Thursday, May 13, 2010


Most of the food we've done in class is lunch or dinner or dessert or snacks -- nothing particularly aimed at the first meal of the day. I purposefully excluded eggs because of two reasons: one, the many methods and techniques of cooking eggs can be a class to themselves and two, I absolutely despise eggs as a dish. Probably because my mom made me eat really poorly cooked eggs, but that's a rant for a different kind of blog.

My lecture was short and sweet and about sausage. By taking "off" cuts of meat, cuts of the tougher, less palatable cuts and grinding them up and added spices, the sausage method made previously unusable parts of the animal not only usable, but quite delicious. I showed them the meat grinder and took it apart and explained how it worked, and discussed why it's important to cube the meat into small pieces -- the connective tissue between muscles, or "silver skin", will get caught in the blade and create friction and heat, which will cause the fat in the chilled meat to warm up and run out, creating dry, crumbly sausage.


Yield: 6 servings
Sage 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tbsp
Pepper 1 ½ tsp
Marjoram ½ tsp
Brown sugar 1 tbsp
Red pepper flakes 1/8 tsp
Cloves, ground 1 pinch
Pork butt, chilled 3 lbs
Fatback 1 lb
  1. Combine all ingredients except meat in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Cut meat & fat into 1” cubes, then run through grinder twice – first through the big dye, then through the small dye. Keep meat on iced bowl to keep fat emulsified.
  3. Combine spice mix with meat with hands, quickly. Form into equal sized patties. Sauté patties in a large skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes per side, or until internal pork temperature reaches 160 degrees.
We had a "pork butt", which is actually the shoulder, and the students watched while I broke it down, removing the skin and the center bone. When the ground meat came out of the machine, they were surprised that it looked just like the stuff they bought in the shop.

Toward the end of class we cooked off the sausage in small heaping-tablespoon patties in peanut oil, and the students were impressed how delicious they were -- like real breakfast sausage. I told them they COULD just buy ground pork and mix in spices and make the sausage very simply that way -- and it would be hella more healthful than the Jimmy Dean crap you buy in a freezer case.

Speaking of healthful, the next recipe is probably the healthiest thing I've cooked with this class. This is my riff on the Olive Oil Granola that was made popular by the NY Times.


Yield: 4 servings
Old-fashioned rolled oats 3 cups
Raw pistachios, hulled 1 ½ cup
Raw pumpkin seeds, hulled 1 cup
Shredded dried coconut 1 cup
Maple syrup ¼ cup
Light brown sugar ½ cup
Extra virgin olive oil ½ cup
Salt 1 tsp
Cinnamon, ground ½ tsp
Cardamom, ground ½ tsp
Vanilla, 1 tbsp
Dried apple, chopped ½ cup
Dried cherries, chopped ½ cup
  1. Preheat oven to 300˚. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the two dried fruits. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
  2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add dried fruit, tossing to combine.
One student was moaning about how she didn't like coconut, but when it came out and she tried it, she loved it -- the coconut was very subtle and was nice and crispy. Staff from the whole building visited the kitchen, as the aromas of the granola got everywhere. Which makes me wonder about ventilation....

The next two recipes were done at the same time, as they both involved frying in a pan. The students had only ever made pancakes from a mix, and the french toast they had made at home was always disappointing because it was leaden and hard, probably due to the kind of bread they were using.


Yield: 4 servings
Milk 1 quart
Eggs 8 each
Sugar 2 oz
Cinnamon, ground pinch
Nutmeg, ground pinch
Salt pinch
Clarified butter, for frying as needed
Challah bread, sliced 12 slices
  1. Combine the milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and mix them into a smooth batter. Keep this batter refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over moderate heat, add the butter.
  3. Dip the slices of bread into the batter, coating the slices evenly. Fry the slices on one side until evenly browned. Turn them and brown the other side.

Yield: 4 servings
AP flour 24 oz
Sugar 3 oz
Baking powder 1 tbsp
Salt 2 tsp
Baking soda ½ tsp
Milk 24 floz
Eggs, lightly beaten 3 each
Butter, melted 2 oz
Canola oil as needed
  1. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg mixture.
  4. Lightly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until just combines.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan or the flat side of a griddle over medium heat.
  6. Brush lightly with the canola oil.
  7. Ladle the batter into the center of the pan using a 4 ounce ladle
  8. Cook the pancake until the underside is brown, the edges begin to dray and bubbles begin to break the surface of the batter.
  9. Turn the pancake and cook until the second side is brown.
Both turned out great. The french toast was light, fluffy, creamy, crunchy, all at once. The pancakes will rich and pillowy. We had real maple syrup on hand, but one student insisted on going into the school supplies to get some "pancake syrup", and insisted that it tasted better. Both my supervisor (pictured above) and myself were a bit horrified and amazed, and had to take a picture. You can lead a horse to water....

Not sure what we're cooking next week, but I'm leaning to Italian...

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