Monday, May 31, 2010

Glycogen and Fitness

Glycogen and Fitness


When considering a fitness program, for some, it is very important to understand how gluclose affects and supplies our bodies with necessary fuels for us to recieve the maximum benefits from our dieting and fitness programs.

To be physically fit you need to develop enough flexibililty and muscle strength along with muscle and cardio-respiratory endurance to allow us to meet the demands of life with energy left to spare. This energy (fuels) that support physical activity are derived from glucose (from carbohydrates), fats (from fatty acids) and in a limited capacity, amino acids from proteins. While resting, our bodies depend on fatty acids to provide us with over half of the energy it needs.

Glucose is stored in our liver and kidneys as glycogen. Our glycogen supplies are limited which is why the fatty acids are vitally important. Our muscles can only store up to 2000 kcalories as glycogen while fat can contain up to 70,000 kcalories of energy, so when our physical activity is strenuous, especially for endurance athletes, the glycogen stores can get depleted rather rapidly, and once depleted our bodies depend on the fat and fatty acids to provide our muscles with the necessary glucose it needs.

The rate at which glycogen stores are used depends on two things: the duration of the exercise and the intensity of the exercise. As a general rule, people that work out for more than 45 minutes should pay attention to the amount of glycogen it stores and generally for those that exercise moderately or under 45 mins a good, sound diet is usually sufficient to maintain our glycogen storage. This is why it is often recommended for endurance athletes to consume at least 50-100 grams of carbohydrate immediately following a workout or other strenuous activity.

As stated by Bodybuilding.com, all carbs are not created equal. I could not agree with this more and in order to develop the glycemic index it is important to consume smart carbohydrates that offer a high glycemic index. Bodybuilding.com offers some good advice on the glycemic index and offers several lists on high versus low glycemic index foods depending on your overall goal of your fitness program. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/zaino14.htm

Some foods that contain a high glycemic index include potatoes, short grain rice, white bread, pancakes/waffles, cornflakes and watermelon. With that being said, one of the best choices when involved in a fitness program is to choose a high carbohydrate diet, but keeping in mind that not all carbs are created equal. If you are going to research carbohydrates that may be beneficial to your fitness program I recommend that you look for carbohydrates that are listed as "high-impact carbs", there are several good sources on the internet that cover this subject, bodybuilding.com being a very good one.

Many athletes use a method called "Carb Loading" before an event. Basically, carb loading can nearly double the muscle carbohydrate concentration. The athlete will taper off training 7 days before the event and carb load three days prior to the event going from consuming 5 grams per weight pound to 10 grams per pound.

In speaking with Robin, she recommends that her clients pump up on high glycemic carbs to build up the glycogen levels before, during and after working out.

If this subject or anything contained within concerns you please send me an email and I can attempt to answer any questions that you have, and as I always say, please keep in mind that I am not a dietician, nutritionist or have a medical background, I am just your happy little buddy that happens to know a little bit about food and dieting....
Peace, Hugs and Cookies,

Chef Mike

Glycogen and Fitness--Part One

I had gotten a conversation about the importance of Glycogen and Fitness with a good friend of mine, Robin Powell. Robin owns P3 Fitness in Anderson, SC and I  had always intended on finishing this article and finally getting life on an even keel and have the opportunity to talk about something that should be very important to all of us.



Robin pumping it out at P3 Fitness


Technical Definitions for the Glycogen Articles

Before I get into the CheffyBabbles I thought it would be a good to give technical definitions to some of the phrases/words that we are going to discuss in this set of articles. These may not make sense now, but hopefully when this series of articles is complete you will. If this is of special interest to you I would recommend you print this page out for reference.

Glycemic Index- ratings of the effect on glucose based on the carbs upon food ingestion (GI). The lower the GI ranking, the lesser the effect on the glycemic effect.

Glycemic Effect- how food raises blood glucose and elicits insulin

Insulin-a hormone excreted in response to high blood glucose.

Glycogen-is made and stored in the liver and our muscles as a form of glucose. Found in animals in only a limited amount and not present in plants at all. We store most of our glucose in our liver and muscles and is released when our blood glucose falls (like in between meals or when working out)

Glucose-Blood sugar/energy. A monosaccharide; the root for disaccharides and polysaccharides. Our bodies primary energy source.

Lactate- During intense activity muscles excrete lactate into our bloodstream which is then filtered by our liver and in turn released as glycogen.

VO2 max- VO2 max refers to the maximum volume of oxygen consumed.

Physical activity benefits the body's nutrition by helping regulate the use of fuels, pushes the body compostion more towards lean, and helps us increase our daily kcalorie allowance. Physical Fitness and weight training helps us to manage or prevent several chronic diseases, enhances our physical and psychological well being, improves posture, strengthens our back and helps us maintain and maximize our bone mass.

So what's not to like????

Physical activity lowers your blood pressure, slows your pulse rate & raises your "good" cholesterol levels. The math really isn't that hard to do...


It saddens me to think that approximately 25% of adults in the US are completely inactive or sedentary if you will...pretty pathetic statistic...
People that know me know that I am and have always been a little guy, and when offering dietary advice some people kind of frown on the skinny kid that won't ever have to worry about being fat giving dietary consultation. The fact is that I won't ever have to worry about being unhealthy either. Not because I am a little guy but because I live my life, although not seriously active, I am active.
I take my walks everyday, attempt to do my Tai Chi at least once a week, ride my bike around 30 miles a week, spend more time on my feet than I do on my butt, etc. It really isn't about the intensity of your exercise, it is the point that you are getting your exercise, burning calories, eating right and enjoying life. When you exercise not only do you feel better about yourself and those around you, but you look better, your behaviors are more positive and people notice you for that "positive you"...It's a win-win situation. The Dietary Guidlines for Americans 2005 states that we need to spend a minimum of 30 mins out of our day in some form of physical activity.
When you exercise your option of being more active you allow yourself to become more flexible, build up your cardiovasular system and muscle strength to allow you the endurance to face the needs of day to day life with more energy to spare. Again, what's not to like???
Anyway, my point to this little preface before I get into the CheffyBabbles is just to ask everyone to stop for 30 minutes out of your day for you...go for a walk, work in the yard, take your kids on a bike ride, not only will you feel better about you but your world will become a much happier place to be...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Casseroles-Recipes-Seafood

Casseroles-Recipes-Seafood

(Short Ribs with Chipotle/Roasted Garlic BBQ, Roasted Garlic Potato Puree and Summer Vegetable Cheddar Casserole)


Being a child of the sixties, a point in history that was well known for the housewives in America feeding their families casseroles of some sort or another, especially when you come from a family as large as mine (9 siblings), I have had my fair share of casseroles.

Not a big fan of casseroles since those days at home, but I find myself often making them in the real kitchen; who doesn’t love a potato dauphinoise or au gratin??

Here are a couple of the recipes that I really enjoy, stay tuned there is a lot more to come…

The first one is from Sonia Martinez. Sonia is an accomplished cooking instructor, food writer, consultant etc…she so rocks…this recipe I got from her quite a while ago for a Shrimp Casserole,

“Casserola de Camarones Enchilados”

2 cups shrimp, cooked and peeled
2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
1 onion, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked white rice

Saute the onion, garlic and green pepper in the butter. Add the shrimp, salt and pepper. Stir in the canned tomatoes. Add the cooked rice. Place in casserole dish and bake at 375oF for 30 minutes

Pretty straightforward isn't it? Not only is this dish quick and simple it has a very neutral and great flavor so it gives you a lot of room to play and add things to this dish…mushrooms, chipotles, roasted vegetables, different types of rice, utilizing herbs and spices, blah, blah, blah…is a great dish….Thanks Sonia....

So staying along the seafood thought process…

I don’t know where I stole this recipe from, maybe it was Chef Roy but I’ve had it forever, and have made it a bunch but I know that I didn't invent this one.  I always substitute the first couple steps with using fresh seafood instead, this really is an awesome dish and makes for a good special when you are trying to move product.

Seafood au gratin
"Fruits de mer au gratin"

1 pound frozen cod filets, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound pre-cooked mixed frozen seafood
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, cleaned and sliced in rounds
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
 pinch of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons very fine dry bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of water to simmer and add the cubed cod. Simmer just until done (this should only take two or three minutes). Add the frozen seafood and simmer just until thawed (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and drain immediately.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven or sturdy pot on medium heat. Add the leeks and the mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are soft (about 8 minutes). Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of flour and cook, stirring for one minute to thoroughly coat the vegetables with flour.

Pour on the white wine and stir well to combine. Then mix in the milk and cream. Heat until thick and just below the boiling point, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and add the parsley, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the seafood mixture.

Pour the mix into a 9X13 inch buttered baking dish. Mix together the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs and sprinkle this evenly on top of the casserole.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F. Serve your seafood casserole piping hot with rice.

Another very neutral dish that gives you room to play...the possibilities are endless...

Well, standby I have more coming including my process and a story about Chicken Etouffee, and of course the inevitable potato...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oldest Casserole Recipe I found...

I am finding this very interesting due to the fact that I am mixing my love for history along with my love for food...

This is the oldest casserole-type recipe that I have found from the book Apicus (not to be confused with the gourmands Apicus, the book is assumed not to be written by any of the three gourmands named Apicus, but may be a treatise of a combination of the works that they have done in the name of gluttony)

PATINA DE PISCICULIS (Soufflee of Small Fishes)

(Apic. 4, 2, 30)

Ingredients:
------------
500g      boiled fillet of small fishes or whole sardelles
150g      dried raisins (sultanas)
1/2 tsp   freshly ground pepper
1 tblsp   Liebstoeckl
1 tblsp   oregano
2         small diced onions
200ml     oil
50ml      Liquamen, or 1/2 tsp salt
some cornstarch

Instructions:
-------------
Mix raisins, pepper, Liebstoeckl, oregano, onion, wine, Liquamen and oil
together and put in a casserole. Cook until done. Then put small boiled
fish fillets or boiled small whole fishes into it. Thicken with a bit of
cornstarch and serve.


It took a little bit of doing to decipher some of these ingredients but this is what I came up with and I may not be right, but this is as close as I could come...







---Liebstoeckl:  In Latin it's called 'levisticum officinale'.  The closest I could figure was Lovage in being that Lovage's stalks are eaten much like celery and the roots/seeds/flowers are used today mainly in confectionery.

-- Liquamen: a salty fish sauce. closely resembling Nahm Plah (Thai Fish Sauce)

Casserole-The Pot Itself





Casseroles-The Pot

As many that have grown to know me or follow the inevitable CheffyBabbles knows that I have a deep passion for both Asian and Spanish foods. When Andrea started asking questions about casseroles it brought me to asking questions about casseroles in a deeper sense because after all, I am an information junkie when it comes to food and the Asian and  European cultures are two of the oldest cultures known to man.

My first thought was about the origination of casseroles, cazuelas, terra cotta and a million other ancient cooking vessels that have withstood the test of time. Last night when I wrote the ‘Casserole History’ article I really got around to thinking more about the vessel instead of the food itself. When you think about the origination of pottery, whether it was the Asians, the Sumerians or any of the other tribes in Mesopotamian civilization, it really triggers a lot of thought into what our ancestors were actually using to cook with…

So a googling I went…Knowing that the Sumerians and Assyrians principally were the forefathers of much of the worlds history I found this article that I thought was very cool, which stated that covered clay cooking vessels were documented in 1700 BCE…a very cool and thought provoking article.

Mesopotamian Menus

Other google searches brought up a bunch of other stuff and I read all afternoon about ancient cooking techniques, vessels, periods etc., the brain is in definite overload and can perhaps be a reason for a separate CheffyBabble. I think I have made my point and hopefully piqued someones curiousity…

So anyway, back to my point about casseroles and vessels. The invention of a fire-safe earthenware pot is perhaps several millennia old and logically it is hard to fathom that the ‘casserole’, as a dish,  is a culinary invention that recently came to pass within the past couple centuries.


Some further reading that I found pretty interesting

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Casseroles-A little history

This series of posts came from a request from Andrea and Matthew...I believe that Andrea's statement was that she couldn't stomach the idea of the casserole recipes that she was finding that directed her to open up a can of tuna fish and a quart of cream...so here is the beginning of the CheffyBabbles....


 (pictured here...Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Casseroles for 1000 pp)

Cassaroles as we know them today came into light early in the 1900’s, meaning a dish that could be cooked in one pot, generally in earthenware over or in an open hearth. The word casserole, as a noun, comes from the French, meaning ‘saucepan’

In the 16th century (stories vary if this was during Aztecan rule or after) the Aztecans had a dish called “Budin Azteca” which translates into “Pudding of the Aztecs” but is actually one of the first references that I have found that resembles a casserole-type dish. I have served Budin Azteca in several restaurants that I have managed, including on the menu when I was a guest at the International Gourmet Festival in Puerto Vallarta in 2004. I love this dish…The Spanish were very particular about their casserole type dishes, including Spain, Mexico, and most definitely Cuba.

In this series I will share a recipe for a Shrimp Cassarole that was sent to me by my good friend, a cooking instructor/food writer and fellow culinarian Sonia Martinez that I have made on several occasions that is very simple and  just spectacular.

Antonin Careme, the grandfather of modern cookery (1784-1833) has documented several types of casserole dishes, all of which contained rice. Careme’s casserole was cooked rice that was then shaped into small ovals or rounds, topped with a clarified butter and baked. Once the crust was formed on these mounds of rice, the centers were scooped out and filled with a savory filling and generally served with duchess potatoes as a side course.

In 1903, Chef Adolphe Meyer had included several casserole dishes in his book “The Post-Graduate Cookery Book” which basically was a Chicken Stew with potatoes and aromatic vegetables, much like today’s Beef Stew. (New York : Caterer Pub. Co., ©1903.)

According to LaRousse’s Gastrominique from the early 1960’s it states that cassaroles in France were generally rice dishes that were accompanied by some sort of protein and cooked in a ‘cassarole dish’ consisting of two or more ingredients. Although it does not describe this vessel I am assuming that they are referring to a lidded casserole dish much like the one that we use today or perhaps in some sort of dutch oven that could withstand the heat of hot coals.

Today’s version, which can include practically any meat, fowl, seafood, vegetable, root, grain, pasta or whatever probably came into play during World War II when women were the American workforce to simplify matters in the home.




Stay tuned, still a lot more CheffyBabbles to come about Cassaroles...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stump the Chef Cooking Class-Story and Plates


Last November myself along with NV Salon hosted an event for the American Cancer Society and donated the money in my Jamie's name for Cancer Research.

NV Salon had donated a good amount of time marketing the event for me which was a choice of Sushi Roll along with an Asian Noodle Salad. Everyone that donated money for the event had their name put in a hat to win a "Stump the Chef" cooking class.

One of the women that was instrumental in making the event a success, Stacy Dirr was the winner of the class and I was pretty excited. Not only do I feel that Stacy and her husband Robert are stellar individuals, I was extra excited because she had put in so much time and effort into making the event a success. So anyway, we had the class yesterday (March 21st)

The Menu/Class

Based on Stacy's request, the class had an Asian theme, so we prepared:

Sesame Scented Star Anise Dinner Rolls
Hoisin Mayonnaise from scratch
Smoked Chicken
Asian style Basmati Rice
Asian Cole Slaw (we used the Hoisin Mayonnaise as a base for the dressing)
Redneck Un-Sushi Rolls (smoked chicken, cole slaw and assorted vegetables)
Hoisin and Sesame stir fried vegetables with Smoked Chicken
Snow Peas sauteed in Sesame Oil and Sea Salt

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cutting Techniques



Cutting Methods

Cutting is a generic term for all of the different methods of using your knife to prepare you meats and vegetables. One of the most important things to remember about cutting is to ensure that all of your cuts are uniform in size so that your foods will cook evenly.

Chopping- to chop means to cut into irregular sizes, not really concerning ourselves with the uniformity of the final product. Good for stocks and sauces, when you want a bite in your final product like stews, foods that are going to be broken down or processed in a food processor or some other means of breaking down your chopped product.

Slicing refers to cutting a product thinly whether it is roast beef, ham, an onion or an apple.

Dicing- to dice means to cut the food in cubes that are all the same size, whether it is a meat or a vegetable

Julienne and Chiffonade- In the traditional sense, julienne and chiffonade mean to slice thinly in long (matchstick) cuts. The difference between the two is that if you hear the term chiffonade it is referring to herbs and spices, whereas julienne refers to everything else.

Parallel Cutting is an efficient method for dicing things like carrots and onions. The idea of parallel cutting is to ensure the uniformity of your food product whether meat or vegetable, by holding your knife parallel to the cutting board and making an incision across then slicing downwards.

Vertical Cutting means to cut the product down its length, such as you would with celery and green onions and then inverting them and cutting down to make a nice dice or mince.

Mincing is basically the same as dicing but is done much finer than a dice. Mincing generally refers to onions, garlic and ginger.

Crushing is a technique that is used best with foods like ginger and garlic. Simply take the side of your knife and lay it on the product and press down evenly on the blade to crush it. This is an easy way to begin the mincing process and is the best way to peel garlic.

Roll and Oblique Cuts- these cuts are nice for presentation. The best way to do it is make a 45 degree angle cut to your product give it a quarter turn and continue the process of the cut and the turn. Roll cuts are basically all the same whereas oblique cuts are all different, you are still turning your product but the degree and the angles of your cuts are different giving each piece a distinct shape.

Shredding and Grating are also methods of cutting and they are easily done in a food processor or on a box-type grater.

Moist Heat Cooking Part One





Basting

Basting simply means applying some form of liquid to the food that you are cooking, whether it is Chef Scott’s Cumin-Chipotle Marinade or brushing BBQ sauce on your burger at one of your backyard barbeques.

The term “basting” generally applies to adding liquid to a protein; this liquid can be fat, marinade, pan juices or some other kind of sauce/liquid. The possibilities are endless; it all depends on the creativity of the cook. Basting can be done whether you are baking, broiling, roasting, barbequing, smoking or any other form of dry heat cooking.

If you have ever brushed a piece of fish with butter or added BBQ to your ribs or burgers then you have basted!!! ChungaChungaBam Baby!!!!

Blanching

Blanching means to par boil or par steam a food (usually vegetables). The idea is to partially cook the food and then quickly cool the product so that it enables you to use it at a latter time.

Blanching aids in the preservation of flavor, color and texture of the foods blanched, hinders the ripening enzymes that can destroy the foods, and is the best way to preserve foods before freezing. Blanching also is the best way to preserve the vitamins and other essential nutrients of the raw food.

The most important thing to remember in blanching is that you are par cooking the product, not cooking it. If you take the product and immediately submerge it in ice water you will stop the cooking process by bringing it down to less than 40 degrees as quickly as possible, which halts the cooking process.

Boiling

Boiling means just that, bringing water or some other form of liquid to a boil and cooking your product until it is finished.

I personally do not recommend boiling vegetables because you lose a lot of the nutrients that Mother Earth had given us in the raw form, I prefer to steam any vegetable I can. But there are things in our little culinary world that must be boiled or at least par boiled, like grains and pasta.

As far as pasta or some any other grain or grain based product that you may have to boil is concerned, I recommend quick cooling, such as the ice bath method I explained in the blanching section, running under cold water or by laying your product evenly on a pan or some other piece of equipment that you can refrigerate in order to halt the cooking process as quickly as possible until it is ready to use.

