Steak temperatures

As a cook, nailing steak tempatures constistantly takes a long time to master. I’m going to give you my tips on how to do it more easily.
 By touch is how most end up doing it. You can use a thermometer and it will be guaranteed. This is how I reccomend beginners to do it. Start with a thermometer and touch it. See when the steak is rare and feel it. Log how firm the steak feels when pressing on it with your finger, with every temperature.
Now this is where it gets pretty tricky. Every cut of steak will feel different at different temperatures. A New York strip is going to feel more firm at medium than a fillet mignon. This is why I never discourage anyone from using a thermometer. I still use one from time to time.
Another important tidbit is always pull it off 5 degrees before the desired steak temperature. It will carry over cook around 3 to 5 degrees once you pull it off the grill or out of the oven. So if you want a perfect 135 degree medium rare, pull it off at 130. Also as I’ve said In past posts always let it rest for around 8 minutes. It’ll keep that steak a lot nicer. 
I’ll attach a nice temperature chart to this post, it’s very handy and I used it when I started cooking so many times. My final point is this, know how you like your steak. Educate yourself on how a steak looks at the temperature you like. So many times I’ve seen a perfect medium rare steak send back because they think it’s underdone. Then we cook them a medium steak and they think it’s perfect. Again the chart attached to this is a really great guide. Steak is one of my favorite foods and things to cook. Don’t let it be intimidating. Think of your thermometer as your sword and conquer that steak. There’s nothing that has to be tricky about cooking a steak. 

Vegetarian Food Doesn’t Have to be Boring.

Its really a shame that vegetarian food has the reputation of being boring and bland. I do understand the thought process of the people who think that. Thinking anyone who doesn’t enjoy a rib-eye steak is crazy. The protein is often times considered the star of the plate. Its really a shame that a lot of the time only the protein itself gets special attention. The starch and vegetables are boring and simple a lot of the time.

I was once a skeptic of vegetarians. I thought everyone should love the taste of a medium rare prime rib. I thought that vegetarians ate bland food on a regular basis. It took me a long while to try a good vegetarian dish. It was at a Mediterranean restaurant and it was baked eggplant with middle eastern spices.

You can really have some flavorful vegetarian dishes. The first step to cooking how to cook vegetables properly. If you don’t cook the vegetable properly the dish is already not up to par. Vegetable cookery is easy, but takes time to truly nail down. A lot of vegetables have different signs to when they are cooked.

A well seasoned vegetarian dish is really a great thing. You have to find a way to make a dish of it, not a side. Lasagna can be made from spaghetti squash and a thicker tomato sauce and can even be a tasty vegan dish. If done properly the dish is east to make, filling and extremely flavorful. I just love Italian food so I make the most examples out of it.

What a Higher Quailty Food Means

Food in restaurants is often times just medeocer. Modern American cuisine is an old tired concept that needs to be revitalized. It takes a lot of extra work and planning, but it can be done. Making more product from scratch is a big point a lot of restaurants need to get. It takes more labor, but the revenue should increase with a product your restaurant can put its name on.

High quality product is the main lacking quality of many restaurants. Using a higher quality product is more expensive, but better and you can charge more for it. Most often the product isn’t good, because its out of season or has to come from a  long way to get there. A rotating menu allows you to use only product thats in season and in turn create higher quality food.Product that comes from a long way is generally picked far before its ready to eat and ripened after the fact on the way to its destination.

High quality food comes from high quality product and a chef or establishment who finds new ways to use it. Almost every restaurant I go to has a very similar menu to the next. A lot of the time its pretty good food, but its medeocre. For it to be a truley high quality product it needs to stand out from the rest.

Why nutrition should be more important when cooking in a restaurant setting

Generally when going out to eat we don’t really think about what we are eating from a nutritional standpoint. During the night on the town, dining at the fancy French restaurant, we probably consume over one thousand calories in one sitting. The portion sizes are very large at most places, or you have multiple courses. Eating like that every once in a while shouldn’t be too harmful, but it will leave you not feeling so great the next day. It puts a heavy strain on your body.

On a recent venture to Fogo De Chao, I tried over 20 different meats. Every different meat had something special about it, I learned a lot. The next day, and even the ride home, I wasn’t feeling too great. I overate because it was an experience and I wasn’t thinking about it. I tried over 20 different meats and had a few drinks. I don’t even want to guess how many calories that meal was.

In my opinion it’s not so much the customers responsibility to eat smart, as it is for the restaurant to cook more healthy. The customer goes to your restaurant for the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at a fine dining establishment wondering how man calories I consumed, or how much fat. Half of going out on the town to eat is spending time with family or friends. Sharing an experience with people you care about.

I’ve worked in several restaurants and I’ve seen a lot of room for improvement nutritionally. A massive amount of butter is used. A lot of the time you can’t get around that without making the dish sub par. There are two key ways I can think of to make nutrition a focal point without changing the menu.

The first is the easier of the two. You can lower the portion size on items that have a lot on the plate. The key problem with this being the consumer often times feels like they aren’t getting their moneys worth. Imagine you’ve been eating at a fine dining establishment once a month for a year. You know most of the servers by name. You go in for your  monthly dinner out with your significant other, you order your favorite pepper steak. After a drink and a nice conversation your steak gets to your table and it seems way smaller than usual. Would you be happy?

The second scenario is just cooking with less saturated fat and things like that. Keep the food itself more nutritional by cooking with that in mind. This isn’t easy though. French cooking for example uses an obscene amount of butter, but it makes the food delicious. Cooking French food with olive oil rather than butter would not be nearly the same.

The best way to keep the responsibility to the customer is just to have a menu to where you can cook nutritionally sound food in the first place. Most restaurants don’t think consumers keep nutrition in mind while eating out, which is true. 10 years from now It will be more important to consumers. Living in Portland i’m seeing it first hand. Places with healthier menus get more of the young crowd. Nutrition is important and it is the responsibility of the restaurant, to the consumer to cook responsibly. french

Fall Harvest Vegetable Ideas

One of my favorite times of the year is fall. Pumpkins, squashes and more opens many windows of what you can cook. I’ll post some of my favorite fall inspired dishes below. Post your fall inspired dishes in the comment section!

1 Vegetable Medley with butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 Spaghetti squash lasagna layered with tomato sauce, lamb and mozzarella cheese.

3 Pumpkin pie with a small layer of torched sugar serveddownload11 with black coffee.

Ease vs Quality of Product

Fresh produce is all around us here in Portland. It was in my time as a line cook in Alaska that the farm to table concept really made sense to me. In central Alaska some of the best produce in the country flourish’s. Some of the best salmon in the world runs the rivers in massive numbers. With all this amazing product all around us it baffled me that we were using sub par product. Bringing in frozen seafood and vegetables

Here in Oregon I constantly am hearing similar stories of restaurants in the area. The sub par product is cheaper and a lot of times requires less cleaning and work to have it ready for service. This bothers me, I understand it, but it bothers me. Oregon boasts amazing produce from the Willamete valley and amazing fruit from the Mount Hood area. Amazing farms with high quality meats ripe for the picking

It seems that most restaurants seem to pick whats easier. A pre-filled halibut that comes in frozen will last a long time and you don’t have to clean it up. I remember my dad when I was 14 getting in 75 pound halibuts fresh from that morning and filleting them on the metal prep table and using all that halibut that day. That’s what I believe in. Buy the good product and use it quickly. The trick is ordering enough for that day and not having much left over at the end of the night. It’s very difficult, but it takes the food to a whole new level. The difference between the frozen halibut and the fresh halibut filleted within 3 hours of being caught is night and day. The look, mouth feel and most of all the flavor.

Fresh, local produce is the way to go for a quality dish. If you start with a bad product your dish is already an entire level below the dish made with fresh product. The first step to a good dish is a quality product. So many restaurants, good restaurants, could reach the next level by simply investing in a higher quality product and rotating it daily. Cutting the corner of buying something easier to deal with is common so its generally not seen as that bad of a practice. Quality product is all around us, use it!