Tip/Guidance for the Young Chef: Cooking Potatoes for Salad

I was asked, when bringing over a potato salad to some friends, what the secret is to achieve the look and texture my potatoes had:

  1. Crispy outer layer (wall /sides)
  2. Soft texture
  3. Smooth outer layer

Here is a photo to show you what I’m talking about:

So what I have done is no secret, it is a simple process you need to follow.

  1. Peel the potatoes
  2. Cut them into approx 1.5 cm cubes (size can vary according to your preferences)
  3. Place the potatoes in a pot containing cold water
  4. Add white vinegar (apple, white wine or any other white vinegar to your choice/red vinegar will work as well but will stain the potato) in an amount that equals to approx 5% of the water volume
  5. Bring the water to a boil and lower to a simmer at once
  6. Cook until you find the texture of the potatoes satisfactory

Why does it work?

  1. First of all, I chose a waxy potato – in my case a “desired” type. These potatoes are denser and tend to break less while they cook because of their higher starch content
  2. The cooking was done in a simmering “temperature” which prevented the potatoes bouncing in the pot damaging each other’s sides
  3. The vinegar’s acid tends to have an effect on the structure of starch, in our case it makes it more “solid” and helps maintain crisp, smooth sides

You may add salt, sugar or other spices or condiments to the water the potatoes are being cooked in, but what is written above is the basics.

This cooking method can serve not only a salad but also any other dish that requires a specifically desired texture.

Here are links to two more articles that refer to the use of potatoes.

Potato soufflé explained

Variations on Vichyssoise soup 

Hope it helps and thanks for reading,

Michael

Posted in potato, salad, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip/Guidance for the Young Chef: Chicken Liver Parfait 

In general I rarely share recipes, not because I keep the secret to my self but because the Internet is so full of recipes that I prefer to teach about other topics, but for some reason the following recipe has been requested from me so often I have decided to post it here. It is a great recipe for a chicken liver parfait with a creamy texture achieved by a simple technique demonstrated below.

Parfait chicken liver:

Meat:

  • 400gr chicken livers
  • 12gr salt
  • 5gr pink salt (optional)
  • 2gr ground white pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • 400gr unsalted butter  

(this is a combination of ingredients that will give the parfait its unique flavor)

  • 50gr chopped onions
  • 1gr chopped thyme
  • 75ml cognac
  • 75ml red wine
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

Lining: the lining process (optional) see explanation and photo below

Sliced back fat or bacon

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients that I mentioned in “flavor” in a pot and set aside half of the mixture
  • Liquidise the chicken liver (in a blender) with the seasoning until smooth – add eggs 1 by 1
  • Add the “flavor mixture” and gradually mix in the melted butter-pass trough chinois.
  • Pour into a terrine lined with back fat or bacon or directly into a silicon mold.
  • Cook at 120deg “Bain – Marie” for about 1 hour until firm and core temp is 73deg. 

Serve with brioche bread and pickles, onion jam…

Here are a few photos of how I have prepared this dish with the recipe.

In the following photo, I cooked the parfait directly in a silicon mold


In this photo, I cooked in a terrin lined up with back fat.


Thank you for reading,

Michael

Posted in chicken, offal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip / guidance to the young chef : introducing sous vide 


More and more cooks are being exposed to cooking in low temperatures and I am deliberately not referring or using the term commonly used ” molecular cooking ” that young chef like to attach to low temperature cooking.

Some like to refer to “cooking at low temperature” as “Sous vide ” this is correct as long as the item is place in a specific engineered bag that can be sealed under vacuum condition and placed in a water bath which a device called ” immersion circulator” is controlling the heat and heat and the water circulation or placed in a an oven in low temperature with steam activated etc…

When you think about the bag ” job” is to keep water in and aroma in but it’s not cooking in vacuum .

Cooking in low temperature is an “issue ” that as been researched for years and that we have a lot of gathered information and understanding either among chefs and academics.

There is a lot of information regarding cooking in low temperature ” sous vide” and sometimes it could be confusing, so I would like to share with you with the guide to “sous vide” written by Douglas Baldwin .

