It's great to be with a chef as he cooks something you're about to try cooking too. You can watch and listen and ask questions - here are some of the surprises I picked up from Chef Ian in my first 7 weeks of cooking school...you might already know these...but I was surprised by some of them.
Never stir stock.
Add bones to the pot, add cold water just to cover.
Bring it just to the boil, then to a slow simmer, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface. (sounds like life doesn't it?)
Then add the vegetables and herbs.
For dark stock – use veal and beef bones...and knuckle bones give off a lot of gelatin…you’re looking for a gelatinous stock.
the vegetables and bones when done and continue boiling down until you have a
condensed stock – much easier to store in the freezer and then add water
when you need to reconstitute. So don't add salt until you're making something with it.
The difference between broth and stock? Broth is made of stock and other
things you add…stock is just stock…it’s the foundation of sauces,
soups, and ahem, broth.
Cooking times are longer than you
think – about 4-6 hours for chicken stock, 12-24 for dark stock – a slow
cooker is good for making stock overnight.
Always cool down the stock by putting the pot in the sink and running cold water under it – needs to cool down fast. Then get it in the fridge or freezer.
To create a sachet for some stocks you can split a leek lengthwise, lay
the bay leaf and thyme sprigs in the middle and then put the leek
together again and tie with string.
Tie sachets to the handle on the pot to make them simple to remove later.
Chef only cooks with black pepper. First night he passed around black and white pepper for us to smell - white pepper reminded me of horses or farms or something. Then he said he only uses black pepper because white pepper smells like a barnyard to him. But smell both and see which you prefer.
Use a steel on your knife every time you use it – sharpen it, professionally, once a year. (Unless it's Japanese, then you should check whether you need a special diamond or ceramic steel.)
Hold a chef’s knife with the thumb and forefinger at the front edge of
handle…curl the other fingers under the handle.
Your other hand holds the food - like a lemon. Imagine you're holding a lemon with your palm down..see the shape of your fingers? That's how they should rest on top of the food you're cutting. The flat part of your middle finger the most prominent, nails tucked back, your thumb and pinky slightly behind.
Slice away with your food and your knife at opposing 45 degree angles - so you form a triangle - you, your knife arm, and the food held by your other hand…
How to slice vegetables – it's a rocking motion, the knife sliding forward through the food…blade shouldn't have to leave the board.
The food doesn’t move, the knife and your hand do.
Buy a rubber shelf liner at the dollar store to put under your cutting board to prevent it from slipping. Or in a pinch, lay wet paper towel under the board.
Use flat leaf parsley for cooking, use curly parsley for garnish. Curly leaf parsley releases too much chlorophyll turning food green.
Add salt, pepper and any citrus at the end.
Making sauce - either your roux is hot and your liquid is cold...or your liquid is hot and your roux is cold.
Roux: equal parts fat (butter/oil etc) to flour mixed together.
I'll pull together another list as we move along...If you have any to add, please do...let's build up our tipsheet together.