Saturday, June 4, 2011

Making the perfect steak

This is what you want - the perfect medium rare steak
Having a great butcher is where to start

Here are a couple of T-bones
Making the perfect steak- everyone has their own way of grilling, but the difficulty is- how can you insure that the steak will have that nice sear on the outside, and be perfectly done on the inside? 

This is a question that is particularly important to my patients, who have the Lap-Band. If they get a piece of meat that is overcooked, that meat can get stuck in the band.  But even if you don't have a Lap-Band making the perfect steak is not as easy as it sounds.  Unless you cook the steak Sous Vide.

Here is my simple way to make a great steak that will have a perfect crust, and yet be juicy and flavorful.
The first place to start is with great meat. Having a good butcher is important - because they can make sure you have prime, aged beef that is the highest quality and the most tender. 
I like a rub on my steaks. There are a lot of commercial rubs available, but its cheaper and easier to make your own

After the steak has been nicely rubbed it needs to be vacuum sealed

When steaks are going to be juicy, you do not need to put a sauce with them. The steak will supply the flavor. But the steak does need some seasoning.  To season a steak I like a simple rub that is made up of equal parts of Kosher salt, ground pepper, brown sugar, and paprika.  I usually season the steaks on both sides with salt first, then rub the steaks with this rub.  There are a lot of rubs out there, and they cost quite a bit- so making your own rub is a lot easier.  Some like to add other ingredients like granulated garlic, or a bit of chili flakes.
Then the steak is placed in the water oven. For medium Rare I keep the steaks at 136 degrees

They are going to stay in about 45 minutes if the steaks are an inch thick

 The water bath temperature depends on how you like your steak. I like mine medium-rare - but what I want is the entire steak to be medium rare- not just the middle pearl (or as Capital Grill calls it "warm red center").  So for me the ideal temperature to cook steak is 136 degrees F, and it takes, for most good cuts, about 45 minutes per inch.  Hard to over cook it, because the temperature isn't going to change, however, the longer it is cooked beyond this, there will be some breakdown of other proteins in the steak and it will change the consistency.
The steak is done, but it doesn't have that nice sear on it.
 Once the time is up, you have a steak that is medium rare throughout.  Of course, this isn't all that appetizing, what is missing is that great sear on the outside of the steak.  As soon as the timer goes off and 45 minutes has passed I place a grill pan on the stove and crank up the heat. Normally you don't cook beyond a medium heat on the stove, but this isn't cooking- this is searing. If I am doing a dinner party in my outside kitchen I use the infrared setting on my gas grill, the highest allowed. This will put a great sear on the outside of the steak.

I like using a grill that will put some great grill marks on the steak. Before you even put the steak in the grill make sure it is hot. So when the oil starts to smoke, it is read-- and I usually have this as high a heat as it can take. This isn't cooking, this is searing.
The nice thing about grill marks is you can orient them to make perfect squares - mom always wants me to make the food look "pretty". You only need to sear it long enough to get the grill marks, usually less than two minutes a side.

This outside sear is called the Maillard reaction.  It caramelizes of the surface only of the meat. Allowing a rich chemical reaction of the organics - to provide that great taste.

If a steak is traditionally grilled, or broiled in an oven, the outside temperature is the highest - which is the Maillard reaction, but as one goes into the steak it goes from well done, to medium well, to medium, to medium rare, and if it is undercooked a bit rare, to raw.  With Sous Vide cooking you eliminate that as an issue. Instead the entire steak is cooked medium rare.

Look at that- the entire steak has that medium-rare center. The outside of the steak is seared perfectly seared, and there is no part of the steak that is over done or under cooked.  This will be the juiciest steak you can imagine

When I have guests over for an outdoor barbecue I have the steaks in the Sous Vide, and start the grill up outside. Then, when everyone is ready for dinner I am able to take the steaks out of the water oven and place them right on the grill for a perfect sear everytime. They get steak that is cooked better than you could ever imagine. 

The only problem with this? None- if someone wants a steak medium or medium well (arg) - you can leave it on the grill longer to cook through. 

You won't want to visit a steak restaurant again- because what you make at home will be so much better, and a lot less expensive than going out to get one.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Making scrambled eggs- properly

The key to eggs is to cook them slowly on a low heat
The key to cooking proteins, is to not over cook them so that they give up their juices - leaving a dry, rubbery, curdled mess. This is most evident with eggs.  Eggs are a protein, and if cooked properly will give you the most elegant meal, for breakfast, or brunch, or even dinner.

Too many restaurants make eggs on a hot griddle. They quickly scramble the eggs, taking less than a minute.  They come out with the consistency of rubber, and even less taste. Most people get use to this, and think this is how they should be.  My wife always thought she needed ketchup with her eggs.  Once she had eggs the way I cooked them - she said, "I don't even need ketchup for these!"

