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Personal Chef Secrets

Personal Chef Secrets: How To Poach A Bunch Of Eggs @ Once!

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Personal Chef Secrets: How to easily poach a lot of eggs @ once!

What You Will Need To Poach Eggs

What You Will Need To Poach Eggs

Poaching eggs is something that I think a lot of people have struggled with doing. It can be messy, its kind of a pain in the ass and the biggest obstacle to overcome is trying to make the decision of when is the egg done! As a personal chef in Chicago brunch is always such a huge hit so I often have to poach many eggs at once for benedicts, breakfast sliders and clients simply trying to be healthy. I will show you an easy way to do this and keep it so super simple that anyone can do it, including you! 

Here’s what you will need! 

1 Large Pot With Lid (2.5 Gallons)

¼ Cup Kosher Salt 

2 T Rice Wine Vinegar 

1 Large Metal Bowl 

1 Dozen Large Eggs 

1 Small Bowl

Basket Strainer/Slotted Spoon 

Cell Phone Timer For 3 Minutes 

Shallow Pan (10×13) 

Paper Towel 

 

First Things First! 

Salt Your Water

Fill the large pot about ¾ of the way full of hot water and add the ¼ cup of salt. Turn the heat on high and bring the water up to a boil, then turn the heat down so that the water lightly simmers. Taste the water it should taste like the ocean if it doesn’t add more salt accordingly. 

Once you get the pot of water heating up pour your rice wine vinegar into the large bowl. You can then begin to crack one egg at a time into the small bowl then gently pour that bowl into the large bowl. You do not necessarily need to do the whole double bowl thing but if you crack the eggs directly into the large bowl and you crack a yolk then you have to deal with that whole thing so the small bowl basically acts as a buffer. 

 

If you do crack an egg simply just make a scooby snack and whip up some scrambled eggs. 

 

The Vinegar

Once all the eggs are in the bowl gently swirl the bowl around so that the vinegar gets evenly distributed around all the whites of all of the eggs. If you think there isn’t enough vinegar to reach all the egg whites add another tablespoon and gently swirl again. Let the eggs and vinegar rest for 5 minutes. Below is what that timeline looks like.

At the end of the 5 minutes, you can see there are parts of the egg whites that have begun to “cook” as well as the definition of the egg’s membrane much clearer. This also helps strengthen the egg whites for the saltwater bath that comes next. 

Let’s talk about the vinegar for a second. Truthfully you can use any vinegar to achieve this result. However, I use rice wine vinegar because it has a sweet light flavor. Traditionally, cooks will put vinegar in the water and what that does is help keep the whites separating from the yolks and helps keep the proteins together. 

 So let’s do the dance! What we are going to do is now bring the water up to a boil and slowly dunk the bowl into the water and let the water fill the bowl and gently release the eggs into the water. Take your slotted spoon and around the outside of the pot stick your spoon about halfway down and gently swirl the water once or twice to keep the eggs from sticking to the bottom. Turn the heat off and cover the pot and start your timer.

Set Up For Pulling Out The Eggs

Egg Set Up

Set Up For Pulling Out The Eggs

Take your shallow pan and line the shallow pan with one or two layers. Once the time goes off the easiest way to get all the eggs out at once is by using a basket strainer and gently corralling the eggs in a circular motion. The next best thing is to use a slotted spoon but you should do it as quickly as possible to avoid overcooking of the last few eggs. The basket strainer can rupture the eggs it’s very important that when corralling the eggs you do so carefully. 

 

Let the eggs chill momentarily and enjoy! 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Will the eggs taste like vinegar? 

 

If you let the vinegar sit too long it might. However salt and vinegar work together to create a natural balance with food so chances are what you taste in your final egg might taste enhanced because of the salt and vinegar but you may not be able to put your finger on the exact flavor but you will love it. 

 

What happens if I don’t have rice wine vinegar? 

 

In a pinch, I have used every vinegar, anything from apple cider and sherry to pomegranate vinegar. The only one I would not recommend is balsamic. That will definitely change the color of your eggs and has a very harsh noticeable flavor. If that’s all you have though, it will still work. 

 

What happens if I break a yolk in my bowl with all of the other eggs do I have to start over? 

 

If you break a yolk take an empty eggshell half and scoop the broken yolk out of the bowl. The eggshell is very cohesive with the eggs its hold so the yolk will happily pop right back in there. Even if you cant extract the yolk, it won’t hurt the other eggs – keep pushing forward! 

