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“Ratatouille” History

In the 1980s, Chef Bernard Loiseau devoted himself to cuisine & pleasing his guests. His cooking style gained in popularity and he became known for his refined cuisine & deglazing techniques. He pioneered this trend, in order to intensify flavors. His culinary work focused on concentrating flavors while reducing the use of fats & sugar. 

In the movie “Ratatouille”, the character Chef Gusteau dies of sadness after losing a Michelin star only to return as Remy the rat’s imaginary friend. The movie was based on a Chef Bernard Loiseau. His signature dish was ratatouille. Loiseau was one of the most famous chefs in France until 2003.

The word ratatouille is derived from the Occitan ratatolha (traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish) & is related to the French expressive forms of the verb touiller, meaning “to stir up”. From the late 18th century, it merely indicated a coarse stew.

Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi): a play on the Turkish dish “İmam bayıldı”, which is a stuffed eggplant. The original ratatouille recipe had the vegetables fried before baking. … His recipe, Confit bayaldi, differed from ratatouille by not frying the vegetables, removing peppers and adding mushrooms.

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Seasoning Debate

When to apply salt & pepper is a common seasoning question. Some chefs like to salt a steak well in advance of cooking, even up to 24 hours in advance. Others chefs salt right before cooking. The main drawback of seasoning in advance is that salt applied to the outside of the steak tends to pull water from the center of it onto the surface. If the steak is seasoned well before it is cooked, it will necessarily be less juicy. Any steak you hold in the refrigerator, salt or no salt, is going to lose juices overnight.

If salting right before cooking, let the steaks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, sprinkle both sides & the edges generously with Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper. Press the salt crystals & pepper granules into the meat. 

Another seasoning debate relates to black pepper. One school of thought suggests that applying the pepper before cooking can cause the pepper to burn while you cook it, imparting a bitter flavor. Followers of this school suggest grinding pepper onto the steaks after searing them or right before serving. In theory – black pepper could burn, but eliminates peppering midway through cooking as the pepper granules might not stick to the meat. Find the right cut & cooking style. Enjoy! #chef#restaurant#cooking#menu

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Holiday Cast Iron Cookware – On Sale!

Enamel Cast iron Cookware is ideal for its heat retention, use on various heat sources and stylish oven to table presentation.  Enamel cast iron cookware also tends to be heavier and sturdier, which allows it to last for several generations. The enamel surface, which has non-stick properties, is very easy to clean and maintain.  Perfect of slow cooking stews & large enough to accommodate a full chicken.

Celebrate the holidays with Sitram’s Sitrabella Enamel Cast Iron – on sale for a limited time only:

711089: Round 2.5 Liter Enamel Cast Iron: $49.99

711090:  Round 5.3 Liter Enamel Cast Iron: $69.99

711088:  Oval 6.5 Liter Enamel Cast Iron: $79.99

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Squash Soup for Thanksgiving

Plan an unforgettable Thanksgiving feast with the best Turkey Day recipes for every course. For starters, serve up something warm for your Thanksgiving meal with delicious pressure cooked squash soup. This dish can be prepared quickly and adds a flavorful, velvety and creamy addition to the menu. For a special presentation, hollow out small pumpkins and fill with soup. A crowd pleaser for a special Thanksgiving – with all the trimmings! hashtagcooking hashtagkitchen hashtagstyle hashtagthanksgiving hashtagholiday hashtagfeast hashtagsoup hashtagrestaurant hashtaghealthy hashtagdinner hashtagdelicious Sitram: Made in France since 1960.

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Thanksgiving Tip – Mise en Place

Thanksgiving Tip: Mise En Place
The French culinary phrase which means “everything in its place” refers to the setup required before cooking. Perfect for Thanksgiving!
Set the Menu: Think about balance. If your Thanksgiving dinner includes a fattier, heavier main course, like a roast, the sides should be lighter and brighter; if you have a lean meat or fish, focus on heavier garnishes.
Prep List: Making a prep list with everything laid out in front of you with estimated cooking times next to each item. This guides the cooking timeline. Start with items that will take the longest first – i.e. turkey, stock, etc. – and while they are all cooking, fill in the time with quicker prep items.
Make Ahead: Cook whatever you can in advance. Making a stuffing? Dice up the celery and vegetables the day before, and store them in containers in the refrigerator. Measure & place spices/breadcrumbs in small containers to stay organized.
Essential Tools: Traditional tools include roasting pans, casserole dishes, pie plates, saucier pans & stockpots: thermometer, grater, strainer, peeler, blender & great knives.
Thanksgiving dinner is creating a meal that brings family & friends together. Plan ahead & enjoy!
#thanksgiving #kitchen #cooking #holiday #france #restaurant #accessories
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Pomegranates in Cooking

