Braising

Tips to get the best of this Blog?

  1. Schedule intentional time for the email, videos and cooking
  2. Print out the materials and hang them on your fridge
  3. Practice (schedule in that cooking during times that work for you)
  4. Ask questions & be fearless!
bernard-tuck-402172-unsplash

Braising

is often referred to as the “low and slow” approach to cooking large, tough cuts of meat or hard, fibrous vegetables.

Often times, home cooks are braising food and just don’t know it!

Braising is one of my favorite methods of cooking because it is almost all hands off cooking and yields delicious meals.

Braising is also the easiest way to cook a big portion meal to have it for leftovers or use for a party you may be hosting.

What is Braising?

Braising is a cooking method by which meat or vegetables are first seared, then simmered in a liquid to finish the cooking process.

The liquid that your product is cooked in should come up ¾ of the way up the product.     

What Type of Meat & Vegetables Can You Braise?

  1. Tough cuts of meat with more connective tissue (legs, shoulder, butt.)
  2. Hard, more fibrous vegetables (Fennel, collard greens, swiss chard or root vegetables)

The Method of Braising

Braising is done in five steps and whether you are cooking pork shoulder or fennel, the process is the same each time.

The Cook

  1. SEASON your product with salt pepper and any spices you may choose to use.
  2. SEAR YOUR MEAT in a very hot pan (enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan)
  3. BROWN VEGETABLES and add everything back in the pot
  4. DEGLAZE your pan with a flavorful liquid that comes ¾ of the way up our product
  5. Cover & put in the oven to cook at a LOW SIMMER!

The Sauce

If you are braising vegetables, you can simply add a bit of salt and pepper to you sauce to finish it off.

For meat, you will want to take the extra step below.

Strain your braising liquid and cook it down by half to create a yummy sauce.

Be sure to re-season and add a splash of acid!

OR

Blend everything in your pot to make a nice, thick sauce.  

(You may want to strain after blending to get out any lumps.)

Don't forget to print your Braising Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Examples to Get Started:

Check out our braising recipes and pick one to start you off!

Remember you can also braise vegetables!

You would use the same steps, just substituting the meat for some veggies.

Braised Cabbage

SEAR: sauté some onion and garlic, add chopped cabbage,

DEGLAZE: add some beer and vinegar

SIMMER: reduce to simmer & voila!

Braised Collard Greens

SEAR: sauté some garlic & onion, add chopped greens

DEGLAZE: add white wine and veg stock

SIMMER: reduce & simmer.  

You can even throw in some chick peas & chili flake for a kick!

Pro Tips:

When braising veggies you do not have to cover your vegetables when braising them, since they are so delicate and will cook quickly.  

Letting the water steam out of your liquid while cooking it uncovered will enhance the flavor of your sauce later on.

Resting your meat

Most meat braises will benefit from sitting it their juices either over night or at least until it cools.  This isn’t necessary, but will make for a delicious piece of meat, that melts in your mouth.

When reheating your food DO NOT BOIL the meat. Simmer it in the sauce gently. Otherwise, you will reverse all that slow cooked goodness and toughen up your meat.

Don't forget to print your Braising Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Cooking With Your Kids:

Finishing the whole process of braising with your child could feel overwhelming, depending on their age and skill level. You can have them help you with some of the prep though!

1. peeling carrots or other root vegetables
2. crushing garlic and peeling the skin
3. seasoning food or making a spice rub for your meat
4. cutting soft vegetables (celery, peppers)
5. picking herbs

When cooking with your child, be sure to give them their own station to work from. Their own cutting board, kid safe knife and hand towel. Not only will this make them feel more independent, but it will give you both space to work side by side instead of on top of each other.

It will lessen the stress on your end and that’s all that matters!

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Don’t forget to print your Braising Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Searing

Tips to get the best of this Blog?

  1. Schedule intentional time for the email, videos and cooking
  2. Print out the materials and hang them on your fridge
  3. Practice (schedule in that cooking during times that work for you)
  4. Ask questions & be fearless!
searing

Searing

is the true way to fast & flavorful food, THAT’S HEALTHY!

It yields delicious flavor by browning and caramelizing your ingredients, be it veggies or protein.

Searing is also the key to getting through the week without a meal plan.

If you know how to sear, you can make a variety of dishes without a recipe and with whatever you have in your fridge.

The trick is that searing tasks bravery!

Searing often pushing our boundaries of what’s comfortable and “right” in the kitchen, which is why so many people don’t execute it properly.

What is Searing?

Using high heat to brown your food and create an outer layer on caramelization.

Brown = Flavor

When you sear your meat or vegetables, you are caramelizing the natural sugars in the product.

This can be done two ways:

  1. Grilling: over open flame; intense heat and slotted grill
  2. Sauté: shallow fry; pan fry (very little oil)

*Both have essentially the same principles

Don't forget to print your Searing Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

The Method of Searing

Like many techniques in cooking, there are a few key rules to ensure that you get the most flavor out of this method.

