Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The At Home Cook Series, Installment 9: Professional Kitchen Tools & Gadgets

What is it about cooking that draws the home cook in? There is a sort of excitement that leads up to a finished meal, or a feeling of great accomplishment when completing a successful feast or event. How do professional and advanced chefs make it look so easy? Although most of us have much more experience and education in the kitchen, there are a few tricks of the trade that assist us in preparing these sensory pleasing creations.

One of the most difficult kitchen skills to perfect, in my opinion, would definitely be knife cutting skills. My knife skills have improved more and more over the years, but the saying still goes "practice makes perfect." For those intimidated by knives, you may be able to find some fun gadgets to take the stress out of your cooking experience.

A Mandoline, or Japanese Mandoline (Benriner) is a kitchen tool used to thinly slice or julienne a food item. It has a very sharp blade, and normally, several interchangeable attachments to change the thickness or type of cut. These tools are very good for consistent size cuts, and are a great way for you to uniformly julienne an item to make a fine dice, or brunoise. Warning: It is important to always use the safety guard to protect your fingers when using a mandolin. The blade is extremely sharp.

I love fresh pasta, but rolling and cutting it by hand is a lengthy project, so I found an attachment for my home kitchen standing mixer that turns my mixer into a pasta roller and cutter. Many different attachments can be purchased with varying thicknesses to create for example: fettuccine, linguini, cappelini, tagliatelle, etc. This has cut the work load in half for me, and allows me to spend more time on the filling for my raviolis, or the sauce that will accompany the pasta. In addition to pasta attachments, there are also meat grinders, ice cream makers, citrus juicers, can openers, roto slicers/shredders and sausage stuffers.

Baking can be tedious and precise, as reading and writing recipes is so important to the success of a dish. Measurements can be difficult to get just right, especially when dealing with volume vs. weight. I found a gadget out there that combines the two into a very versatile precision spoon/scale. The graduated scales on the sides of the spoon will help you measure out your volumetric measurements, or you can use the LCD display built into the handle to measure the weight. It can weigh as little as 1/10 of a gram all the way up to 300 grams.

If you are a sushi lover, and have unsuccessfully tried making it at home, then this is a perfect tool for you! There is a new Sushi maker set out there, that allows the home cook to create a sushi roll with ease. Just fill in both sides of the tube with the rice and filling, then snap the two together. From there, you just push it out like (remember the Play-Doh extruder set?) onto the Nori seaweed, rice or a soy wrapper. Then wrap it and cut it up into bite size pieces and you’re done.

Cooking is the only industry that can arouse all the senses of the body; sound, sight, taste, touch and smell. The mind accepts food on so many different level, and the smallest variance in flavor combinations, or consistencies can make a world of difference. The consistency of mashed potatoes, for example, can be thick, dry and clumpy, or smooth light and airy. I prefer the latter, and have found a useful tool to help me achieve the perfect consistency of potato and vegetable purees. A food mill, also known sometimes as a ricer, is usually made of stainless steel with a turn crank and an interchangeable bottom. When the crank is turned, it pushes the food through the tiny holes in the bottom and the result is a food item that is smooth and even in consistency. I often mill some butter and the seasonings together with the food to evenly distribute them during the crank process, this also prevents over working the food so it doesn’t get too starchy.

Another good kitchen tool used to make smooth purees is a bar blender, or those of you who want to spend a little more, a VitaMix. These high powered blenders not only puree the food smooth, but tend to aerate them as well, leaving the mouthfeel extremely light and airy. The trick to using them properly, is to add enough liquid in the bottom of the canister to allow the blades to continuously move during the puree process. Otherwise the blender may jam up and potentially burn out.

I hope some of these tips and tricks assist you in wowing your family or dinner guests at home. Practice makes perfect, but the professional chefs still don’t do it alone! The most important thing to remember when cooking, is have fun, cook from the heart, and believe in yourself. The rest will fall into taste.!

As always, Bon Appetit!


Sources :www.justanotherdave.wordpress ,,,

Monday, May 07, 2012

Maze by Gordon Ramsay~At The London NYC

MAZE by Gordon Ramsay At The London NYC is the perfect destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike to enjoy a relaxed and elegant experience. The venue is one of two Gordon Ramsay restaurants at The London NYC, the other being the two Michelin star rated, Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC.

Scottish by birth, Gordon was brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. With an injury prematurely putting an end to any hopes of a promising career in football, he went back to college to complete a course in hotel management and his dedication and natural talent led him to train with some of world’s leading chefs. In 1993 Gordon became chef of Aubergine in London and within three years was awarded two Michelin stars. In 1998, at the age of 31, Gordon set up his own restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which quickly received the most prestigious accolade in the culinary world – three Michelin stars. One of only four chefs in the UK to maintain three stars, Gordon was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to the industry. Now internationally renowned, Gordon has opened a string of successful restaurants across the globe, from Italy to NYC & LA. Gordon has become a star of the small screen both in the UK and internationally, with two top rated shows in the US. Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen are both into their third and ninth series respectively, whilst his latest show, Masterchef US, is now in its second series and is proving to be another massive hit with viewers. Gordon has also published a number of books, many of which have become best sellers across the world, notably his autobiography, Roasting in Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon lives with his wife and four children in South London, along with their two bulldogs Rumpole and Romeo.

As the Chef de Cuisine, Markus Glocker continues to demonstrate his culinary expertise and creative talents as he oversees all dining, from restaurant to rooms and has successfully created one of the most consistent  hotel culinary experiences in Manhattan. He was invited to prepare dinner at the Beard House this past March 2012 marking his second appearance in as many years. Markus began working with Gordon Ramsay at his celebrated Gordon Ramsay at the Claridge in London in more

About the cuisine
This stylish restaurant for lunch, dinner or week-end brunch has expertly redefined the dining experience with a variety of innovative dishes. MAZE offers a French influenced seasonal menu served among chic interiors designed by David Collins. This unforgettable experience is complimented by the dynamic energy of The London Bar.

Adjacent to MAZE,  it's abuzz through the day for breakfast, traditional afternoon tea, a small bites menu and smart cocktails in the evening. This dynamic yet comfortable space evokes grown up luxury in an energetic setting. The essence of the London Bar is a unique array of experiences from which to commence your day and end your evening with cosmopolitan style in Midtown Manhattan.

My experiences at both of these restaurants has always been of the highest quality both in service hospitality and cuisine. The staff is accommodating, professional, friendly and always seem to be there just when you need them, yet allowing you the space you need to enjoy your fellow diners, and the cuisine. A unique blend of sophisticated style and incomparable energy, The London Hotels are wholly original and effortlessly livable. The London Hotels, located in NYC and West Hollywood are heralding a new era in cosmopolitan hotels – where comfort and glamour seamlessly unite. The London NYC in Midtown Manhattan  is at the center of New York’s cosmopolitan hub – just steps away from Fifth Avenue shops, MOMA, Broadway Shows and Central Park.

The property, designed by famed British designer David Collins, offers an all-suite luxury experience, providing guests with the largest accommodations in all of Manhattan. Manhattan's tallest and perhaps 'best-situated' city hotel, The London NYC affords rare and stirring vista views of Central Park and the city skyline. Gordon Ramsay’s team manages all culinary options onsite from restaurant to room, including the two Michelin starred restaurant Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC, MAZE by Gordon Ramsay, the exclusive Chef’s Table and The London Bar. The London NYC is recognized as one of Travel + Leisure Magazine's 2011 World's Best Hotels. For more information on The London NYC visit their website.

Maze at The London NYC Restaurant 151 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019~212 468 8889~ Reservations (Mon. to Sat.: 09.00am – 06.00pm EST).

As always, Bon Appetit!


Sources: All photo's courtesy of Gordon Ramsay, Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC, Maze by Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC, The London NYC

Chef Jason Roberts' Roast Leg of Lamb Provencal

Roast Leg of Lamb Provencal
Courtesy of Chef Jason Roberts of ABC's "The Chew" Serves 4 to 6. Cooking time will vary depending upon the size of the lamb. Add an extra 10-15 minutes cooking time per additional pound.

For the Lamb:
Provencal herb mixture: Equal parts of:
1 tsp ground sea salt
2 tbs dry white wine
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Provencal mixture
1- 4½ lb leg of lamb
½ tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F
Pound together the salt and one clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle*. Add herbs and pepper and pound to a paste. Mix in the white wine and olive oil. Trim the leg of lamb of all skin and excess fat. Rub leg with the marinade, wrap in plastic and leave for an hour to allow the meat to absorb the flavors. Heat a large roasting pan and brown the meat on all sides. Place into the oven for 20 minutes, turn over and cook for another 20 minutes before pulling out of the oven to rest, covered for a further 10 minutes with aluminum foil.
*If you don't have a mortar and pestle, on a chopping board, finely chop the garlic then add salt and crush with the heel of the knife to form a paste. Place into a small bowl and add remaining ingredients.

Roasted Potatoes
1-1½ lbs other waxy potato
3 tbs Olive Oil
1 whole bulb of garlic, separate the cloves
Good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large sprigs of rosemary  

Wash the potatoes and if large, split into halves. Place into a baking tray with garlic cloves, rosemary, doused in olive oil and seasoned. Roast at 375°F for approximately 40 minutes or until golden and tender.

For more about Jason and his healthy recipes visit his website here

As always, Bon Appetit!


Photos courtesy of Jason Roberts