methods & madness…
class 11: poultry pt.1 – chicken in the kitchen

Poussin with Apples, Brandy and Cream
Recipes & Ramblings from Chef School

What comes to mind when you hear the word poultry? Hopefully it’s not chicken McNuggets! Actually, the word poultry refers to any domesticated bird used for human consumption including chicken, duck, goose, ostrich, turkey, pheasant, mute swan and emu.

This week’s blog focuses on chicken because, according to the USDA, chickens are the number one species consumed by Americans. I’m not a contributor to that stat, but after sampling some great recipes from class, I may convert. To understand my sordid past with chickens on the farm, please read my other chicken blog.

This week we learned how to cook your chicken using dry heat methods such as broiling, grilling, roasting, baking, sautéing, pan-frying, and deep-frying.

Something to Crow About

No matter how you cook your chicken, it can be a tasty and nutritious meal. No wonder chicken is the world’s primary source of animal protein. Chicken is also a great source of niacin, protein, vitamin B6 and selenium.  It is low in fat and cholesterol and has no carbs.

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methods & madness…
class 10: seafood – coming out of your shell

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Shrimp | She Paused 4 Thought

Recipes & Ramblings from Chef School

What a huge learning curve I had this week with shellfish. If you read last week’s blog, you know that I am a Midwest farm girl who had no experience with fins, scales, and particularly things that carry a house on their back! After this week’s class however, I am shocked at how easy most shellfish are to cook.

Shellfish are categorized according their skeletal structure:

  • Univalves – Single-shelled mollusks
    e.g. abalone, sea urchins, conch, escargot
  • Bivalves – Mollusks with two shells joined by a hinge
    e.g. clams, mussels, oysters, scallops
  • Crustaceans – Jointed exterior skeletons or shells
    e.g. lobster, crawfish, shrimp, crab
  • Cephalopods – Mollusks with tentacles attached directly to the head
    e.g. octopus, squid/calamari, cuttlefish

Buying Shellfish

When buying live crab or lobsters, look for movement. If you buy them frozen or pre-packaged and they are still moving—run.

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methods & madness…
class 9: fish – 
farming, filleting & floundering

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CATHY NELSON ARKLE

Recipes & Ramblings from Chef School

I grew up on a farm in Iowa. We raised cows, pigs and chickens, but no fish. Even though there are 25,000 identified species of fish, the only ones that made it to Iowa were frozen, breaded and slapped on a plastic tray in the lunch line. Sadly, that was my sole culinary fish experience as a child.

Hook, Line and Sinker

Fishing was a different story. I learned that from my Grandmother. She said all you need to fish is a tree branch (rod), fishing line, a safety pin (hook), freshly caught grasshoppers (bait) and the patience of Job. I am not sure if it was catching the grasshoppers or just listening to Grandmother’s stories that I loved most. I was always grateful that we didn’t catch any fish for fear of having to cut and clean them.

Whole Salmon

Fish Fears

Today’s class confirmed those fish filleting fears. I was floundering at the sight of the dead fish in front of me. Filleting is a messy job best left to a fishmonger. But for the brave of heart, or culinary student… it is possible.

Filleting a SalmonFor a video on how to fil­let a whole salmon click here.

Rona successfully skinned her fish in class to make “Black Cod with a Miso Glaze served with Ginger Stir Fried Bok Choy”. Click here for that recipe.

 black cod fillet

Why Fish? 

Fish is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids. Eating fish can reduce problems associated with PMS, memory loss, cardiovascular functions, colon cancer, and stroke.

Types of Fin Fish

  • Round— has a middle backbone with one fillet on either side, and one eye on each side of its head.
  • Flat—has a backbone running through the center of fish, both eyes are on the same side of the head.
  • Non-Boney—has cartilage rather than bones.

Fish are also categorized by their activity levels of low, medium and high. The more a fish swims the flesh will be darker, the oil content higher, and the flavor stronger. 

Identifying Fish

  • Flat—halibut, turbot, sole, flounder
  • Low Activity Round—haddock, pollock, cod
  • Medium Activity Round—pike, grouper, yellowtail, snapper, sea bass
  • High Activity Round—salmon, trout, arctic char, tuna
  • Non-Boney—sturgeon, monkfish, sword fish
  • Other fish—eel, catfish, anchovy, sardine, tilapia 

Best Cooking Techniques  

  • Active fish have firm flesh, and are oilier with a stronger taste. They are good for grilling, sautéing, poaching, steaming, roasting—not good for deep-frying.
  • Low Active fish are mild, lean, flaky and have a delicate flavor. They are great for sautéing, deep-frying, broiling, grilling, poaching, steaming and baking—not good for grilling.