Personal Chef Secrets: How to make Crispy Salmon without skin!

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Personal Chef Secrets: How To Make Crispy Salmon Without Skin

Why As A Personal Chef I Remove The Skin

I love crispy salmon. I love it with the skin on however as a personal chef it becomes tricky when deciding how to treat salmon with guests of 10 or more. I have found that in larger groups it is best to keep the skin off to avoid having last-minute requests or having guests having to pick around their salmon because they aren’t fans of the skin. So the next conundrum is how do we mimic the texture of crispy skin without it. 

What You Need…

1 Large Salmon Filet

1 Cutting Board

1 Chef Knife

1 1/4″ Sheet Tray

1 Piece of Parchment

1 1/4″ Rack

1 Frying Pan

Kosher Salt

Oil For Pan

I am going to start with a whole filet of salmon with no bones and skin on. To take the skin off of the salmon I use a sharp chef knife with a little bit of water on the blade. On the cutting board from left to right lay the filet in the tail to the head direction. Where the tail begins you make a small cut right above the skin about an inch into the filet keeping the blade even with the cutting board so that the knife rides right between the skin and the flesh. Once you have a little room to work with you can grab the skin your left hand and gently slice back and forth while pushing the blade forward through the entire filet. 

This whole operation takes practice and chances are this will be difficult the first couple times you do this. You can always opt to buy already cut skinless filets however learning this technique is pretty fulfilling and allows you to save money and garner delicious parts of the fish otherwise thrown away. 

 

Now that the filet is skinless let’s remove the belly fat. This will help us have evenly cut portions as well as portions that cook evenly. Starting from the head of the filet find where the belly fat starts and cut in one even straight line all the way down the filet. My favorite thing to do with belly fat is, chop it into small pieces and toss it with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, green onion, and sriracha and eat it over a warm bowl of white rice. Super amazing. 

 

The next thing is to trim the top of the filet any tough or stringy parts that help even up the rest of the fish. Employ the same technique as before and cut in a straight line. You can also use this in your rice bowl. 

 

Now that we have an even filet flip it over. It’s important to get rid of the grey bloodline that runs down the center of the fish. It doesn’t taste amazing. In order to do this without hacking up the fish entirely, I slide the knife on an angle taking small gentle slices out until it is removed. It’s okay to leave some, in other words, don’t go digging for trouble. 

 

Now that the filet is completely cleaned up cut the filets into even portions. The tail is going to be the skinniest piece but it’s still delicious. 

 

Now this is where the magic starts. We take a sheet tray and cover it with a piece of parchment paper. And put a roasting rack on top of that. Place the filets on the rack skin side down and two inches apart. Place in the fridge uncovered for 24 to 36 hours. During this time the skin, all the way around the salmon starts to dry up. This is what makes the salmon super crispy.

Now that the salmon is ready put a large pan on high heat and preheat your oven to 300 degrees farehnheit. Once the pan is ripping hot add 3 tablespoons of oil and swirl it evenly around the pan. Season the salmon with salt and place the salmon flesh side down and sear. You will see the salmon start to get super crispy. Once this happens flip the salmon and sear for 3 mins. Place in the oven and finish cooking to your liking. 

 

 

Personal Chef Secrets: Cooking With Alcohol

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When creating a dessert, I really love to keep it simple and use what I have around the kitchen. The beauty of any dessert is a balance between sweet, an essence of savory, textural components that excite the palette and enough acid to balance out all of the elements of the dish. If I am being completely honest, I am not at all a pastry chef so I apply my cooking expertise of balance to my desserts. A lot of desserts I have tasted are so delicate and almost so perfect however they lack savory elements and end up being a little too sweet for my tastes.

 

For this recipe, I wanted to showcase using alcohol in desserts. I use Koval’s Cranberry Gin for this particular recipe because it offers a delicious tart flavor and special warmness from the juniper berries perfect for a cold day. To make this I wanted to pair the tart of the cranberry with something fruity and sweet, so strawberries were an obvious choice. Making a warm fresh jam to compliment a dessert is something that is simple yet delicious. I have also included a cranberry sour recipe at the bottom made by Kevin Randall, my lead bartender for all of my events.

 

1 Pound Strawberries (sliced thin)

½ Cup sugar

1 Tsp Salt

4 Oz Koval Cranberry Gin

 

Take all the ingredients and place them in a 2 quart pot. Using a stove lighter to ignite the liqueur. Swirl the pot around so that the fire burns evenly and to ensure that all the alcohol burns off.

