Welcome to

“Cooking is easy”

 
 

After spending over 50 years in the Kitchens, I finally decided to retire in 2007. Cooking is my passion, but so is travel off the beaten path, mountaineering, adventure and photography. I do a lot of that, but when I am home, I cook for myself every day and I entertain also. Now I decided to create this website and share with you why I think

“COOKING IS EASY”


Before I start teaching you specific recipes, I want to to read and familiarize yourself with "EMILE"S BASIC". You can always refer back to this page whenever you want to. Instead of repeating myself with every recipe, you need to learn the basic language, and you are half way there. In other words, when I say Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock, you understand what that is.


In order to be a more successful cook, I want you to understand my approach to cooking. I don't start with every dish from scratch, first of all I always have a good <mis en place> This is a "term" that every good cook in the world know. It means have all the basic things you will need for your dish or dinner are ready and available. Have you ever wondered, when eating at a busy fine Restaurant, how the kitchen managed to prepare so many different dishes all at once? And in a timely fashion too. (at least we hope most of the time) It is because each cook has a good <Mis en place>, not only the food and ingredients, but also pots, pans, tools etc. Everything is in place!


Linking meals together is another term I use. For example when I bone a chicken  to make a breaded chicken breast or stuffed chicken legs, I immediately make a stock with the bones, trimmings, bits of onions, parsley stems, a bay leaf etc. I even like to add the washed onion peels for a richer color. Go easy on salt, that comes later. Then you strain and label the stock and use it another day. Another example when you make creamy Risotto with todays Rabbit, spread the remaining risotto on a baking sheet and use it another day as grilled Risotto Cakes with sauteed prawns Bordelaise on top with cilantro.


The Artist in you: Just writing about this makes me hungry. Why? Because I have a trained taste memory and when you describe a dish to me, I not only hear you, I see it (I am very visual) and I can taste it. You can do that too, you just need some practice.  Do the same thing with Polenta. Or left over mashed potato(before they are cold) add a little instant mashed potato powder or flakes” a little grated cheese, shape them into cakes and Voila! I like those for breakfast with my fried eggs. Remember, cooking is not an exact science, its spontaneous, free flowing. Bring out the artist in you!


My mother always said ”Hunger is the best cook”and she was right. Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry, you wont fit it all into your Refrigerator. Compare yourself with an Artist-Painter, it does not matter how many colors he uses, it is how he uses the colors, one may create a beautiful painting, blending the colors skillfully and another person may have nothing but mud on his pallet.


How to cook: There are thousands of cookbooks out there, but too few that teach you How to cook

The skill of cooking, methods and techniques of cooking, are a big part of a successful cook. Some of those skills you will acquire only with a lot of practice, not reading a book. But don’t let that discourage you, it’s like building blocks that you will use to get up there. Try to learn one new thing every single day and you will be successful. A new skill, a new trick of the trade like we say. 


What is a Mirpoix: coarsely chopped onion, celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, used mostly in braised dishes, also in cream-and-purred soups, etc.


Bouquet garni: Fresh herbs, bay leaves, cloves, parsley stems, all wrapped in a cheese cloth and tied with a string.  Often used in braised dishes like pot roast etc.


Stocks:

White Stock: today you can purchase some pretty good Chicken stock, Vegetable stock, even Organic. Of course you can make your own stocks, thats the best way, but that will often take time that you don’t have. When you blanch vegetables at home, save the stock, it will make a great soup 2 days later.


What is blanching? Blanching vegetables for example means boiling water with salt, drop in the vegetables till done, scoop them out and  drop them into ice water to stop the cooking and cool them. That process will also  maintain the beautiful color. When cold, drain off the water and put them aside   till needed. Example, green beans: when ready to use, I put some chopped bacon is a thick bottom saute pan, render (melting the fat) it out slowly, add some finely chopped onions or shallots till they start coloring. Drain of all the fat, replace the fat it with either butter or olive oil, add the green beans, toll it all together, adjust the seasoning if needed and your green beans are ready to serve. Important: never cover green vegetables with a lid, instead of staying green they will turn an ugly grey. 


Fish Stock:  You can make your own, but if are in a hurry, you can use clam juice, white wine and lemon juice. When peeling prawns, save the shells, saute them in butter with a Mirpoix, add white wine, water and lemon juice and you have a simple seafood stock. (add onion peel for golden color)


Brown stock: Good brown stock is a little harder to find, so I have experimented with available products like Knorr Swiss Brown sauce etc. and I make them better. andI will show you how. That will become you basic brown sauce, demi-glace. I also call it a <Mother Sauce>


The Art of making modern Sauces:

The classic way of making a brown sauce in a Restaurant is by roasting bones with root vegetables and tomato past, wine and liquid (water or stock) and simmer it for 12 hours and then straining it. The liquid is a basic brown sauce, also called a demi-glace.

This sauce is seldom used as is, but is considered a “mother sauce” and used as a base to make a whole variety of sauces, such as Bordelaise, Forestière, Sauce Diane, Grand Veneure etc, etc, etc.


Not everybody has the time or the skill to make a classic demi glace. There are a few product available at some better stores that work quite well as a mother sauce, and that is what I will teach you.  I will use a product called “Knorr Swiss” brown sauce, that comes in powder form, diluted with water, and use that as my “mother sauce” but then I make it better.

In my classes I used to teach both ways, the classic preparation and also working with products that are available to you and making it better. Then we compare the sauces and you would be surprised at the results.


 

Emile’s Basics... how to cook!