Par-Boiling

Par Boiling is basically the same as blanching, but has a wider spectrum. What I mean is that par boiling not only means vegetables, but also grains and pastas among others. The premise is the same though, you are par cooking your product, par boiling generally means that you are cooking your product longer. I prefer to par boil or par steam root vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, celery root, carrots and potatoes to make them easier to use when it comes time to apply the product to my recipes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knife Pictures


 Here are some photographic expressions of the knives that I was talking about in the last article


Chef's Knives in a variety of shapes and sizes. The last three knives are called Santoku knives which in Japanese means "three virtues". I use my Santoku Chef's Knives perhaps more than I use any other knife for a couple reasons...One is the way that they feel in my hands and just as important is the scalloped sides of the knife which allows air between the blade and the product which permits the easy release of vegetables when cutting thin slices and when cutting starchy vegetables like potatoes and rutabaga.

 


The Simitar Knife- named after a Japanese sword of similiar shape, the simitar is great for cutting larger peices of meat based on the shape of the knife, especially with the pointed edge so that you can weave between any bones that you may encounter.




Boning Knives


The offset or Z-Knife, pictured here are two different kinds, the top one I use on cleaning fruits and general knife use when I am not concerned with tearing the product and the bottom on I use specifically for cleaning fruits like cantalope, honeydew, watermelon etc. Both of these knives work equally well as a bread knife.


A bread knife


Slicing knife-good for slicing cooked meats like roast beef etc.


Paring Knives

Knife Selection- Part One of There Is No One Way To Cook

(pic-teaching basic knife skills in a cooking class in Knoxville)

Knife Selection and Cutting Techniques

In today’s world, there are so many choices to consider when purchasing a knife; I am going to attempt to simplify the process some, and I cannot stress the importance of choosing the right knife for the right job, but here are some pointers when trying to decipher what is what...

There are generally two main types of knives, although with the aid of alloys in today’s market there are a thousand variations of each. The two main types of knives are carbon steel and stainless steel. The carbon steel is lighter, easier to sharpen and in some cases can rust if not properly cared for. The stainless steel knives are a denser knife that is not as easy to sharpen. Personally and professionally I use both types, I have some that I seldom use and others that I use all of the time.

If you are going to purchase a set of knives, the most commonly used blades are the stainless steel and here is a list of knives that are important if you are going to purchase a set.

Paring Knife- excellent for a variety of purposes from peeling potatoes to doing intricate fruit and vegetable garnishes.

Chef’s Knife- a large broad bladed knife that simplifies the rocking motion of slicing, dicing, and general cutting techniques.

Boning Knife- slightly larger than a paring knife with a very flexible blade that enables the operator to weave in and out of bones with the flexibility of the blade.

Slicer- A long, thin bladed knife that makes the slicing and carving of meats and the peeling of large fruits easier.

Offset knife (also called the Z knife) -The offset knife is called the Z knife because it is shaped like a Z with a high end handle that slopes down to the thin serrated blade. This is by far my favorite knife in my professional kitchen, it allows me the mobility to rock my knife back and forth, has a serrated edge so that it is efficient in slicing and cutting as well, and is perhaps one of the most versatile knives in the kitchen. The downfall to this is that because it is serrated it can tear a product instead of cutting it, like all the other knives, each one has a purpose and it is up to you to decide which knife is appropriate for which task.

Meat Cleaver- A heavy, thick bladed knife that is used frequently in the Eastern/Asian styles of food preparation, they are good for everything from slicing and dicing vegetables to cutting through bones.

Although there are a huge variety of knives to choose from, personally I feel that these are the most important. One point I would like to make though is that the more expensive a knife is does not necessarily reflect on its quality. Each knife is different. I have knives that are worth several hundred dollars, but I am just as happy with the $25.00 knife I bought at “Cook’s Corner”. Find one that suits you, feels good in your hands and most importantly, will suit your needs. I also recommend buying a sharpening stone and sharpening steel so that you can continue to care for your new purchase.

There is no one way to cook- Preface



“…There is no one way to cook.  For every level of work there should be a consciousness of doing that work well and constantly striving for the next level of quality and enjoyment of the process.

All people are different and have different goals.  But if there was a common goal among us, let it be that we focus on the enjoyment of the process.”

Chef Scott Monteverde ( in response to a Chef Mike “CheffyBabble”)

I have gotten in this conversation more times than I can remember. Whether I was talking to Knoxville Harry about the simplicity of food and the importance of technique or if I am talking to Chef Scott about the depth and the layering of flavor or Suzy/Sammy Home-Maker about some recipe or method they would love to try …my answer is all the same…

Basics, Basics, Basics!!!!

In order for culinary art to become a craft one must perfect the basics.

“There is no one way to cook…”

The basics of cooking never change, never have, never will. In this set of articles I am going to include some of the basic principles in order to become a good cook, once these principals are understood and we can become efficient in their methods then ( and only then) will we become better cooks and culinarians.

