25 October, 2011

eggs, a benedict arnold

when you cook an egg you give away all your secrets. cooking an egg properly tells anyone eating the meal how good a cook you are. we have all eaten eggs at sometime in our lives, and i believe a properly cooked egg is not the as easy as you would believe.

for a poached  egg you need perfect timing and a good pot of simmering water; too long and it's hard, not enough vinegar in the water and it 'threads, an unfresh egg will make the cooks life miserable when the yolk breaks and the white runs all over the pot. a fried egg must be cooked slowly or it will stick to the pan or toughen to a noticeable degree. an omelet must be cooked in a properly seasoned pan and manipulated to cook up fluffy and evenly. how well you cook eggs should be the value by which a chef is judged.

the perfect hollandaise sauce  is a whole other matter. a good chef knows when to reveal his secrets. i have read and understood the scientific studies of a complex protein, fat and acid emulsion commonly referred to as hollandaise or bernaise sauce.

21 October, 2011

chef driven or driven chef

it has been a year and a half since i first posted on this blog and 'branded' Blue Collar Cook. i'm not the only blue collar cook out there, so the name is not unique. but what is the next step?, do i finish the book that i have partially written in my head. this blog was brought together to organize my thoughts for the future manuscript.

it's been an interesting work experience in the meantime, short-term gigs, a little unemployment. As i envision this professional blog i have attempted to keep the personal life out of it. i like that in a blog sometimes. we'll keep it that way. to pull together this into a cookbook slash commentary slash storybook, i will need an editor. i'm good but i'm too close to the work to criticize it, my wife is too dear to me to be my editor. I need a word ninja, a heartless cruel bastard to turn this  collection of thoughts into a book. there you go....

18 October, 2011


the technique is simple, to cook something in liquid slowly. normally it is intended for a tender protein product, such as poultry, fish or even eggs. the trick is to maintain a slow even heat and cook just to point of 'doneness' the poaching liquid should never boil. the most technical form of poaching is sous vide, where you maintain an even temperature and constant temperature by circulating the poaching liquid with pump and enclose the item to be poached in a special plastic wrapper.

to understand why poaching is great, you have to understand the science of protein and i will explain it briefly. protein is composed of strands that contract when heated, if you heat it too quickly the protein becomes tough, if you heat it longer at a slower temperature those strands relax and become more tender. a poached piece of fish or even a chicken breast will be tender and moist without being overcooked and flavorless. the choice of poaching liquid can even add more flavor. i will now explain how to poach a chicken breast simply and without overcooking. the texture  of a properly(fully cooked) poached chicken breast may be unfamiliar since most people are used to overcooked chicken.

the key in my book to poaching is the slow heating and not so much the rapid heating. select a standard package of chicken breast(2-3 half breasts) of maybe a pound or more. purchase a 2 quart package of low sodium chicken stock(or use homemade). place the chicken breasts in a kettle deep enough to hold them and add chicken stock to cover. set a low fire under the vessel and wait it out for maybe 20 minutes. changes will occur and at no time do you wish for the stock to boil rapidly. when the internal temperature of the chicken breast reaches 165 F it's done. i had to say that, i actually have been known to eat a clean, fresh chicken breast at 145 F but i cannot legally recommend such a practice. now serve the no longer pink, but very tender chicken breast in a salad or chopped in a pasta dish; or just keep it your fridge for a snack with a little honey mustard.

17 October, 2011

bread of life will not be sliced and bagged

this blog has been occupied. the blue collar cook is a member of the 99% and he's not gonna take it anymore. america has been highjacked by a profit before people corporate model and it's killing us. The corporate food suppliers have given us what we wanted and now we are weak and sick and that's just how they like it.
there are many avenues to discuss this crisis, and i may not have all the answers, but the discussion begins here. most food blogs are about recipes and having a singular food experience, i'm not satisfied with that model. in the months since i dedicated a blog to food, i have become more unhappy with the state of the food world. Maybe it was the affectations of a 'foodie' community that pays to much for good food and lives in a bubble. maybe i shouldn't be a critic of a culture that writes the checks and on which i feed. The knowledge of cooking is now in the hands of professionals and a few dedicated 'foodies'. this is not rocket science folks, everyone once knew how to bake and prepare a healthy meal from whole ingredients where i grew up. 
so how did we get here? the biggest culprit is something that was supposed to make our lives easier.  what is the common cliche`, 'the best thing to come along since sliced bread'. i don't like sliced bread, i don't like soft bread, i don't even like bread that tastes the same tomorrow as it does today. give me a crusty loaf of bread with character that needs to torn and stales if you don't eat it today. so enter that great stuff, a loaf of bread that's as good tomorrow as it is today and is pre-sliced and comes in a nice bag stocked like a can of beans on your grocers shelves.  a whole generation or two has grown up without mama baking bread twice a week or a scratch bakery down the street. so they replace what is truly good tasting and nutritious with what is easy and is 'good enough'. once you got that past the consumer the industrialization of food production was easy. we forgot what good food tasted and felt like, so we didn't know what we were missing. yep, that's how we got here, we decided to make our lives easier in the kitchen and we lost a grip on good food. 
so how do we get back what we once had? or is it even possible. that's the next installment, i haven't got all night to write about this and hell, your attention span is about 2 minutes anyway, so good night.

13 October, 2011

beyond the microwave

i was recently enlisted to solve a problem, or perceived a problem and sought to solve it.

Q: what did professional chefs do before there were microwaves and  secondly why isn't there a microwave in your kitchen?

A: it's not as complex as you think. steam.heat
steam is hot, hotter than water and it penetrates many foods. some people would think hot oil and deep fryers are another rapid cooking technique and they are. the risks outweigh the benefits and another thing, i don't like hot fat and it's stench in my kitchen, oh and the clean-up is lousy.
there are table top steamers, there are stovetop steamers, you can saute` in a pan and add a cooking liquid and cover.  there you have it.... fast and simple but maybe too simple. just start thinking about steam a little bit more.

11 October, 2011

Il est interdit d’interdire.

there is class warfare and it's not going away. tonight i am breaking all the rules and posting a political statement on what i consider a largely professional/non-political blog.

there are protests going on in the streets of all the major cities in America, 1000+ i heard was the last count. there will be many opinions formed and my voice will be heard. i am the blue collar cook and it is my duty to provide an analysis.

 people are pissed off at the state of the world and others are telling them this is the status quo and that maybe protesting is a bad idea. i can't pretend something is not happening and the news blackout has gone on long enough. people are getting run over  by gangs of cops on motorcycle in NYC for god's sakes. this will be a another long winter of our discontent.

where do we go from here? who the hell knows, i am not a news analyst or a prophet. i do know and can discern that the polarization is the worst i have seen in my lifetime. maybe i haven't paid attention the rest of the time. i will not keep my head down and do my job and sit idly by watching the world implode and say that i did nothing. I may not be on the front lines everyday, but i will do my part.

i am remembering a line from 'it's a wonderful life'....'while harry fought the war in europe, george fought the war at home'... i can say i will engage everyone i have contact with everyday, if they seem like they have an opinion or an interest. the outcome of the battles in the class warfare will be decided around the kitchen tables and the water coolers not by screaming crowds or radio pundits. i support every-mans right to an opinion but i cannot condone an ill informed public that has soaked up the lies meant to provide 'consumer confidence'. it's bad out there and there is nothing being done to make it better.

it's time for well meaning and informed people to take to the streets and let their voices be heard, thank god it's happening finally. In it's early stages there will be confusion, but don't let that discourage you or say 'this is not my protest'. it is everybody's protest,  who is feeling the pinch of a bad economy? do you feel that washington has turned a deaf ear towards the will of the people? then get out there. there is nothing that the jobless or the working poor have done wrong. people are not out there because they want a hand-out or want to play out their own revolutionary fantasy. people are out there because they got a raw deal and they are pissed. somebody has broken the economy and nobody is doing shit to fix it or actively telling lies to protect their own self interests. you are not a failed potential rich person, your american dream has been stolen. now get out there and do what it takes to get it back