The pomegranate industry is poised for rapid growth by 2024. IRI/Fresh Look data indicates that fresh pomegranate retail sales volume in 2018 was 34.5 million pounds, up 16% from 2017. Industry estimates put the fresh crop (760 varieties) this year at close to 6 million boxes in 2019 (due to weather: hail & wind). In early English, the pomegranate was called the “apple of Grenada.” The French term for pomegranates is “grenade”. Ancient Egypt regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity & ambition. Native to the Middle East, pomegranates belong to the berry family & only bear fruit in hot, dry climates. The taste differs depending on the variety of pomegranate and its state of ripeness. It can be very sweet, sour or tangy. Most fruits lie somewhere in between, which is the characteristic taste, laced with notes of its tannin. Pomegranate seeds are a great addition to salads & compliment protein sources such as beef, chicken, pork or seafood. They are popular with goat cheese, spinach, beet & blood orange salad. Pomegranate molasses is a traditional ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, but can be used in many ways to add depth or complexity. Brush on meat as a glaze, or drizzle over roasted vegetables. hcooking kitchen restaurant france healthy foodservice

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At first sight you’ll notice that size really sets these two varieties of scallops apart. Bay scallops are relatively small, while sea scallops can be up to three times larger. The difference in size has an effect on flavor & best way to cook each variety.

Bay scallops are typically found in the shallow waters of bays and estuaries along the East Coast; with a peak season during the fall. While their shell size can be up to three inches in diameter, the adductor muscle (the edible portion) is much smaller: on average just about a half-inch wide. Bay scallops are typically purchased already shucked.

Given their small size, bay scallops benefit from a short cook & gentle preparation: poaching or a quick sauté. Aside from size, there’s a big difference in the taste & texture of bay scallops. These small bivalves have pink to light beige color with a delicate, tender texture & a sweet taste.

Sea scallops are up to three times larger in size than bay scallops, with some reaching up to two inches in diameter. They have a texture that is chewy & not as tender as bay scallops. While sea scallops are larger, they’re still delicate & benefit from short cook times, whether they’re sautéed, grilled, or poached. #chef #seafood #sustainable #cooking#french #delicious Sitram: since 1960.

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Savory Shallots

While shallots and onions are related, they differ basic ways and cooking applications vary by dish. Unlike regular onions, which grow as single bulbs, shallots grow in clusters, more like garlic. They are a bit sweeter than regular onions, and their flavor is subtle. Shallots are a good option for seasoning in raw applications like vinaigrettes or salads. They add an oniony flavor without too much punch, or in slow roasted or braised dishes, where their sweetness can really enhance a dish.

Shallots come in a few different colors. Pale purple with brown skin is the most common. The French gray shallot is rarely available and considered the ultimate in shallot superiority. This shallot has a robust flavor with a pear shaped bulb with grayish-blue paper skin that is thicker than traditional shallots. While plain shallots are widely available, the banana shallot, (torpedo shallot) can be found specialty grocers, or easily found in Europe.

Shallots are best stored in a cook, dark, dry space in a drawer or panty.  They need air to keep them fresh, and should be stored separately from onions or potatoes to prevent spoilage! #chef #restaurant #foodservice #taste #delicious #foodie #cooking #flavor

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When Life Gives You Lemons!

A squeeze of lemon is as good as a dash of salt in bringing out the flavor of just about any food. The acidity cuts greasiness & heaviness – giving food a fresh, clean taste.

Food acids (lemon juice) are added to make flavors “sharper” & act as preservatives & antioxidants. Acidity regulators are used to change or otherwise control the acidity & alkalinity of foods.

Acids in lemon juice break down raw meat, allowing the marinade’s oil & spices to deeply penetrate and infuse the meat with flavor and moisture. Chefs warn that denaturation can “cook” meat to toughness if it’s left to marinate certain types of meat too long!

One lemon contains a full day’s supply of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. Lemon juice is also about 5 percent citric acid, making it a natural for slowing the browning or oxidation of fresh, raw foods: apples, avocados, bananas, & other fruits.

Most lemons are Eurekas or Lisbons. Eurekas have thicker rinds. The Meyer “lemon” is thought to be a cross between lemon & mandarin orange. Lemon-fragrant that is perfect for both savory & sweet dishes.

While fresh is best, lemons preserved in salt are a fragrant, distinctive flavoring in Moroccan and Middle Eastern stews, tagines, & other dishes. #chef #food #restaurant #kitchen #flavor #taste #green#foodservice