mixture becomes heavy to stir. Stop.
  • Flour your hands and the workspace. Gather the dough and turn it out onto the workspace, kneading until a smooth ball forms (adding touches of flour as necessary), about 5-10 minutes.
  • Place the ball of dough into a greased bowl and lightly coat the top of the dough with non-stick spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic and place it in the 200 degree oven that has been turned off!!!
  • Allow to double in size, at least one hour.
  • While the dough is rising, melt remaining stick of butter in a small pot. Stir in cinnamon. Place brown (or raw) sugar in a shallow dish.
  • When the dough is ready, remove it from the oven and pat into an 8 inch square. Cut the square into quarters and each quarter into 16 pieces for a total of 64 small dough pieces.
  • Dip each piece in the cinnamon butter followed by a quick roll in the sugar and place in the prepared bundt. Stagger the coated balls somewhat evenly around the center of the pan in layers.
  • Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the ‘still turned off’ oven for a second rise, about one hour or until puffy and risen 1-2 inches above the rim of the pan (see photo above).
  • Remove pan from oven, and turn it up to 350 degrees F. Take the plastic wrap from the bread and bake until the top is deep brown and bubbling around the edges, 30-35 minutes.
  • When done, cool only 5 minutes in the pan or else it will stick. Turn it out onto a platter and enjoy. Wrap in plastic for overnight storage.

64 cinnamon-butter-sugar coated balls in a makeshift bundt pan.

Oven landslide….what, me worry? Those were the tastiest bits.

Oh yeah, read some of my golden baking rules here.