Knife skills = boring. Right? Wrong. At least we don’t think so! Our upcoming Knife Skills course not only gives you the skills you need to build a solid foundation for your next meal, but affords plenty of interest in the process (and yields a delicious meal complete with wine pairings). Think knives are, well, dull? Here are some fun facts about knife skills:
Here’s a quick way to figure out if your knife is sharp enough: tomato and other fruit skins can be sliced without a problem.
Too dull? If you wrap your knife in newspaper and take it to your local grocery store, the butcher’s counter will tell you when to bring it in for a mobile sharpening at a low cost.
One knife to rule them all: Can’t afford an array of expensive knives? No worries…a modest chef’s knife will do. Look for a blade constructed of one piece of metal that sits well in your hand.
A common myth about knives is that sharp ones are more dangerous than dulled blades. Wrong! Sharper knives are easier to control and more likely to be respected by the user.
We know, we know…sometimes the hype surrounding America’s favorite food holiday can lead to a bit of paralysis. Not feeling up to the challenge? We’ve assembled our favorite sources of Turkey-Day solace. Now get out there and cook!
- Thanksgiving newbie? NPR to the rescue!
- Prefer your Turkey day high-tech? Try these Thanksgiving-oriented iPhone apps.
- Burnt turkey is preferable to a burnt kitchen…we promise. Get your kitchen safety tips here.
- Prefer what’s tried, and tried, and tried, and true? Cooks Illustrated has you covered.
- Confused about your (gasp!) Butterball turkey? Operators are standing by.
- Last-minute menus and plenty of cocktails are on tap at Epicurious.
- Need video tutorials and tips? Turn to CHOW for help.
- Sometimes it’s time to just give up. Westword lays out recommendations for five Front Range restaurants that stay open on Turkey Day.
Dare we ask if you have a hostess gift in mind for that fabulous fete? We can help. Drop by the Cook Street Café…we’ve got gift cards and plenty of gift-ready packages to make sure you don’t show up empty-handed!
As we cook, we also keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in food trends (with our feet firmly planted in classic techniques that always trump the latest and greatest). This week, the Web is suddenly all about sous vide, a cooking technique much beloved by fancy molecular gastrologists and involving the very long slow-cookery of meat in a plastic bag via vacuum. Huh? Whether you want to try it yourself or just are hungry for some knowledge to share at your next cocktail party, here’s a quick rundown on sous vide:
What does it mean? The term “sous vide” means “under vacuum” in French. Translation: Low temperatures, long cooking times, vacuum-sealed environments.
Why cook sous vide? Perfection: proper use of the technique means that cuts of meat that might otherwise dry out or change flavor with long cookings can retain their texture and take on a moist yumminess seen only in more expensive cuts. Also, it’s fun to play with thermometers, gadgets, and science! Who’s not up for a foodie challenge every once in a while?
What can you cook sous vide? Steak is the ultimate example, but chicken, carrots, even eggs can benefit from the technique.
Where do I learn more? Here’s a great collection of sous vide madness:
- Hack a slow cooker for sous vide
- Poor man’s sous vide
- Sous vide 101
- A practice guide to sous vide – by a Colorado mathematician who has gotten this science down to an art
Proceed with caution…any cooking technique that relies on lots of fancy equipment might not last the test of time. Want to brush up on your cooking basics and get reacquainted with French and Italian classics? Click here to view a course calendar!
Sigh…it’s official. With leaves falling all over, there’s no more denying that autumn has arrived. But never fear: changing your eating habits with the seasons is easy. Here are a few of our favorite tips:
Incorporate fall colors. Bright orange. Deep red. Rich brown. If your food reflects any of these colors, chances are it’s a fabulous fall option. We’re talking butternut squash, pomegranate, and apples. Take a chance and cook a dish with deep color today.
Cook your veggies. It just doesn’t seem right to eat wilted and warmed greens or mashed carrots when it’s bright and summery outside. Fall is a perfect time to enjoy cooked vegetables, whether braised, poached, mashed, or baked.
Go heavier. You don’t have to go insane with the butter and olive oil, but fall is a natural friend to hearty breads, long-simmered meats, and heavier sauces and desserts. Go ahead…enjoy!
Want to learn more about seasonal eating? Cook Street’s menus change with the seasons…and upcoming classes like Classic Techniques: French (can we say coq au vin?) and Classic Techniques: Sauces will give you the skills you need to eat well all season long.
Colorado isn’t exactly a fishmonger’s paradise, but it’s possible to get and cook delicious fish even in these landlubbin’ parts. Take A Fish Tale, our popular recreational cooking class focused on incorporating fish into appetizer, entree, and salad while using classic techniques that get every last morsel of deliciousness out of that piece of fish. Read on for some fish myth debunking in honor of our upcoming class:
I can’t afford fresh fish in Colorado! Bogus. There are plenty of purveyors of fresh fish in the area that won’t destroy your financial future. For great deals on fresh fish, try the Pacific Ocean Marketplace on 120th and Main in Westminster. You’ll probably see a few restaurateurs picking up their daily catch.
Frozen fish is disgusting: Sometimes, but it’s all in the handling. A flash-frozen salmon that is properly dealt with from deck to distribution warehouse will be tastier and easier to cook than a fresh fish that’s battered and mistreated along the way.
Eating fish will give me mercury poisoning: No way. Common fish in the United States tends to be low in mercury, though trace amounts can occur. That slight danger is overwhelmed by the health benefits of fish, which include lowered risk of heart attack and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.
I can’t cook fish! Balderdash. With the right set of skills and techniques, you’ll be able to take advantage of fresh, delicious fish any time…and we’ve got plenty of tricks up our sleeves to help your next fish meal be the best ever. Interested in a Fish Tale? Swim over to this link for information and registration.
In a world where news about everything from the most mundane eats (a sandwich made with “bread” of two chicken patties?) to the most overblown, celebrity-driven gourmet treats, it can be hard to boil it down to food that works for your kitchen, your budget, your skill set, and your personality. In our recreational cooking classes (click here for a full culinary calendar) and our professional culinary program alike, we spend lots of time focusing on the intersection of flavor and technique. But what we can’t teach is inspiration.
We were glad to read this article on Chef Pierre Gagnaire, a Michelin-starred chef who sums up our thoughts about the dangers (and pleasures) of inspiration so:
“Food is much more about fads these days. You find one ingredient in one restaurant, and soon, it is in every other restaurant….There’s less exploring the frontier on your own when you can just be lazy and Google something.”
Does this mean you shouldn’t turn to Google for inspiration or help? No way. We interpret Mr. Gagnaire’s remarks as touching on the hands-on nature that makes great cooking so great. If you don’t take the time to get to know ingredients, to test flavor combinations and textures with your own tongue, how can you grow or change as a home cook or a culinary professional?
Here’s our challenge to you…stretch yourself in the kitchen. Always wanted to learn knife skills or how to cook with wine? Now’s the time. Prefer to learn alongside friends? Invite everyone over for an impromptu cooking challenge. Don’t let the overavailability of information rob you of your own inner innovation. And let us know what you find! We’re here to help.
It’s wine Wednesday, and today we’re touching on something…a bit different. Because sake isn’t exactly wine. Or is it? Read on for some sake facts in celebration of our all-you-can-prepare-and-savor Sushi and Sake class this Friday:
- Is sake wine? Kind of. Called “rice wine” in English, sake is made from an entirely different process than the one we associate with grapes. To create sake, brewers take rice to sugar and rice sugar to an alcoholic brew that can be up to 20% alcohol.
- How old is sake? Old. We’re talking first references were in the third century old. By the 1400s, sake was brewed in temples.
- Is all sake the same? No way. There are two designations of sake – futsū-shu (table sake, in the same vein as table wine), and tokutei meishō-shu (premium sake). Like beer, filtering, aging, and dilution are just as important as the kind of rice used and the distillation process itself.
- What are some sake traditions? Sake can be served cold or hot depending on the season, the brew, and the preferences of the drinker. It’s often served as a marker of generosity and welcome, and can be used ceremonially for the new year, for purification, or for good fortune.
Enjoy some premier sake and sushi you prep yourself at our popular Sushi and Sake course this Friday! Click here for details.
We’ll admit it: we think that all of our recreational classes are fabulous. But this week we’ve reached a milestone…the approach of the last grilling class of the season. Won’t you join us to send summer off in style?
Tomorrow night is Southwest Grilling, and the menu is incredible. Fajitas, shrimp skewers, slow-roasted corn, beans, ice cream, AND a selection of incredible Denver microbrews to top it off. It’s a great date night if you’re looking for a change of pace (or a solo evening if you want to get away and into the easiest kitchen you’ve ever encountered). You focus on classic techniques that make food taste good…we do all the cleanup. Don’t miss your chance…call us at 303-308-9300 to register. Happy grilling!
In honor of our World of Taste: Germany class next week (seats still available!), we’re dishing up some trivia and knowledge about the fabulous wines of Germany.
- Handmade Wine along the Rhine: The Rhine river is synonymous with German wine…and for good reason. This body of water doesn’t just host some of the best grape-growing terrain in Europe, it actually encourages handcrafted and hand-tended grapes because the steep vineyards don’t lend themselves to mechanization. Meanwhile, the river’s microclimate effect creates striking varieties along the river.
- Riesling, please: Riesling is Germany’s most popular grape. Aromatic and acidic, this grape constitutes over 21% of Germany’s grape crop. There are records of Riesling wine production in Germany from the 1430s on, and this popular white wine loves pairings with white meats like fish, chicken, and pork.
- Old world: Germany has the dubious/awesome distinction of housing the oldest-ever found bottle of uncorked wine…which was found along with a Roman sarcophagus and is thought to date from 325 AD!
Learn more about German wine (and how to cook some delicious food to go along with it) at our upcoming World of Taste: Germany course offered next week. Click here for details and registration..Tschüß!
Summer may be officially nearing its end, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting tired of grilled pizzas, one of our very favorite dishes. Pizza isn’t just easy to make…it’s a great canvas for the explosion of summer flavor we’ve come to expect from the local producers we love. Here are some tips for your next pizza party:
- Go simple. A few vine-ripe tomatoes, a sprig or two of basil, some low-key mozzarella…you don’t need the fanciest ingredients to come up with the best flavors.
- Go seasonal. Why not plunder the bounty of your nearest farmer’s market or CSA share for your next pizza? Squash, potatoes, greens, and even peaches love pizzas (especially on the grill).
- Go sweet. It’s easy to overlook the power of sweet pizza, but why not try some figs, berries, or even nectarines on your next pie? Pears and brie make a great combo, too.
- Go for broke. What’s the fun in making your own pizza if you’re hampered by fears or convention? A blank pie means a blank canvas, ready and waiting for your creativity…and your mistakes. If you’re not making a few gaffes over time, you’re not doing it right!
- Don’t go it alone. Need to perfect your dough or come up with some fab flavor profiles? We’re here to help with Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, a class that’s all about everyone’s favorite pie. Prefer to have your pizza made for you? You can’t go wrong with Cook Street alum David Bravdica’s amazing Brava Pizzeria, a wood-burning pizza oven on wheels that’s usually located at 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver.