L. A. Kitchen: Revealing The Power Of Food

L.A. Kitchen believes that neither food nor people should ever go to waste.  By reclaiming healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded, training men and women who are unemployed for jobs, and providing healthy meals to fellow citizens, L.A. Kitchen empowers, nourishes, and engages the community.

Culinary students — up to 26 of them, a mix of older men and women who have been recently incarcerated and younger kids who have just timed out of foster care — prepare dishes from those fruits and vegetables.

Read more about L. A. Kitchen.

A COOK'S TOOL: The Best Probe Thermometer

Most cooks just need a regular meat thermometer. And I recommend getting a probe thermometer to measure the temperature of food while it cooks.

I added my recommendation to this review on The Sweethome: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-probe-thermometer/

KNIFE SKILLS PART ONE

Basic knife skills are the base of all cooking. Chef Janet has been teaching culinary chefs since 2003. You don't have to want to be a chef to take this class. During this class you will learn the basics on how to sharpen your knives, what are the different types of knives and their uses. You will also learn to properly hold your knives and we will be covering the methods of cutting a variety of vegetables.

CHEEKY...PORK CHEEKS

Pork Cheeks Confit with Cider Slaw and Roasted SunChoke

These Confit of Pork Cheeks are tender, with so many layers of flavor.  I serve them with an Apple Cider Slaw that give the right amount of tang to contrast the richness of the Pork Cheeks.

The addition of Roasted Sunchoke brought nuttiness to the dish.

HOTDISH...HAUTEDISH...

If you are Minnesotan, you are familiar with Hotdish.  Hotdish is a Midwestern icon developed by housewives in the early 1930's. 

Hotdish consists of:

  • Protein, usually ground beef.
  • Frozen vegetables, carrots, corn, peas or string beans.
  • Pasta or potatoes
  • Canned soup of Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken undiluted.
  • Crispy topping of Tater Tots, Fried French Onions, or Chow Mein Noodles


Outside of Minnesota, Hotdish is referred to as a Casserole, named after the pan in which it's cooked. There are spectacular international dishes of which this is also true. Spain for their Paella, France for Cassoulet, and Central Italy for Lasagna for example.

The Crandall family grew up eating Hotdish and my Mom still makes it. You can find authentic recipes, and other Minnesota favorites in a cookbook my parents wrote after closing their Cafe after almost 40 years of business. All proceeds have been donated to The Scleroderma Foundation which I am proud to say has totaled around $12,000. to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a Chef, here is my haute version:

TATER TOT HAUTEDISH

  • Ground Beef seasoned with sauteed garlic, onions, and fresh thyme.
  • Haricot Verts
  • Sauteed Crimini mushrooms
  • Sunchoke puree with Creme Fraiche
  • Pommes Darphin finished with Truffle oil

 

So if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, try the Hotdish, it's a regional favorite.  Or try this version of Hautedish!

Love…The most important ingredient

In my many years of teaching culinary students, I have always stressed to put love into the food that we create.  What does that mean?   I think we have all, at one time, had a dining experience that was not all that.  Maybe the food was not served at the correct temperature.  Was the plating sloppy and food not appealing to the eye?  Was the flavor just not quite there?  If a chef is having a bad day or really not putting the love into their food, we can taste, see, and most importantly, feel it.  Those are some examples of loveless food. 

I have found an even more powerful use of love in cooking.

I’ve recently had an experience cooking for a family who are caring for a loved one who is terminally ill.
Food keeps us alive.  Food created with love, makes life more worth living.  People with very specific dietary requirements need more than just nutrition.  They need something that is delicious and has so much love in it, they can feel it in each taste.  

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I have always put love into my food,  knowing how important it is.  Cooking for this family has shown me, without any doubt, that food created with love brings people closer and helps them heal. This loving experience, this responsibility, really made me comprehend just how essential love is in our cooking.  


With food and love,
Chef Janet

Bourbon Pork

Back in 2010 I had the opportunity while teaching at the French Culinary Institute to join a small group of my fellow chef’s on a bourbon trail in Kentucky.  I went as a novice not knowing “Jack” about bourbon.

I found the tours of the distilleries and cooperage very interesting.  They explained to us what steps they take in making really great bourbons.  I think one of the highlights of the trip was visiting a cooperage.  We watched the barrel making process and how each barrel was charred to the distillers specifications.

Bourbon has become more popular over the years in sweet and savory preparations.  Bourbon is a major component in a vast variety of great southern dishes.

This weekend I felt inspired to make a pork dish that was bright, light, and full of flavor.  This pork tenderloin brings me back to a wonderful time spent in Kentucky.

This pork tenderloin was marinated in bourbon, honey and dijon mustard before grilling.  I’ve garnished the pork with pickled pears and whole grain mustard. I served this dish with some beautiful red swiss chard and sweet potato pomme pailles.

Black Beauty

Here's a delicious little story about squid ink.

 

Squid or cuttlefish ink is the melanin of the cephalopod. The dynamic black color brings a dramatic and exotic look to a dish.  Smartly incorporated into the right dish, it will transport you to a beautiful day on the Mediterranean.  It adds a luxuriousness to things.

 

Now for even better news.  Squid ink provides nutrition and happiness!  Squid ink contains dopamine, iron and many antioxidants. 

Flavor: 
What does squid ink taste like?  Slightly sweet, a little salty, and oceanic. It should not at all taste fishy.  

Application:  
The ink can be incorporated while making pasta, or in pasta dishes.   Add the ink to Paella or rice dishes. 

Squid Ink goes great with seafood. 

Add squid ink to make a sauce luxurious.

Pairs nicely with an acid for fatty meats or a delicate piece of foie gras.

Squid ink is a specialty of Venice, Italy.

 

Squid Ink Paella:  Takes your paella to the rich and buttery level!  The squid ink taste is well balanced with white wine and garlic.

 

 

Seafood Lasagna:  Briny seafood, lemony béchamel, crisp english peas, silky squid ink pasta, with sweet, tart kumquat marmalade.

Summer Breeze

Summer is finally here.  So put on your sundress, invite over your friends, open the bubbly and enjoy an outdoor lunch.

Start with a Rillette with Duck and Pork and a Brandade de Morue (Salt Cod and Potato puree)

Next, treat your guests to a refreshing Salade Nicoise with Tuna.

Salade Nicoise is an easily prepared dish with high visual impact.  So you can impress folks.  Use fresh tuna, lightly seared  and quail eggs to bring added elegance to this dish.  Add haricot vert, greens, olives, heirloom tomatoes and fingerling potatoes.  
The bright flavor of an olive oil, lemon and mustard vinaigrette gives this dish a Summer finish.

Add some fresh cut Papaya splashed with lime juice to the table to bring bright color, keeping lunch light and invigorating.

Spring, Easter and Many Delicious Things

 I love to prepare  Easter brunches.  I love the elegance of the table setting with white flowers and the new feeling of Spring.  Some of my favorite menu items are:

  • Oeuf cocotte ala Creme:  Eggs cooked in a ramekin with heavy cream.   I like to serve mine with fine herbs and toast points.
  • Oeufs Brouilles:  Eggs with cream cooked over a water bath until custard consistency.
  • Oeufs Farcis Chimay:   Eggs stuffed with mushroom duxelles and topped with Sauce Mornay.  I just love these.
  • Smoked and cured fishes: Mojito-cured salmon, Smoked trout with Horseradish and creme fraiche dill sauce.
  • And of course Ham, sausages, bacons, Lamb Merguez and whole roasted Leg of Lamb.

Some of my favorite potato dishes include Pommes Darfin. Pommes Duchess and Pommes Anna.

Finish this feast perfectly with fresh fruits and Petit Fours, coffee, teas.

Oh, and and don't forget to enjoy Champagne cocktails throughout.  Happy Spring!