Blind Cooking: 10 Tips from Chefs!

How good are your cooking skills?

 

If you think you have room for improvement then this week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter is for you! We’re passing along a wonderful article written by Emma Tracey, showcasing blind Chefs and their tips for being successful in the kitchen; Blind Cooking: 10 Tips From Chefs!

 

Enjoy!

Chef Jennifer  

 

Blind Cooking:
10 Tips From Chefs

 

Emma Tracey, a producer on the BBC Ouch! disability blog and talk show, who has been blind since birth, says cooking provides many challenges.

 

Christine Ha, who is 33 and gradually lost her vision over a decade, made it to the final 18 of the MasterChef competition after impressing the judges, who include Gordon Ramsay.

Ha says she has to depend a lot more on the other senses to cook – taste, smell and how ingredients feel at different stages of cooking.

To taste everything – and to know how a perfectly cooked steak or fish fillet feels – is useful advice for any cook. So in what other ways do blind chefs manage?

 

1. Hazelnuts top left:

On MasterChef, Ha is allowed an assistant to guide her around the unfamiliar kitchen and collect ingredients. Other than that, she is expected to follow the same rules as her sighted rivals.

But when cooking at home, she has no need for such assistance. Like many blind cooks, she knows her own kitchen inside out – and everything is always put back in its place.

Tom Lewis, head chef at Monachyle Mhor in Perthshire, remembers the need for strict organization from when his mother Jean ran the restaurant’s kitchen. She started it after losing her vision, and it was a smoothly run operation.

“You have to put ingredients back in the same place each time,” he says. “In mum’s kitchen, everything was as it should be – hazelnuts in the top left of the pantry, sugar bottom right.”

 

2. Audio labeling:
Continue reading the main story Being blind on MasterChef

The biggest challenge is working in a new kitchen.

“I have an assistant who acts as my feet and eyes. I can ask her to go and get me equipment, etc, but I can’t cook while she is gone. I have had to learn to work closely and communicate with her. The flow of how we communicate has been really important so that I can work as quickly as everyone else.

“The advantage for me, if there is any, is that I am not able to see what others are doing and just have to be concerned with my own kitchen station.”

Many of the men and women that

cookery expert Sue Pallett advises at online blindness community

The Accessible Friends Network, are not able to memorize the entire contents of their pantry and so must find a non-visual way to label items.Blind from birth, Pallett uses Braille labels, but over the years she has developed a number of strategies to help others to identify their ingredients.

 

“If there are two containers which feel exactly the same, some people will put an elastic band on one and a piece of sticky tape on the other. Or tactile magnetic letters can be useful, particularly when labeling tins.”

More hi-tech options are available, allowing the blind cook to record an audio message on a special label, which is then attached to the container.

As well as identifying the contents, this message can also include additional information, such as use-by dates and cooking instructions.

 

3. Listen to the sponge cake:

Smell, taste, touch and even hearing are used by blind cooks to identify similar ingredients – using icing sugar instead of cornflour, for instance, would have disastrous consequences for a dish.

In China, a contest was held involving blind chefs
Pallett, who teaches blind people

how to cook, says that if you have a refined sense of hearing, it is sometimes possible to tell that a sponge cake is done “when it stops ticking”, or sizzling.She is keen to point out, however, that this is not by any means a foolproof method and that timing is more reliable.

 

“As blind cooks, we are not able to continually open the oven door and check whether a cake is done, so I use a timer.

“When time is up, I press my fingers down lightly on the top of the cake and if it springs back easily, then it is done.” Baking guru Mary Berry also recommends this method.

 

4. Smell the garlic:

“My sense of smell has really come into play since I lost my sight,” says Ha, who writes the food blog Blind Cook.

“I know when garlic is just fragrant enough and when it is going to tip over to being too burnt or bitter.

“With a pan on the stove, I add some water and if it splashes in a certain way I know that it is hot enough for whatever I’m cooking.”

5. Mark the temperature dials Pallett uses small, brightly colored pieces of sticky-backed rubber called bump-ons.

They come in many shapes and sizes and can be stuck on to anything, including the temperature dials of cookers and kitchen timers.

