PRIVATE LESSON - Part One
Recently I received a request for a private lesson as a gift from a wife to her husband. She told me he wanted to learn marinades, sauces for pasta and some fish recipes. Also, they kept a kosher kitchen. This meant that I couldn't bring any of my kitchen tools and it was best if she did the shopping from my list, just to keep it kosher. My first question was whether they had good knives and if they were sharp. When I go to a kitchen blind and can't bring any of my tools it's pretty much a 'work with things as they are' situation. These people were quite delightful and the husband was very energetic and anxious to learn. They had gone out and purchased any number of cooking supplies, just in case. Her shopping was perfect except for the quality of the soy sauce purchased which was Chun King and had all sorts of additional ingredients including high fructose corn syrup. She cheerfully went out and purchased some organic Tamari and I was happy. You are only as good as your ingredients.
It turned out that some lesson in knife skills was a place we had to start. So often I find people holding their knives in ways that make it difficult for them to cut. Then there is that ubiquitous fore finger that sits on top of the knife and is a habit a lot of people develop. Turned out that the set of knives designated for 'dairy' was fairly useless having been made with blades that were almost flexible, serrated and unable to be sharpened. The hardest part of all this for me was not being able to use my own knives, my wonderful knives that are sharp and are my sceptres.
Undaunted by these obstacles we cooked on and on!! Because the Bolognese Sauce would take the longest we began there. In order to cook this kosher style a lot of tampering with a basic Italian Bolognese recipe needed to be done. No milk products. No pork. But the approach is the same.
Here is the recipe we used:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 medium red onion, small dice
1 carrot, peeled and small dice
1 celery stalk, small dice
1-2 cloves garlic, small dice
1-2 pounds ground beef (or half beef and half veal)
1/2 cup red (or white) wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups plum tomatoes, crushed (preferably San Marzano)
3 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Heat oil and add the onion, carrot, celery, salt. Cook down slowly about 4-5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue cooking until the onion is quite transparent and has a little color. Add the ground meat while breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, to evaporate the liquid and brown the meat, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, cook down to evaporate the alcohol, then add the tomato paste, stirring. Add the tomatoes, that you have crushed with your bare hands, and the bay leaves. Salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then lower to a bare simmer. Cook about 2-3 hours, uncovered. Stir occassionally. Add more water or tomato juices when necessary. Taste for seasoning.
Boil up some of your favorite pasta and add it to the sauce. Cook them together gently and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
If you are kosher, no cheese, but if not, add some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano abundantly over the top. Serve hot.
I also presented the topic of MARINADES with two pages of basic marinade recipes. We chose one marinade to make for chicken legs. Here is the basic information you need to know about using a marinade:
Marinades impart flavor through soaking. Meat, poultry, fish and vegetables marinate for at least 30 minutes, but generally not more than 2 hours. They are best made just before you want to use them in order to keep the flavors bright and intense.
Marinade mixtures contain three basic elements: one acidic to penetrate, one base, or oil, to lock in the flavors and moisture, and one or more flavor components.
FLAVORS: Ginger, herbs, spices, garlic, onion, scallion,hot sauce, ketchup, mustard (Dijon, grain, yellow, honey) soy, fish sauce, Tabasco, chutney, jellies, jams, marmalade, Worcestershire, Thai chili, sugars, fruits, maple syrup...to name a few.
ACIDIC: Vinegars (white wine, red wine, balsamic, sherry, unseasoned rice, apple cider, champagne), citrus (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit), wine (red, white, rose, sake, beer).
BASE: Oil, Whole Milk Yogurt, Buttermilk,(extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, seed oils, flavored oils, toasted sesame oil)
If you use pineapple, melon, figs, ginger, kiwis, to marinate shorten the soak because these will tenderize but also break down the fibers.
First choose an oil and an acid, then add the flavorings. Don't add too many sweet ingredients as they tend to burn the food quickly.
Always use glass, plastic or Stainless steel, never aluminum to marinate anything. Use a vacuum sealer or a large, heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag large enough to contain the marinade and the ingredient.
Here is a the base for a Classic French Marinade: for steaks and chicken:
makes about 3-1/2 cups
1 small jar Dijon mustard
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon seasalt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4-5 scallions, chopped
(add any additional herbs you might like, such as: rosemary, thyme, etc.)
Make the marinade. Mix together well then add the chicken or other ingredient. Place into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. When ready to cook, scrape off the marinade. Roast until done.
I'll continue this post another time with the Fish Recipes. And, again, sorry for the lack of photos. I just get so carried away with what is being done that pausing to take photos is just a distraction. I guess I should bring a photographer with me!