Monday, August 9, 2010

Sundae Mag!

The Cooker himself made it into the world's greatest webzine.  Come for the tasty tomato recipes and stay for all the other amazing articles written by some of the greatest writers of all time, OF ALL TIME!!


P.S.  A keen eye will see the face that is the last many an onion have seen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Twenty10 Valentine's Day Menu

The Cooker has a special lady in his life (sorry other non-special ladies).  Romance is not the strong suit of the Cooker so he normally tries to use the one thing that he does well to make this special lady feel especially special on this special day.  That said here is the menu that was created for this year's Valentine's Day dinner.

Roasted Apple Mini Waffles topped with Roasted Fennel, Caramelized Onions, Brie and Port Reduction

Cranberry Bean Soup garnished with Gremlinlata

Roasted Pear, Fennel, Caramelized Onion and Manchego Raviolis with Tarragon and Walnuts

Veggie Sliders with Romesco Ketchup and Caramelized Onions

Tender Greens Salad with Port Reduction Viniagrette

Port Reduction Ice Cream with Pear Tarte Tatin

If you would like any or all of these recipes feel free to drop a line.  Otherwise just close your eyes and imagine what that must taste like in your tum tum.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trapped in the Closet or How to Pan Roast Chicken

We have all heard of the game "7 Minutes in Heaven" right?  Well, due to some unfortunate happenings that turned into "A Fortnight in Hell" for the Cooker one fateful summer.  Lets be honest fellow cookers, spending 2 weeks Trapped in a Closet with someone is about as far from heaven as you can get.  Somewhere between trying to eat the twizzlers that were forced under the door and trying to discreetly defecate in the corner the Cooker had a moment of clarity.  Nothing else can show off the personality, skill and values of a cook better than the humble whole chicken.  It was shortly after this epiphany that Cooker decided enough was enough, broke the curtain rod down and punched his way down through the floor to freedom.

The next day after a nice long, hot-bleach shower (The Cooker can still feel her beard) it was off to the store for the ingredients.  This is where the personality start to show.  The Cooker likes his Chicken simple, so Mirepoix, Garlic, Butter, Vegetable Broth, Salt and a Chicken go into the cart.  What about Rosemary you ask?  Is the skin going to be crispy?  This is the Cooker's Chicken.  Not yours.  The Cooker likes his Chicken simple, moist and flavorful but wants to taste the chicken.  Also, the Cooker does not care about crispy skin.  If you like crispy skin and Rosemary on your Chicken you are more than welcome to do it up on yours.  There will be notes on how to do so if you wish.  This Chicken strives to infuse as much aromatic flavor and juiciness into itself as possible without spending all day.

Remember, you can make roast chicken however you like.  This is a good place to start from that will yield tasty, moist results every time.  Some variations follow this recipe so check those out and let the personality of your own Workshop show through.

Tie the legs up so that the bird cooks more evenly

Good hot pan, room temp Chicken, quality sear forthcoming

Nicely browned on one side, second side is ready to go

While the Chicken is Searing, the Mirepoix is made ready

The Chicken placed safely to the side while the Mirepoix is sauteed a bit in the same pan

The Chicken then gets a Mirepoix Bed and the Chicken is put breast side down

Chicken et al after its time in the oven

The Bird Resting on a cutting board awaiting the carving portion

Vegetable Broth simmering with the now roasted Mirepoix and Drippings

The carved bird awaiting the Cooker's Tum Tum

The Jus resulting from straining the veggies and fat from the pan sauce

General Notes:

Serves: 2 - 4 depending on how big a bird you get
Prep Time:  1 - 4 hours, but very little is hands on
General:  It is best to start with a chicken that you have rinsed, dried, salted and then let come up to room temperature.  You can omit nearly any of those steps it will just affect the quality of the final product as well as the cooking times slightly.  The only step you should never omit is drying the bird.  You will be unable to get a good sear on your bird without it being dry first.

  • Oven Safe Pan that is big enough to comfortably hold the bird and mirepoix
  • Two Cutting boards, one for the bird and one for the veggies.  Do not mix the two, that could mean bad times for your stomach and subsequently your bathroom.
  • Chef's knife
  • Butcher's twine or oven safe rubber bands.
  • Fat Seperator, This is optional but very handy
  • Stove/oven combo
  • A trusty pair of tongs
  • 1/2 a Yellow Onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Stalks of Celery, rinsed
  • 1 Medium Sized Carrot, rinsed and sliced
  • 8 ounces of Vegetable broth but Chicken is traditional
  • 2 - 3 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • 4 - 6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • Canola Oil for Searing Chicken
  • 1 5 - 6 lbs Whole Chicken
Written Instructions:
  • Starting with a clean kitchen, bring out the chicken, twine, and salt
  • Remove the bird from its packaging, remove any kind of giblet surprises, rinse it well and then dry the living hell out of it with some paper towels.  Keep in mind that touching chicken is no joke, so do not lick your chickeny hands while doing this and also do not touch your entire kitchen with your chicken hands.
  • Fairly aggressively salt the bird all over and inside as well
  • Truss the chicken and let it hang out somewhere out of the way it has come up to room temperature (1 - 3 hours) and you are ready to cook it up
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Put your fry pan on the stove and let it heat up over medium heat
  • Bring out the rest of your ingredients
  • Making sure that your bird is very dry, add some canola oil to the pan and quickly but carefully put the bird in breast side down
  • Leave the bird alone for 4 - 5 minutes to let it get good and seared, this is no time to be timid
  • While the bird is searing, with your clean hands, prepare your mirepoix, go for 1/4 slices on your veggies
  • When you are satisfied with the sear on the breast side, carefully lift the bird from the pan, hold it above the pan for a few moments to let the pan heat up a bit again, and then put the bird back down on its back this time
  • A quick note about lifting the bird, the Cooker generally puts one side of the tong into the cavity to lift the bird without tearing the skin
  • When you are satisfied with the sear on the back move your bird out of the pan and onto a plate or something to hang out until its trip to the oven
  • Add your mirepoix to the now vacated pan and saute until your veggies start turning a little translucent
  • When you have softened them/ turned them slightly translucent add your bird back to the pan directly on top of the veggies
  • Stick half the butter into the cavity of the bird and transfer the whole shebang into your preheated oven
  • Let roast until the juices begin to run clear, or a thermometer inserted the thickest part of the thigh register 150 degrees
  • Remove the pan from the oven and return to the stove over medium heat
  • Remove the bird from the pan and let it rest on your reserved cutting board
  • Add the crushed garlic to the pan
  • Cook down whatever juices might be left in the pan until you have developed a good fond
  • Deglaze the pan with whatever broth your are using being sure to scrap up the browned bits from the bottom while pouring it in
  • Bring that mixture back up to a simmer and let reduce by about 1/4
  • Pour your broth and veggie though the strainer on the fat separator and pour the defatted liquid into a serving vessel
  • If you so desire whisk the remaining butter in the jus to give it some body
  • Carve your bird up
  • Serve your bird with your jus on the side, with a suitable starch and vegetable
  • Make it happen in your tum tum
For crispy skin,
  • run your fingers inbetween the skin and flesh to seperate the two
  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook breast side up
  • Keep an eye on the cooking time, it might decrease to 20 minutes or so
  • If you really want to crisp it up turn the broiler on for the last 2 or 3 minutes of the cooking process
For more woodsy Chicken
  • Add a hearty fresh herb, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, etc., to the cavity of the bird as well as to your mirepoix bed
For a winey Chicken
  • Deglaze pan with white wine before putting Chicken onto mirepoix and putting in the oven

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


HAPPY 1(One) YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!  Please send only "that paper" to the Workshop.

One year ago today the Workshop opened for blogging bidness.  Since that fateful post more than 1,000 (one thousand) people have visited the Workshop.  Or, 1(one) person has visited over 1,000 (one thousand) times.  Not exactly sure.  There have been 37 (thirty seven) posts, this marking the 38th (thirty eighth).  The Cooker's profile has been viewed 100 (one hundred) times and given disappointment 99 (ninety nine) of those times.  Cookers have come to the Workshop from all over the world and hopefully left with something worthwhile.  In a nutshell, that was 2009.

Welcome to Twenty 10.  You will be happy to know that the Cooker survived the coming of the New Year, by hiding safely and securely in the Apocalypse Bunker as has become his tradition.  While safely ensconced in the concrete walls, the Cooker had some time to reflect on the previous year and look forward to the coming one. 

2009 has been been retroactively referred to as The Hatching: The Birth of The Cooker.  Twenty 10 shall be titled Mind Blow:  The Rise of The Cooker.  The Cooker's rise will be marked by some of the following:

  • More posting with more regularity.  There is nothing worse than feeling a little, you know, irregular.
  • A logo sure to kick its way through your retinas and then make its home in your memory while making long distance phone calls.
  • Recipes.  For your nerves.
  • The possibility of a Ingredient Workshop product line to help the world enjoy delicious.
What would you the Workshop visitor like to see more of or less of?  Are you scared of the possibility of old, French, peen when visiting?  Or does that excite?  Bring da ruckus.

P.S. You can find The Ingredient Workshop on Facebook if you are of that persuasion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

French Onion Soup, The best way to practice sauteing and deglazing...and seduction

As the winter begins to draw in, the Cooker can think of nothing else but seduction.  Oh the lucky one (if the bear is hungry he will eat), who is targeted for this seduction.  For this person will get to enjoy the sensual delight that is French Onion Soup.

The best way to enjoy this post is to open this link in a separate window to set the mood, put on your finest silk lounging robes, pour yourself a little something from the cellar and then scroll down...slowly.  You are about to read how to make French Onion Soup, the most sensual of all soups.  Deep flavor, crunchy bread, gooey gruyere.  Aaaahh maaannnn.

Like a good lover, it takes patience, heat, oil, and...onions...and salt.  Think of this recipe when you need to do some impressin' to help with the undressin'.  Now you could spend all day in front of your designer, commercial style stove, but you have got rose petals to scatter and votive candles to light.  So the trick is to use your oven and a dutch oven to take care of the first couple hours or so, to help that deep flavor develop.  The most important thing to remember is that the more times you are able to deglaze the pan, the deeper and rounder the flavor will get.  Aaaaahhh maaaan.  To do a proper job of it you will need to deglaze the pan more than ten times at least.

So strap on your egyptian cotton apron, slip on you whale penis leather clogs, press play on your Prince playlist and head into the kitchen to make delicious.

Have a look at these teases

OH! So sorry to catch you undressing.

Ready for the Steamy Sauna

Oh, a salt rub, kinky

Sneaking a peak during the oven time

No tan lines, provocative

Getting closer to the climax

Ah there is the fond, now is the time to add some liquid

Sensual bath has started

General Notes:

Serves: 4 -6 depending on the serving size
Prep Time:  1 - 4 hours depending on how deep you want the flavor, not all is hands-on time
General:  Deglaze as many times as you have time for, and remember to always keep it sexy.  Some of these ingredients may seem exotic so just have your personal assistant procure them for you.

