Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cook Like a Chef -- Order up!

I know I am writing again after a month.... Oops.  I recently got a Casual job just for the weekends so I can afford to purchase the ingredients to keep on cooking and I have no more excuses excpet to say I will no longer make promises . I will however promise to write you with passion and deliver a fantastic blog piece every time that will make you want to grab an apron and cook away. Deal? Deal!!

So in saying that I have been meaning to write a menu for you to conjure up and show off to your loved ones. But after speaking to several foodie lovers I thought not only can I produce an amazing interchangeable menu that each recipe can be adapted and changed to suit you. But I thought about adding the “Laughing Chef Gotta Know” stuff which is basically easy to follow recipes that you and other foodie lovers have come up to me or emailed me asking me “how to make”. So read on and once your done have a try whipping up something, cooking shouldn’t be a chore it should be a treat and something fun. So instead of cooking something you are told to do or don’t know what you are even cooking why not cook something you acutally want to cook.

For example my sister Michelle went to Noosa Queensland with her partner Steve and they ordered Eggs Benedict (poached eggs on muffin with ham and hollandaise sauce) at Aroma Café in Hasting Street. Now this was Michelle’s first time in meeting Hollandaise sauce and Eggs Benedict and ever since Michelle goes on and on about Hollandaise Sauce and how great it is…. But do you guys know how easy it is to whip it up to then dollop on your freshly poached eggs. It is easy trust me please.  So for your next brunch event why not invite your mates over or family and impress them with Poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce….. (Directions to poach an egg are below as well). Michelle I hope you make this for Steve.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tbs water
175g unsalted butter, cut into 1.5cm cubes, at room temperature
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Place a heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan that is quarter-filled with water. The bowl should fit snugly into the pan without touching the water (lift the bowl to check and remove some water if it does).

** It is important that the water is barely simmering while making the sauce - if it is too hot, the egg yolks will cook too much and the sauce will curdle.

Place the egg yolks and the 2 tbs water in the heatproof bowl and place over the pan. Use a whisk to whisk the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until it is thick and pale, has doubled in volume and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.

Add the butter little bits at a time whisking constantly and adding bits of butter when the previous one is incorporated completely. (It should take about 10 minutes to add it all.) If butter is added too quickly, it won't mix easily with the egg yolks or the sauce may lose volume. At the same time, it is important that the butter is at room temperature and added a cube at a time, so that it doesn't take too long to be incorporated - if the sauce cooks for too long, it can curdle.

The sauce will begin to thin when you start adding the butter. However, once the emulsion is established (all butter has been added) it will begin to thicken again. It will continue to thicken as the remaining butter is added.

Remove the bowl from the pan .The cooked sauce should have the consistency of very lightly whisked thickened cream. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately over poached eggs.

Note: Now splitting your Hollandaise can happen trust me I had an order for 25 plates whilst working as a chef at the Windsor Hotel and we cooked our hollandaise on the spot and my Hollandaise split as the flame was too high and well I basically cooked it for too long. However a beautiful Sous Chef walked past and told me to add hot water and whisk… Guess what it works.So if your hollandaise splits you will see it splits as it look grainy…add 2 -3 tablespoons of boiling hot water and whisk.

Poached eggs a la Renee style

Free Range Eggs- Room temperature
White wine Vinegar

Working with 1 egg at a time, crack an egg into a small bowl . Fill a wide saucepan with water until half full. Add vinegar and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low-medium - water should be just simmering, with small bubbles rising from the base of pan and small ripples across the top of the water.

Using a wooden spoon or whisk, stir simmering water in one direction to create a whirlpool (this will help to give your poached eggs a neat shape).

Get a bowl of cold water ready for when the poached eggs are cooked.
Slide egg from bowl into centre of whirlpool, as close to water as possible. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a semi-soft yolk or 3-4 minutes for a firm-set yolk, without stirring.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer egg to a bowl of cold water (this stops the cooking process). Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. During and between cooking eggs, use slotted spoon to skim any foam from water surface. Repeat with remaining eggs. To reheat eggs, bring a clean pan of water to the boil then remove from heat. Add eggs. Stand, covered, for 1 minute. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve eggs on bagel or for Eggs Benedict toast muffin or thick slices of toast, Ham and poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce garnish with chopped chives and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.

Tips for perfect poaching: Adding vinegar or lemon juice to the water when poaching helps eggwhites to set quickly, keeping them attached to the yolks; Eggs purchased from the supermarket generally have a 4-week shelf life - look for those with the furthest away use-by date; Bring eggs to room temperature before poaching as cold eggs will lower the temperature of the water.

Another recipe must know is Mayonnaise so many people are purchasing Kraft full of addvitives mayonnaise  why when you can make your very own delicious mayonnaise and you can add your own flavours by adding garlic, basil, chilli ..yum!!

Laughing Chefs Famous Mayonnaise

 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
400 mls Olive oil
white pepper and salt to season

1. Place egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of Vinegar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until mixture just starts to thicken. (If you don’t have a food processor fear not you can use a bowl and whisk away!!!)

2. With the processor motor running, add oil mixture in a thin, steady stream, scraping bowl with a spatula occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy. Add remaining Vinegar .Season with white pepper . Process to combine.

3. Transfer mayonnaise to a small, airtight container. Place plastic wrap on the mayonnaise surface to prevent a skin forming. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


• For garlic Aoli , add 1 to 2 crushed garlic cloves with egg yolks in step 1 of basic mayonnaise. Add in crunchy baguettes or use as a dressing for potato salad.

The next must know is something I always used to make when I was an apprentice chef and now I know why. It tastes amazing and you make tasty delicious savoury treats with it. The recipe is Caramelised onions perfect in a puff pastry in a  fetta and olive tart or delicious as a garnish in salads or atop of chicken and fish for your main course. Actually my sister Michelle made a great point she was asking me how to make this and then she said “sometimes you get a recipe and it doesn’t make sense as it is not in beginners language”.

Michelle got me thinking there are so many levels there are the people that can cook but just go by the book and don’t embellish the recipe , people that do not know how to cook and literally go by the recipe and don’t taste the food or season and people that can cook but do it as a chore or the people that can cook but start out great and then rush their cooking process to get finished . I am here to tell you it’s ok  as long as you follow a recipe and yeah you might fail but the difference between the people that can cook and those that cannot is the ones that can cook keep cooking the dishes they get wrong until they are right…. So get slicing and cooking have fun.

Caramelised onions.

2 tbs olive oil
3 large brown onions, sliced
2 tbs brown sugar
1-2 tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and Black pepper to season.

Heat oil in a large frypan over low heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes,( you add salt as salt brings the moisture out of the onions and helps them soften) stirring occasionally to prevent them from catching. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up, as you don't want the onions to burn.

When onions are softened and tinged golden, add sugar and balsamic - this will start the caramelisation process. Cook onion over LOW heat for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelised. Use immediately, or store in the fridge, in a sterilised jar or plastic container, and use when required.

Laughing Chef tip for Caramelised Onions

• Cut a small round out of good quality puff Pastry (Careme Pastry) then make a an indent with a smaller circle inside of the circle with a knife (don’t cut through the pastry). Then top with the caramelised onions olive and pop into a 180c oven for 10 – 15 mins until they have puffed up.

• Crumble fresh fetta cheese over each once they out of the oven and drizzle with olive oil and eat (pic below) ….Yum!!!

My local business of the week to promote is called “Aquariam Bakery Café” located 382 High St
One thing that is a bit different is the open plan design that has incorporated a walk-through to a Rare vinyl /Book/ CD/DVD supplier and take my word for it, there are some very interesting bits to be added to your collection.

Aquarium Bakery café kitchen is run by Head Chef Richard Pavlov and it is a refreshing change to find poached eggs cooked to perfection and delicious sandwiches with fresh ingredients and yummy toasties as well as fresh bread on display …amazing coffee as well.

The Aquarium also offers all your usual menu favourites with an early breakfast available and light lunches to satisfy the fussiest of eaters. If you just want to spoil yourself with a morning tea the deli case is brimming with freshly baked loaves of bread to mouth watering cakes, biscuits and muffins - you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. The staff are friendly and with great facilities for the bubba - you’ll be making the Aquarium Bakery Cafe one of your favourite local places to visit.

Laughing Chef Kitchen Must Haves !!!

“Breaking the piggy bank” – Limoges Tea cups $139.95 each

Now for those of you that know me personally you know I love my tea. I love winding up after  a busy day with a cup of hot tea and what better way in one of these gorgeous tea cups.. I have my eye on the blue and the green  but hey I can take them all.

Limoges porcelain is created exclusively in Limoges, France from porcelain paste made with a subtle mixture of kaolin, feldspath and quartz. The range includes Teapots, Cups and Saucers, Mugs, Creamers, Sugar Bowls, Bread and Butter Plates, Deep Bowls, Egg Cups, Butter Dish and Heart shapes Gift Box in beautiful colours including: Parma, Ice Blue, Rose Petal, Pastel Yellow, Pastel Grey, Pastel Green, Old Rose and Ivory.

"Gotta get" -- Olive Wood Board 29 x 14cm - $39.95

I prefer wood chopping boards any day over plastic and the awful glass chopping boards…if you have one don’t worry I won’t tell…just throw it out and buy an Olive Wood board now.

Traditionally olive wood pieces were produced using only the centre 30% of the tree. Berard uses a greater portion which provides not only an ecological advantage but also ensures a stronger piece at a more reasonable price , each with beautiful unique grains. No two pieces are exactly alike.
Contrary to some belief microbiologists have determined through tests* on a variety of tree species that wood is infact more hygienic than plastic. They have discovered that bacteria such as salmonella and listeria will perish in under three minutes on wood but still survive on plastic.

For next time I will be coming up with some more Laughing Chefs must knows and must haves  in the kitchen and checking out some groovy cafes and meeting the chefs to discuss the passion that goes on the kitchen.

Until Next time .....Happy Cooking !!!

Photo taken from "

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