The Pink One Please

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Here are a couple of pics from a donut run with my girl.  She chose the pink frosted raised, and then ate mostly the frosting.  I chose the cruller and ate the whole thing.  And a glazed chocolate cake donut.  But, really, who’s counting?

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Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest

There are alot of things we’ll do for a good donut.  Driving 35 minutes to a fall festival we’ve never attended simply because we read the words “cider donut” in the description is one of them.  So last Saturday, off we went to the Louisburg Cider Mill for Ciderfest.

The festival was not as spectacular as we had hoped.  (We’ve been spoiled by the atmosphere and activities at our favorites…the Weston Apple Fest and the Lenexa Spinach Festival.)  By 9:30 AM, it was overrun with kids running loose (hard when your kiddo is a tiny tot) and we were disappointed to see that with a few exceptions, the craft vendors were primarily national home-based businesses (Premier Jewelry, Scentsy Candles, Tupperware, etc.).  I love to browse homemade crafts and jewelry, but have the rest of those products in my face the rest of the year.  Pass.  But here are the good parts…we were able to see the cider mill in operation, visit the general store, score some fantastic apple butter for later, and pick up some apple cider and cider donuts.  We sat on some hay bales to eat our donuts, where Emory enjoyed just over half of hers and then decided she was done with it.  That seems to be her track record with sweets like cake and donuts…she just wants a little.  We helped her finish, then took a few cute photos (see below) before wandering back through the craft booths.  Daddy sprung for a yellow and grey balloon animal of a dog, which she really liked, and then we visited the ponies at the riding booth.  Our advice is to visit the cider mill on a regular weekend, and skip Ciderfest.

Cider donut…GO HOME!

Sittin’ on the hay

Enjoying her last piece of donut

In hopes of making our drive a little more worthwhile, we stopped by the nearby Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery in Paola, Kansas.  We were the first customers of the day, and were greeted warmly by their fantastic staff.  It looked like a beautiful, fun place to spend a day.  Tables were set all across the lawn waiting for a crowd, and the bocce ball set was pulled out and ready to go.  I did a quick tasting (solo wine tastings are a little awkward…) and picked up a bottle of their Ruby Red, which I had seen on the menu at Kansas City’s fantastic Blue Bird Bistro.  I also selected a bottle of their delicious Citron (similar to an Italian Limoncello — a blend of organic lemon, white wine, and brandy) for dessert pairings and recipes.  The tasting room was really pretty and the wines I tried were good, but I’d go back just for the friendly people.

I’m Taking My Food and Leaving

With two very different audiences reading this blog, I decided it is time to make a change. The Jobe Family blog will be focused on updates and storytelling for friends and family. (I’m assuming there are multiple readers and not just my Dad).

All food ramblings will be moving to a new home. Please visit www.finertastes.wordpress.com for my posts on dining in, dining out, and food trends.

Happy Wednesday!

Class 9: Final Dinner Class

The finale of the Pro Series 1 class was a dinner party, catered by the 15 students (minus my teammate Libby who was on a tropical vacation, not that any of us were jealous…), with the help of Chef Richard, and our helpers Chef Larry and Chef Max, and those awesome ladies that washed all our dishes! We received the menu and recipes in advance, but did not know what we would be assigned to cook. Each team named a captain (I must have fidgeted just wrong, because my team picked me) and that person drew to see what our dishes would be. I was also responsible for working with Chef throughout the night to coordinate our items and ask questions, since only the captains were allowed to speak to him. Before class, Kathran and I said the only thing we DIDN’T want to draw was the blackened tilapia, because neither of us had made anything like it. So I fished into the bowl of paper slips and drew…the Blackened Tilapia and the Bananas Foster. (I’ll let you know now, the tilapia was not difficult at all and was, in Team 3’s humble opinion, the star of the show.) It was one busy, and occasionally frantic, 90 minutes but we successfully prepared a buffet for 48. And because our guests paid to join us, I suppose that would make us professional chefs now, wouldn’t it?

Our Menu

Spring Greens with Roasted Shallot Balsamic Vinaigrette

Blackened Tilapia with Balsamic Tomatoes

Poached Chicken Breast with Sauce Bercy

Grilled Pork Medallions with Sweet Mustard Aioli

Orzo Pilaf with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Grilled Seasoned Vegetable Array with Basil Butter

Bananas Foster, served with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Three-quarters of Table 3 (Kathran, Chef Richard, Stacy, & Amanda)

After all that, my jacket is still clean!

Class 8: “Small” or Pan Sauces

I loved week 8 of our Pro Series 1 class, and Chef told us that it is offered periodically as its own course. Knowing how to prepare the Mother Sauces is great, but the chances of you doing them on a weeknight with an almost-two-year-old clinging to your leg is slim. Pan sauces can be done every night. They’re quick. They don’t require perfection. They’re amazingly yummy. And, they’re perfect for dinner parties. In fact, you’re likely already doing some version of them on your own (I suppose melting Velveeta almost counts…).

It goes like this. Cook your seasoned meat product in a pan. Don’t burn it. Transfer meat to a plate. Get the pan off the heat so it doesn’t burn (see a trend?). Don’t clean the pan. Throw it back on the heat, and deglaze the pan by adding stock or wine to lift off all that yummy stuff. (Look! Your pan is already half clean for dishwashing!) Thicken your sauce (add a slurry of water/cornstarch or water/flour, reduce it, or add something creamy like sour cream or greek yogurt). Serve your fancy sauce and try to remain humble.

Weeknight Dinner Trick – Buy pork or turkey tenderloin and trim on the bias into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Trim all the fat off of each slice (easier than off of the whole tenderloin and you won’t mistakenly shave off a bunch of meat and start griping about rising food prices). Triple-wrap 2 slices with plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a mallet or a rolling pin (I use the bottom of a stainless steel spoon rest) until thin. Warning: This will make noise and everyone will stare at you. You can freeze these in packs of 2-4 for a quick weeknight dinner. They thaw very quickly and cook in only minutes per side.

Dinner Party Trick – Cook pork or turkey scallopini in advance and keep it warm in the oven while you prepare your sauce. Once the sauce is prepared, platter the meat in a neat little row and drizzle the sauce across the center just before serving. Warning: Do not try this with chicken or your chicken will dry out in the oven and you will be really really mad.

And of course, our dishes for the night:

Chicken al Bercy (white wine herb sauce)

Turkey Scaloppini with Smitane Sauce

Pork Cutlets with Fresh Portabella Marsala Wine Sauce

Apples with Brandy Butter Sauce (half-eaten...oops!)

Class 7: The Mother Sauces

I had been waiting for this class. Honestly, we all had since Chef uttered the words, “Nine. Cheese. Macaroni.” The Mother Sauces are the traditional French sauces from which all other sauces are born. These sauces are more time-consuming than a pan sauce (see Class 8 post), but mastering them will allow a home chef to make many, many different sauces. These sauces are:

Béchamel Sauce – white sauce made with milk and flavored with onions. The most famous variation is a Mornay Sauce (CHEESE!), but a béchamel is the basis for many cream sauces and fillings (such as in pot pies).

Espagnole (Spanish) Sauce – brown sauce made with brown stock, caramelized mirepoix, tomato paste, and seasoning. Some familiar variations include Madeira Sauce (with Madeira wine), Bordelaise Sauce (with red wine reduction), Poivrade Sauce (with peppercorn and butter), and Demi-Glace.

Velouté Sauce – a white stock sauce (slightly transparent, compared to a Béchamel). Familiar variations include Supreme Sauce (with cream) and Allemande Sauce (mushrooms and veal).

Hollandaise Sauce – an emulsion sauce made with a vinegar reduction, egg yolks, clarified butter, and lemon juice. Variations include a Béarnaise Sauce (tarragon, white wine, and peppercorns).

Tomato Sauce – just what it sounds like. The difference is this sauce is a much sweeter tomato sauce than an Italian-style sauce. It was spectacular.

We learned how to make white, blonde, and brown roux from flour and butter. A roux is equal parts flour and fat, cooked and used to thicken sauces. The difference is mere minutes of cooking time, and thus color. The longer you cook it (and the darker the roux), the less it will thicken your dish.

Between all four cooking teams, we made 1-2 batches of each sauce, and served them over various dishes. The Tomato Sauce flavored orzo (and was amazing). The Béchamel became Mornay sauce, and was the basis for our baked macaroni and cheese. The Velouté and Espagnole were served over roasted chicken. I made the Espagnole, and it was very good, but I loved the Velouté made by another team, which was flavored with mushrooms. I could not get enough of that one. The Hollandaise was served over asparagus. My Hollandaise didn’t emulsify very well, and so it wasn’t shiny and thick. But it tasted fine. I really don’t care for it anyhow, so the good news is I can leave this off of my list of things to master. This may have been one of the best food nights. I overate, to say the least. I was so busy eating, I didn’t take a single picture. Oops.

Class 6: Dry Heat Cooking

Searing, roasting, broiling, grilling! This was a very busy class with some spectacular recipes. We learned to sear meat properly (more on that below), the different methods of roasting and their benefits and drawbacks, the importance of resting foods after cooking, and many other things. Honestly, we’re beginning to cover so much ground in class that it is hard to recap it here. So I’ll limit this to the tips you can apply now, and of course, the recipes and food!

Do This Now:
*Don’t Boil Your Beef! If you crowd food into your pan to “sear”, the surface of your meat doesn’t heat fast enough, thus drawing the moisture out and simply “boiling” your meat. Tasty, huh? The fix — let your pan get very hot (you can always turn the heat down or pull the pan off the heat) and then give your food some space. You’ll get a lovely sear that will seal your flavor and juices in, and look just plain pretty. You may need to sear food in batches, depending on the size of your pan. A good set of tongs comes in handy here.

*Sear the pretty side of your meat first, then serve that side face-up. The second side will never sear as nicely.

*Roast your entire dish. When roasting, always elevate your food with a rack so the bottom of your meat roasts as well, and doesn’t just boil or steam.

*Try vertical roasting. This is the most effective method for roasting any kind of poultry. In conventional roasting, the breast meat tends to overcook, while the thigh and leg meat are still cooking. But purchasing an inexpensive vertical riser (or even a beer can chicken roaster), you can help even out the cooking process for all parts of the dear birdie. Speaking of beer can chicken — if you don’t like beer, try sodas or any kind of juice. A fun suggestion was cola for a bird that has been rubbed in jerk seasoning.

*Dry out your duck. In order for duck to roast properly and not to have a “fatty” taste, the fat needs to render out while roasting. This can be helped out significantly by drying your duck prior to roasting. Simply place the little guy on a rack inside a sheetpan or on a vertical riser on a plate, UNDER REFRIGERATION and dry uncovered for 24-48 hours. The air drying opens the pores, which will help the fat render. Here’s another neat idea — instead of tying up the legs, cut a small slit in one leg between the tendon and the bone, and slip the other leg through.

*Create chicken (or pork or turkey) paillards in advance for easy weeknight meals. Simply wrap a chicken breast in plastic wrap and use the flat side of a mallet to flatten them in a brisk, outward motion. You may find it useful to butterfly the head of the chicken breast half (the really thick part) first. Do a bunch some evening when you’re feeling a tad cranky, and kill two birds with one stone. Freeze them in packets of 2 or so, separated by wax paper, and you’ll be able to break them out for dinner in a hurry. Once thawed, these thin cutlets cook very quickly (2-3 minutes or less per side) and look elegant.

*Stop overcooking your meat! No one wants food poisoning, but the USDA recently revised their guidelines for safe temperatures for different types of meat. (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Isitdoneyet_brochure.pdf) Chances are, your meat thermometer may be old and wrong. For example, pork is now listed as safe at 160 degrees. The trick is to stop cooking just before the meat reaches that internal temperature, tent it and let it rest (see next comment), and the temperature will continue to rise while it rests (carry-over cooking).

*Let your meat rest, or you’re wasting your time. Resting your food after any style of cooking will redistribute the juices in the meat and relax the meat fibers, meaning a juicier and more tender product. When meat is cooked over high heat, the meat fibers tighten and force the juices into the center, so you need to allow time for this process to reverse. Be sure to tent your food loosely with tin foil to keep in some heat. Small foods only need rest about 5 minutes. Larger cuts should rest 10 to 15 minutes.
The Dishes:

Pan-Grilled Chicken Paillard with Tarragon Butter - This was absolutely amazing, due in large part to the tarragon butter, flavored with shallots, mustard, and Ancho chili powder.

Seared and Roasted Lamb Racks - seasoned simply with Dijon and breadcrumbs.

The lamb picture above is a great example of why meat needs to rest. In the interests of time, Chef used our team’s lamb rack to slice and plate for presentation, before the meat had rested. You can see that it appears to be cooked unevenly, and could have used a little time taking a wee nap on our table.

Grilled Garlic & Chili Rubbed Rib-Eye with Béarnaise Butter - Oh. My. Stars. this was amazing. We used a heavy hand with the rub and thought it was perfect. And the compound butter added another perfect layer of flavor.

Dry-Roasted Whole Duck – I didn’t get a picture of this but it came out really crispy and lovely. This was my first taste of duck and it was good, but I’ve got to say it seemed like alot of work for a very small amount of meat.

After enjoying the night’s dishes, I vowed never to eat another dish if it didn’t have both a rub/marinade AND a compound butter. Dairy is essential to strong bones, you know.

Grünauer

I’ve wanted to visit this authentic Austrian and German restaurant since I cracked an issue of Kansas City Spaces magazine last year and read about its opening in the historic Freight House. The Freight House is a lovely backdrop for any restaurant, and the reviewed menu items all sounded appealing.

Brandon and I had an impromptu opportunity for a quiet lunch date and this was an easy choice. A diligent point gatherer, he quickly made an Open Table reservation and we met inside.

You can’t beat a menu that offers a wide selection of sausages, in addition to items like weiner schnitzel, pork and noodle hash, and a savory Austrian dip sandwich. We read over the menu and chatted with our fantastic server before settling on the Austrian Dip and the KÄsekrainer sausages (pork with cheddar cheese). I was grateful that at Grünauer, I was able to order something strikingly similar to a cheese hot dog and still sound like a foodie.

Upon the lightning-quick delivery of our meal, I was reassured that this was no hot dog. Two beautifully grilled sausage links, a buttery pile of mashed potatoes, sweet red cabbage, and dipping cups of apple horseradish and Dijon mustard. It looked perfect and tasted even better. The sausage was amazing in both sauces. The cabbage was good and the potatoes were fine. I am not a mashed potato person anyhow, and was lucky enough to be offered tasty fries of Brandon’s plate, which allowed me to ingest more of each sauce. His sandwich was tender and flavorful, and the au jus was just right. And again, those fries were great. I apologize that there is no picture of my entree. I was so excited, I just plain ate it.

We “saved room for dessert” and ordered the Demel Viennese Apple Strudel without even examining the dessert menu. Our server said the Old Fashioned Warm Cheese Strudel was his favorite, but it was too late to turn back. We had seen a picture of the apple strudel in all its flaky glory on the website and knew it was how our meal would end. By this time, I was feeling a little full so I ordered coffee to help it all fit in my stomach.

The Julius Meinl coffee service was elegant and the coffee strong and smooth.
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Dessert looked almost as lovely as the tempting picture on the website and was delicate and delicious, although not as flaky as I had anticipated. I loved the golden raisins cooked in with the apples.
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Like a good movie, I keep thinking about my meal. I’m even doing a compound butter for my cooking class this week inspired by that lunch. With such great flavors and service, I am anxious to return!

http://www.grunauerkc.com/

Class 5: Moist Heat Cooking

This post is coming a little late. It is not week 5. It’s not even week 6. It’s week 7. Can you tell things have been a little busy?

Class 5 was really interesting, and the food we made was fantastic, but the best part of that evening was cooking with my team, and realizing that I am not alone in the world when I stand next to the stove and repeat variations of “This smells SO good!” I do this at home, both when I cook (often when I have onions sauteeing or celery cooking) and when I eat (“This is so pretty. Look. This tastes UH-MAAAA-ZING — you have to try it!” Blah. Blah. Blah.). So there I was, standing next to a saute pan sizzling with shallots and butter for Aromatic Citrus Herb Butter, and my teammate said just what I was thinking — “That smells so good!!!!” The same thing happened later in the evening when the sauce for our Braised Savory Swiss Steak was sauteeing, and all four of us are just standing there, smelling the onions, garlic, and celery and talking about it. I am surrounded by like-minded individuals for sure.

During the evening, we discussed and practiced six moist heat cooking techniques — steaming, cooking ‘en papillote’, shallow poaching, poaching, simmering, braising, and stewing.

Useful odds and ends:

*To quick steam asparagus, pour a small amount of water into a saute pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour off excess water so asparagus will be covered only 3/4 of the way up, and place asparagus spears into pan. Yes, you can “mound” them if you are cooking a larger batch, just keep them moving around. Cook uncovered to taste (probably just a few minutes if you prefer your asparagus al dente).

*If you care to create “lighter” versions of sauces that call for heavy cream, replace the cream with Greek yogurt or sour cream. Do not replace the cream with milk, as most often it won’t cook properly. Oops…I am guilty of this.

*If you are poaching chicken (cooking chicken submerged in liquid around 180-185 degrees), you will have better results of you cook chicken breasts on the rib bone. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts will cook too quickly and become tough (yep…this happens to me everytime) but bone is a poor conductor of heat and will allow the chicken to cook more evenly. And it is VERY easy to remove the breast half from the bone — while the meat is still hot or warm, simple tear the “head” (larger portion) of the breast downward. And guess what — chicken is cheaper this way anyhow.

*Be careful using basil and tarragon in recipes cooked over heat — both are fragile and will blacken easily.

*Be careful when buying “cube steak” at your grocer to make Swiss steak. The cube steak should be made with round steak and not ground beef. Ground beef will fall apart when braised.

Our dishes:

Steamed Asparagus with Aromatic Citrus Herb Butter - butter, shallots, thyme, and OJ

Filet of Salmon en Papillote - cooked in parchment with white wine, butter, shallots, scallions, mushrooms, lemon, thyme, and of course, butter

Classic Chicken Eugenie - old-school elegant favorite - made the proper way...stacked with a Holland rusk toast, frizzled black forest ham, a chicken breast poached in white wine and stock, a carved sauteed mushroom cap, and napped in an herb and cream sauce

Braised Savory Swiss Steak - Kind of Ugly but I Sure Didn't Bring Any Home