I am briefly going to touch base on what I feel like are the most important techniques, to attain more knowledge on any of these techniques please visit your local library, hang out in your favorite bookstore, or (thanks to today’s technology) simply conduct a web search, the amount of information available from any of these sources on any of these subjects is endless.

ChungaChungaBam Baby!!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Me and Facebook



Due to the simplicity of things, I am putting up most of my stuff on Facebook

Your Craving Is My Command on Facebook

I will continue to put articles and pics on the blog, but FB is pretty simple and don't have to go through all of the formatting that I have to do on the blog...

Thanks for your interest, we still have a ton of great stuff coming up, including a continuing contribution that I had started writing entitled "There is no one way to cook..." is going to be a fun and informative set of articles...

Peace, Hugs and Cookies,
Michael

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just trying out the link-Chef Mike on Facebook

Playing around on Facebook this morning and couldn't get this html to work so I am publishing it here to check the link...


Visit Michael at:
Chef Mike's Your Craving Is My Command fan page

Friday, February 12, 2010

About the "Timing Is Everything Article"

Inspiration through Conversation

For those that know me and/or have been following the CheffyBabbles for a while know, that I love to write like I talk...say what I mean, mean what I say and try not to say it mean...

Most of my inspirations come from conversations with people that are in the industry, thus my "Timing is Everything" article, an inspiration through conversation with Chef Mark...

I am currently attending culinary school with the hope of removing myself from the ground and pound of the restaurant industry and go into being a culinary educator, but anyway....

Chef Mark Bergstrom is one of my instructors, an inspirational human being (170 pounds of encyclopedia) and the inspiration of this article.

As professionals that have grown, prospered and have had our asses kicked in this industry, we take the yin/yang approach of our predecessors, we have grown to be kinder and gentler chefs, Chef Mark's mannerisms prove that he is one of those...

One of the most important things of being a manager in the food industry is timing...everything is about timing and deadlines, no matter what color you paint it.

Food is money, Labor is money, Time is money...I am the Chef...I am responsible for the waste...

A couple years ago I wrote an article about having systems in the workplace and after hearing Chef explain to other students about the importance of organizing their time I reflected on this article even though I had written it a long time ago in a far different world. Yesterday before class I went into Chef's office and was going to tell him about the "Systems in the Workplace" article and he perked up and asked if the article was about timelines before I had time to finish...I laughed and told him no....well, not yet anyway...

After lecture started I thought more and more about it and was so inspired that it was hard to listen to lecture because the CheffyBoy's brain-housing group was thinking about all the shit he wanted to say in this article, which is one reason why the articles thoughts are all over the place...I am not a writer, I am an expressionist...say what I mean, mean what I say and never say it mean...

Inspirations Baby...Gotta love inspirations....

Thanks Chef...you rock....

Timing Is Everything-An Inspiration by Chef Mark Bergstrom

 
(pic-me and Chef Sam racing to cut 600 pounds of pork loin for a party)

Timing is everything…

Whether you are restaurant owner, a chef, a catering manager, a waitress, or any position in any profession for that matter, we seem to often find ourselves creating systems to ascertain that our professional lives become a simpler version of what we face day to day.

Timing is everything…

I am a cook first and foremost, but more importantly, as a chef and culinary professional, I am a manager of time, people and money- bottom line….it’s not always about the food, but it is always about the systems that evolve around that food.

Orchestration is a good expression of who I am and what I do as a culinary professional…I am merely a director of a grand theatrical expression…dining is an expression of my craft, it is up to me to bring my craft into art, it is not art's responsibility to be a part of who I am as a craftsman.

After all, I am just a magician that dresses funny…

Timing is everything…

From that two top that just got sat in Suzy’s section, to that plated dinner party of 1200, it is all the same…time, organization, communication .

The time to think the whole process through, being organized so that you are producing a safe, sanitary and phenomenal product , communicating with the entire staff so that there is the least amount of stress created by allowing the left hand to know what the right hand is doing and last but not least by creating and expressing your craft as an art…

Timing…

For some, timing is an afterthought when it should always be THE forethought…

Building backwards

In order to build backwards we must be able to understand the entire thought process front to back and back to front…from the follow up with your client to the ordering that you did for the food on Wednesday, from the scheduling of staff that you turned in a week ago to your execution of break downs and clean up tonight.

If you don’t think, not only is your staff going to suffer from  the stress you inadvertently created,  but your food is going to suffer because you did not spend the time to think. Your craft will have no ability to prosper and grow into an art because organization is everything, and organization needs a timeline. Whether we like it or not…

In every stage of cooking, whether volume or not, systems must be created, if they are not, then you are setting yourself up to fail, or putting yourself in a psychotic frenzy with one eye on the clock while you just stuck your hand on a pan you just took out of the oven with the oven mitt that is on the other hand! Been there, done that, it sucks…trust me…

Although often dysfunctional, systems are developed for one reason, they work!!!!

