Lesson 15: Clarified butter & roasted peppers

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yay for a day without meat, blood, and guts!!!!  Today seemed like a breeze, with simple things to do like make tomato concasse, roast peppers, and clarify butter.  Tomato concasse was very simple to make.  It is a simple technique of par boiling tomatoes for 10 seconds in rapidly boiling water and then shocking them in ice water to stop the cooking process.  This helps to peel and seed the tomatoes to be used in sauces, salsas, etc.  While we each took turns with our tomatoes, we were also charring our peppers over the stove and clarifying butter.

Clarified butter is not as easy to make as it sounds.  I read about it last night and it seemed simple...just heating it until the milk solids separate from the butter.  However, if you boil it for too long, it starts to turn brown and has a different, toasty flavor.  If you don't boil it enough, the butter still has some milk solids in it and it's not as clear as it should be.  I felt like everyone's clarified butter varied in color and clarity.  We will review our containers of butter tomorrow and talk about which ones were clarified correctly.

For those of you who don't know, clarified butter is used in replace of regular, unsalted butter when cooking over high heats.  The milk solids in butter that cause it to burn are removed.  Cooking in clarified butter allows the food that you are cooking to have a more enhanced flavor.  Regular butter masks the flavor of foods because of its richness.  Interesting huh?

We wanted to make something out of some of the roasted peppers, so we made a yummy pimento cheese dip (umm I mean roasted peppers with aged cheddar).  Chef Allen was joking that when you say "pimento cheese dip" it sounds like cheap food..but when you say "roasted red peppers with aged cheddar, it is suddenly a gourmet hors'deorve .  It was made with chopped roasted peppers, shredded cheddar, and lots of mayonnaise!  We spread it on warm french bread and celery sticks.  Here's Kimberly whippin up the delicious dip:
With our dip we also enjoyed some par boiled/sauteed potatoes, but with a new twist!  We added persillade to them, which is just finely minced garlic and parsley, but it added great flavor!  

Next, we made croutons!  Oh how wonderful fried bread tastes!  I've actually been craving more of them ever since I left class.  I kind of wish I brought some extra home with me, but I know that if I did I would have devoured all of them on the train ride home!  They're so simple to make.. just cube and de-crust some white bread.  Heat up some canola oil (or any other oil with a high smoke point--not olive oil!) and drop a few in.  Spoon them around in the oil for a few seconds and lift them out with a slotted spoon to a paper towel.  Salt them right away while they're still warm.  They were truly addicting! MM I might have to make some this weekend...

The class ended with a brief lecture/demonstration on sauces, which we will start tomorrow.  I'm sure sauces will be hard, since there is an exact science that we have to learn to make each sauce perfect..but I'm really excited :)


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