Back to Blogging!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry about the lack of new posts the last few weeks but I was over in England for a few weeks visiting my girlfriend Gemma. I just got back on Friday so the blogging will be picking up quite a bit. Expect to see a lot of England centric posts over the next week or two. I am also competing in a Rib Off on August 24th and will be keeping you updated on the process of determining the rub, sauce, or glaze I will be using as well as the cooking process and contest results. I also have another project in the works that I am working on and will reveal more later on. Stay tuned for the exciting stuff coming up on Smartchefblog!

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Oklahoma Tornado Relief

In light of the devastating tornado that hit Oklahoma yesterday I just wanted to post some links to where you can go and donate to help with the relief effort. Thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by yesterday’s storm.

Visit the American Red Cross or Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief

Salvation Army

United Way of Central Oklahoma

Be generous these people can really use the help right now.

Cooking Classes Week 4: Fish

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Week 4 has been my favorite class so far. First we were taught how to scale and skin a fish. Then, instead of following a recipe from the book the chef taught us a few techniques how to cook fish; grilling, sauteing, and butter roasting. After going over these techniques we were able to experiment with seasonings and sauces to pair with the fish.

I chose to butter roast snapper fillets. I seasoned the snapper with white pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, dill, and Spanish paprika. I then preheated the pan. As the pan was heating I lightly coated the fish with canola oil, then when the pan was hot I placed a tablespoon of oil in the pan. I then placed the fish in the pan, turning the heat down after 30 seconds. When the fish turned white halfway through I flipped the fish and added 4-5 tablespoons of butter to the pan and turned down the heat. As the butter melted I basted the fish with the butter for 1-2 min until the fish was done, squeezing lemon juice over the fish at the very end.

After removing the fish from the pan I drained out most of the butter and added a chopped shallot and garlic. I then deglazed the pan with white wine and reduced it by 3/4. After reducing the wine I added spinach and sauteed the spinach. I served the fish over the spinach.

Pan Cooked Chicken in Pale Ale Bacon Reduction Sauce

Pale Ale chicken

Tonight I continued my series in cooking with beer. The beer featured in this recipe is the Blue Heron pale ale from the Mendocino Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, NY. I chose their pale ale because I thought its flavor would work better with chicken. Their beer is also great for drinking. The pale ale very good but my favorite beer the have is the red tail ale.

The recipe for the sauce has the same proportions for many of the other pan sauces I have made. You can get creative and switch out different ingredients to build new flavors.  Their pale ale and the bacon in this sauce worked great with each other and built a very complex flavor into the sauce. You can also use this sauce with beef or pork. However if you are making it for beef substitute beef broth for the chicken broth. You can find the recipe below as well as a link to the Mendocino Brewing Company’s website.

Pan Cooked Chicken in Pale Ale Bacon Reduction Sauce

Mendocino Brewing Company

Cooking Class Week 3: Game Birds

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Week three of the cooking class focused on game birds like duck, pheasant, and quail. At the beginning of the class the Chef talked us through all the different kinds of game birds and how their tastes differ. The techniques for breaking down the game birds were the same as the techniques we learned in week one with the chicken. I impressed myself and remembered the proper way to cut a bird in the European style. The dish I decided to cook was the Margret De Canard Au Poivre Vert, which is a pan cooked Muscovy duck with a green peppercorn cream sauce.

I chose this dish becasue I wanted to properly learn how to cook a duck. The most important lesson I learned is that you cook duck until it has the correct look, no need to stick to a certain time just cook it until your duck skin has a nice golden brown. In order to ensure proper cooking you must first heat a pan over high heat. Then rub oil, such as peanut or canola oil, and salt and pepper on duck. Once pan is heated place duck in pan, keep it at high heat until the edges of skin turn golden brown ~3-4 min. Turn down heat and continue to render the fat out of the duck. As more fat renders out of the duck feel free to drain the pan and keep duck fat to the side. As the duck is cooking take a spoon and pour rendered fat from pan over the duck to start to cook the opposite side. Once the skin side has reached your desired color and crispiness, flip the duck over and cook 1~2 min then remove from pan

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Last Night I made the Beef Stroganoff recipe we were given at the cooking class on Monday night. To warn you in advance this recipe is all about taste, not so much on being healthy. It calls for quite a bit of heavy cream and sour cream. This dish is very rich and is perfect for a cold day. I’m a bit short on time so I will update this post and add the recipe next week. I’m away this weekend so there will not be any posts for the next few days.

Cookin Classes Week 2: Beef, Veal, Lamb and Pork

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In week two of the cooking classes we learned how to prepare and cook various forms of meat. The class started with a talk about the various types of each meat, ie the difference between choice and prime cuts of beef. We were then walked through where on the animal various cuts of meat came from. After the short lesson the chef taught us how to prep and French a rack of lamb and prep a pork and veal tenderloin. Then we got into the cooking. I chose to cook a roasted veal tenderloin with a maple bourbon glaze, Ben I’m sorry about the veal. One skill I will take away from this recipe was learning how to properly sear a piece of meat. From properly preheating the pan to the proper time to flip the meat. The chef was very good about answering any questions we had during the class. A few of the other dishes from the class that stood out were the beef stroganoff, the Thai curried pork, and the tri tip that the head chef prepared for us. I look forward to trying out those dishes in the near future.

Recipe Updates

I went back and updated two of the recipes. I just wanted to improve a few things from the first time I made them. Most of the improvements are small but make a big difference in the finished product. Enjoy!

Chicken Stock

Sichuan Boiled Beef

Chicken Stock

Chicken stock

Continuing on with my homework assignment from the cooking classes, I took the chicken carcass from the other night and made a chicken stock. The recipe is very simple, the only difficult part of the recipe is that it takes 4-5 hours to make. You can use the stock as a soup or you can use it in sauces or other dishes you decide to cook. If you have the time I would recommend trying to make your own chicken stock.

Chicken Stock

Update: Sterling Duns Mixtape Now Avaliable!!!

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Are you looking for some good music to listen to while you cook? Or just good music to listen to in general? if you are go check out my man Sterling Duns at www.hardworkmovement.com you won’t be disappointed. He plays guitar, raps, sings, and cracks jokes to just brighten your day. Tell your mom, dad, sisters, brothers, friends, grandmas, grandpas, everyone you see to go and check him out. Today he releases his second mixtape: Gift Wrappin’ you can download the mixtape HERE. You can follow him on twitter @SterlingDuns or like him on Facebook. Now go and download the mixtape, he’s just following his dream putting out good music for good people.

Download Mixtape HERE