Knorr Taste Quest 2, Episode 6
In this episode we were expecting the usual cooking and we who were on probation arrived tense expecting to cook to save our “lives”. However we were trained on culinary matters like:
- Food safety
- Cooking Jellof rice with a rice cooker
- Vegetable salad and dressing
- Pan fried steak
- Liver and bell pepper stir fry
- Beef stir fry
- Knife cuts and skills
- Chopping board color code.
- Plating of food
To prevent food poisoning we were taught to observe such protocols as not mixing cooked meat with raw meat; having different kitchen towels hands, dish and surface cleaning; tying apron belts in front for easy removal in the event of an emergency like fire; not pointing knives forward when in motion in the kitchen and not handling electric cords with wet hands.
This was done by Chef Renee using a Kenwood rice cooker. The recipe is as given below:
- 2 onions
- 8 tomato
- 2 knorr chicken
- 4 cups of rice
- 4 bell peppers
- 4 rodo (attaragu)
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon Blue band margarine
- ¾ cup of water
Blend the tomatoes, onions and peppers and pour into the rice cooker. Wash the rice (no need to parboil) and pour into the rice cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and salt as needed. Cover the rice cooker, connect to the electric supply, switch to cook and leave. When the rice is ready, the rice cooker will automatically switch from cook to warm.
Salad and dressing:
Here we made a vegetable salad with sweet vinaigrette.
- Romaine lettuce, part chopped roughly and other finely shredded.
- Carrots shaved into long strips with a potato/vegetable peeler.
- Red, green and yellow bell peppers julienned.
- Cashew nuts slightly broken
- 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Parsley finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the vegetables in layers and sprinkle the nuts on top. Combine the remaining ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk till well emulsified. Drizzle over the salad or leave till when serving.
Trim a prime cut of beef to make a juicy steak. Season the steak with black pepper, knorr and little salt. Put about a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, heat up and place the steak in the pan. Turn it around and cook on high heat to sear it, add about a teaspoon of blue band margarine to flambé it, lower the heat for the meat to cook. After it has browned beautifully flip, increase heat to sear the other side and lower the heat till browned. Remove to a plate and leave to rest. Note that rest time is half of cooking time. You can make a sauce from the juices in the pan by deglazing with stock, wine or vinegar, reduce or thicken with flour (corn or plain) and serve with meat.
Liver and bell pepper stir-fry: Note that when making a stir-fry, cut the ingredients into similar sizes so that they cook uniformly.
- Liver, trimmed and cut into long pieces
- Salt and pepper
- Bell peppers, julienned
Season the liver, cook on high heat in a pan with oil making sure you cook for a very short time just enough to sear the liver on both sides. Remove the heat and keep to rest on a plate. In the same pan, adding little more oil if needed, stir-fry the peppers on high heat till just caramelized but crunchy, add the liver, stir, season more if needed and turn off the heat.
Do the same as the above to the beef, making sure you don’t over-cook the beef. It should be cooked to medium rare, noting that the resting time further cooks the meat.
Knife Cuts and skills:
- There are various knife cuts and some include brunoise (fine chopping), julienne, shredding, etc.
- Put wet paper towel under the board to stabilize it.
- Use the other side of the board when you have used the first side.
- Claw your hands when chopping to protect your fingers.
- Cut across the grain of your hands.
- Use the butt of the knife and rock it while cutting.
- When chopping bell peppers, remove the white part inside (pith) as this could be bitter.
- For onions, you can start by slicing off the top and tail of the onions or just slicing the top using the tail as a natural hold all.
- Slice onions using the natural lines in it.
- Still clawing your fingers, slice across and chop.
- When you are no longer comfortable, open your fingers and cut in between your thumb and the other fingers.
- To prevent the knife from getting blunt, don’t use the blade to scrape off food from the board but use the reverse side i.e. the blunt edge.
Chopping board color code:
Plastic chopping boards come in different colors but whichever colors you choose, make sure you stick to your color code to prevent cross-contamination.
Red = Raw meat or sea food
Blue = Cooked meat or sea food
Yellow = Fruits
Green = Vegetables
White = Dairy, cooked eggs, pastry, bread. White could also be used to chop herbs so that when they are bleeding, you can see and stop.
Plating of food:
After we had cooked, we were thought the basics of plating food for exquisite presentation. This is important for the eye to eat before the mouth. You think of things like proportion i.e. relation of meat to the other components like side, vegetables, sauce, etc.; odd numbers go together i.e. placing odd and even numbers on the plate; you have to think of colour; height as well because you want the food to reach out to the consumer; sauce is very important either as a drizzle, pool, cordon, etc.; garnish with like parsley sprig; fluff your salads to make them inviting. When holding your spoon, hold it like a pencil for good control/grip. Portion control is very important, the meal should be well balanced.
The rice was placed on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber slices using a stacker and topped with the liver stir-fry as seen in the picture below with a sprig of parsley on top.
Sorry the picture isn’t clear but notice that the colors work beautifully together. For plating food don’t be afraid to use your fingers; just make sure it is clean.
Next we plated the salad with a stacker making sure to balance the colours. The steak was placed by the side and a nice drizzle of the vinaigrette was placed all over the plate. Conversely the steak was sliced on the bias i.e. you cut it thinly at an angle into slices with/without separating the base. Next fanning it out, you place it by the salad and spoon vinaigrette over it. You cut the meat thinly so that it is easy to eat.