Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Salmon Salad (with avocado, sprouts, watermelon radish)

YouTube Link: Salmon Salad (with avocado, sprouts, watermelon radish)
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Equipment I use in this video

Is it safe to under-cook your salmon?
If your salmon was previously frozen, there are no worries about parasites.  Freezing would kill them, so under-cook all you want.  The odds of parasites in farm-raised salmon are slim.  I eat it with translucent center (without freezing first), but it's up to you whether to take this tiny risk or not.  I do not suggest you under-cook wild salmon (unless it was frozen first) because it is prone to have parasites.

Salmon Ingredients:
1 Lb salmon fillet
1 Tbsp apricot preserve
1 Tbsp Japanese style soy sauce
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Salad Ingredients (everything to taste):
bean sprouts
red onion
lime juice
dijon mustard

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pastry Cream and Diplomat Cream Video

YouTube Link: Pastry Cream and Diplomat Cream
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

A few months ago, one of my readers asked for a video of pastry cream that is tasty, light, and sturdy enough to pipe.  Here it is.  This recipe is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible.

Pastry Cream
2 large eggs (100 grams weighed without the shell)
4 Tbsp corn starch (32 grams)
242 g whole milk (1 cup)
242 g cream (1 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
1/2 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract added in the end)
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter (42 grams), cut into 3 pieces

Diplomat Cream
1 recipe chilled pastry cream and stabilized whipped cream (I prefer to use a double whipped cream recipe, but you can use less).  The procedure is in the above video.

Eclairs Recipe and Assembly


Friday, March 20, 2015

Reader Question about Heat Intensity

Just got a question from one of my readers that might be of interest to others.

Hi Helen,

I was hoping you can answer this question for me. I have been looking stuff up on simmer and boil and how they are related to chicken. I notice that when I simmer chicken breast for an hour it's still raw inside but then everything I read tells me not to boil chicken for an hour because the meat will harden. Is this true? If it is how to I cook this chicken? I guess what setting do I put the stove on after I bring the stew/soup to a boil. I tried putting it on the lowest setting and that does not seem to cook anything. Also if you take a brisket for example and boil it after 3 hours it softens. Is it the reverse of the chicken? By boil I do not mean huge bubbles coming up to the top and trying to escape. I mean 'medium' setting on the stove.

Dear Anna,

1) The burner settings don't mean anything. Low on one stove and on another can be completely different. If you want to compare apples to apples, stick a thermometer into the liquid to get a temperature. When the recipe says to cook on low, medium, or high, it's just a suggestion of what setting to try first, then you need to adjust as needed.

2) "Boil" and "simmer" are very imprecise terms. Rolling boil = 212F (100C), but the water will start to bubble around 205F. Simmer is all over the place. Visually, it means an occasional little bubble breaks the surface of the water. The temperature should be around 200F. You can cook at many other temperature, but traditional recipes rarely give them a name. When one stove is set to "low," the liquid might hover around 200F, and on another stove it can drop all the way to 180F. This changes the duration a lot. The cooking graph is not linear, so 20 degrees could in some cases double your cooking time (I am not sure on exact number and it does depend on the shape of the ingredient, but want to give you an order of magnitude). Covered and uncovered pots make a huge difference too. When the pot is covered, the pressure inside builds and the same burner setting can produce a completely different temperature inside your pot.

3) What you are describing with brisket happen when the collagen (connective tissue) in meat converts to gelatin and then meat fibers start to shred. For this to happen, not only does the meat need to reach a certain temperature, but it needs to be held at that temperature for a particular duration. That's why the brisket won't cook much faster if you cut it into little pieces. 3 hours is about right for beef. The same will happen for chicken, but it will take about 2 hours given the cooking liquid is 205F. The only problem is that the chicken breast is a bad cut to cook this way. It has very little fat or connective tissue, so although it will shred eventually, it will be very dry. The cuts you want to choose for this long and slow method (simmering, stewing, braising) are fatty and tough -- thighs for poultry, shoulders and bottom of the leg for mammals.

4) About the warnings of meat hardening. It doesn't matter what temperature you cook at, but what temperature you cook to (the internal temperature of the meat). To understand how this works, watch my roasted chicken breast video. I cook it at a very high heat, but to a very low temperature and it's very soft and juicy. Keep in mind that normal home cook recipes are written for people without thermometers but with desire to observe FDA temperature recommendations.

5) Here is how I would add chicken to soup. Buy bone-in chicken thighs, remove the skin and make stock with them (200F for about 2 hours uncovered after the boil is reached). Remove them from the stock and cover (so that they don't dry out). Make the soup using the stock. When the soup is done, shred the chicken thigh meat and add to soup. To use the breast, I would roast it (like in the above video -- you can salt right before putting it in the skillet instead of a day ahead if time is time). Remove the skin, cut it up and add to soup right before serving -- don't simmer it, just let the hot soup warm it up.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pate a Choux Video Part 2 (Piping and Baking)

YouTube Link: Pate a Choux Part 2 (Piping and Baking)
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Equipment Used in This Video

Salmon Salad

1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 Lb salmon fillet with or without skin
4 oz smoked salmon, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped
2 Tbsp chopped dill, chives, and/or parsley
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (or whipped cream cheese)
2 Tbsp mayo
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
Black pepper
  1. Remove butter from the fridge to make sure it softens by the time salmon is ready. 
  2. Bring wine and water to a boil in a medium skillet that is just large enough to hold your salmon fillet. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the skillet skin side down. As soon as the liquid returns to a simmer, reduce heat to low, partially cover the skillet and poach salmon at a bare simmer for 8 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, separate the flakes in the thickest part with a fork and peek inside. Salmon is done when the flakes separate, but are still translucent in the center. Remove salmon to a plate and cool completely. 
  3. Peel off the skin (it should come off very easily after salmon is cooked). Flake poached salmon and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Season with black pepper to taste and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.  Serve in puff shells or on baguette.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pate a Choux Video Part 1 (Dough)

YouTube Link: Pate a Choux Part 1 (Dough)
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Pâte à choux
1/2 cup water (120g)
1/2 cup whole milk (120g)
1/2 tsp table salt or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher (2.8g)
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp (113g), cut into 8 pieces
142g unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted (1 cup scooped and leveled, then sifted)
4 large eggs (200g), beaten with a fork in a liquid measuring cup with a spout

Incorporating Eggs with a Stand Mixer
Fit mixer with a paddle attachment. Place the dough in a mixer and cool for 5 minutes, turning the mixer briefly on low speed for a few seconds a couple of times to release the steam. Turn the mixer on medium-low speed (4 for KitchenAid), pour in roughly a third of the eggs. The dough will break and gradually become creamy again. Be patient and don't add more eggs until the dough is cohesive. Pour in the second third. Wait for the dough to become cohesive and pour in the last third. Beat until consistency slightly thinner than creamy peanut butter at room temperature. If at any time during the addition of the eggs the dough on the bottom of the bowl is not being mixed evenly, stop the mixer and scrape up the bowl with a rubber spatula. 

Incorporating Eggs with a Hand-held Mixer
Fit the mixer with stiff beaters (that's the standard ones included with every mixer, not the whisks or dough hooks). Proceed just like for a Stand Mixer.

Thorough discussion of dough variations (milk vs water, egg wash vs water spray, etc)