Then all the blind cook must do is line the cooker knob’s edge up with them.

 

6. Have a chopping system:
The sharper the better.

Preparing vegetables requires the right tools and a good technique, says Pallett.

“Choose a short-bladed, unserrated kitchen knife with an ergonomic handle, and a good chopping board.”

Blind foodie Neil Barnfather adheres to a strict system for preparing vegetables, especially while hosting dinner parties. And his favorite kitchen utensil is his knife sharpener – a sharp blade is essential for chopping accurately.

“When chopping, I tend to put the unchopped on the left, work in progress in the middle and finished on the right. This saves time and avoids confusion.”

 

7. Saucepan, not frying pan:
Sue Pallett doesn’t use a frying pan

Another aspect of cooking which could be considered risky if you can’t see, is working with hot oil. Pallett has found a way around this problem – instead of a frying pan, she uses deep-sided saucepans.

“If you fry in a saucepan, everything is contained really well and nothing is going to fly out over the top and cause a mess.

“I use a long-handled, heat-resistant, slotted spoon to slide underneath the ingredients, gently turn them over and spread them out again. I always face my saucepan handles to the same side.

“That way, I know where they are, and there’s no chance of me knocking a hot pot off the hob.”

 

8. Carry as little as possible:

When serving a meal to guests, Neil Barnfather’s secret weapon is a hostess trolley.

“It keeps food warm, so that I can cook one thing at a time. It also saves me having to carry a loaded tray through to the dining room, which, with a young family, or guests moving around, might not be a safe thing to do.”

He also draws the line at serving gravy to guests at the table, opting instead to leave it on a heated serving plate in the centre so that they can do it themselves.

 

9. Use talking gadgets:

All three cooks use various gadgets to get the job done. Many of these are regular pieces of equipment which have been repurposed.

“Use a good, long, solid wooden rolling pin, flouring it before you begin. Give your dough a quarter turn after every few rolls back and forth for a good result, keeping a steady pressure will also achieve an even thickness and a good round shape. When your pastry is approximately the right size, check by turning your pie plate upside down, laying it on top of the pastry circle, it needs to be just a little bit bigger than the plate, with a small amount of pastry protruding underneath all the way round.”

Sue Pallett, blind cooking tutor.

For example, unable to go down the usual road of checking his meat by seeing if the juices run clear, Barnfather uses a meat tenderiser, which looks like a mini cheese-grater with a hammer-like handle. If, when pushed into the meat, it springs back easily, then the meat is cooked.

“I use oven mits which go much higher up my arm than regular mits, so that I don’t burn the inside of my wrist when taking things in and out of the oven,” says Ha.

She also has a talking meat thermometer with her in the MasterChef kitchen to ensure that her food is fully heated through. This is just one type of specialist equipment for the visually impaired, sold by blind charities such as RNIB.

When measuring ingredients for cakes and pastries, all three cooks rely on hearing to use their talking weighing scales. These devices speak measurements in a slow, clear voice, as ingredients are added to the bowl attached.

For liquids, Neil Barnfather says that the talking measuring jugs available are not nearly accurate enough to use. Instead, he remembers how much each of his jugs contains and places a clean finger on the inside of the container as he pours.

 

10. Serve up using a clock face:

Like many blind people, Barnfather thinks of the plate as a clockface and divides it into quadrants.

“I like to know that my meat is at 12 O’clock, vegetables at three and potatoes at maybe six o’clock.”

He takes mental notes on presentation and plate layout when eating in restaurants, so that he can tap into current trends when cooking for guests at home.

To serve, he plates up the meat or fish first and then arranges side dishes around it. An ice cream scoop proves invaluable for neatly serving mashed potato.

Georgia Grown Savannah Summerfest!