Here are the keys to cooking proper scrambled eggs:

(a) First heat a pan to a medium heat on the stove, or less.  I like using an old fashioned cast iron pan.  These pans provide a nice even heat, and make great food.

(b) Get some great eggs, and this is not a place to skimp. Eggs that have higher content of omega-3 fatty acids cost more than a standard dozen, but they still are an inexpensive protein

(c) Once the pan is hot, put about one pad of butter to coat the pan- just enough

(d) crack the eggs and place them on a plate or a bowl, and then directly into the pan. DO NOT WHISK THEM.  Do not add salt, or pepper, or milk, or cottage cheese.

(e) Start by breaking the yolks in the pan, and then turn the heat down to simmer.

(f) start to stir

Keep the eggs in motion. I use a heat-resistant spatula
As the steam comes off the eggs- take them off the heat and stir
These eggs are almost done. Turn off the heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter - cold. The butter will stop the heating and you will have eggs that have the consistency of yogurt or custard.
Once you have great eggs, you will never want eggs done any other way.  It takes me about ten minutes to make eggs- and it is worth it. For my patients who have the lap-band, if they get eggs that are done on a high heat and fast, they will "stick" in the band, because they have the consistency of rubber.
Learning to cook great eggs is easy- you need patience, and a bit of time.
Once you have the eggs cooked- then add salt and pepper to your liking. If you add it before it will change the consistency of the eggs, and the salt will draw the water out of the eggs.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How to win Hell's Kitchen

Being a foodie means I love watching food shows, and Gordon Ramsay is one of my favorites.  Probably because he is such a character - and yet, in spite of his bravado has a heart.

But when I see contestants to Hell's Kitchen come in, I have to wonder- why are they not prepared? What the hell is wrong with you? Or- to quote GR --"When did you stop caring?"

So here is a simple primer of how to win Hell's Kitchen.  It isn't a game, it is a career.  Do not try to play games with people - the camera is on - start with being honest, up front.  But prepare.

The most important part of Hell's Kitchen is a chef who can taste.  You will have a taste test- and those who do well in it jump up front in GR's mind. Anyone can learn to cook a piece of fish, but learning to differentiate tastes is not a talent- it is practice. YES -- this is not natural born, it really is tasting a lot of different things and getting it right. Trust me, I'm a doctor,  tasting is learned.

There are two versions of his taste test-- one is a blind fold version where he feeds you items and you taste them and guess.  You will get fillet of beef, you will get chicken, you will get pork, you will get fennel, you will get endive.  Nothing difficult- and yet so many fail this.

The second version is he will cook something for you- then you guess what is in the dish.  How could you possible know (he has published at least one cook book a year for five years). The ingredients in it are predictable.  Learn the difference between veal and beef.  He will put bacon or a pancetta in something(they taste different - learn that).  Spices - not difficult- there may be thyme, rosemary, and sage. Garlic- oh yes, but it will be so gently sauteed on the pan that you may not recognize it unless you do it.

You learn to taste things- and you jump to the head of the class.  But wait- you do have to know to cook something too.  I couldn't believe when one contestant was assigned to the fish station and she said, "I don't know too much about how to cook fish."  What? You are going for a $250,000 a year job interview and you can't cook a bit of halibut on a grill?  If I were in that interview I would be getting lots of halibut and pan searing it until I could feel when it was done and raw.  I would buy a bag of scallops and keep cooking them until they could be cooked perfectly every time.

Risotto - there is one way to cook it-- over low heat, and stir a lot. Never cooked it-- buy some, start.

Did you know before GR opens a restaurant he has the items cooked time and time again by the local staff until they have it done perfectly.  It is just practice - you are chefs - or want to be - so practice. Beef Wellington - easy- after you cook a bunch of them, but start with a few and keep cooking until it is perfect.

Amusing when someone screws up in the kitchen and is called on the carpet and they speak to the camera and say "next time I am bringing my A-game."  Do yourself a favor- do it now. Not later. Learn to cook his food, his way.  Learn to taste-  develop your palate.

If you care- if you want a job, and if you have been selected - then look at the menu, learn to cook perfectly. Do not play games-- communicate a lot in the kitchen. Do not try to "score" points- just keep your head down and cook. Oh- and don't get drunk - chances are you will have to cook, and if you cook with a hangover And if you smoke-- stop.  It will ruin your taste buds and the taste buds are, in his words, "the jewel of the crown."

Buy all the seasons of Hell's Kitchen on DVD, buy his cookbooks.  Study them.  Then walk into that kitchen knowing that no one is more prepared than you.

Sorry Gordon- I gave away your secrets - but really,  most of the contestants even if given this won't do it- and you won't hire them, and they will wonder.  But judging most of the last few years contestants was pretty easy - predicted because excellence can be predicted. I'm just hoping a couple of them will prepare before they get there and make it interesting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More to Come

More restaurant reviews coming- waiting for the new site on

Video reviews, and will review them on our television spot. Stay tuned

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pork Chop Casserole

My favorite dish that mom makes is a Pork Chop Casserole. Whenever I go home this is the dish I want mom to make - ok, I'll teach you how to make it - simple- easy- and here ya go.
The ingredients you will need are few- and this is simple:

Pork Chops- of course- thin cut (breakfast type)
One green bell pepper
One tomato
One onion
Beef consume - one can
Five Tablespoons of Long Grain rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of flour

Now - look through the series of photographs about all the steps you will need first- then go back and make it yourself.  I hope the photographs help you

Love a big pan that you can not only fry the pork chop in - but later allow it to simmer
A bit of olive oil (no fancy virgin or extra virgin) then Let the pan get hot
Medium heat is all you need. With these great pans- anything more is a waste

Once the oil is hot - add some butter - I know - trust me on this 

You will want to cut up some onions, heirloom tomatoes, and green onions

Add pepper to the pork chop along with salt
The Pork Chop is placed in flour
Well seasoned with salt and pepper - then flip it with the tongs and salt and pepper the other side

The pork chops go into the frying pan: they are frying over a medium heat

You can see they become golden brown on one side after about 2-3 minutes
Medium heat is all you need. These pork chops are now fried- time to add the rest of the stuff

My mom likes using canned consume - this beef broth is pretty easy too

Just add enough of the broth to almost cover the chops

Should look like this

The sliced onion goes on first

Then add the tomato on top of it

The bell pepper is placed to make it look "pretty" - as mom says

About 5 Tablespoons of rice  - I prefer long-grain

Just add it to the broth on either side of the chops

If you have left over tomatoes and green peppers and onions place them around the dish

All you need is to simmer this- so down from the medium heat

Remember low and slow

After about 15 minutes it starts to look like this

Now it is done- the rice has absorbed the flavors of the pork and vegetables

You have a perfect dish- with vegetables and meat and starch.

Here is the written recipe:

Place about two tablespoons of olive oil in a deep dish fry or sautee pan and have it on a medium heat.  Once it has heated up add two tablespoons of butter.

Take the pork chops and dredge them through flour-- put the flour on a plate, place the chop on it. Season the top of the pork chop with salt and pepper.  Flip the pork chop- and season the other side. Note- This pork is raw- so wash your hands after handling the chop and wash down the counter surfaces

Place the pork chop in the pan once it is HOT - and on a medium heat.  It should fry about 3 minutes per side. Once one side is finished- flip the chop and do the other side. Still raw pork- whatever utensil you used to flip it-- needs to be washed

While frying the pork chop- cut the onions and tomato and bell Pepper length wise

Once the pork chops are finished - add just enough beef broth - or canned beef consume to bring it to the top of the chop.

Add the onion first, then the tomato- then the pepper on the chop.

Turn the heat down to SIMMER. 

In the broth add your rice and any left over chopped vegetables.

Cover- and in about thirty minutes you will have a great dish.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Park City and Sun Dance

As the Sun Dance Film festival begins Park City, Utah,  will have plenty of celebrities not wearing fur-  but enjoying great film, and ski runs.  The thing they won't be enjoying is good food.

It is surprising for a town rebuilt for the Olympics that no one considered that this is an ideal place for a great new restaurant- think French Laundry, Bobo, Michael Mina, or Tarbell's.

When "the" steak restaurant consistently leaves steaks under hot lights and believes that al dente means raw you have to wonder (perhaps the  raw types would like it-- nope they wouldn't).

How hard is it to make good sushi? Ok- they did a great job with lamb lollipops (probably the best food here- but is it really Asian?)

A Seafood buffet - yes,really a buffet.  Park City must stopped at Vegas in 1965 to learn cuisine - but have not gone back since (oh, and seafood without lobster?).

So I wonder why don't the resorts get that? Why do these resorts consistently have mediocre restaurants serving dishes that are uninspiring renditions from the 1970's - and allow their guests to go downtown where there is worse parking, cold and old shops (quaint), and no hope of cuisine worth the trip?  If one of these resorts would import a great chef for a restaurant they would discover what Vegas did-- that food is more than a buffet, that food can be a destination.  Great food can be income!

On the plus side- the people here are probably the most helpful, kind you could encounter. They will go out of their way to do anything for you and make you feel great (just don't ask them to cook).    The scenery here is spectacular (and I don't mean watching for yet another celebrity - I mean the mountains). The skiing here is world-class - the wife was going down the black diamonds while yours truly was trying to overcome the blue fear.

My advice when you come to Park City - get a room with a kitchen - and plan on cooking meals at the hotel.

Until then - Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Marc Forgione, Mark Tarbell, Cat Cora, Michael Mina -- please come ski here- and open a restaurant.  Unlike New York- here you can make money.

While I love to photograph food- it is nice to have good food to photograph- this week, you have to put up with my son who enjoys the scenery and is probably thankful he has Similac and dad's home made peas for food