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Smoked Pork Loin with Dried Fruit Chutney
See that little lovely above, mahogany-glazed, tinged pink with smoke, and so juicy you can see the knife glisten?
That’s one of my babies…..isn’t she beautiful!
Since I started working at Cook’s Illustrated over a year ago, I’ve developed a bunch of recipes for the magazine, and this slow-smoked pork roast is one of them. Not yet published in the magazine (it’ll be in the July/August issue), it is one of 5 of my recipes that will be cooked and shared with our audience as part of the 2017 season of the America’s Test Kitchen TV show which starts filming in just a couple of days. I must say, that as exciting as it was when my first recipes started actually appearing printed in the magazine (about 9 MONTHS after I started working there), the prospect of them being showcased on TV is even cooler. As you might imagine, there’s lots of “TV magic” required for a dish like this one, that calls for an overnight dry-brining, and about 1 1/2 hours of cooking, to appear as though it was cooked start to finish in the span of a 20 minute TV segment. This roast was cooked by one of my talented co-workers, Matt Fairman, who will be grilling a bunch of them behind-the-scenes as backups for the roast actually being cooked on-screen by the show’s hosts. Matt will likely need to cook 6-8 of these roasts, each to a different stage of recipe completion, to be shuttled before the cameras as “twins” for the on-set roast so the whole cooking process can appear to be condensed into a short time frame. This was a “practice run” that he cooked and presented to me for my approval to make sure it looked and tasted the way it’s supposed to before he’s actually called upon to cook it with cameras rolling. It was perfect, he did an awesome job!
Time to slip on the jacket again….. Oui, Chef is back online!
Hello again, how’s everybody been?
After a longer hiatus than anticipated, I’m finally back with a new and improved Oui, Chef, and am anxious to reconnect with you all and get you caught up with what I’ve been up to. I’m also eager to see what you’ve all been cooking up, because not only did I shelve my blog for a period, but I also suspended my normal routine of daily food blog reading, so I know there’s LOTS of great food you’ve been posting that I’ve just plain missed. Boo.
As for me, I can’t imagine a crazier period than the one I’ve just had. From domestic failure and reconciliation (the failure my doing, the credit for recovery goes to my amazing wife), to waving goodbye to two more of my kids as they drove off to college for freshman year, to rejoining the work force and landing an amazing job after a multi-year stint of playing Mr. Mom…..sheesh. Oh, I almost forgot, I also MOVED after finally selling a home that I had been marketing for a couple of years. Crazy days indeed.
Those of you who have been with us for a while have heard me talk about the work I do with the Share Our Strength organization as a Chef Instructor in their "Cooking Matters" cooking classes. The classes, which teach basic cooking skills to folks struggling with food insecurity and providing meals for their families on a very tight budget, have been a rewarding and important part of my volunteer life for years now. Arming these families with the culinary tools that allow them to lessen their dependency on take-out or highly processed foods, and equiping them for productive time in their own kitchens, cooking for their families, has been life-changing work for me.
That said, each class touches only 12-16 families at a time, and I have long hoped to find another avenue, in addition to my teaching with Cooking Matters, where I could leverage both my knowledge of cooking, and desire to teach these important skills by reaching a wider audience.
I've learned through my teaching that one of the most important tools for the budding home cook is a repertoire of rock solid recipes from which to draw both inspiration and confidence. Recipes that are so well researched and written that they practically guarantee success, even for cooks just taking their first few baby steps in the kitchen. Working from quality recipes can quickly lead to kitchen confidence, and go a long way in convincing people that YES THEY CAN cook affordable, tasty and nutritious food for their families.
As luck would have it, one of the premiere resources for such recipes is "America's Test Kitchen", located in Brookline, MA. Through their magazine publications "Cook's Illustrated" and "Cook's Country", along with their cookbook division and radio and TV shows, America's Test Kitchen develops, tests and publishes recipes that millions have come to love and trust over the years. Some time ago my wife suggested that I look into working there as a means of sharing my passion for home cooking with more families, and after a sustained period of hemming and hawing and dragging of feet, I decided she was probably right.
