Sauté safely & try not to get splattered with hot oil!

Happy Labor Day weekend! For those of you who have Monday off, I hope everyone is relaxing and enjoying the long weekend, while keeping safe from this nutty pandemic.

We learned about sautéing this week. First, heat the pan with a thin film of oil. Recommended oils to use to create that “smoke point” in the pan before sautéing your ingredient to the pan are vegetable, canola, grapeseed, and avocado. It is not recommended to use olive oil because it has a low smoke point. The goal of sautéing is to get the food you are cooking to become golden brown. Our chef instructors spoke about an acronym called “GBD,” which equates to “golden brown delicious.” I love that! Our assignment was to sauté chicken breast and zucchini.

I have to admit, sautéing is not my favorite style of cooking. I tried to avoid getting splattered with hot oil once I added my chicken and zucchini (cut bâtonette style) into the oiled pan. Nope! I still got hit- ouch! Splat splat! Perhaps I should’ve worn gloves, haha. Luckily, my arms were protected, as my chef’s coat uniform has long sleeves. Phew!

On the flip side, even though this wasn’t my preferred cooking method, the chicken and zucchini were fabulously ‘onolicious! Holy cow! It was so amazing! The best chicken and zucchini I’ve ever tasted! It’s remarkable how canola oil, salt, and pepper makes a dish so incredibly tasty. Those simple ingredients are so significant.

I made a pan sauce with the remnants of the chicken. It was a bit similar to the beurre blanc sauce I made last week. The three common ingredients for the pan sauce were shallots (cut brunoise style), white wine, and cold butter. This sauce needed chicken stock, instead of white wine vinegar (buerre blanc). This made the pan sauce a lot less acidic compared to the buerre blanc. It paired very well with the chicken.

Before sautéing the chicken, I tenderized it to about 1/2-inch. The purpose of tenderizing is so the protein cooks evenly, is easier to chew, and is more juicy when eaten. Check, check, check! I dredged the tenderized meat in all-purpose flour before putting it in the hot oiled pan. I love that sizzling sound as it enters the pan. It’s so satisfying! Sautéing the chicken took way less time to cook, compared to poaching it last week. It was GDB perfection!

Have a great holiday and new week ahead. Stay safe!

FS x

Poached chicken/salmon with a buttery goodness

Happy last Sunday of August! This week, we learned to poach a protein. Poaching involves simmering something in liquid. I poached not one, but two proteins. Whoop whoop! I loved this technique. It was so simple and clean. Before poaching, I made a court bouillon to poach the chicken and salmon in. It was a very acidic broth. Wowsers!

The court bouillon includes the following ingredients:

  • water
  • white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • yellow onion (coarsely chopped)
  • celery (coarsely chopped)
  • leeks (coarsely chopped)
  • bay leaves
  • crushed peppercorn
  • dried thyme
  • parsley stems
  • whole cloves
  • salt

The liquid with all its ingredients are brought to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes. The contents are then strained and discarded. The clean broth is ready for use.

Before submerging the protein in the bouillon, the temperature of the liquid needs to be brought to 160ºF (for the chicken) and 140ºF (for the salmon). The protein is then submerged in the low-heat liquid until it reaches its well-done temperatures (165ºF for chicken and 145ºF for salmon).

Both proteins were paired with a beurre blanc (aka white buttery) sauce. Here are the ingredients used to make this glorious sauce:

  • dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • white wine vinegar
  • shallots (chopped brunoise style (1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 cut)
  • cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • salt

This sauce requires a lot of attention and focus to maintain its consistency. My chef instructors spoke about this sauce “breaking” if left unattended or overheated. The sauce will lose its thick texture and become runny, similar to melted butter. That would be a mess.

First, the wine, vinegar, and shallots are reduced to about an ounce or two tablespoons in the saucepan. Next, add one or two cubes of butter at a time, while whisking vigorously. This creates an emulsion, which is a mixture of two or more liquids that are typically immiscible, like oil and water. Continue slowly adding the butter and whisk. Lift the pot on-and-off the heat (“pot dancing”) while adding the butter and whisking persistently to control the temperature. Once the emulsion takes hold, more amounts of butter can be added a time, while still continuing to whisk. Shallots can be taken out or left in the pan. Season before serving.

This sauce is kept in a warm place or thermos until it’s ready to be served. Once this sauce is made, it cannot be reheated, as the sauce will break. I was so nervous about breaking the sauce, but thankfully, I didn’t. I was intently focused on making sure I kept the consistency of the thickness of the sauce. I was so attentive that I forgot to take required pictures of the steps leading to the final production of this sauce for my class assignment. Therefore, I had to remake it. It was great practice to make it again. I’m glad I had the opportunity. Because I knew what to expect, I felt more confident making the sauce the second time around. I was so amazed that whisking butter in an ounce of liquid could create a rich, acidic, and thick buttery sauce. The color reminded me of cream of chicken. It was so delightful and paired so well with the chicken and salmon. Yum!

Have a lovely week as we head into September. There’s a lot happening in the world. The pandemic. The situation in Afghanistan…. People in Louisiana, you’re in my thoughts and prayers as y’all encounter Hurricane Ida. Let’s not let the negative events of the world consume our mind. Take time to reflect on the positive and always exercise gratitude. That’s what I was reminded of this past week. Being thankful for what I have and keeping that close to my heart.