Georgia Grown Savannah Summerfest

June 29th at the Savannah State Farmers Market

sav summerfest Join us at the Savannah State Farmers Market for fresh Georgia Grown produce and free family fun at the Savannah Summerfest! This year’s Summerfest will be held on June 29, 2013 from 10:00am-3:00pm. Stop by the market to purchase your summer produce fresh from the farmer and taste fruits and vegetables from vendors across Georgia. The Summerfest will include children’s rides, face painting, an antique car and tractor show, and samples of Georgia’s finest cheese, jellies, honey and more!

Food Euphoria and Slurrnunciation by 8th Day Hedonist

 

Food Euphoria and Slurrnunciation

Posted on

 

I want you all to meet a fellow hedonist. This is Matthew Raiford and I could go on and on about all of the ways that this man is a pleasure seeking sensualist but I will sum it up with the name he has given himself: chefarmer. Yep. Chef, farmer, and an organic farmer working land that has been in his family for over 100 years. I’m going to leave it there because I intend to write a longer piece about Matthew and his dynamic veteran sister Althea who collects degrees like I collect shoes. I’m telling you, some families are just special.

Let’s get to the yummy bit. This is a clip of Matthew talking about a reaction to his grandmother’s sweet potato pie. Talk about the simple pleasures. What I really love is the way Matthew says sweepotatopaaaiii. It’s a pleasure just to hear the sensual slurrrnunciation of a word that clearly means happiness, pleasure, and history to this man. Do you think if we BEG, please Matthew PLEASE, we can get that recipe?

click here to hear Mattew Raiford’s interview http://www.8thdayhedonist.com/?p=492

 

 

Nothing says ‘Happy Father’s Day’ like Bacon!

This issue of Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter is dedicated to all the Dads across the globe! And what better way to honor Dad than with BACON?! Here is a great homemade Applewood Smoked Bacon recipe-simple, easy, and delicious. Enjoy!

Here’s to you, Dad! 

Chef Jennifer  

 

Say Happy Father’s Day with Bacon!!   

     

Applewood Smoked Bacon

 

Both the flavor and texture of this homemade bacon is definitely superior to any bacon you’ll find at your grocer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. kosher salt  
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 skinless fresh pork belly (6 to 8 lb.), cut crosswise into 3 or 4 equal pieces
  • 3 Tbs. coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
For smoking your bacon:
  • 8 cups Applewood sawdust
Brine the pork belly:

Pour 1 gallon of cold water into a 12-quart  plastic storage tub or stainless-steel bowl. Add the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved.

Put the pork belly in the brine, weighting them down with a plate to keep them completely submerged.  

Cover the container and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Remove the pork from the brine, re-stir the brine a few times, and then return the pork to the brine and refrigerate for another 24 hours.

Drain the pork and discard the brine. Rinse the pork in cold water and pat dry. If using the black pepper, evenly sprinkle it all over the pork.

 

Cold-smoke the pork belly:

If using a charcoal grill, open all the vents. Remove the grill grate and put a 4×8-inch disposable foil loaf pan on the charcoal grate. Put 5 cups of the sawdust in the loaf pan.  

If using a gas grill, disconnect the propane and put the pan on a back corner of the grill grate. (You won’t be lighting the burners since you are using the grill as a smoker.)

 

Light 5 charcoal briquettes. When the briquettes are glowing and completely covered with gray ash, transfer them with tongs to the sawdust, spacing them evenly in the pan. If using a charcoal grill, replace the grill grate.

When the sawdust begins to smolder, arrange the pork pieces fat side up on the grill grate to the side of the loaf pan.  

Space the pieces at least 1 inch apart to allow the smoke to circulate around them. Cover the grill and insert a metal instant-read thermometer into a vent hole in the lid or lay it on the grate to monitor the grill temperature-it should be between 80°F and 120°F.  

If the temperature rises above 120°F, remove 1 or more briquettes or partially uncover the grill until the temperature reduces.

Stir the sawdust with tongs every 1-1/2 hours to ignite any that’s unburned, and add more sawdust, 1 cup at a time, to the loaf pan as the sawdust turns to ash. You want a good amount of smoke rising out of the vents.

After 3 hours, rotate the position of the pork to ensure even smoking.  

If your sawdust does stop burning, however, light more briquettes and reignite the sawdust.

The total smoking time will be 5 to 6 hours. Depending on the breed of pork and the duration of smoking, the bacon may become a brownish-yellow color. It will still be raw, however. The bacon will look dry on the meaty side, and the fat may be glistening with moisture.  

Pat the moisture off with paper towels and cool the bacon completely at room temperature.  

Refrigerate until firm before slicing.

 

Store the bacon:

You can store the bacon either in slices or large pieces (slabs).  

To store sliced bacon, wrap the slices in small, individually wrapped batches. Tightly wrapped in plastic, bacon will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the bacon in slabs, let it defrost in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until it’s soft enough to slice with a sharp knife. (It’s easier to slice thinly when partially frozen.)  Thaw completely before cooking.

 

Cook the bacon:

Fry your slices of bacon in a 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat, turning frequently, until browned and as crisp or arrange in a single layer on a wire rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven, turning once with tongs, until done to your liking.

Drain the bacon on paper towels and serve hot.

Beyond All-Inclusive, Beyond All-Compare

Mexico’s Luxury All-inclusive Resort Offers Its First Ever Culinary/Spirits Focused Package

Grand Gourmet Package at Grand

Velas Riviera Nayarit Features

Cooking and Mixology Classes,

Tequila Tasting

 

Complementing the gourmet experience offered by its four specialty restaurants, the “Beyond All-Inclusive, Beyond All-Compare” Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is offering its first ever Grand Gourmet Package. The unique package features a private two-hour cooking class with chefs from a selection of its Italian, Mexican and French restaurants, Lucca, Frida and Piaf, as well as a tequila tasting and private 45-minute mixology class. Gourmet welcome amenity and private VIP airport transfers are also included.

Guests enjoy all-inclusive features of the AAA Five Diamond resort including luxury suite accommodations, a la carte dining at a choice of gourmet restaurants, premium branded beverages, 24-hour in-suite service, taxes and gratuities The package is available now through December 19th, 2013, with rates starting at $379 per person, per night based on double occupancy. Minimum stays apply and rates are subject to availability.

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit has not only revolutionized the luxury all-inclusive concept and set the bar for other resorts, but its four signature restaurants offer gourmet á la carte dining on par with restaurants in the world’s top culinary destinations. Served at the swim-up Aqua Bar and in the resort’s signature restaurants, guests enjoy the Signature Margarita Menu, a special selection of 12 delightfully unique cocktails. The lauded menu includes the Cocoa Signature Margarita, which uses chocolate directly from Chiapas fused with an orange essence, as well as Clamato Chilli Pepper, Tamarind Mint and Avocado Pistachio flavored drinks.

For reservations or more information, please call 1-877-398-2784 or visit http://www.vallarta.grandvelas.com.

 

compliments of www.BasilBuzz.com

YRG Cookbook Spotlight: Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Every Day

Looking for the perfect gift for the graduate in your life? This issue of Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter is here to help. We’ve found the perfect cookbook for the any college student that wants to avoid the dreaded  ‘freshman fifteen’ and the average cafeteria fare. It’s perfect for the novice cook as well-no matter what their age. I hope you enjoy Your Resident Gourmet’s Cookbook Spotlight of the month is Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Everday.

Here’s to you! 

Chef Jennifer  

 

YRG Cookbook Spotlight!

Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Everyday

     

A Cooking Dynamic duo: Dr. Ellen Bass and Sophia Khan recently combined their talents to create their first cookbook:

 

– STUDENTS GO GOURMET – Simple Gourmet for Everyday

As former students of highly acclaimed academic institutions, they understand first-hand the challenges of eating healthily under demanding schedules.  Khan and Bass marry their Greek ancestry from generations-old family recipes with new exotic flavors from countries Khan has lived in such as Pakistan, China, Italy and England.

Dr. Bass is an award-winning Pediatrician, cooking enthusiast, food blogger and author and she has teamed up with her niece, Sophia Khan, to create unique, healthy and easy recipes for even the most novice cook.
Sophia is a recent graduate of Yale and Harvard who through her
studies, Greek and Pakistani ancestry and cultural experiences, has learned to
prepare fast and delicious food. Together they share not only their Mediterranean ancestry but also a love of cooking, creating unique meals and entertaining.
Khan and Bass

How Students Go Gourmet-Simple Gourmet for Everyday, was born:

Amidst the barren frost dunes of her fourth Hanover winter, college senior Sophia phoned Dr. Ellen (Auntie) late one night with a simple, absurd idea: to write a gourmet cookbook…for college students. Four months of eating Mac ‘n Cheese out of the box had made the phrase “gourmet college” seem almost oxymoronical to the cynical senior, but Auntie thought they were onto something. Why not find a way to teach students how to make affordable, healthy, quick, and above all delicious food?

Their nefarious plan sat on the back burner for the next year, as Sophia was off on adventures in China and Pakistan. Not until she returned and made what would be a pivotal voyage down to Knoxville, TN in March of 2007 did she and Auntie get to work. The cooking was easy. When it came to concocting and sampling tasty food, everyone was ready to labor over the stove and dinner table alike. Brainstorming chapters, calculating each meal’s budget, photographing dips and spreads (they’re maddening to capture in a flattering light), recording and editing recipes–these were the tasks of nightmares. Finally, after many months of hard work and dedication, we had a cookbook!

Here we are, four years later, with an awesome agent in our corner, an instructional DVD under our belts, and a release set to hit the shelves in a matter of days! We’re so ecstatic and sometimes feel like we must be dreaming. If we are, it’s a very yummy dream.

Give this Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Everday recipe a try-you won’t be disappointed!

New Orleans Style Eggs Benedict

 


We’ve created a fusion of flavors to add Louisiana flair to the favorite brunch staple, Eggs Benedict. Instead of going to a diner, dine in with friends while helping yourselves to a gourmet recipe with a maritime kick.

Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Cost: $10.28

Ingredients:
6 English muffins 1 + 12 eggs
1 pound shrimp (pre-cooked, peeled and deveined, fresh or frozen)
1 green onion (scallion), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon lime juice
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar (for the poaching water)
Hollandaise sauce (see below)

Hollandaise Sauce Ingredients:
3 egg yolks
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Equipment
Sauté pan x 2 (one for poaching the eggs and one for the shrimp patties)
Small saucepan for melting the butter (or microwave for 45 seconds)
Slotted spoon for poached eggs
Spatula Measuring cups & spoons
Blender (optional)
Food processor (optional)

Directions:

Shrimp patties:
Puree the shrimp in a food processor (if you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the shrimp into small pieces). Put the pureed shrimp in a mixing bowl and add the green onion, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and salt, and mix well. Form the shrimp mixture into patties, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Reserve the cooked patties on a plate while you make the hollandaise sauce and poach the eggs.

Hollandaise sauce:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Meanwhile puree the egg yolks in a blender (if you do not have a blender you can make the hollandaise in a homemade double boiler; see below). With the blender running add the warm, melted butter in a slow stream. Add the lemon juice at the end.

To poach the eggs:
Bring 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan to a boil over high heat then turn the heat down to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Gently crack an egg into a bowl then add the egg to the pan. Be careful not to break the yolk! We use prep bowls to slip the cracked egg slowly into the poaching liquid. Allow the egg to cook undisturbed for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg and gently place on top of the shrimp cake.

The final product:
Toast the English muffins, place a shrimp patty on each half of an English muffin, top with a poached egg and finish with a couple tablespoons of hollandaise over each muffin half.
Note: If you have the 2 cup sized food processor, you may have to puree the shrimp in a couple of batches.

Making hollandaise by hand:
Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water and place on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling reduce the heat to low. Whisk the egg yolks in a glass bowl and place the bowl on top of the saucepan. Make a homemade double boiler by placing the glass bowl over the saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks continuously until they become smooth and light yellow. While whisking, slowly drizzle the butter into the eggs. Once the sauce is thick you can turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.

Copyright © Students Go Gourmet Productions, LLC 
Pick up you copy of
Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Everyday at you local bookstore.