Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get Comfortable in the Kitchen

Are you as comfortable in the kitchen as you are in your blue jeans? The key to cooking a great meal is feeling as at home in your kitchen as you do in a favorite pair of jeans.

With the exclusive launch of her new book Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen and Blue Jean Chef cookware and cooking tools, Meredith Laurence is aiming to nix your kitchen anxieties once and for all. Between her informative recipes and smartly designed cookware, you’ll be feeling confident in the kitchen, making great meals.

With the help of Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen, you can settle into your kitchen comfort zone. Meredith brings home cooks the tips and tricks that she has acquired during years of working in cooking schools, test kitchens, and restaurants all over the world. Her explanations of recipes and techniques will give you the familiarity and ease that you need to whip up a fabulous meal. Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen is available exclusively through QVC and will be featured on In the Kitchen with David on October 31, 2010 at 12pm EDT.

For seasoned professionals and beginning home cooks alike, Meredith’s new line of Blue Jean Chef Cookware is the key to cooking with ease. Blue Jean Chef Cookware will be featured on QVC on October 31, 2010 at 7pm EDT. The program, Meredith Laurence - the Blue Jean Chef ,part of the Chef Sundays series, will feature a dishwasher-safe hard anodized aluminum set of pans, kitchen towels, a round ceramic baking dish, a grill pan, cutting boards, a cookbook holder (perfect for Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen), a trusty knife, and a selection of four of Meredith’s favorite wines to pair with recipes from her book. Blue Jean Chef products are designed to help you relax while you cook.

Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen is designed to teach basic techniques and then strengthen skills, each chapter contains basic recipes that will give you a solid understanding of how the dish works, and four other recipes that build on that technique, but use different ingredients to create a unique and delicious meal. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe and practiced the variations, you’ll be comfortable enough with the dish to improvise and make it your own! For example, start with the magically simple Basic Roast Chicken. Next, spice things up with Jerk Spiced Roast Chicken; Chipotle Orange Roast Chicken; Summer Ale Chicken with Caramelized Onions; and Five-Spice Roast Chicken. In addition to the basic recipes and their variations, each chapter has Blue Jean Chef Favorites: recipes that don’t fit into the basic groups, but are some of Meredith’s favorite dishes. With chapters on:
-Soups and Salads
-Snacks and Sandwiches
-Meat and Poultry
-Fish and Seafood
-Desserts and Treats

Meredith will help you have all your bases covered. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You may as well get comfortable!

About the Author
Meredith Laurence was born in Canada, but has made Philadelphia her home since 2001. She is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and has worked in numerous capacities and settings in the food world, from restaurants in France to California, cooking schools across the nation, and a culinary consulting test kitchen. Meredith’s belief garnered from her diverse experience is that being comfortable in the kitchen is the key to successful and enjoyable cooking. How comfortable? Well, as comfortable as you would be in your blue jeans, relaxing with friends. Meredith currently cooks on live television for QVC as the Blue Jean Chef.

Lemon Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
The cornmeal in these pancakes gives them a little crunch and a lovely yellow color. Add the lemon and blueberries, and they are delightful little pancakes.
Serves 6 to 8

1 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
butter or oil for greasing the pan

Mix all the dry ingredients with the lemon zest together in a large bowl. Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, lemon juice and oil or butter in a separate bowl or large glass measuring cup. In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until the egg white is fluffy and soft peaks form.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the two are just combined. Stir in the blueberries and then fold in the egg whites until you can’t see streaks of white anymore, but be careful not to over-mix the batter.
Pre-heat a non-stick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add a little oil or butter and lightly coat the surface of the griddle. When the butter no longer sizzles, but a droplet of water splashed into the griddle does sizzle, the griddle is ready to make the pancakes.

Pour batter onto the griddle, making pancakes of whatever size you wish. Do not disturb the pancakes until you see many little bubbles on the uncooked surface of the batter – about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook the other side until brown. Remove the pancakes from the griddle and repeat for next batch, adding butter or oil as desired between batches.

Basic Halibut en Papillote with Lemon and White Wine
To cook en papillote means to cook in parchment paper. All the ingredients are wrapped inside and the moisture trapped inside steams the fish. It’s perfect for fish that are more delicate and harder to handle. You can even serve the fish in its parchment wrapping, like a present on a plate. Healthy, easy, presents… what’s not to love?
Serves 4

4 fillets of halibut (about 6 ounces each)
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.

Cut out 4 large squares of parchment paper – about 13-inches by 15-inches each.

Place a fillet of halibut on one half of each piece of paper. Season the fish very well with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with lemon slices and thyme sprigs.

Brush the outer rim of the parchment squares with the beaten egg white. Dot each fillet with 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of white wine on each piece of fish.

Fold up each parchment square by folding one half of the paper over onto the other half and pressing together. Make a series of straight folds on the outer rim of the squares to seal the edge together.

Place the four packages onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The package should be puffed up and slightly browned when fully cooked. The fish should feel firm to the touch (you can carefully press on the fish through the paper).

You can serve these simply with the parchment paper cut open to reveal the insides, have your guests cut open the packages at the table, or remove the parchment completely, transferring the tasty insides to a plate.

Recipe explained…
The components required to cook fish en papillote are: a nice fillet of fish, some additional ingredients to provide flavor, a liquid to create steam, and (optionally) some fat to enhance the finished sauce. Once you have all your ingredients, the most challenging part of cooking en papillote is making sure the folds you make around the edges are tight enough to hold in the steam. There are a few tricks that help create the tight seal required.

First of all, using an egg white wash helps “glue” the paper edges together. I like to brush the perimeter of the parchment with egg white before I add any liquid to the package. The egg white wash helps to keep the liquid from running off the paper a little, but more importantly putting the egg white wash on first allows you to fold the edges of the paper immediately after adding the liquid, not giving it time to escape. Secondly, overlap each fold of the paper. Make an initial fold on one corner of the parchment, and then start the second fold in the middle of the first fold. (see photos on opposite page) Repeat the folds all the way around the fish and then twist the final fold to help keep it closed.

You won’t be able to see the fish cooking through the parchment, so you have to judge whether the fish is cooked by experience, by touching to feel if the fish is firm, and by gauging 10 minutes at 400° F for every inch of fish. Once cooked, the sauce has already been prepared in the parchment pouch. If you choose to serve the fish without the parchment, be sure to pour all that juice over the fish before serving.

Pork Medallions with Picatta Sauce
Picatta is a versatile Italian pan sauce made with lemons and capers. It’s a great sauce to have in your repertoire because you can pair it with chicken, pork, veal, fish or seafood.
Serves 3 - 4

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Pre-heat the oven to the lowest temperature possible – usually around 170° F.

Prepare the pork medallions. Remove the silver skin (the silver membrane found on part of the exterior of the tenderloin) by running a sharp knife underneath it and cutting it off the meat. Slice the tenderloin into 1-inch slices. Pound these slices gently with a meat pounder until they are approximately ¾-inch thick. Season the pork medallions with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the pork in the flour and shake off any excess.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the olive oil and sear the pork in batches for about 1½ to 2 minutes per side. Remove the pork and place on a platter, covered with aluminum foil, in the oven to keep warm.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the lemon slices to the skillet and brown lightly. Then, add the shallots and garlic to the skillet and cook for another minute, taking care not to burn the drippings in the skillet. Add the chicken stock and simmer, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet, until the liquid has reduced by half – about 8 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and capers to the skillet and continue to simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter to thicken the sauce. Add the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the pork medallions and any juices to the skillet and turn to coat all the pieces in the sauce. Serve immediately.

No comments: