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Monday, March 4, 2013

SF Cooking School - Sauteing and Searing (Week 2)

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My second class of Cooking Fundamentals was fantastic, especially because I'm not a vegetarian.  This week's class focus was on sautéing and searing and we sautéed and seared the crap out of some delicious food.

Here's the list of this week's receipts (full recipes at the bottom of the post):

  • Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms w/ Toasted Bread
  • Seared Ahi w/ Couscous and Citrus Aioli
  • Pork Chops in Cider Pan Sauce
  • Seared Flank Steak w/ Romesco Sauce
  • Chicken Breast w/ White Wine Pan Sauce
  • Sauteed Zucchini w/ Tomatoes, Mint, and Feta Cheese
  • Cinnamon Ice Cream w/ Caramelized Bananas and Toasted Pecans
  • Maple Nutmeg Shortbread

Before starting all our cooking we talked about different kinds of pans, skillets, and stock pots. You mostly want something that heats evenly, and is big enough for whatever it is you're making. Oh, and a sauce pan, is typically not a pan you should make sauce in, just FYI.

This week I worked on the Chicken Breast w/ White Wine and Pan Sauce with Courtney. We got to implement the "boom schmoosh" method of flattening the chicken breast. We used a "meat pounder" like this one We called it the "boom schmoosh" method because unlike when you tenderize pork chops, you want to smack the chicken breast and then while holding the weight down push it down and out, kind of like you would with a rolling pin. By flattening your chicken breast everything will cook more evenly. We decided at the end of the day that while the dish was very good, that we enjoy things with more kick and would have added some more spice.

We seriously feasted when everything came together at the end of class. Everything was delicious, and perfectly cooked. The flank steak was juicy and medium rare and the romesco was killer. The cider pan sauce for the pork chops was sweet and succulent at the same time. And the Ahi was perfectly seared on the outside while beautiful and pink on the inside. We were kitchen geniuses!

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  • Let your meat come to room temperature to help it cook more evenly.
  • You let meat "rest" so it can soak up the juices inside, rather than spilling out when you cut into it.
  • "Boom schmoosh" is serious fun.

And now, what you've been waiting for, the recipes! (I'll be adding the recipes slowly, because they're pretty long and detailed.)

Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms w/ Toasted Bread:

  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, or a mix of wild mushrooms such as morels, shiitakes, oysters or chanterelles
  • 4 tablespoons butter, more for toast
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • ¼ cup dry white wine or white vermouth
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • sliced brioche or good white bread
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
  • coarse sea salt such as flour de del or Maldon, for garnish

Clean excess dirt from mushrooms. Slice mushrooms in half lengthwise and brush away any grit; chop into ¼ pieces, or smaller.

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until very limp, about three minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Add wine, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for about five minutes more.

Uncover pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about two minutes. Stir in cream; simmer until slightly thickened, two minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toast bread and spread with butter. Cut each slice in half diagonally and sprinkle lightly with chives. Top each toast triangle withs one mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with additional chives, garnish with sea salt, and serve.

This recipe was adapted from Melissa Clark, New york Times, 5/16/07, and serves 6 people.

Seared Ahi w/ Couscous and Citrus Aioli


Seared Ahi Tuna with Couscous
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ½ pounds ahi tuna steaks, about 1 ¼ thick
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil


  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into ½ inch dice
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound sugar snap peas
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

For the tuna, combine the fennel seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a small sauté pan and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes, shaking occasionally. Transfer mixture to a spice grinder and grind until fine. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salt. Coat fish with some of the olive oil. Sprinkle the fish on all sides with the spice mixture. Heat a large state pan over medium high heat. When pan is hot, sear tuna until well seared on the outside but still rare in the center, 3-4 minutes a side at most. Remove fish from the pan, place on a plate and refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cut fish into 1/2-in thick slices.

For the aioli, combine the may, lemon juice, chives and garlic in a small bowl. Stir together well, taste and season if desired with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days before using.

For the couscous, heat the olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add the carrot and onion with a pinch of salt and sauté until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic and remaining slat, along with 2 ¼ cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add snap peas and cook until crisp tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the snap peas to a plate. Immediately add the couscous to the boiling water and stir to combine. Cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let stand 5 minutes then fluff gently with a fork. Transfer the couscous to a bowl and cool completely. When cool, mix in the snap peas and dill. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (This dish can sit up to 2 hours at room temperature.) To serve, spoon couscous onto serving plates, top with tuna slices and drizzle with aioli.

Pork Chops in Cider Pan Sauce

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Pan Sauce

  • 4 center-cut bone-in pork chops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium red apple, such as a Pink Lady, Fuji or Gala, halved, cored and cut into small dice
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ cup apple cider (dark beer works well too)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, preferably country-style (coarse-grained)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Season the chops with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Working in 2 batches, cook the chops until nicely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet and roast until no longer pink near the bone (use a paring knife to check), about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, lower the heat to medium and add the apple, shallot, and thyme to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown and soften, about 2 minutes. Add the cider, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and mustard and continue to cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the chops.

This recipe was adapted from "Fine Cooking," and serves 4.

Check back for more of the recipes!