  • Oven Safe Pot with lid or dutch oven large enough to hold a whole bunch of onions, only use your hammered copper pot if you will be presenting the soup at the table.
  • 1 inch thick, end grain cutting board, thoroughly rubbed with bamboo oil
  • Handmade French Chef's knife, preferrably from Solingen with Ivory Handle
  • Broiler safe bowl or crock for presentation of the soup,  gilded skull if you have it
  • Cheese grater
  • Stove/oven combo with broiler
  • 2 Farm Fresh Vidalia Onions flown in from Texas (preferably by Zepplin), sliced
  • 2 Farm Fresh Red Onions driven in from Chile (preferably by Bentley), sliced
  • 2 Farm Fresh White Onions sailed in from Southern California (preferably by Yacht), sliced
  • 64 ounces of extra fine broth, this recipe used Vegetable but Beef is traditional
  • 6 cloves of Farm Fresh garlic rickshawed in from Gilroy, California, minced
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the oldest tree in the Piedmont region of Italy (preferably also read the story Are you my mother nightly) as needed
  • Flaked Sea Salt from the smallest tide pool of the Omaha Beach
  • A crusty baguette flown in from Le Baguette in Paris, better use the Concorde to get it fast enough
  • Gruyere cheese, cave aged only please, shredded
Written Instructions:
  • Dim the lights in your thoughtfully appointed, commercial style kitchen
  • Carefully, but firmly arrange your equipment, ingredients and preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Take a sip from your champagne while admiring your reflection in your stainless steel appliances, go ahead toast yourself, you deserve it
  • Next take the top and bottom off of each onion and then halve them
  • Now remove the outer layer of each onion and lay them out
  • Slice the onions against the grain from top to bottom in medium thick slices
  • Put the slices into your dutch oven/ pot
  • Salt and Olive Oil the Onions, cover them and put them into the oven
  • Pour yourself a touch more bubbles and head in to either finish your nude (oil painting) or nude
  • Stir the onions a bit and place back in for another hour if you have the time or begin sauteing if your desire cannot wait any longer
  • When you are ready remove the dutch oven/pot from the oven and place over medium heat on the stove
  • Begin sauteing the onions while constantly stirring
  • When the pan has dried up a touch and a layer of brown fond has developed, deglaze the pan with your broth while stirring with fervor
  • Saute until the pan is dry again and you have developed another layer of fond and deglaze once more
  • Continue fonding and deglazing until you have gone through 32 ounces of broth or you have reached your deglazing limit
  • Add the rest of your broth and bring the whole mixture up to a simmer and simmer until you are ready to serve
  • Turn on the broiler of your oven
  • Slice 2 slices from the baguette, top with shredded Gruyere
  • Ladle the soup into a broiler safe crock or bowl
  • Place cheesy bread over the top of some soup and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly
  • Carefully make it happen in your tum tum, AAAAAHHH MMAAAANNNN!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Duxelles, Further direction on How to Saute


Ah the French. These are people who unabashedly do everything that we Americans are too scared to even attempt. They strike at the drop of a hat for things as simple as getting governmental nannies for their kids. They encourage Gerard Depardieu to do whatever the hell is going on up there.

They also do crazy things with food that makes your heart hurt but your belly dance. Things like putting a fried egg on top of a ham and cheese sandwich, or drinking wine all day, in the park, on a weekday.

They also seem to be a people that love naming things and specifically love naming things after people. Add to that a cuisine that has been around for about 1 million years (citation needed) and you get some fun things. This post is about a combination of flavors that became so popular that they named it after a
Marquis,Duxelles (dook-sehl). Although, the Chef must have been pissed when it got named after his boss and not him. The Workshop would be pissed if it created a preparation so popular it needed a name and it was referred to as, a la Blogger, instead of a la Cooker.

Anyways, the following is dedicated to Duxelles a versatile accompaniment that can be made into a stuffing, a garnish, a side dish, or filling for a tart. It makes a great upgrade to sauteed mushrooms for your burger or steak as well.

It will also demonstrate a few more techniques for Sauteing, such as "fond" and "de-glazing." Fond is the brown that develops on the bottom of the pan as you cook something. This is basically the sugars that have been brought out of the food by the cooking process and have caramelized on the bottom on the pan. De-glazing is the technique that loosens up all those sugars from the bottom of the pan and turns them into a sort of glaze or coating on the food that you are cooking. This technique can greatly deepen the flavor
of whatever you are cooking. French Onion soup depends on this these two things to create that incredibly deep flavor.

