Friday, December 21, 2007

Orange zest, and orange supremes

Zesting an orange:

This is kind of useless if you don't have a zester, but if you do, it's very simple. If you don't have a zester a microplane or fine cheese grater works great, but you only get the long strips of zest with the zester.

Hold the orange as shown with the zester being held by your fingers, and your thumb on the bottom of the orange.

Then rotate the orange keeping the zester on the peel, creating strips that should be a long as 1/2 the circumference of the orange

You want to zest from the navel to the stem.

Next, orange supremes, which are wedges of orange with no skin, pith or membrane.

Cut off the top and bottom of the orange.

Now, take your knife, and starting near the tip of the blade, with your blade at an angle, slice down, pulling the knife towards you, slightly turning the blade so that your cut follows the shape of the orange.

Rotate the orange and keep doing it until the peel is gone.

Now, hold the orange in your hand, and line up your blade with the lines that create the segments, and move over just a tiny bit.

You don't want to cut into the parts that segment the orange, but right next to it, because your final product should have none of the membrane.

Slice away from you, down into the center of the orange, pull the blade out, and line it up with the other side of that same segment.

Slice into it, extracting your perfect segment.

Continue with the rest of the orange, extracting all the segments.

These are very tasty little segments, especially if you don't like the bitterness of the membranes (even though that's where all the fiber is).

Some good uses for these are for tarts, decorative tops for cakes, salads, and you can even soak them in pretty much any liquor for a few days. This imparts orange flavor in the liquor, and take them out of the liquor and they are tasty little boozy orange segments!

Menu Info

So with the menu, I had to specify which plates were for vegans, vegetarians, and non-vegetarians, and yes, I probably should have done the shortbread for one of the other two and not the vegan, but the recipe does use margarine instead of butter, which isn't something i would recommend, but it fit at the time. But if that was a real menu, those labels wouldn't be there, except maybe the vegan options.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nutrition Project

I'm not sure if everyone knows for sure, but right now i'm in a nutrition class. It's been a pretty good class, and for the final project, we had to create a menu with mealsfor vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, and non-vegetarians (omnivores). I had to create a 3-5 course meal for each. Also, each 3-5 course dinner had to have at least 600 calories, no more than 1000 calories and less than 30% of the calories had to be from fat.

It was kind of challenging, and I really wanted to stay in the Belgian tradition for food, mostly because that has been a cuisine that I have become very familiar with. I found that it's really hard to find decent vegan selections because the Belgians use butter in absolutely everything.

But I did it! And here's the menu:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


A lot of people don't know how to hone a blade (me just a few months ago), or even what it does, so now you have no excuse!

The way I hold the knife, my thumb and forefinger are both on the blade. This makes it really easy to hone, because you take the tip of the steel, put it on your thumbnail, and then have the edge of the blade touch the steel. This gives you the best angle for honing, because all honing is doing is bending the blade, not wearing away at it.

Then, keeping that same angle you created with your thumb, using only your wrist, slice the knife down the length of the steel. Give it a decent amount of pressure, and you will hear a very satisfying "shing!" when you go the entire length of the blade.

Do the same thing on the other side, with the steel hitting the nail on your forefinger.

Over time, your knife will dull not because the edge is wearing away, but because it becomes less true, or the edge is tilted. Honing straightens the edge. Wood cutting boards are best for knives, because there it actually cuts into the wood, where plastic and especially glass beat up the edges of the knife. And you shouldn't have to ever put your knife in the dishwashwer because it really shouldn't get that dirty. Even if you're cutting meat, just rinse it in hot water, wipe it with a soapy sponge, and it will be perfect. Even if your meat has bacteria in it, the stainless steel will not absorb it, and the handle is wood, so it should have a finish over it which will also keep bacteria out.

Follow-up on the onion

A little more info going on yesterday's post.

Mirepoix is the combination of onions diced like I did below, as well as carrots and celery diced the same size. Its breakdown is two parts onion, one part carrot, and one part celery.

This is kind of the base for a lot of foods, especially in French cooking. It's the base for pretty much every soup and stock. They're called aromatics because they are very aroma-rich, giving a good base flavor to build off of.

On Thanksgiving I roasted my turkey on a bed of mirepoix that was about two inches thick. I cut a few onions in half, rested them cut side down on the roasting pan, as well as a bunch of other onions, carrots and celery diced up. It both gave off a lot of aroma for the bird to absorb, and create a good receptacle for the juices that would come out of the bird.

I haven't cut up any celery yet, so maybe I will do that over the holiday break. At some point I think I might go through the step by step process of making a stock, which is something good chefs can do in their sleep, forget recipes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Onion's Demise

Before I begin, I've got this post and two more saved up, but I don't want to post them all today, so check back tomorrow and the day after because i've got some good stuff saved up.

I don't think i've stated it, but when cutting, your action should be a slicing action, whether it be away from you or towards you; this gives you the best cuts, and makes it easy as well. Do not chop it like a guillotine, because the cut will never be straight like this.

So, on to the onion!
Any large knife is good for this one, French chef's or santoku.

To begin, cut off the blossom. If you're looking down from the top, it's about 1cm up from the blossom.

Now, cut off the root, but not too much, because this will hold it together as you go along.

Now, cut through the root and cut the onion in half.

After this, peel it, by taking off layers until there is no more brown. Taking off the bloom, root and slicing it in half make it so easy to peel.

Now, let's do half the onion as medium dice.

Cut the onion, as shown, but do not cut all the way through the root, so it keeps its shape

Now, take your knife and line up the blade so that you create perfect squares.

Curl up your fingers and cut through the onion towards the heel of your palm.

If your knife is sharp, you shouldn't have to put too much pressure into this action. When your knife is dull, you have to put a lot of effort into it, and then injury becomes more possible. Also, don't be afraid of the blade meeting the heel of your hand, unless you're doing a sawing motion, it won't cut your skin.

Now, cut it into cubes, doing a slicing action, not a guillotine.

Depending on the size of the onion, you will make two, maybe three cuts and you will be left with the root end.

Flip it over onto the long side, and cut off the rest, making sure to create 1/2 inch squares.

Not everything you create is perfect cubes, but there is nothing there bigger than a half inch square.

Now, julienne of onion with the other half.

Cut the root out as shown, angling your blade so the point cuts down to the board, and flip the knife over and do it again.

Now, you want to cut with the veins of the onion, and cut 1/4 inch strips.

When you cut half of the half, turn it around and start again from the other side.

You should be left with a bunch of 1/4 inch slices.

Break them up with your fingers, and you have julienne of onion.

Tomorrow, honing.