Once the alcohol burns off, keep the jam on medium heat. What will happen now is all of the liquid from the strawberries will begin to cook out and help dissolve the sugar. At first, this looks like a soupy mess but give it time.

As the jam cooks the color will darken and begin to bubble. This stage is where we want to start paying attention. The jam is near complete when the bubbles start to turn sticky. Because it is hot the jam will appear thin. One way to test the consistency is to take a cold spoon from the freezer and scoop a little out. Wait about thirty seconds if the jam sticks pretty consistently to the spoon it is ready. Store in a warm place while the other components are being made.

So let’s get into the base of our dessert. I chose pound cake because it’s dense, sweet and savory. Its density allows for the cake to soak up flavors and blend with other textures. My favorite way to add texture to pound cake is to cook it in butter. The first step is I take pound cake and I freeze it. This makes it super easy to slice. Before the bread is ready to be sliced you will want to get your pan and butter hot so that the butter begins to bubble and almost begin to brown. While this is happening, you can remove the pound cake from the freezer and slice into half-inch slices removing the ends first. Place the pound cake into the butter and cook until each side is golden brown turning and checking often as this will happen very quickly. Once the cake is toasted place it on a plate and let it cool in the refrigerator. This is the secret to making this dish texturally perfect. As the cake cools the butter becomes hard and creates this amazing crust around and inside the cake offering the palette an amazing crunch. The hot and cold of the jam and cake play off of each other.

 

The next we will do the whipped cream. The whipped cream is so easy to make but in order to make it perfect, it has to be done with precision. You want to make sure the heavy whipping cream is really cold so leave it refrigerated until you are ready. You can use a whisk but I always use a mixer because it’s way faster. Set up your mixer with the whisk attachment. Add your cream, vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar. Begin mixing on low and gradually turn the mixer on high. As the cream whips, it will begin to expand. You will want to whip the cream to a stiff peak. A stiff peak looks kind of like ice cream. When you move the whisk attachment through the cream it will follow the whisk and keep its form as you move through it. If the cream starts to fall over or fold onto itself keep going a little longer its almost there. Once the whipped cream is set, transfer it into the refrigerator immediately and let it cool completely.

 

For the other crunchy component, I love to use toffee nuts because these are both sweet and salty. They also contain a lot of fat that adds a velvety layer to the dish. You can find toffee nuts at any local grocery store or you can simply make your own by cooking butter and sugar with pecans until the sugar and butter crystallize on medium heat.

 

To plate the dish first put down the crunchy pound cake and a scoop of the whipped cream. Add your cranberry infused jam on top of the pound cake and garnish with nuts and fried rosemary.

Cranberry Sour

2 oz- Koval Cranberry Gin
1 oz- Lime juice
1 oz- simple syrup
A couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 Egg
Garnish with lime, orange peel and rosemary sprig
– Add cran gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and the egg white into a shaker and shake well. (It’s called a dry shake)
– open shaker and add ice and shake vigorously.
– strain and pour the drink into a glass with no ice
– take an orange peel and gently twist it over the cocktail to release the oils.
– add rosemary sprig and lime garnish
– place a couple of drops of angostura bitters on top of the foam that sits on top of the drink
-serve
Notes From Kevin:
The drink highlights the flavor of the cranberry Gin while gently reducing the tart flavor of it to make it more balanced and smooth. This is accomplished by adding a sweet component (simple syrup) and the Sour flavor of the Lime juice. These two added comments help balance out the flavor of the cranberry while the egg white smooths out the cocktail and allows the tart of the cranberry, the sweetness of the simple syrup and the sour flavor of the lime juice to blend together nicely. The egg white also adds a lovely airy and foamy texture that feels easy on the pallet and light on the stomach. The addition of the rosemary garnish helps lift the very subtle botanical flavors found in the cranberry gin and brings that classic gin taste more forward to the nose. It pairs well with the dessert due to the light combinations of flavors the drink has compared to the more upfront and bold flavors of the dessert making them a great compliment to each other

Personal Chef Cooking Secrets: Mouthwatering Steak

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Personal Chef Cooking Secrets: Mouthwatering Steak

Personal Chef Secrets: Mouthwatering Steak Set-Up

This is a technique I learned working for some of the best chefs in Chicago. As a personal chef, it’s important to be creative but even more important to remember that technique is king! This is perfect for small private events because it’s a slow forgiving cooking technique.

Gathering Ingredients & Supplies 

Choose that cut of beef

First things first, what do you need in order to be successful during our steak cookery? Well luckily for this adventure very few supplies are needed and what you will need to tap into is your inner Michelin Star chef. Okay, so let’s talk about ingredients. Let’s pick out the piece of meat we want to cook! Any piece of tender beef will do just fine for this technique. A few great options are tenderloin, t-bone, ribeye, skirt steak & my personal favorite is hanger steak. Some of these steaks will cook faster because of the thickness but I have always found the density, the versatility, and flavor of the hanger steak to be most excellent.

 

Choose your other ingredients

I keep it super simple when choosing ingredients for an already perfect cut of steak. Today we are going to be working with butter, salt, garlic, and herbs.

Butter

Starting with butter – there are plenty of types of butter at various prices, textures, and flavors. For this get some whole butter from your local grocer, keep it simple and call it a day. We are going to brown it and soak it in beefy deliciousness anyway so don’t spend a bunch of money playing around with some gourmet ish because we are going to party hard with it anyway. If I am being honest – I buy the one on sale – 2 for $5. You can bet on that.

 

FAQ Alert: Can you use another fat?

Absolutely. If you are going to use another fat remember temperature control is going to be a factor. When you use butter its easy to see it start to brown. So when its browning us know you need to regulate the temperature so you don’t burn the butter but also so you do not overcook parts of the steak.

 

Salt

Again, there are plenty of types of salts. Some are smoked, some have $3 million worth of truffles dried up in them, others come from the Himalayas where some poor SOB with a hammer had to forage a glacial rock for you. Luckily for you – all you have to do is reach into your cabinet and grab some table salt. If you want to be fancy get some Kosher Salt. I use kosher salt because I find it’s easiest to get a nice even “Salt Bae” effect when seasoning my meat. 😅

Seasoned Steak

FAQ Alert: Do you also use pepper or other seasonings on your steak?

Answer: I do not. Here’s why. Steak is delicious. The only thing steak needs to taste good is some salt & heat to bring out the flavors of beef and push the aromas to the surface. Now what I will do oftentimes is make a sauce for the steak. In that case, you should do everything in your power to make that sauce amazing. So that’s where you can get wild. But when it comes to an already perfect piece of meat I keep it simple and season it with salt.

 

Garlic & Herbs

So, here is the beauty of cooking. It is mostly technique and seasoning – the rest is wide open for interpretation. You can also look at the garlic & herbs as “blank & blank”. If you don’t like garlic use shallots, onion, or chives. Maybe you don’t like herbs – don’t use them.  I usually use garlic and fresh thyme. That’s traditional AF and if you are trying to be super trad stick with the winners.

 

FAQ Alert: Can I use dried herbs or powdered versions of these items?

Sure, but do you really want garlic powder or dried herbs stuck to your steak? The reason why we use fresh herbs is that it captures the essence and the flavor of the ingredients without physically putting them in your mouth. Our goal here is to extract the flavors from our ingredients and use them to enhance the characteristics of the steak.

 

Gathering Supplies

 

Choosing A Pan

Most personal chefs can spend hours and hours talking about their favorite type of pan, cookware, and which metal conducts the most heat. Well, I cant. So grab a pan that fits the amount of meat your cooking – don’t think too much about it otherwise you might starve trying to figure it out. Here’s a tip if it doesn’t have a hole in the bottom of it and at least a 1-inch lip – you win – use it.

 

FAQ Alert: Should I use a nonstick?

Yes – just remember nonstick pans are the pampered Pollyanna version of cookware so if you use a metal utensil such as a spoon or tong while cooking you might scrape the bottom of the pan and hurt its feelings. (😢 Sad times)

 

Moving on…

Sheet Trays, Cooling Racks, Parchment Paper & Tweezers

These culinary tools are extra. But we are going to go over it because it yields the best results. Can you cook a perfect steak without these components? Sure, but this is easiest.

Sheet trays – I love them. They are flat pieces of metal basically sturdy enough to hold food, they fit well into ovens and other spaces of the rectangular type. Get some parchment paper. The parchment paper keeps your flat pieces of metal clean and it looks nice. Of all the tools above, cooling racks are the most important for the cookery.