Douglas is not a chef but a mathematician and is approach as an mathematician makes this guide as a very practical and comfortable to use .

Even dough this guide is more for the domestic cook I think it can serve young cooks in there endeavor.

I hope you enjoy this guide here is s link :

“Douglas Baldwin – a guide to sous vide ”

Thank you for reading

Michael

Posted in chef, cooking, cooking training, kitchen techniques, learning to cook, molecular gastronomy, sous vide, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip/ guidance for the young chef :Tart tatin for beginners 

I have been asked few times for a tart “Tatin” recipe , as  you know i am not a pastry chef ,and I look at things trough the eyes of a cook/ chef de cuisine .

Tart tatin is a method I always liked , so I made many tests and experiment and trust you possibilities are almost endless , when the request to share my ideas regarding tart tatin came I thought it would be great to share with you some guide lines  tips and methods , so here is a link to a PDF doc i wrote for you to which I hope will help you to achive a good result, it’s a long article and not you’re everyday recipe .

Tart tatin by Michael Katz

The main photo at the top is of the one that  i have for this article and the base is a cake base ( see article for method)

The following photo is how I have started the tart .

The following photos are to give you idea of how endless variation out there and the sky is the limit .


please feel free to ask me any question, remarks – good luck and thank you for reading

Michael

Posted in baking, chef, cooking, cooking training, kitchen, kitchen techniques, learning to cook, tart, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip/ guidance to the young chef: there is only one competition…


The culinary competition that is, to me, the best and most important in the culinary world or at least for me is The Bocuse d’Or:
In 2013, I published a short article that tells a little bit about the competition (because in that specific year I followed it very closely), and I think that when people ask me what I think about cooking competitions, my answer is:
For competitions of any kind there is tremendous added value; a cook who prepares for a competition generally prepares himself via studying, training, consultation with other professionals, and on the day of the competition (and this is true of any competition) there are elements like pressure, fear of mistakes, dealing with an unfamiliar arena, and more…an experience that provides a wealth of professional experience.
It is difficult for me to follow everything that happens in the world of competitive cooking, but there is one competition that I think someone who wants to see an unparalleled professional world—full of passion, ego, pressure, rivalry, pride, attention to the smallest details, huge budgets, and years of training—I recommend such a person take interest in and get to know the highest-regarded competition in the world, the Bocuse d’Or, or the Golden Bocuse (named after the famous chef, Paul Bocuse).
Here are a few details that I hope cause you to read more; there is a lot of material about this competition but I will summarize it briefly:
The competition was established in 1983 by the business group of the well-known French chef Paul Bocuse.

The competition is held every two years at the famous “Sirha” culinary fair, which is considered one of the most important culinary fairs in the world—it is in Lyon, France (in parallel with this competition there is also the World Confectionary Cup competition and the Bread-Baking Competition—both of which are considered the highest competitions in the world).

The competition is held over two days.

Teams of 2-3 people take part in the competition and represent a country—they are those who already won qualifying competitions in their home countries; each team has a mentor who does not take part in the competition but who also serves as a judge in the tournament (of course he doesn’t score his own country).

It is important to note that in order to reach the tournament, each country must have an organization/association under which anything related to chefs is organized in the country.

In 1997, something happened that turned the competition into something that the competitive cooking world had never known—fans from Mexico arrived and behaved like in a football (soccer) match. Since then the atmosphere in the tournament area has resembled the Olympics—fans come from all over the world.

Teams come with huge budgets—rumors hold that the US delegation in 2012 invested $1 million for training. The French chef who won in 2007 worked 6 hours a day with 3 mentors who each had the MOF (French artisanal degree)

Rasmus Kofoed—from Denmark, in 2005 he came in 3rd place, in 2007 he was in second place, and in 2011 he won first place, gold—he had invested all of his money and 7 years of training, including sponsorship of the Danish national airline.
One last note:
I heard once a newspaper reporter summarize by saying that whoever wins this competition is the best chef in the world—my answer to him is that the winner is not the best chef in the world, because there is no such thing, but there is no doubt that the winner is the person with the best skills if he is to win the hardest competition in the world.

