Archives for June 2014

Mise en place by Chef Paul Lindemuth

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!

cucumber-soup

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
salt
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

Memories and Lessons of Entertaining by Carolyn Raber

I inherited the entertaining gene; it fulfills my passions of cooking for guests and enjoying their company.  There have been countless events, of course, but some provide memories of humor, pride and humility, and I share a few here. 

Age 10, we had a young seminary couple living with us and I found out that it was the wife’s birthday.  To surprise her, I got on my bike and rode to the downtown Naperville bakery and got a frosted chocolate cake, nicely packaged in a box and tied with a bow.   I was so excited on the ride home, only to learn that the cake had fallen and crumbled in my not big enough bike basket.  I was crushed along with the cake, but our friend was touched, and the pieces were delicious.  I think of this every time I make chocolate cake. 

As young marrieds, our first house was in Dixon and 900 sq. ft.  We had a first birthday party for our daughter Suanne with 10 guests, all seated in an 8×10 bedroom converted to dining room, using my family linens, crystal, china and silver.  Cozy, but it worked!  And enforced my dream of a formal dining room! 

While we lived in Atlanta, we hosted on December 23rd The Night Before the Night Before Christmas Chili Parties.  Casual dress, lots of people all through the house, white and traditional chili, beer bread, wine, beer, and Christmas cookies.  Little prep, easy, and fun. 

CarolynWe hosted an engagement party for Suanne and Ryan, which was the only time I have pre-tested a menu, using my neighbors as judges.  Ryan is a great chef, and his dad is an executive chef, so the pressure was on.   I duplicated a menu I had seen on Food Network’s Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello….polenta lasagna, grilled zucchini salad, stuffed portabella mushrooms.  Only when Dad Koster arrived did I learn that he had worked with Michael Chiarello.  I worried for nothing, as both Ryan and his dad were the most supportive and complementary guests one could hope for.   Ryan, then, gave me an autographed copy of Michael Chiarello’s cookbook for Christmas. 

I never had a cast iron pot until a few years ago and have no idea how I had lived so long without one.  I initiated it with a dish I also had never made, Coq au vin a la Ina Garten.   Our daughter Renee and husband Robert were over for dinner, and it was such a hit that Robert, also a good cook, asked if we could have it for it for Christmas dinner.  For some reason, I always struggle with the menu for Christmas, and Robert did it for me months ahead! 

It has taken a lot of years to calm this Virgo, but I now know that it is not so much about perfection as guests feeling at home and having fun, and I must have fun!  So here are my lessons: Having a well -planned time chart for the event is a must.  A smaller menu is better than a lot of choices.  My most frequently used cookware is now a 6 qt. cast iron pot.  It can do almost anything, including bake bread.  Come see the great selection of Le Creuset at Marcel’s.  China, crystal, silver, and candles are always appropriate and can be made more casual with less formal linens and serving pieces.  Let us at Marcel’s help you find something new. Clean-up is always after guests leave so that I can enjoy every moment with them.  Linens are soaked in cold water overnight.  Washing the next day is a breeze with no stains.  Don’t try to carry a cake in a too small bike basket.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Spicy Black Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Serves 4
Print
For the Spicy Chipotle Mayo
  1. • 3 1/2 tbsp light mayonnaise (Hellman's)
  2. • 1 tbsp canned chipotle in adobo sauce
For the Black Bean Burgers
  1. • 16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  2. • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  3. • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  4. • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  5. • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  6. • 1 jumbo egg
  7. • 1 tbsp cumin
  8. • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  9. • 1 tsp hot sauce
  10. • 1/2 cup quick oats (use gf oats for gluten free)
  11. • 4 whole wheat 100 calorie buns (Martin's)*
  12. • 1 small hass avocado, sliced thin
Instructions
  1. Combine mayonnaise and chipotle, set aside. Dry the beans well after washing, extra moisture keep the burgers from sticking. In a medium bowl, mash beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  2. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, cilantro, onion, and garlic, then add oats, then eggs and spices. Then stir into mashed beans.
  3. Divide mixture into four patties (using slightly oiled hands helps) and place them onto a flat surface covered with wax paper. (If it's too wet, chill the mixture 30 minutes in the refrigerator or add another tablespoon of oats.) Freeze at least 2 hours before cooking or keep frozen until ready to cook.
  4. Heat a lightly sprayed skillet to medium heat and cook frozen burgers about 7 minutes on each side. If grilling, preheat grill over medium heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil; grill 7-8 minutes on each side or you can bake in the oven at 375° on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Adapted from All Recipes
Adapted from All Recipes
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/