We use the cooling rack for seasoning which offers even distribution of salt. It allows for airflow for cooking the beef in the oven. IF we just cook the steak on a flat surface, chances are the part that’s touching the sheet tray will have an uneven overcooked mark. (Sorry Gordon Ramsey)

Lastly, we will use our tweezers to temp our meat. WTF does this mean? I was taught how to temp meat a ton of different ways. But nothing has been more effective than feeling the pain of the beef you are cooking. If you pop the tweezers into the center of the beef and put the tweezers up to your cheek the metal should be just hot enough that it is uncomfortable but should not burn you.

That uncomfortable feeling is about medium-rare. You use a thermometer for sure – 100%. This other method will impress your friends and it adds an element of magic to the cookery. Think of it as your magic wand. This really puts you in touch with the food you are cooking instead of relying on a thermometer or touching the meat constantly with your paws. (Which isn’t accurate) The tweezer method is good for business I promise

 

Let’s Get Cooking

 

Temper Yo Beef

I like to temper my beef. I pull it out about an hour before I am ready to cook it. I do this for two reasons beef tempered at room a comfortable room temperature helps with even cooking time as well as speedier cook time. So pull out your beef and place is it on your parchment covered sheet tray and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

 

Set Your Oven

In the meantime set your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a low and slow technique so we want our oven relatively low. The results I promise you are that of a sous-vide piece of beef. You can use the convection oven setting although if you use convection I have seen that it almost works too well. Inn order to combat the overcooking, if you decided to use the convection oven try setting it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit – I’ve found this to work about the same as a regular oven set at about 300 with no fan. Let it be known, once you get good at this method you will learn how to adapt to almost any temperature setting and achieve the same results. However again I want to keep this process as forgiving as possible for the first time doing it so we must proceed with gentleness and 300 degrees is a decent starting point.

 

Now that we have our oven set and beef tempered let’s get that pan ripping!

 

Heating the pan and add your butter, garlic, and herbs!

 

For every ounce of steak, I use a tablespoon of butter, 6 clove of garlic, and 20 sprigs of thyme. Let’s be honest, when it comes to this make sure you have enough butter to cover the pan about ⅛” inch and use as much garlic and herbs you want.

 

FAQ Alert: How high should I keep my flame?

That really depends on how awesome or shotty your appliances are and how fast you want your butter to brown. Cooking is all about the regulation of heat. For this first time around take it slow but also have the confidence to turn it up and down depending on the sounds, sights, and smell of what’s happening in the pan.

 

Turn the heat on about half intensity and add the butter. Once the butter starts to melt we are going to let it do just that. While your butter is melting season the steak liberally from a distance of at least 8inches above the meat turning it slightly all the way around so that the surface of the meat is completely seasoned. Now that the butter has melted, wait for it to bubble slightly and add your garlic and herbs. Start to swirl it around until there is an aroma of butter, garlic, and thyme. Finally, add your steak.

 

This is a really important part because we want to baste the steak in the butter. We want to turn the steak frequently so that each and every nano-inch of the beef is kissed with our butter. It is important to move the beef around no less than every 30 seconds so that the inside doesn’t cook. What we are doing is creating a flavorful buttery garlic herb crust. Once the butter begins to brown we can pull our steak and put it on the cooling rack and toss it straight in the oven.

Every 5 minutes we are going to test our temperature of the beef as well as flipping the beef over so that the juices flow evenly through the meat ensuring even cooking. For the temping: we can use the thermometer first. If you decide to use the thermometer to test the beef also put it up to your cheek. Start to get the feeling of the desired temperature of the steak – that way, soon you will be a master at feeling the temperature without the thermometer. Here is a quick guide:

125 F – Rare

135 F – Medium Rare

145 F – Medium

150 F – Medium Well

160 F – Well Done

Once the desired temperature is reached pull the steak our, leave it on the rack and let it rest for 5 minutes turning it once to keep the juices moving evenly through the beef.

While your steak is resting we need to deal with the butter. What we are going to do is turn the heat on high and begin to brown the butter. Swirl the butter in the pan or use a whisk to keep the milk solids in the butter from sticking to the bottom and burning. To make brown butter you basically toast the milk solids. You will know once this happens because the sizzling in the pan will begin to subside. Once the butter is brown strain the butter and reserve for later.

Service Time

Cut the steak on a bias and against the grain. Fan the steak out and plate with the roasted garlic and herbs. Season the beef one last time with some finishing salt and gently spoon some warm brown butter over the steak.

So this is one secret to my success as a personal chef – cooking a perfect steak every time, your turn!

Enjoy!

Personal Chef Cooking Secrets: Mouthwatering Steak

Personal Chef Cooking Secrets