Thanks for reading,
Michael

Here are a few great links:

Here is a link to the 2015 competition
Here is a link posted by Adar Kaplan-Mor that tells of the American 2nd place finish in the Bocuse d’Or 2015

The posters for the teams that competed in 2013, here you can also vote on the best poster.

Bocuse d’Or -Wikipedia

Home page of the competition

Link to the website for the “Sirha” fair

A short clip on Rasmus Kofoed

Posted in chef, cooking competitions, kitchen, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips and Guidance for the Young Chef: The Relationship between a Chef and Customer from a Slightly Different Perspective

trust 2

 

Sometimes as cooks we forget that we are, in fact, service personnel; over the years, we gain experience, something which brings us higher-ranking positions. At the same time, customers know us, cherish us, trust our work, connect with our work, and, even more so, trust is established between a cook/chef and customer.

One of the people I most appreciate in the field and in whose presence I get to be a lot is the chef Boaz Tsairi, known as one of the leading masters in Israel in everything related to Japanese cuisine.

Over the course of all my meetings with Boaz, I have been exposed to a number of stories from the Japanese kitchen, and here is one that I really loved and which I thought would be nice to share—it shows a little about the trust between a customer and chef from a slightly different perspective:

Many of you have heard of the Fugu fish, which to us is known as the Abunafkha (puffer fish),In Japan the fish is called Fugu and is considered a delicacy. A dish can reach a price of $120. What is interestingly apparent is that the fish isn’t the most amazing in terms of texture and taste, so why in any case did the fish become such a highly demanded product? The reason seems to be that it’s an issue of trust—the trust of the partaker in the master chef.

According to tradition, at the end of the meal the diner and the master bow to one another in a sign of gratitude and recognition—the diner bows in recognition of his gratitude that he is still alive, and the master bows in recognition of his gratitude that the diner placed his trust in the chef.

In Japan, standard practice is that the appellation “master” is given to those who have studied the tricks of the trade for 7 years. After seven years he is called “master”—and only after that is the chef allowed to study and specialize in preparing the fugu fish. The expertise is long, and costs a few thousand dollars, mainly because of the fact the trainee has to clean around 100 fish before he is allowed to sell them and serve them to customers.

In the last seven years, no one has died of poisoning from consuming the fish.

Here are a few links that you ought to read and watch:

A link to the Wikipedia page

Two short clips showing the cleaning of the fish:

clip 1

clip 2

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Michael

Posted in chef, fish, restaurant, restaurant management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips and Guidance for the Young Chef: Using another Building Block—”Gazpacho” Soup

221515_266151120157089_1693331515_o

I want to share with you how I feel about “building blocks” in the kitchen: many basic recipes are included in this category, from which an endless variety of recipes can be made. For example: mayonnaise, pastry cream, and many more. Now I want to share with you a few less conventional building blocks that I have gathered over the years, one of which is gazpacho soup, from which you can expand to an endless number of cold soups—why? Tomato is easy to match to different tastes. In the following link there is a nice, short explanation on matching flavors, I recommend reading it. Many of you professionals have already seen that tomato is suitable to a wide rainbow of flavors: sweet, spicy, and countless others. Here is the link

I truly believe that there are very few people who don’t know gazpacho—a soup known for its Spanish roots, or more correctly, Andalusian, but anyone going deeper into history will be surprised to find out that there are a few theories as to how the soup reached Spain.

There are those who claim that it originates more from the Arab influence in the area that came with the Romans—there are an endless number of recipes and variations, but today many recipes, including the basic recipe that I provide here, are not true to the original, a little richer in flavors and not including bread. It is interesting to note that gazpacho is a variation on bread soup—a soup made of a tomato base and dry bread—what made gazpacho special was its rich taste and the use of vinegar to provide its special “kick.”

One of the nice things about this soup is that it does not only have a great variety of flavors, but a great variety of textures as well. You can prepare it smooth and creamy, coarsely textured, smooth but with many pieces of vegetables and bread—it isn’t by chance that this is a soup to which many chefs like to give their own interpretation.

In the attached picture above, I photographed 3 soups that I made, all of which are derived from the same base that you can read below. It is a base that I have used for years; you don’t need to love it or to agree with it, you can use any recipe that serves you for years. For me personally, it is most important that you understand the way of thinking and the use of recipes that I consider “basics.”

