Honing, Stones and Grinding

There are three stages to knife sharpening: honing, or steeling, stone sharpening, and professional grinding.

Honing, or steeling, is the act of realigning the edge of your blade. Your knife blade comes into contact with objects and surfaces stronger than itself all the time: counter (!), bone, stones/pits, and so on. This bends the edge of your blade, making it dull. Honing your blade on a steel helps readjust the bent-over parts of your blade so the edge is straight. It’s a good idea to hone your knife before working with it, especially if you keep it in a drawer (which you really shouldn’t anyway), and every 15-30 minutes of continuous use depending on what you’re using it for.
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On Substitutions in Recipes

I have discussed ingredient substitutions in classes, and I will probably go on mentioning them here in my blog. They’re not cheating, they don’t fundamentally detract from the recipe and they’re not wrong. Purists who click their tongues are nothing but elitist food snobs who can’t think in the kitchen the way a chef thinks. And anyone who disagrees with me so far should remember that many of the original, classic recipes bear no resemblance to their modern day counterparts.

Substitutions should redefine a dish, not sabotage it. Here’s a classic example. A la Florentine is a well-known preparation of with spinach and typically Mornay sauce. Whether your protein is chicken, mullet, pork or eggs, the preparation remains the same.

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Which is your favorite salsa?

  • Crushed Tomato Salsa, hot (40%, 2 Votes)
  • Crushed Tomato Salsa, mild (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Fresh Tomato Salsa, mild (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Fresh Tomato Salsa, hot (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Corn and Black Bean Salsa (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Salsa? Isn't that a dance? (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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It’s always fun to take the same ingredients and turn them into very diverse products. In my Sauteing & Frying II class, it was almost the same mise en place for each of the dishes. This week, it was salsa for the Game Day Gourmet class. I prepared two versions of tomato-based salsa. The principle for the dishes was to make it thin enough to be used for a dip, dry enough so that it didn’t make the chips too soggy, and to add the heat in layers so that it was flavorful and fiery.

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Herbed Salad Croûtons

Years ago, nothing would go to waste in the kitchen. Food was either too expensive or too scarce. The food industry changed all that. Now not only can you get everything imaginable in a box or bag, but you can get several varieties from several different companies. And much of it tastes like the bags they come in.

Making your own food from scratch give you an amazing sense of accomplishment. When the smallest preparation results in more than you need, you can either eat it over and over again, share it with friends, or throw it away, which would be a real loss and somewhat de-motivational to continue experimenting in the kitchen.

Alternatively, you can turn your leftovers into something different. By repurposing your leftovers, you can enjoy your handmade creations long after their initial incarnation is gone.

Baking bread is very soul-satisfying, both to make and to eat. After all your hard work – even if you use a mixer – it’s a shame to throw out half a loaf if it goes uneaten after a day or two. Making croûtons is a simple way to reuse your unconsumed bread, while serving as a reminder that salad is good for you, too.

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Foolproofing Bread Proofing

Baking bread during the winter months in a cool, drafty kitchen is a particular challenge. Yeast likes a fairly warm environment to do its thing, and trying to proof dough on countertops that register 50°F are going to result in flat, dense loaves.

Proofing boxes are temperature and humidity-controlled walk in monsters found in professional bakeries. Home bakers need something a little less unwieldy.  As it turns out, a simple incandescent light bulb will do the trick, providing enough heat to proof  a couple of loaves worth of your favorite bread dough.

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