It is up to the directors of this theatrical production to bring it into perspective and tweak the system so that it becomes efficient for all parties involved. Everything is dysfunctional if you analyze it long enough…

In general, the hospitality industry as a whole, is a stressful job, creating a system that is going to make life easier should always be your first and only option. It's all about taking a problem, attempting a solution and "making it happen” Without timing, this process is lost….and failure/near failure is never an option in our industry.

Building Backwards and Capitalizing on Timing

I remember when I was a kid and I would ask my Mother when dinner was gonna be ready, she would always tell me “When it’s done…” As Chefs and culinary professionals we do not have this option.

In the midst of pumping out a plate up for 2000 people I can hear Chef Mark hollering out “Veggies fired in 45 mins Ladies and Gentlemen, what temps are those roasts?? I need those hot boxes in the kitchen please…plating in one hour Ladies and Gentlemen!!! plating in one hour!!!”  to Waitress Wendy giving a 10 minutes head up for a Chocolate Souffle that is going out to Table 39…timing, our profession evolves around timing...

The mistake that is often made is that in attempting to organize our time we say we have to do this first, and then we need to do this, all through the process until we reach our final goal. The most efficient way is to work from your goal first and work backwards to your starting point.

“I need to pull the roast out, let it rest before I can slice it to pan it up to get it in the hot box and we start plating at 5:30, so I have to have the roast out by 5:00. It takes 3 hours to cook so we need to have it in the oven by 2:00, I want a good rub on the roast and let it sit for at least 6 hours, so I need to have the rub on there no later that 8:00”

It is all a thought process…

Regardless if you have been in the industry for 5 months or have been here for 50 years, there is always something to learn and some of those lessons do not come easily. Quite a few years back I had two parties on the books for the day, the first was a couple thousand, the second one, later in the day was for 25-the one for a couple thousand went off perfect, no flaws, everything was awesome. But when I did the party of 25, it was the hardest party I think I have ever done, I dropped the ball…

Why?

Because I didn’t respect the event…I just pumped out an ungodly amount of food in a short period of time and had no respect for the small party, I took my time for granted “hell, it’s only a party of 25 people…” wrong answer…I know that now. I pulled it off and everyone was happy, but I have never been the same...

Timing...

Everything that we do we should consider an event, I don’t care if it’s pumping out a meal for 5000, that two top that just got sat in Suzy’s section or you kissing your daughter on her forehead when you crawl in in the middle of the night…everything is an event.

The Buddhist Monk Wu Wei says “Everything that we do is an event, the only difference is how we react to it…”

Timing, Organization, Communication, Justice, Judgement, Decisiveness, Dependablity, Integrity, Tact, Intuitiveness, Earnest, Bearing, Understanding, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty and last but by no means the least Endurance…

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.





Timing is Everything!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reducing Sodium

There has been quite a few things in life, both professionally and personally that have come to pass recently. The general gist of most of the conversations has come back to the dieting programs that we follow (or worse yet, the ones that we believe in…)

So, let’s talk about Salt…

I had recently had in depth conversations about dieting programs with a friend of mine that is a personal trainer in Anderson, SC; we agree that it is important if we care about this vessel we call a body…we discussed salt, water, minerals, fiber, nutrients, what to do with it and what to do without it…cool stuff…

To avoid going into the cheffypsychobabble on salt history and commonly asked questions about salt you can refer to http://thecheffyboy.blogspot.com/2009/12/about-salt.html for a pseudo-in-depth babble about salt’s history and miscellaneous tidbits of CheffyBabbles…this is not the purpose of this rant, but there is some good information there as well…

The essence of my latest babble is about salt and dieting…

Salt attracts itself to water…common fact…the more salt you consume the more water is going to be retained by this intricate system some of us refer to as our body…  It does not cause you to gain or lose fat, it provides no calories. Salt retention aids in temporary weight gain because it retains water, and when on a sodium restricted diet you will shed some pounds…why???  You are expelling water…especially if you are on a relatively active regiment of burning your calories through exercise or daily routine…

Let’s do the math…

·         Restricting overall kcal’s. Check.

·         Consuming kcal’s that are going to be easy to burn. Check.

·         Training our bodies to enjoy the exercise that is necessary to burn these kcal’s. Check.

·         Reducing sodium so that water retention is at a minimal or at least to a point where they may be excreted during exercise or daily routine. Check.

·         Add one sound mind…Ahhhhh…Victory!!!!!!!

·          Checkmate!!!!

Lifestyle

Exercise

Attitude

Nutrition


Always think LEAN!!!!


Anything is possible…why change your lifestyle if you are not going to change your life…?