Sustainable Fish

If you want to know how to select a sustainable fish click here to read my blog titled
“The Seafood Saga… 6 things to know before you buy”.

salmon head

How to buy Fish – Use Your Senses

  • Look. It should have shiny and taught skin with no discolored patches. If you are buying a whole fish, eyes should be clear and full, fins should not be torn. If there is any liquid on the meat it should be clear, not milky. Milky liquid on a fillet is the first stage of rot.
  • Smell. A fresh fish should smell like the ocean or seaweed. Don’t buy a nasty smelling fish. Cooking won’t improve it and your cats won’t eat it either… don’t ask.
  • Touch. If you can touch the fish, it should have a dense quality. If it is full of moisture it should spring back when you touch it. If my fingerprint remains, I move on to the beef department.

Class Assignment

I was assigned grilled tuna.  It was super easy to make. This would also be great served over spicy greens.

Dry Rubbed Grilled Tuna with Orzo Salad

From New School of Cooking
Serves 6-8

Orzo Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. orzo, cooked and cooled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 1 T. mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 T. dill, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 oz. feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the orzo in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain. Once orzo has cooled, toss with remaining ingredients and serve.
tuna rub

Dry Rubbed Grilled Tuna 

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. finely minced thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs albacore fillet

Directions:

Distribute the rub over the fish fillets.  Grill 8-10 minutes per inch. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve with the orzo.

Did you know?

There are more species of fish than all the species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals combined. And guess what… they all eat fish.

Fish and Fisheries cited over 500 research papers on fish intelligence, proving that fish are smart, and have impressive long-term memories and sophisticated social structures.

Fish appear to be smarter than cats, or at least this one.

Now that you’ve been entertained,  I’m off to fry other fish.
…and then she paused for thought

Hope you have enjoyed our adventure in the culinary classroom. Join us each week as we continue learning new culinary skills.

You can also read about Rona’s experience on her blog or What’s Cookin online magazine.

Subscribe to She Paused for Thought by Email

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White Chocolate & Apricot Scones

white chocolate and apricot scones

I think everyone has their favorite “go-to” recipe. You know the one that won’t let you down when you get in a pinch. This is mine. I can almost make these scones in my sleep… in matter of fact I think I did. Somewhere between spending 6 hours in my car driving all over LA in Friday rush hour traffic, and several hours in ER with a friend, I squeezed baking these treats in.

What was the baking urgency? The LA Food Bloggers Cookie & Cookbook Exchange hosted by In Erika’s Kitchen. It was great to meet other fellow bloggers and chow down on some of the best cookies I have tasted in a long time. Check out Dorothy’s blog Shockingly Delicious to see gorgeous photos of the event.

White Chocolate & Apricot Scones

Adapted from Simply Scones Cookbook
Makes about 2 dozen or so.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • nutmeg – optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture. With a pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the cream, egg, and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and knead until combined. Knead in the white chocolate and apricots.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5/8-inch. Using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough into hearts. Gather the scraps of the dough together and repeat until all the dough has been used to make the hearts. Sprinkle with nutmeg (optional).
  5. Transfer the hearts to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.
  6. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm, or cool completely and store in an airtight container.

To Freeze:
Wrap the unbaked scones tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.  Bake the still-frozen scone hearts about 20-25 minutes.


methods & madness…

class 8 part 2: poetic pasta

Moroccan Pilaf

Recipes & Ramblings from Chef School

The secret behind pasta’s popularity in many cultures is its simplicity; simple ingredients, simple to make, simple to cook. The beauty of pasta is its amazing ability to comfort even the most tormented soul.

Pasta’s Pilgrimage 

The history of pasta is controversial at best, and dates as far back as 5,000 years. Interestingly enough, how pasta is made has stayed relatively unchanged for the last 500 years.

If you thought pasta originated in Italy, guess again! Try China. What the Italians are famous for however, is making pasta famous.

It is estimated that Italians eat over 60 lbs. of pasta per person, per year easily beating Americans, who eat about 20 lbs. per person.

Coming to America

It was Thomas Jefferson who is credited with bringing the first “macaroni” machine to America in 1789 when he returned home after serving as ambassador to France.

The first industrial pasta factory in America was built in Brooklyn in 1848 by, of all people, a Frenchman, who spread his spaghetti strands on the roof to dry in the sunshine.

Americans have been in love with pasta ever since. Continue reading