Mise en place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in setting up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients and components that a cook will require for the menu items that are expected to be prepared. The practice is also effective in home kitchens and is a mantra that I preach at the beginning of every class I teach.
Take time to first read through any recipe to familiarize yourself with ingredients, techniques and equipment.
Then, take stock of your ingredients to make certain that you have all the necessary components to complete the recipe. Gather those ingredients near your work area so they are close at hand, or better yet, take a few moments to measure ingredients so everything is ready to be used in the correct sequence. You’ve seen the line up of small prep bowls that every teaching chef uses for classes. Being able to reach for every item is a true time saver. Conversely, there is nothing more counterproductive than having to stop your prep or cooking to search the pantry or refrigerator for a missing item…or worse yet… having to stop everything to get into the car for an emergency trip to the market!
Putting everything in place is going to make prep and cooking fun and efficient. Make it a habit!
CHILLED CREAM OF CUCUMBER SOUP WITH DILL
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, peeled, trimmed and sliced
4 cucumbers, peeled, trimmed, seed removed, sliced
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
fresh dill sprigs for garnish
In a large soup pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, cucumbers and bay leaves. Stir to coat the vegetables with the butter and sauté for 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Lower the heat, cover the pot and cook the vegetables until they are very tender, about 30 minutes.
Add the chicken broth. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Working in batches, puree the soup in the jar of a blender until very smooth. Transfer each batch to a large bowl.
Stir in the cream and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Allow the soup to cool to room temperature, then stir in the dill. Cover and chill the soup until very cold, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with the fresh dill sprigs.
Serves 6 to 8