Category Archives: Food

Puzzle Pecha Kucha

One of the assignments I had for my PIDP 3240 class was to do a Pecha Kucha 20×20 PowerPoint.

I had heard of the format during some recent training we had done at work,  but never done one so thought it sounded fun. Luckily I had recently just catalogued a woodworking project from start to finish so had no problem getting the 20 images I needed. I also learned a few tricks in doing PowerPoint narration and animation that I will use in the future.

Here is a link to the video:


Defining “Local”

2 lb Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
salt to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, drain well and rice while still hot.
Bring cream and butter to a boil and pour over potatoes
Whisk well and season to taste
Adjust consistency with milk or cream if desired

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Director : Dean Israelite.
Producer : Brian Casentini, Roberto Orci, Haim Saban, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen.
Release : March 23, 2017
Country : United States of America, Canada.
Production Company : Lionsgate, Saban Brands.
Language : English.
Runtime : 124 min.
Genre : Action, Adventure, Science Fiction.

‘Power Rangers’ is a movie genre Action, was released in March 23, 2017. Dean Israelite was directed this movie and starring by Dacre Montgomery. This movie tell story about Saban’s Power Rangers follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.

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Mise en Place – LBB#6

Before we start working on individual techniques and our master set of recipes and formulas, I’d like to take a moment to talk about two key stages in the process of cooking or preparing food: the things you do to prep the basic ingredients (“mise en place” (or “mise” for short) in the professional western kitchen) and then the basic scientific principles behind the assembly and cooking processes.

I find that the biggest difference between learning to cook at home and then working in a professional kitchen is the mise factor. Professional kitchens require a great deal of organization to get a large number of menu items to a stage that they can be finished or prepared when needed, as opposed to what usually happens at home, where you start and finish a dish or meal in one sequence.

For the professional, there are three parts to the day – prep, service, and cleanup, and we generally approach our tasks differently for each. Prep time requires a big picture look at the day, knowing everything that needs to be prepped, in what quantities, and then setting a course to get it all done efficiently. Service requires having all of the mise on hand so that you can go directly from an order to the plate in a fairly short period of time – in my world it was always starters in 15 minutes or less, entrees in no more than 30 minutes, desserts in 15 minutes or less again (of course this varies according to the type of restaurant you are working in, and many require SHORTER time frames from order to plate)

To get your mise together, you generally have a few basic rules of thumb to keep in mind:

Try to find efficiencies; start the things that take the longest or need to cool down first; try and minimize your trips back and forth to the fridge and storeroom; clean and sanitize between tasks; and try to work on one thing at a time.

I also try and group like tasks together, especially when there is equipment involved. You have to remember in a busy restaurant kitchen you only have a few hours for mise in the afternoon to get ready for a dining room of people and a service period that is usually twice as long as your prep time, so here are a few things I have garnered over the years that are worthy of sharing:


Set up a station and wash all of your veg at the same time. Not only does this get everything ready to go, you also have a last chance to see if you’ve missed something in your shopping.
Get messy and bulky tasks out of the way early, so that you can clean up and make room for prepped food as you go

    Cutting and Chopping

Sharpen your knives before you start, so that you can quickly hone them with a steel between tasks.
If you have the same or similar tasks to do for multiple dishes, do them at the same time, and separate the prepped product as you go. If you have a need for sliced onions in one dish, and diced in two more, it saves a ton of time to cut them all at the same time. You can also utilize different parts of the same raw material for different tasks if they are better suited. This is really true when you are doing things like veg prep – where you might want a nice square dice of carrot, parsnip, celeriac, etc, and have the odd shaped bits from the outside that are perfect for cooking to make a puree.
Think about the best use of the product you are using – you shouldn’t be cutting up the most pristine section of a fish fillet for a chowder when the tail section or trim from the belly would be a better choice!
Keep separate containers for: trim that can be used for stock; compost; garbage


Marinades are great for infusing flavour or tenderizing, but it’s important to keep in mind that you can over-marinate! Marinades containing acids will tenderize to a point, but too much acidity or leaving product too long in it may end up “cooking” the protein or leaving an unpleasant flavour. Marinades are also only effective when the product is submerged, or otherwise coated completely in marinade. Otherwise, the portion exposed to air will not be protected, tenderized, etc, and may spoil or dry out. I find it best to toss the product in the marinade first, and then transfer to a clean container that is just the right size and pour the remaining marinade over top. I either like to use a nonreactive container that is big enough to hold all of your protein snugly or else a resealable plastic bag, so that you can remove all of the excess air from once the marinade is covering it (you don’t want to need litres of marinade to cover your meat or poultry because you have a ton of empty space to fill).


Depending on what you are making, you may be able to mix batters and doughs prior to cooking and set them aside. In some cases this is preferred or required, other times it has no impact on the outcome either way, and others it may be detrimental. At the least, for most baking processes, dry ingredients can be mixed ahead of time. As we go through some of the basics, I’ll identify when and when not to do this, but in general terms, pastry doughs are usually best made ahead so they can sit for a while to relax the gluten and make them more tender and shrink less, batters using baking powder and baking soda as leaveners can sit for a short period before cooking, but not too long (an hour or two) as the leaveners are activated by moisture, and any product using air for lightness such as sponges and souffles is best made immediately before cooking to prevent collapse. I have also noticed that doughs containing potato (like gnocchi, for instance) tend to attract moisture if they sit, so are best mixed immediately before cooking. Emulsions without a stabilizing agent have a tendency to separate over time, so are also best made in small batches or quite close to when they are needed.


Rubs and seasonings tend to have more impact the longer they sit, but salt draws moisture out of food. As a rule, I try and leave salt out of marinades and rubs unless drawing moisture out is an intended result, such as when brining or dry-curing items. Sugar has a similar effect, so should also be approached with caution when prepping product in advance.


Sometimes prep involves par-cooking so that when you need to finish the dish it is a fairly quick process. Some key examples that really speed up the process of getting the final dish on the plate, especially if you are trying to cook and serve a multi-course dinner: blanching vegetables, which can then be reheated with a little stock or other liquid and finished as you like; par-cooking risotto, other grains or lentils and then cooling them down quickly on a tray for later finishing (a great restaurant trick!); blanching noodles, spaetzle, gnocchi, etc; preparing long braises that can be cooled and reheated to order ahead of time (also if you want to use the product for a secondary preparation); making soup and sauce bases, etc.

Most important to keep in mind when par-cooking is that you need to cool things quickly to stop the cooking process and then ensure things are stored correctly to prevent spoilage. For blanching veg, ice water is critical to cool and preserve colour, for many other things, transferring them to shallow trays will cool them down quickly without using water so they can be stored properly, and for liquids such as soups and sauces, the pot can be submerged in cold water to cool down quickly, and for larger batches, an ice wand (a sealed container filled with water and frozen) is a great way to cool them rapidly.


Storing food properly is REALLY important. There is nothing more frustrating that prepping something only to find it was not covered or drained properly and hours later is ruined! When storing food, you have three things to watch for – air, moisture, and temperature. Improper amounts of either will affect different foods in different ways. For things that will dry out, ensure they are covered snugly or have a moist paper towel on top. For things that tend to create moisture, having a drip tray or dry paper towel underneath can be the difference maker, and always make sure things that are perishable are stored in the fridge or on ice.

Make sure you have a variety of sizes of containers at your disposal, with tight fitting lids, and preferably that can stack neatly in the fridge. I use plastic storage and freezer bags for many things, as they are strong enough to not tear, but can also have almost all of the air removed easily. A collection of small ramekins or bowls is great for little garnishes, chopped herbs, and other things that you want to keep in very small amounts.

That’s all for this time. Next post, we’ll talk about some of the key things that happen when you apply processes, moisture and heat to foods, and then we’ll be ready to get to the master recipe list!

Tools and Equipment – LBB#5

So now you are armed with ingredients, and are going to take them home to your well stocked kitchen. Now what? Better make sure you have the right tools for the job.

There are two general approaches to tools and equipment. I have seen cooks who roll into the kitchen looking like they are outfitting a kitchen store themselves, and others who carry a small knife roll and not much else. I find this is consistent with how people approach most things in their lives:

A: buy every new tool and gadget that comes out so you have everything you could possibly want available.

B: buy a small number of good quality items and use them for a variety of purposes, and rely on a bit of ingenuity to figure out how to accomplish new ideas.

I am a “B” myself, (although my guitar collection might say otherwise) and have always maintained that a few good knives and a set of well built cookware can take you almost anywhere. In my kitchen, there are two categories, the must haves which I cannot do without, and the nice to haves for making certain, special things. Here is the list for both in my kitchen:

Knives: Buy knives of good quality steel which feel balanced in your hand. I find that depending on the shape and size of your hand, some brands just feel more comfortable than others. I don’t have a favourite make, and have always kept a bit of a mongrel set myself.

Must Have: French (Chef’s) knife (8-10 inch, your choice), a medium size (6 inch) utility knife, flexible filleting knife, boning knife, paring knife, serrated bread knife, and a steel and stone (oil or water) to keep them sharp

Nice to Have: large slicer (tranche), meat cleaver, turning knife, Japanese-style vegetable knife or small fruit cleaver

Cookware: For sauce pans and stock pots, buy stainless steel with fairly thick sides and bottoms to conduct heat evenly. Enamel covered cast iron is great for things like a rondeau or dutch oven, and cast iron or carbon steel is great for saute pans, grill pans, and griddles. Most non-stick saute pans are on an aluminum base, which is fine for that application, but still look for thickness in the bottom for even heat distribution. I try and avoid plastic handles on pans and lids as I like to be able to put my cookware in the oven to finish things off.

Must Have: large and small sauté pans, a good non-stick pan or two, three sizes of saucepan, a stock pot, a dutch oven (rondeau), and a steamer insert that fits on top of one of the sauce pans

Nice to Have: grill pan, griddle that can fit over two burners, crepe pan, wok or stir-fry pan

Small hand tools and utensils: As with knives, buy good quality, sturdy utensils that feel comfortable.

Must Have: vegetable peeler, whisk, wooden spoons, silicone spatulas, tongs, box grater, fish tweezers, a coarse and fine strainer, and a small offset metal spatula

Nice to Have: rasp, mandoline, spaetzle press, ricer, food mill, zester, hand juicer, pasta maker

Bakeware: For flat trays and muffin tins, if you are lining them with parchment or silicone, heavy aluminum is fine. If you plan to bake directly on them, get some with a non-stick surface. Cake tins are best if they are non-stick, and I prefer glass (pyrex) or ceramic for pie plates and casseroles

Must Have: baking sheets (approximately 12 by 16 in.) 8 or 9 inch round cake tins, a spring-form pan, pie plates, muffin tin, bread pan, rectangular casserole/lasagne pan (9 by 13 or larger), a set of small ramekins (4 oz), tart pan (10 inch), wire racks

Nice to Have: different sizes of cake tins (both square and round), tube pan, bundt pan, small individual tart shells, enamel coated terrine mould

Small Appliances: This is an area that seems to be ever expanding. A good quality, heavy duty stand mixer and food processor will last a long time and prove themselves a great investment over their light duty, cheap cousins. I know there are some cooks who think that microwave ovens are inherently evil, but I find them a valuable resource for tempering butter and chocolate in a hurry, and heating prepared foods without evaporation

Must Have: food processor, electric stand mixer, blender, microwave

Nice to Have: coffee/spice grinder, hand blender, attachments for a stand mixer (grinder, sausage stuffer)

Measuring and portioning tools: In Canada, we are constantly influenced by the fact that we have three different measuring systems we encounter: SI (Metric), Imperial (UK) and the US measuring systems. It is important to have measuring tools that can switch between metric and Imperial/US measurement, and you will find that I use them interchangeably. In context, when I refer to liquid measures (ounces, cups, and gallons), I am generally referring to US measures rather than Imperial. We’ll talk about conversions and rounding off in a later post.

Must Have: measuring spoons, graduated measuring cups, digital scale, thermometers (meat and candy/deep fry), assorted stainless mixing bowls, colander, small and large ladles, a set of nested round cutters, large and small cutting boards (I like having one large wooden one for bread and pastry and a few smaller plastic or vinyl ones for cutting and chopping), rolling pin, bench scraper

Nice to Have: cutters in different shapes and sizes, piping bag and tips, squeeze bottles with tips, bottles with quick pours, pastry wheel, gnocchi paddle

Of course the “Nice to Have” lists can go on forever, but if you have all of the “Musts” and some of the “Nice” you are well set to attempt pretty much anything. Of course, there are always new things on the market and new techniques, such as the current movement in molecular gastronomy that may require specialized equipment to attempt properly, but those are discussions for another day.

For now, we should be entering a well stocked kitchen, and will be ready to talk about what’s next: digging deeper into the main methods and principles behind preparing and cooking food.