Take care,

FS x

We’ve got ourselves a Mexican fiesta!

Happy last weekend of July and start to the 2020 Olympics! I watched the opening ceremony on Friday night. The Japanese do not disappoint! My peeps; my motherland. So proud! Go Teams USA and Japan! Wishing all the athletes the best of luck!

On Saturday night I witnessed the men’s street skateboarding athletes from the US, Japan, Peru, Brazil, and France showcasing good sportsmanship to one another. Hugging, encouraging, and supporting each other. It brought a warmness to my heart. The world coming together.

I recalled my very first trip to Japan in 2015. Tokyo was already underway in preparing for the Olympics. A lot of construction building those extraordinary infrastructures. Amazing! They were already selling Olympics merch, too. I bought some hand towels as souvenirs. I remember thinking about wanting to be in Tokyo when the Olympics occurred. Who knew that we’d experience a global pandemic in 2020. So glad I didn’t buy tickets. I hope all who did were able to get a refund. Sending good energy that cases don’t soar out-of-control during these next couple weeks in Tokyo and amongst the athletes and all who are involved in making the Olympics happen. I’m looking forward to watching my favorite sports: gymnastics, swimming, and diving.

We’re highlighting on two dishes I made: rice pilaf and Mexican pinto beans, aka frijoles de olla. I was extremely nervous to make the rice pilaf on the stove. Every time I used to make pilaf on the stove, my rice would turn out mushy. Thank goodness for rice cookers! It’s a staple in almost every home in Hawai’i and especially amongst Asians. I learned over the years that a rice cooker can be very handy in cooking all sorts of foods, besides rice. There’s a Buzz Feed article I came across years ago. I’m glad the link is still active: https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/rice-cooker-recipes

As suspected, my first attempt at making the rice pilaf turned out mushy. Ugh! While my taste testers enjoyed the texture, I certainly didn’t. I had another go at making it. This was unacceptable to submit to my instructor. The second time, I didn’t follow the recipe to “the T.” I added in less liquid than the recipe called for and hoped it would be enough to create a “just right” texture and consistency. Phew! Thank God it worked! My second attempt turned out perfect! And boy, was it delicious! Or should I say, addicting! It was buttery, light, fluffy, and somewhat chewy (in a good way). The dish included butter, chicken broth, and onions (brunoise style cut 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″). I didn’t know rice pilaf required baking for 18-20 minutes after boiling on the stove top. Whaaaat? Yep! It helps the rice absorb the liquid and creates that fluffy texture. Ooh whee!

Onto the frijoles de olla. That was pretty simple and self-explanatory. I soaked the pinto beans overnight. Any dried beans needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. Also, they’re to be seasoned last, after the beans are fully cooked. If they’re seasoned before they’re tender, the beans won’t cook properly. I learned something new! The Mexican pinto beans included the following ingredients: sliced onions, and chopped garlic and jalapeños. All ingredients are thrown into a pot, covered in water. They’re to be brought to a boil and then to a simmer until the beans become tender. Once the beans are tender, lard, or white fat from pig, is added. Lard can be substituted for butter, which is what I used. Bam!

Have a marvelous new week ahead!

Stay safe,

FS x

A day of Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, All! I wish you and your loved ones a blessed day to celebrate amongst yourselves, with food, joy, and laughter!

Just a preview of tonight’s menu… I was busy in the kitchen last night, cookin’ up some creamy mashed potatoes, blueberry/cranberry sauce, and prepping ingredients for the stuffing (which I will make tonight). My dad’s cooking the rest of the entrées: the big bird, ham, and yam. Mmm! This is the usual Thanksgiving dinner for my family and I. Not to mention the sides: dinner rolls, poke (raw fish), edamame (soy beans)…

I was inspired by The Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond, to attempt making a different style of mashed potatoes this year. I added these three ingredients to make it extra rich, creamy, and special: half-and-half, whipping cream, and cream cheese. I don’t think I’m ever going back to making mashed potatoes like I used to. These three ingredients changed the texture of the dish! So good!

Here is the recipe! It’s so simple, and you can add more of these ingredients if you please! I never follow recipes to-the-tee!

IMG_1455

Boiled a bunch of potatoes. I bought a 20lb bag from Costco last weekend. I’m down to a few potatoes left- haha!

IMG_1456

The ingredients to add to the mashed potatoes!

IMG_1457

And of course, you need to have seasoning!!

IMG_1460

Bam! There ya go! Creamy and rich! You can’t even taste the cream cheese (for those who don’t care for it).

Next, I made my blueberry/cranberry sauce. When I was growing up, I was always curious to know how fresh, homemade cranberry sauce is made. In the past, we had family friends make a container for us, or we would buy the canned sauce. NEVER AGAIN with the canned sauce- haha! It’s got to be fresh! A couple years ago, I finally decided to start the tradition in making my own sauce for the season. My family loved it; even those who didn’t like cranberry sauce.

I was inspired by two different recipes, but I stuck with this one: as simple as can be! All you need is cranberries, blueberries, sugar, and good ol’ OJ!

IMG_1464.JPG

There ya go! So simple, yet so good!

Maybe next year, I’ll try spiking it??? Hehe! We’ll see. I should make two batches, in case the experimental one doesn’t turn out, haha!

Another post to come after the complete meal is prepared, which will include my stuffing.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Eat lots of turkey!!!!