I'm excited to share with all of you today, that after a lengthy and detailed vetting process I've been offered a job within the ATK family and will be joining them starting TODAY! To be precise, I'll be working as a Test Cook and Food Writer for Cook's Illustrated Magazine the bi-monthly flagship publication of the organization. As a Test Cook I'll be responsible for researching, developing, and testing my own original recipes for the magazine, then writing about the ins and outs, and successes and failures of the development process in an article that will present the recipe in its final form for publication.
I'm pretty freaking excited, I must say.
What will all this mean for "Oui, Chef" you ask? Hopefully not too much as I really enjoy our time here chatting about cooking and sharing great recipes, and have no intention of shutting down my little blog anytime soon. I'm anticipating that my posts will be less frequent as I work to get my legs under me in the new job, and ask for your patience as I slip from two to one post a week for a stretch.
While I'll be precluded from sharing "behind the scenes" info from my time in the test kitchen (they understandably don't want me blabbing about upcoming features in the magazine), I'll be sure to let you know how things are going once I get settled in.
I guess that's all for now. Thank you all for being part of our Oui, Chef family and making this such a fun gig. I'll see you back here very soon!
Cheers – Steve
Whew….I just put the finishing touches on our menu plan for Thanksgiving Day, and I'm pretty excited about the spread we have planned for our gang of twenty this year. For the most part, we have guests bring all our hors d'oeuvres and desserts so that we can concentrate on everything in between. I'm lucky my family is loaded with great cooks who are eager to pitch-in so I can cross a good chunk of the planning and prep off of my list to concentrate on the bird and side dishes.
I like switching things up year to year and trying new recipes, so long as they fit within the general parameters of what my family expexts from a traditional Thanksgiving feast. By that I mean that we always have a turkey with gravy, some sort of potato dish, a green veggie side, creamed or glazed onions, dressing (I don't stuff our bird), some sort of a squash dish, and cranberry sauce. As long as I offer up something in each of those gategories, I feel free to experiment and have fun.
So , what are we having this year?
This post marks my first foray into the world of homemade charcuterie, and if the success of this dish is any indication, we are in for a fun and delicious few months of experimenting with this rather ancient culinary tradition. You see, I’ve joined a group of adventurous food bloggers in what has been named “Charcutepalooza – A Year of Charcuterie”. The purpose of the group, which was founded and is being managed by the amazing bloggers Mrs. Wheelbarrow, and the The Yummy Mummy, is to encourage all of us participating to delve into the mystical world of charcuterie with a little help from cookbook author and food writer extrordinaire, Michael Ruhlman.
By the time I finished my training at Le Cordon Bleu, I had sworn that I would never again cook a dish that required my wrapping anything in a cabbage leaf. Why? Because over the course of my time there, it seemed that we spent an inordinate amount of time cooking things in cabbage, and to be honest, I wasn’t a big fan.
Training at the school is broken into three trimesters, the first concentrating on the very basics of knife skills and cuts, and learning the ins and outs of culinary building blocks such as stock, roux etc. The second term is designed as a tour around regional France, with each week or so dedicated to exploring the classic dishes of the country’s varied regional cuisines. In the final term we stepped things up and created modern, internationally influenced “restaurant” quality dishes.
A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to join chef Jody Adams at a benefit for an organization she has been involved with for a few years now, Future Chefs. The event was fashioned as a “Tour Around the World” where Future Chefs students cooked delicious treats from eight different countries, and served them to eager partygoers at stations placed throughout the beautiful Brookline home of the event’s hosts. If I could choose one word to describe both the event, and the Future Chefs students I had the pleasure of meeting that night, it would be…..Impressive.
I'm quite proud and happy to share that "Oui, Chef" was chosen to be among the 59 Food Bloggers that contributed to the just published "Foodies of the World" cookbook. Our print copy just arrived in the mail today, and I must say that is was kinda cool to see our food and words in full-color print.
The book is beautifully designed and is chock-full of fabulous recipes from some of my favorite food bloggers. Folks like Lynda Balslev of "TasteFood", Jaden Hair of "Steamy Kitchen", Denise Woodward and Laudalino Ferreira of "Chez Us", and Beatrice Peltre of "La Tartine Gourmande", have all contributed delicious recipes to the project.
The publishers chose two posts with recipes from each blogger to incorporate into the book. There is also a brief profile of each "foodie" that details their background, as well as what inspired them to start blogging, and what motivates them to keep writing, cooking and sharing. I'm really enjoying reading up on all the other bloggers in the book and getting a sense for what informs their writing and cooking styles.
In addition to the two recipes that I contributed, "Beef Bourguignon" and "Profiteroles", there are some terrific recipes for "Farro Risotto", "Lemon and Garlic Rack of Lamb with Fresh Mint Sauce", "Chocolate and Vanilla Petits Pots de Creme", "Curry Laksa", "Gratin Dauphinois au Chorizo", and "Chocolate Rum Raisin Bread Pudding" just to name a few. There are so many I want to try, I just have to figure out where to start…..I'm thinking it just might be the bread pudding!
If you'd like to get turned on to some really great food blogs (or just have a hankerin' for a fab new cookbook), I urge you to click on the link below and buy your own copy of "Foodies of the World", I am quite certain you won't be disappointed. Happy reading and eating!
Cheers – Steve
to order a copy of Foodies of the World, click HERE
This post marks my first entry in Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog contest. The contest is a 10 part challenge to determine the “Next Food Blog Star”, with some bloggers eliminated after each qualifying round. This post is meant to satisfy the first challenge of the competition which is for me to define for my readers “who I am” as a food blogger. Now I’m not much of a grandstander, and don’t have it in me to try to SELL you on why I should be voted a “star”, but I absolutely believe in the mission of my blog, and hope that the brief introduction and post below give you a good sense for what we’re all about here at “Oui, Chef”. You can learn more about me and Project Food Blog by clicking on the contest widget to the right of this post. Voting for the 1st round entries starts on Monday, September 20th, and I’ll be writing a follow-up post in a few days describing how you can follow the competition, and vote me through to subsequent rounds if wish. Thanks!
Those of you who have been with us for a while here at “Oui, Chef” have gotten to know what we’re all about, but for those of you new to our little site, the story behind this post provides me an excellent opportunity to share with you our raison d’être.
The idea behind “Oui, Chef” came to me after I had read an article by Jamie Oliver on his efforts to improve the school lunch programs in his native England. As I contemplated his efforts, I started spending some time thinking about what it was that I wanted to teach MY kids about food, cooking, and how to feed themselves well in an environmentally responsible way, and the seeds for “Oui, Chef” were sewn.
I started to wonder why, among all the things we work so hard to teach our kids, cooking isn’t even on most people’s radar screen. We teach them to dress themselves, clean their rooms, wash behind their ears, and say no to drugs, but how many of us really take the time to teach our kids how to cook, and how to make responsible choices about what it is they put in their bodies? Now I’m not talking about “cooking” microwave popcorn or pre-packaged mac and cheese here, I know a boat load of kids that have microwave skills light years beyond mine. I’m talking about cooking real food, understanding where this food comes from, its effect on their health, and how the way it is grown and brought to market impacts our planet.
“Oui, Chef” now exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and maybe starting some new ones. My desire in the end is not just to enhance my young sous chefs’ culinary skills, but to advance their level of environmental awareness, and broaden their palates as well.
Each post you’ll find here on “Oui, Chef” touches on at least one of these points, either by introducing the kids to unfamiliar cuisines, teaching them a new cooking technique, or illuminating the nutritional and environmental consequences of our food choices; but I have to admit that it is a rare one that can tag all the bases.
Every now and again however, the stars align, and fate tosses us the seeds of a post that does more than just offer the kids a chance to hone their cooking skills on a new recipe, but one that gets them to think about their connection to place, and what impact their food choices make on the planet at large……the girls enjoyed an adventure earlier this summer that did just that.