Today’s Special: Fish Fillet

Fish Fillet | blog.sfcooking.com

Have you ever watched a pro break down a whole fish before? There is something supremely beautiful in the effortless strokes, clean lines, and efficient movements. It’s a skill that all our culinary students aspire to, but like all things, takes practice practice practice. Today’s Special is about discipline and finesse.

And that wraps up our fish-happy week!

Interested in honing your own seafood savvy skills?
Sign up for our 3-day Fish & Shellfish Fundamentals course.
(3 week Monday evening series, starts 9/22)

Pan-Seared Fish with Lemon, Olives, and Dried Tomatoes

Pan-Seared Fish with Lemon, Olives, and Dried Tomatoes | blog.sfcooking.com

A simple fish dinner that comes together quickly is just what we need at the height of summer busyness. This flavorful pan-seared number fits the bill. The fish cooks up fast (if you’re wondering how to tell when it’s done, take a quick look here), and the combination of a little dredging and a high-heat sear gives you that satisfying, crispy skin.

The sauce and toppings are a mix of classic flavors that play well together – garlic, olive oil, white wine, lemon, olives, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. All that briny saltiness from the olives complements the fruity acid of the lemon, while sweet dried tomatoes round it all out.

You can opt to oven-dry fresh tomatoes low and slow, but if time is of the essence, jarred sundried tomatoes soaked in olive oil work just as well.
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Take 5: Juliana Uruburu, Cheesemonger

Q&A with Juliana Uruburu, Cheesemonger | blog.sfcooking.com

Juliana Uruburu is the head cheesemonger at The Pasta Shop and cheese educator at The Cheese School of San Francisco. It’s always a good day when Juliana comes in for her cheese tasting workshop. She talks her way around the plate, from mild to funky, going over the many nuances in flavor, texture, and milk types. No doubt, you always leave the class with a few new favorites to look out for.

Here’s our Take 5 with Juliana:

1. What 3 cheeses would you select for the ultimate summer cheese plate?
I love to entertain with cheese on a warm summer day with ripe stone fruit, sweet berries & fragrant melon all paired with a chilled sparkling rose. I couldn’t keep it to 3, sorry!

  • Burrata nestled in a shot glass with a drizzle of olive oil and topped with some seaweed sea salt
  • Kunik – a New York semi-soft goat milk cheese that is blended with some cow’s milk cream to soften the acidity. It is fluffy and creamy and succulent – amazing anytime! Cut the top off and make a bowl that your guests can dip in to…
  • Pecorino Fresco that has a wonderful supple texture and vibrancy due to the young age. Acidic with a soft nutty flavor, oily on the tongue –simple and very satisfying.
  • Coupole is my hands down favorite cheese – appropriate on any cheese plate before or after a meal. A wrinkly rinded beauty from Vermont Creamery that has flavors of straw, grass and hay with a fresh creamy texture.


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How to Tell When Fish is Done Cooking

How to Tell When Fish is Done Cooking | blog.sfcooking.com

Leave your instant-read thermometer in the drawer and don’t rely on a recipe’s cooking time. Fish are different, cooking methods are different, even stoves and cookware are different. So how do you know when that beautiful fish is done cooking?

Use a thin paring knife to take a gentle peak into the thickest part of the fish. If it is opaque throughout, it is ready.

I recommend to my students to cook whole fish or fish on the bone as often as possible, and a little bit of pink near the bone is ok. Remember, with carryover heat, the fish will continue to cook a bit once you remove it from the heat.

Also, if you’re cooking fish that lends itself well to being more rare, such as salmon or tuna, your knife will hit a bit of resistance when you poke your fish, meaning the center is still a bit undercooked, and nicely rare.

Want to learn more about what it takes to expertly select and prepare seafood at home?
Sign up for David Groff’s Fish & Shellfish Fundamentals class
(3 week Monday evening series starting 9/22)

Bakery Day: Summer 2014 [GALLERY]

Bakery Day | blog.sfcooking.com

Congrats to our professional pastry arts students — they killed it last week on their Bakery Day!

All their hard work preparing for this showcase paid off as platter after impressive platter of beautiful treats came steadily flowing out to a very appreciative crowd. Seriously, how 7 students could crank out 23 varied and complex items (plus two special beverages!) is a wonder. We love our over-achievers here at SFCS.

From Candy Cap Crullers to their signature Turk Street “Seedy” Bagels, every bite was delightful. Here’s a look at some highlights from the ambitious menu:
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Miniature Shrimp Cakes with Citrus Aioli

Miniature Shrimp Cakes with Citrus Aioli | blog.sfcooking.com

One of the first things our Cooking Fundamentals students learn about is the process of making an emulsion – essentially, evenly dispersing fat into a liquid to create a thick and creamy consistency. They put their knowledge to practice, making homemade mayonnaise (which you know all about now, right?) and whisking up all sorts of different flavored aioli.

Then comes the fun part – figuring out what to pair with all those sauces! This Miniature Shrimp Cakes with Citrus Aioli is a class favorite. The shrimp cakes are chock full of tender bay shrimp, and get a crispy panko coating. They pair perfectly with a creamy aioli that’s brightened up with lots of lemon and lime, and a hit of cayenne.

If you’ve got a summer soiree planned, make sure these tasty little bites get on the menu. They’ll go like hot (shrimp) cakes.
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Take 5: Andrea Nguyen

Q&A with Andrea Nguyen | blog.sfcooking.com

Cookbook author and teacher Andrea Nguyen is no stranger to SF Cooking School. She is regularly in and out of both our rec and pro kitchens, teaching our students how to make Asian dumplings and tofu from scratch.

Here’s our Take 5 with Andrea:

1. You’re having friends over for dinner, what do you make for them?
It depends. When chef or food writer friends come over, we cook together. I set up the mise en place for something – like dumplings or Vietnamese banh xeo sizzling rice crepes – and we go to town. Beverages are involved. It’s akin to the hands-on classes I teach but I have a glass in my hand from the get-go! If don’t expect guests to pitch in, I grill or roast something.

2. I secretly love to eat _______.
Laughing Cow cheese. It’s a holdover from the Vietnamese experience with French colonialism. I grew up calling it La Vache Qui Rit (“lah vash key REE”).

3. Desert island cookbooks – you get three, what are they?
The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo (a favorite since childhood)
The Way to Cook by Julia Child (she covers the best in Western fare)
Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (I do use my own recipes because I forget things)

4. Your last supper — what’s on the menu?
A tasting menu comprised of:
- Freshly made tofu with soy sauce, grated ginger and scallion
- Poached pork and napa cabbage dumplings tumbled in chile oil and vinegar
- Dac biet special combo banh mi sandwich with all the fixings
- Beef pho noodle soup done old-school Hanoi style
- Rice with a fried egg and side of stir-fried seasonal greens
- Best fruit of the season
And of course, beverage pairings with these dishes please.

5. Dining out: Where do you love to go and what are the dishes you have to get?
I live in Santa Cruz and frankly, the dining options are slim. Right now I’m kinda in love with Shanghai Garden in Cupertino. It’s a low-key mini-mall spot with great soup dumplings, pan-fried juicy buns that squirt hot juice at you if you’re not careful, little salads and cold dishes, stir-fried sliced rice cakes that taste a zillion times better than they look on the plate, and giant chunks of red cooked pork belly. Old and young go there. Lots of Chinese spoken but the waitstaff speaks English just fine.

Near SF Cooking School, I recently had the most beautifully prepared stuffed quail at Monsieur Benjamin. So much technique and care on one plate. Go early as a walk-in if you can’t get a reservation.

I’ve been meaning to revisit Hawker Fare for dinner. James Syhabout told me that they’re serving family-style dishes at night. I love fine dining but my heart belongs to sharing everything at the table.

Want to learn to make dumplings from scratch? Yeah, you do.
Sign up for Andrea’s Asian Dumplings Class (Saturday 12/6)

How to Make Mayonnaise from Scratch

How to Make Mayo from Scratch | blog.sfcooking.com

Homemade mayonnaise is a labor of love, but the difference in flavor compared to the store-bought stuff is worth it. It’s also a little bit like magic when you see that beautiful emulsion come together. And, it’s a great arm work out! Who needs the gym when you’ve got a whisk and know how to use it.

A lot of people are intimidated by the prospect of making mayo from scratch – don’t be! It takes a little muscle, but in the end it is actually quite simple.

Here’s how you do it…

STEP #1:
Use a room temperature egg yolk. 1 yolk will absorb about 1 cup of oil.

STEP #2:
Anchor your bowl to free both hands. A heavy dutch oven works perfectly. Place a damp towel on top of the dutch oven and then place your bowl on top so that it sits snugly over it. Better yet, rope in a friend to hold the bowl so you can switch off on whisking duty.

STEP #3:
Add a small amount of water to the bowl and whisk the yolk with the water until it gets frothy. Without a bit of water to loosen things up, the mayo will get way too stiff and hard to whisk.

STEP #4:
While whisking constantly, SLOWLY drip in the cup of oil. The stream of oil should be thin as a thread. We prefer a neutral tasting oil like grape seed oil, or a vegetable/olive oil blend. Once about ¼ of the oil is absorbed and the mixture has thickened nicely, you can start to add the rest of the oil in a steady stream. Again, if the mixture gets too stiff, just had a little bit of water to correct the consistency.

Once you’ve mastered this technique, there are lots of fun variations you can jump to…
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Today’s Special: Zucchini Ribbons

Zucchini Ribbon Salad | blog.sfcooking.com

Our current class of culinary students is already planning their Restaurant Week — how time flies! It seems like just yesterday our very first class was abuzz, getting ready to show off all the new skills they learned in the classroom.

Today’s Special is a throwback to that first Restaurant Week. This elegant Zucchini Ribbon Salad with kalamata olives, house-made preserved lemon, and shavings of parmigiano is simple, but fresh, satisfying, and a feast for the eyes.

Get yourself a good mandolin and try this ribboning technique at home!

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream | blog.sfcooking.com

Is your backyard mint growing out of control? We love to grow fresh mint – it’s a hearty herb that’s easy to grow, but it does tend to overtake the planter’s box. If you have more mint on your hands than you know what to do with, this Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream is for you.

Big handfuls of fragrant mint leaves get infused into cream and milk for a flavor that is sweet and herbaceous, subtle and fresh – nothing like that artificial green stuff.
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