I used the base to create watermelon gazpacho and white-apricot gazpacho—now from here you will be able to go in any direction you want. Building blocks like these allow you to create easily a new, refreshing soup every day—I hope this helps.

Basic Recipe, a Little History, and Recipe Variations:

The basic gazpacho recipe that I love to use—again, all of the variations that come later can be suited to your favorite recipe.

Gazpacho Soup

1 kg clean tomatoes (around 8)—ripe, coarsely chopped

500g (around 5) cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped

500g clean red pepper (around 4)

1/2 kg red onion, thinly sliced

10 garlic gloves, peeled and sliced

1 can of tomatoes

500g (around 2 cups) of sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped in half

1/2 bundle of parsley

1/2 bundle of dill

1/2 bundle of coriander

1 bouquet of tarragon

1 bundle of basil leaves

1 bundle of mint leaves

2 cups of olive oil (around 500ml)

1 cup (around 250ml) of balsamic vinegar (you can swap it with almost any vinegar)

Salt, pepper, tabasco

Around 1 liter of cold water

Sugar, around 1 tbsp (or according to taste)

2 tbsp coriander seeds

 

Preparation:

I personally really love and recommend soaking all of the ingredients together overnight—before grinding the soup, I find it gives the soup a richer flavor; one time I forgot the soup for four days and it started to sour—its flavor was that of the Garden of Eden, I don’t know why I’ve never done that since but I have to try it again.

 

I recommend you tie all the bundles of herbs together into one bundle—it will make it easier to remove the bundle from the soup before grinding.

 

Put all of the soup ingredients into a container, cover with plastic wrap, and put into the refrigerator for a full night. The next day, remove the herb bundle and blend to the desired texture—here there are a few options: you can use a food processor, or an immersion or table blender. After the soup is blended, you can leave it with a slightly coarse texture or strain it for a more delicate texture. After blending, flavors should be balanced by adding vinegar, sugar, and salt—remember that with cold soups the flavors won’t be felt as much, and therefore it is recommended to make sure to spice relatively strongly.

 

The soup can be decorated with croutons, thinly chopped cucumber, olive oil, a mashed hard-boiled egg, herbs, pieces of avocado, and more…even ice.

 

Tips:

If you are rushing, you can give up on the phase leaving the soup overnight, and instead of putting a whole bundle of herbs you can put only the leaves and then to blend everything together for a smooth texture.

The soup will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

You can swap out the red pepper for yellow, and the red cherry tomatoes can also be swapped with yellow cherry tomatoes.

You will find bread in many recipes—I personally dont use it.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho:

How simple—

Take the gazpacho that you prepared with the basic recipe—put in a blender or a food processor, or put in a bowl to use an immersion blender, gradually add pieces of watermelon. I almost always add the same ratio, but since, in the recipes here, accuracy is very dependent on the raw material and a guiding hand, the watermelon should be added until you are happy with the flavor—chances are you will need to balance flavors using vinegar, sugar, and salt.

 

To finish (optional)—vodka or arak can add a fun “kick” to the dish.

 

I personally love a very smooth texture for this variety, and of course it can be served with small cubes of feta cheese in the soup.

 

Apricot Gazpacho:

This is very similar to the watermelon variety, but here I reverse the order—I bisect and pit around 10 fresh, soft apricots, hopefully white, and cut them into small pieces, place them into a blender or food processor or into a bowl for an immersion blender. Process them into a smooth texture while adding the gazpacho base—here again, this is a recipe whose accuracy is really dependent upon the raw ingredients and a guiding hand. Add the gazpacho base until you are happy with the flavor; most likely, you’ll have to balance again using vinegar, sugar, and salt—this time I recommend white wine vinegar.

 

In conclusion (optional)—you can also add vodka here, or Southern Comfort (apricot liquor), for a fun kick for the dish.

 

You can decorate with cubes of fresh apricot, chives, chopped mint, a tiny bit of blue cheese.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Michael

Posted in chef, cooking, cooking training, dish plating, kitchen, kitchen techniques, restaurant, soups, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment