Tag Archives: rouxbe

Steamed potatoes and kale (but not bok choy)

Ploughman's lunch, with a cameo by Marc's elbow

Ploughman’s lunch, with a cameo by Marc’s elbow

In the continuing saga of my Rouxbe adventures, it’s time for more steaming practice! Today’s lesson was supposed to be steamed potatoes, steamed kale, and steamed bok choy. Alas, my fridge runs extremely cold and the bok choy froze, making it inedible for cooking. (Or at least, I think so. Does anyone know if leafy green vegetables are okay to use after they’ve frozen? It looked pretty yucky to me, anyway.)

The steamed potatoes were finished with some bacon lardons (that’s “chunks” for the unenlightened — yay fancy cooking terms!), dried Egyptian thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. The kale was more simple, with just butter, salt, and pepper. Oh, and I put some lemon slices on the bottom of the steamer because I had them lying around and it seemed like the sort of thing that might go nicely. In retrospect, while the kale was still tasty, this was a mistake. I forgot rule #1 of cooking green vegetables: no acid! That might explain a few of the brown bits on the kale when I took them out of the steamer. Oh, well. Live and learn. They were still tasty.

Potatoes took about 19 minutes in boiling-water steam, the kale was about 4 minutes in simmering-water steam.

Because this didn’t seem like enough food to make a meal on its own, I also added some homemade anadama bread and cheddar cheese, and Marc and I had a very tasty ploughman’s lunch. Even the kale, which I’m not generally fond of, was very tasty. All told, not bad for a half-hour in the kitchen!

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Let there be steam! (Steamed chicken and broccoli)

Steamed chicken and broccoli

Steamed chicken and broccoli

The latest in my Rouxbe lessons involved steaming. Today in particular was steamed lemon-garlic chicken with thyme and steamed broccoli with soy and sesame oil.

Since the steamer basket I have is actually kind of dangerous to use — it’s the kind that opens up like a flower, but there’s no easy way of removing it from the steaming pot without risk of burn — I decided to buy myself a present of a new steamer insert for my pots. This involved a bit of running around and a mishap at the store where they’d set aside the wrong thing for me (steamer basket =/= double boiler), but it all worked out in the end. Conveniently, the “universal” steamer basket from Lagostina actually fits two of my pots. This means that I could, say, make rice in my big saucepan and steam the meal in a smaller saucepan. Except that I need the same lid for both jobs. So… pasta it is! Pasta doesn’t need a lid! Yay!

Surprisingly, this was a remarkably simple meal. Prep everything in the steamer basket, put over the water, cover, wait for a while, eat. I put the chicken breasts on top of sliced pieces of lemon (a trick I learned from the Rouxbe lesson on steaming) and then did the shorter broccoli after the chicken was done. I lost quite a bit of steam as it was going, but the steamer basket sits very high above the water, so I could put a lot in and not worry about it all boiling off.

I was worried about the timing for this, but in the end it all worked out. I turned on the burner for the pasta water the same time the chicken started steaming. It boiled around the time the chicken was done (remember how I needed the lid for the steamer?) and the pasta was done right around the same time as the broccoli. I was able to do the broccoli prep while the chicken was steaming and the plating while the broccoli was steaming. Yay for timing!

In this end this was a very tasty meal. Marc and I both enjoyed it very much. Definitely a keeper.

Avocado snack and boiling vegetables practice

I’ve been following along with my Rouxbe course pretty solidly for a few weeks now, and most of the exercises I’ve come to recently have been dealing with vegetables and specifically with boiling vegetables. (The next lesson will be steaming, but for now we’re at boiling and simmering.) I’ve learned a few very useful things. Did you know that vegetables are generally broken up into three categories? They are! Green vegetables, white and red vegetables, and orange and yellow vegetables. Boiled green vegetables should be cooked uncovered without an acid; white and red should be covered and have an acid added halfway through; and orange and yellow vegetables can go either way. (They’re the bisexuals of the vegetable world. Racy!)

In any case, I haven’t made a “real” recipe for this adventures in cooking lesson, even though I bought the ingredients for one. My house is full of leftovers and it just doesn’t seem like the time. So instead I present to you one snack and three exercises. Onwards!

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Red lentil coconut soup (plus a bonus feature!)

Now that I’m getting back into my Rouxbe cooking lessons, it was time for some more tasty practice. Today’s lesson: submersion cooking techniques (poaching, simmering, and boiling), as demonstrated by making a soup. There were a number of soups to choose from, but I settled on the red lentil coconut soup. (For those not on Rouxbe, you can see the slightly-modified recipe here.)

(Much more detail on my experience behind the cut… plus a bonus feature!)

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Hard-boiled egg

Okay, you’re all going to laugh at me this time. I apparently can’t make hard-boiled eggs. I am the laughingstock of the culinary world.

See, I wanted to make some hard-boiled eggs for salads. I used the Rouxbe method: bring cold salted water to a boil, add eggs, reduce heat to a simmer, set timer for 12 minutes, then when the time’s up place eggs into an ice bath to stop cooking and prevent the grey ring around the yolk that has been a feature of every single hard-boiled egg I’ve ever eaten. I let mine sit under running cold water because I don’t have ice in the house right now, but what the heck. If they had the grey ring, I’d live.

Left them in the fridge until dinnertime. Took one out. Cracked it on the counter. The whites were still runny, let alone the yolk!

I think what did it in the end is that my “simmer” was closer to a “poach.” I know, I know: bad chef, walking away from the kitchen before verifying the temperature. Mea maxima culpa.

Anyway, they’re back in some hot water now. (New method: put eggs in cold salted water, bring to a boil, take off heat, let sit for 20 minutes, drain and cover with cold water, let sit for 15 minutes.) They will almost undoubtedly have the grey ring. I honestly don’t care at this point.

So… there you go. My shameful confession. You may all take this brief moment to revel in your superior technique and let me know how you make your hard-boiled eggs.

Update: After the second cooking (method mentioned in penultimate paragraph), the eggs are actually perfect: hard-cooked all the way through but no sulfur ring. Yay!

Lemon chicken with pine nuts

Lemon chicken with pine nuts

Lemon chicken with pine nuts

This was my latest Rouxbe recipe, as I’ve started a unit on chicken. The recipe is here. For those who don’t feel like clicking through, the short version is that you marinate chicken legs in olive oil, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Then you make a short stock with the backbones from the chicken legs and a bunch of vegetables. When you’re ready to cook, you caramelize the skin side of the chicken in a hot pan, then finish it up in the oven, and then use the sucs (caramelized bits), onion, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, stock, toasted pine nuts, honey, and cilantro to make a pan sauce. (In the original recipe, there’s supposed to be olives, but I don’t really like olives, so I left them out.)

The end result is extremely tasty, but also takes quite a lot of time, especially making the stock.

I did this recipe over two days, making the marinade and stock yesterday and cooking the chicken today. It took about an hour and a half each day, though admittedly about 5-10 minutes of today was spent dealing with an unrelated spill in the refrigerator that got into and under my vegetable drawer. (Sigh.)

There were a lot of firsts in this recipe for me:

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Pan-fried steak, roast vegetables, and tomato sauce

Another long day of cooking, courtesy of my Rouxbe course. I was going to do a long write-up of the stuff I did today (sweating practice using garlic cloves, tomato sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, and pan-fried steak), but I’m tired and don’t really think I have anything deep and meaningful to contribute. It’s all techniques I’ve done before, for the most part, and just a matter of refining and practicing. I only have a few notes:

– As an exercise to demonstrate why sweating ingredients is important and distinct from browning, the course has us sweat a single minced garlic clove on low heat until softened, add a half-cup of water, simmer for 30 seconds, and then pour into a container. Repeat, but instead of sweating, brown the garlic. I will say this: pushing around a single minced clove of garlic on low heat for 15-20 minutes is probably someone’s textbook definition of hell. It might even be mine. So… boring…

– I have a very hard time figuring out when the beef is done properly. I aimed at 6-7 minutes a side, which seems to have lead to about medium-well, but I honestly have no idea how I’d know the done-ness before I cut into it and eat. Any suggestions?

– I still have not achieved “flow.” I’m calmer in the kitchen now, which is good, but things still take a very long time. All the food I mentioned above — which really isn’t all that much, in the end — took about four and a half hours. I don’t mind the long time, as I was home and not doing anything else anyway, but I’m really hoping it starts getting shorter as I gain more experience and know what I can multitask on and what requires singular focus. I’m still looking at my cooking practice the way I would a university class in which I get to eat my homework. And a 4-hour class a week is quite reasonable.

– I’m finding more and more that cooking is very holistic. Whereas I used to be very focused on timing (“It says cook for 5 minutes and it’s been 7! Oh, no!”), the Rouxbe course is helping me identify cues in the cooking process so that I don’t need to focus on the precise time. I’m now focusing more on the look of the food, how it sounds in the pan, what it smells like (admittedly difficult for me with my hyposmia, but I’m trying), etc. It’s very multi-sensory and immersive, and I now understand how people with more experience can get into a zen-like state while cooking.

– Dishes. Oh, my god, the dishes. I’m so glad I clean as I go, because I used a lot of dishes today.

– I was quite tired from my four-and-a-half-hour sojourn into the world of cooking. So what did I do? Made cream biscuits. Yes, in Julie’s brain, the way you relax after a long day of cooking is to do some baking. Sigh.