Salt is closely related to such issues as high blood pressure, weight gain and a numerous other anomalies that our bodies experience. Weight loss programs that focus on foods with little or no salt content, depending on how they are exercised, will decrease your weight gain and may even aid in a temporary weight loss because your reduction of sodium has led to a reduction of water retention. The problem I have with this goes back to my lifestyle statement-this is only a quick fix…why change your life if you are not going to change your lifestyle…

Once you start consuming those higher sodium foods again, guess what? you’re going to gain some of that weight back again because you are inviting that water back into your metabolism…If your metabolism is not going to be able to work off that additional water, scales don’t lie…a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds….period…

Almost every processed food known to man contains a good amount of sodium, granted that this sodium is not there for taste but as a preservative, the fact remains that it is still there. There are many, many studies that have connected salt with obesity and being overweight, the best place to start is right in your own refrigerator and pantry.

The foods that generally come with high sodium are generally calorie dense, fiber poor, processed foods, be it in the name of fast food, grocery store purchased convenient products, canned foods, frozen foods, the local pizza joint or whatever, these bad choices occupy our televisions, the grocery store shelves, our children’s minds and unfortunately our future unless we make the self commitment to spend some time on our health.

Before I go further, sodium along with potassium and electrolytes are necessary nutrients to our bodies, it prevents dehydration and helps maintain a healthy fluid balance in our bodies. The Recommended Daily Allowance of sodium is no greater than 3000 mg. The American Heart Society recommends around 1000mg. There is 2300 mg of sodium in one teaspoon of table salt…the math isn’t hard to do. Scared? You should be…

So what do I do and how do I do it?

Reducing sodium intake is not an easy task, especially for us westerners that consume an ungodly amount of salt (on an average American’s consume 5-10 times the amount of sodium we need). Here are a few tips to help you on your way…

·         Stay away from packaged, processed foods

·         If you must use canned vegetables, wash them and do not cook them in the liquid that is in the can. Also stay away from the soups, broths and bouillon cubes.

·         Remove the salt shaker from your table…that way if you do grab for it then at least your mind is programmed to ask yourself if you really want it.

·         Use a salt free substitute like “Mrs. Dash” and incorporate the use of herbs and spices into your dishes instead of salt.

·         Avoid fast food like the plague

·         Use fresh proteins-fish, meat, poultry

·         Eat your fruits and veggies!!!

·         Choose to make your own salad dressings instead of store bought

·         READ LABELS!!!

·         Nuts, Chips, Munchies---don’t even think about it…

·         The best place to start on a low sodium diet is on your next trip to the grocery store, look for words such as Sodium Free, Very Low Sodium, Low Sodium, Reduced (or less) Sodium, Light in Sodium, Unsalted

·         Reduce sodium while cooking, you don’t need the salt in your pasta water, or in your rices, grains or cereals

·         Use fewer sauces unless you are making them yourself or understand the sodium content of what is in the sauces that you are using.



Anyway, I could go on and on about reducing salt. I think that if this subject matter pertains to you then you kind of understand what I am trying to say. Reducing sodium is not an easy task, like any dieting program it takes discipline to make it successful. If you have any questions feel free to email me and I will attempt to address all questions.



Peace, Hugs and Low-Sodium Cookies,

Chef

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And the Winner is Robert and Stacy Dirr!!!!!


Sitting down to eat at a Stump the Chef class I gave in Mineral Point, WI

In November, I had organized a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at NV Salon in Greenville. Everyone that participated in the event had their name thrown in a hat to win a "Stump The Chef" class in their home.

The winner of the class is a big winner in Cheffy's book not only because she is a stellar individual but also because Stacy had done so much work and donated so much time to make the fundraiser event a success so I am pretty stoked about having Robert and Stacy win this class...

Stay tuned...the party is only beginning....

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Story of SHIT

This info and the other post about the 1500's came from my buddy Chef LouAnne...this is a great story...

Amazing fact that you probably did not know...yet everyone should!

In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be transported by ship and it was also before commercial fertilizer's invention, so large shipments of manure were common. It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less when  wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, it not only became
heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by
product is methane gas.

 As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could
(and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks and the first time
someone came below at night with a lantern, BOOOOM!

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined
just what was happening. After that, the bundles of manure were always
stamped with the term "Ship High In Transit" on them which meant for the
sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane.

Thus evolved the term "S.H.I.T " , (Ship High In Transport) which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.

You probably did not know the true history of this word.

 Neither did I.

Life in the 1500's

While spending the day organizing the office and purging emails  found this email that someone sent me back in 2003 when I was doing some research on  food history for a series of articles that I was writing for my old website "RestaurantEdge" is some fun reading, so I thought I would share it.


>LIFE IN THE 1500'S
>
>The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:
>
>These are interesting...
>
>Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.  Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
>
>Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
>
>Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
>
>There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.  That's how canopy beds came into existence.
>
>The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet , so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a "thresh hold."
>
>(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)
>
>In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.  Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
>
>Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off It was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."
>
>Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
>
>Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust"
>
>Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake."
>
>England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the
>bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."
>
>And that's the truth... Now , whoever said that History was boring ! !

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Chicken Head Lemon Garnish




Tried a couple times to do this vid, will post the finished product and get rid of this one once we have it done...this is a pretty bad vid, but the next one will be better...

Chicken Head Lemon Garnish Video