So ladies, strap on your maid outfit, fellas your banana hammock and lets get Fronch (french with a thick French Accent).

The ingredients resting before the big protest march. Cremini Mushrooms, Onion, Garlic, Parsley and White Wine

Close up on the Sliced Mushrooms with finely diced onions resting on them in the saute pan

The brown stuff on the pan is called "fond" and it is made up of delicious

White Wine getting ready to "deglaze" the pan

The White Wine being poured while scraping like a madman to release the "fond" back into the wild

A close up on the "fond" releasing from the pan while "deglazing"

A sprinkle of fresh chopped Parsley finishes the dish. Notice how much darker the mushrooms have become from the de-glazing

General Notes:

Prep Time: 10 -15 minutes This will depend on how fast you can wash and slice mushrooms.
Servings: This is for 4 garnishes or 2 sides. It can also be used as a stuffing
Notes: Any type of mushroom will work for this recipe. This one calls for Cremini but that is just because they are a step up from white button mushrooms in flavor, easy to find and not terribly expensive. Onions and Shallots work interchangeably here, the classic version uses shallots but that does not mean you have them in your house when you want to make this.


8 oz Cremini Mushrooms
1/4 cup
diced Onions
2-3 minced Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 cup White Wine
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper and even Crushed Red Pepper if you like it a touch spicy, to taste


8-10 inch Saute/Fry pan
Cutting Skills
Cutting Board

Written Directions:
  • Assemble all of your ingredients and equipment
  • Give those mushrooms a good rinse taking care to remove the dirt from them. You can rinse mushrooms. It is an old french chef's tale that you should never let water touch them. It is a lie. You can actually soak mushrooms for hours without too much water getting in there. So go ahead and reap the benefits of modern society
  • Start your pan to preheating over low heat
  • Start prepping your ingredients taking care to slice things evenly
  • Add a bloop of Olive Oil to the pan and turn the heat up to medium, maybe even medium high
  • Add the mushrooms and the onions such that everything is in one layer, if you have too much then work in batches
  • Give it a quick toss or quick stir. THen leave that dang pan alone
  • SERIOUSLY. The secret to great sauteed mushrooms is to leave them alone to let them get some color "But you said to saute you should keep the pan moving" blah, blah, blah. The thing is this. Mushrooms contain a lot of water and you need to get that water out of there. If you keep them moving they will start sweating instead of sauteing. Booyah. You just got told sucka
  • Let those little guys hang out for a few minutes to let that color going. Then give them a good toss or stir to redistribute them
  • Next add in that chopped Garlic and let them go a few minutes longer
  • Now the fun part. Get your wine and your stirring implement ready. You should have some good fond on the bottom of the pan to loosen up. Now a note on de-glazing with alcohol. If you are doing this over a gas stove then you better move the pan off the heat to do this. If you do it over the heat you might ignite the alcohol that is fuming off and start a beautiful fire. However, it is still fire so be careful. Anyways, pour in the wine and stir like crazy to try and loosen up all those bits
  • Now mix everything up and add your parsley, stir around and remove form the heat.
  • Now you can either make it happen in your tum tum now...or you can stuff it into a chicken breast like below and then make it happen in your tum tum

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to Saute or Jitterbug...Jitterbug...Jitterbug

But am I ready to be a father figure?

Few musicians have captured the attention of the world quite as completely as George Michael. He just jitterbugged his way right into our hearts in the 80's and never left. So what in the world does George Michael have to do with cooking? EVERYTHING! DON'T YOU EVER QUESTION THE COOKER! is a bit of a stretch. However, that does not make either subject any less important.

Just like dancing, being able to properly saute is a skill that should be learned and developed. It is one of the most common ways to cook things and always adds panache to a description. Which sounds better; sweated onions and bell peppers or sauteed onions and bell peppers? Exactly. Sweated onions sounds like the fat guy at the beach that is sweating bullets because he is eating.

Mmm, that sounds good. I'll have that

This post is dedicated to Saute, the verb. This post will show some basic steps in sauteing and will even have a side dish sneaked into it. Look to sauteing when you want to deepen then flavor of something by browning it. Sauteing is normally reserved for things that can be cooked quickly and hold onto their shape pretty well. This is why shrimps and veggies are typically sauteed and potatoes and soup are typically not.

The important part here is that when you are doing some sauteing you want the food to be dancing or jitterbugging around the pan. If the pan is too cold you will sweat your veggies instead and this neither the time nor the place. So your pan must be good and hot, around medium for most people's stoves and pans. You must also be using some sort of fat that can handle higher temperatures, so only use butter if you have clarified it first. Also, sauteing is about getting some color on the food that you are cooking. You should be browning the food, if there is not enough heat to brown it then you need to crank it. With that in mind let us begin.

Grab yourself a pan. Either of these would work just fine. The one on the right is a proper saute pan but the cooker was feeling sassy so the fry pan was used, plus the saute pan was being used for something else. Whichever you choose, try to pick one that is big enough for the job at hand. If that pan is too small and you start crowding it you will have to work in batches so that you do not sweat. Anyways, go ahead and start letting it heat up while you start prepping the items to be sauteed.

These are the guys that will be getting cut up and then sauteed. It will make a lovely side dish for whatever else you might be having in the late summer time.

Here they are after being cut up. The squashes were cut using what we will call for the time being, the carrot method, and the onions were cut up in the non dice version here. And then there is the garlic which is going to get its own post some day, cuz damn it tasty.

So you heat the pan and then pour your preferred fat in there and let it heat. You know it is ready when it slides easily back and forth across the pan. It is too hot if the oil is smoking or your kitchen is on fire. When it has reached the specified oil temperature, add the cut onions. Okay, and when you add the onions, don't be an idiot. Be careful. Add them close to the pan so that you do not splash the oil everywhere and look like this. You should hear a nice sizzle, if you do not your oil is not hot enough. Crank it up a little until you hear a good sizzle. Oh and add some salt at this point.

Keep the onions moving fairly regularly so that they brown but do not burn. They should look something like those above. if not you better crank it up a little or let them sit a little longer between moves. Next add your squash again without being an idiot. Add a touch of salt and keep that stuff moving regularly. Oh and remember to not crowd the pan. Crowding the pan will drop the heat of the pan and you will start sweating instead of sauteing.

Time for the big toss. Tilt the pan down and let the food slide towards that edge.

Then flick your wrist up while pulling back to throw the food into the air while also launching it backwards. This is no time for cowardice. This is no time to be timid. You gotta go for it. if you do not, nothing will happen and you will just coat your backsplash with squashy bits.

If you have acted with bravery and all has gone to plan, the pan will catch the food as it falls back to the earth. Does this a few times to mix everything up nicely. Oh, if you would like practice, try with a cold pan and some uncooked rice. Start with tiny tosses and move your way up. Toss that around a couple times and then add your garlic. Keep it moving until everything has some color. Then slide it onto a dish and you are ready.

That is the finished side over there on the right side. The Cooker did not get a great shot of the squash on its on so you get a sauteed dish in entirety. The mushroom thing and the chicken will follow, calm down.

To summarize.
  • You need a pan that gets hot.
  • You need a fat of some sort that can handle some heat.
  • You need to hear a sizzle.
  • You need to do some browning. Color is the goal.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan as this will lead to uneven cooking and sweating. Not the goal.
  • You need to choose items that cook rather quickly and hold their shape.
  • You must not be timid. The meek might inherit the earth but they will be making piss poor saute the whole time. This is why strong adjectives and verbs describe cooks. Galloping Gourmet, not shuffling. Iron Chef, not putty. Wham, not tickle.
  • You must then make it happen in your tum tum.
Questions? Need more elaboration? You better axe somebody.