Hot Pan

Your pan should be smoking hot.

When you sear an ingredient, your goal is brown food. You cannot caramelize your food without this high heat.

Without a hot pan, your food will stick. Oil helps in preventing sticking, but a hot pan is the real key. Once it’s seared we can lower the temperature if necessary.

A Little Oil

You want just enough oil to coat the pan. With a hot pan, your oil should be literally smoking.

Using plain old olive oil is ideal. Extra virgin has a lower burning point and may give your food a bitter flavor.

Your product will absorb some oil as it’s cooking, so if you are sautéing a lot of product you can always add a little oil if the pan becomes dry.

Don’t crowd the pan

When we put too many ingredients in a pan, it creates steam and prohibits browning.

Make sure there is space in your pan and cook in batches if you need to.

Don’t Touch!

This is the biggest mistake everyone makes. When you are constantly moving your food, your are interrupting that contact between your ingredient and the bottom of the pan.

That contact is ESSENTIAL in browning.

Don’t touch until you see the bottom edges of your ingredient beginning to brown.

Don't forget to print your Searing Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Browned meat isn’t enough…. it’s important to learn to balance browning the outside and keeping the inside juicy & moist.

Different meats cook at different rates (i.e. chicken breast vs chicken thigh)

  1. Leaner cuts of meat cook faster than fattier cuts
  2. Bone out cooks faster than bone in

Cooking steak (red meat)

Once your red meat is seared on each side and has a nice char, you can use the following guidelines to get to the desired temperature.

Rare +2 minutes

Medium rare +4 minutes

Medium +6 minutes

Medium well +8 minutes

Pro Tips:

Let your meat get to room temperature before cooking. This will allow it to cook more evenly.

Rest your meat at least 5 min to allow the juices to settle.

You can cover with foil to keep warm.

**Remember: When your meat rests it will continue to cook. Red meat always carries over 1 temperature.

Cooking With Your Kids:

This cooking method may feel a bit too much if you are not used to having your child in the kitchen.

Whenever our clients do not yet feel comfortable bringing their kiddos in the kitchen, I always recommend engaging in other ways.

  1. Allow your child to watch from a safe distance with their eye level even to yours. (stools and kitchen chairs will help bring their gaze to a safe level to watch the food cook)
  2. Talk your child through what you’re doing and tell food-centric stories
  3. Allow your child to prep other elements of the meal

crushing garlic

picking herbs

cutting soft ingredients with a kid safe knife

searing

Don’t forget to print your Searing Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Rubs

Tips to get the best of this Blog?

  1. Schedule intentional time for the email, videos and cooking
  2. Print out the materials and hang them on your fridge
  3. Practice (schedule in that cooking during times that work for you)
  4. Ask questions & be fearless!
rubs

A Rub

is essentially a mixture of spices that are used to enhance the flavor of a piece of meat or hearty vegetables.

The kinds of spices and how they are combined is based on your likings, but there are a few key things that are helpful to keep in mind when building this kind of flavor.

What is a Rub?

A combination of dried, ground spices used to coat your protein or vegetables.

Ratio - 25% Kosher Salt : 75% ground spices

When cooking any meal, you want to make sure you are balancing flavors. That means you are mindful about having as many types of flavors in one dish as you can.

Typically, we think about the 5 basic flavors: Salty, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy

Spices are more complex and also bring flavors like:

  1. Earthy
  2. Smokey
  3. Floral
  4. Nutty

The thing about spices is that they don’t typically have only 1 flavor and bring so much complexity to a dish.

That’s why using even ONE is so impactful!

The Method of Making a Rub

When creating a rub, you will be simply combining various spices in a bowl. I like to start with the spice combination first and then add 25% kosher salt to the mix.

The action is easy, but often folks don’t know WHAT to put in their spice rub.

Step 1

When thinking about what goes into your rub, it’s easiest to think in terms of region of the world to start.

Below are some examples of flavor combinations that we enjoy here at The Connected Chef.

Italian spice rub

Mexican spice rub

American spice rub

Dried oregano Cinnamon Paprika
Paprika Smoked paprika Chili powder
Lemon zest Oregano Coffee
Red chili flakes Clove Coriander
Dried chili of choice Cumin
Cumin

Step 2

Once you’ve decided WHAT your spice will be, you want to think about HOW MUCH of each you will add.

Nobody has time for measuring, but keep this in mind…

  1. Half of the spice rub will come off in the pan, so be sure to use big flavors and a lot of it.
  2. Start with the mildest flavored spice and do a little at a time of the others from there.

You should be tasting as you go!

What are you tasting for? Making sure you can taste a little of each spice and they are not too overwhelming to each other.

Step 3

When you have tried some classics and your ready to experiment, think about the flavors that each spice is bringing to the dish.

Here is a small starter list of spices and the flavor they bring to your rub. Choose from various columns when creating combinations.

Salty Spicy Smokey Bitter Floral Earthy (depth)
Kosher Chili powder Smoked paprika Coffee Coriander Cinnamon
Himalayan pink salt Curry Cumin Bay leaf Thyme Cloves
Sea salt Red pepper flakes Curry Turmeric Cardamom Star Anise

Print your Spices and Rubs Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Pro Tips

I love to make a couple different rubs in big batches. Then you can store than in a mason jar and pop them on your kitchen spice rack for when you want them.

There is nothing better having a go to bottle of flavor to add to a quick meal!

You don’t have to limit yourself to dried ingredients and can add some citrus zest into your rubs for a bright pop.

 

Cooking with your kids

Making rubs are the PERFECT kid friendly task!

Kids love to experiment and combine flavors and it’s an awesome way to get them involved into the meal.

It may feel nerve-wracking to give the freedom with you spices, but talk to them before hand and let them know what you’re doing.

A pre-session talk goes a long way with kids.

  1. Tell them that you’re making a spice rub and why.
  2. Explain what a rub is.
  3. Let them taste, smell and feel the individual spices before you begin combining the together.

If you feel up for it, you can alway let them make their own combination for the next meal.

Kids are much more likely to eat food that they have taken part in! And if they don’t - that’s ok too - talk to them about what didn’t work and what you’d do different next time!

rubs

Don’t forget to print your Spices and Rubs Notes to hang on your fridge!

It may seem like a small step, but this will make the difference in you actually working on the rubs this month.

Consistency is the key to a healthy eater.

kids cooking classes in the garden

Join me in a conversation about why consistency will help your kiddo (any age) begin to make more healthy food choices.

I have some great news to share!

Because our kids cooking classes are not JUST kids cooking classes and provide your child with an immense toolbox of skills, these classes are also best when done consistently.
When kids are given constant and ongoing exposure to whole foods, they cultivate a strong relationship to their food and healthy eating in the long run.
That is the exact reason why I have decided to move from a series based schedule to a membership schedule for you all.

 

We are now offering monthly memberships to our Afterschool and Weekend Series.

These new membership options provide a financial savings for you.
It will give your child that constant exposure they want and need.
It will also allow your kids to continue to take a step deeper into their skills in the kitchen and garden every three months.

 

The most fun part?

The kids will get to celebrate their new skills and learning every three months with a dinner that they cook and present to you!
Kind of like a recital, but kitchen style! 🙂
And Tangy Sweet Photography will capture our kids cooking classes. This means you will have the option to purchase professional photo’s of your child during their kids cooking classes.

 

So here are the details:

  • With the membership, you are able to cancel at any time, no charge (30-day notice is needed)
  • More flexibility – Our schedule is expanding to 6 days a week and you will have the ability to switch classes should when your schedule changes.
  • Monthly payments are auto-recurring. No more worrying about signing up in time and dealing with reminder emails or forgetting that discount code.
  • The best part – Your kiddo gets to look forward to their weekly cooking class and continue to build their skills developmentally & cultivate this lifelong relationship of healthy eating.

New to The Connected Chef? Check out a Drop In Class of your choice at anytime to make sure it’s a good fit!

How do you get started?

For ongoing students:

  • Register for the “Monthly Membership Program” via our scheduler
  • You will receive a confirmation email and contract from our client care coordinator, Maryann
  • Every month, there will be an automatic deduction in your account for the program.
  • Enjoy the benefits of a healthy, happy kiddo!

For new students: Try our classes before committing!

  • Sign up for a “New Student Drop In” class and choose a date/time that works for you.
  • Check out a class to make sure it’s the right fit for you and your child.
  • Once you are ready – Register for the “Monthly Membership Program” via our scheduler
  • You will receive a confirmation email and contract from our client care coordinator, Maryann
  • Every month, there will be an automatic deduction in your account for the program.

I’m SO, SO excited to get to offer this to you all and look forward to seeing everyone the first week of March after our 2-week hiatus.

AND….

 

We would like to offer you a (10%) discount for our new spring offerings if you take advantage before March 7th.
Enter the coupon code MEMBERSHIP to take advantage of this exclusive offer!
Get Cooking With Us!

 


Get Cooking With Us!

P.S…
As you may know, we’ve hired 3 new teachers!

In addition to bringing their own specialties, including art & composting to our classes, our teachers will enable us to assist your child in sharpening their skills and allow new students to have the ability to go at their own pace.

Classes are beginning to take shape with 2 different levels; Those who have been with us for some time and then newer students.

This will give our veteran students a chance to be further challenged in their skill and work in the kitchen and garden.

We will also be offering a number of demonstration experiences that your kiddos will have a chance to sign up for monthly at various locations throughout the city this spring/summer season.
These demonstrations will allow your kiddos to show off their skills and build confidence in themselves and empower them to choose healthier food options.
AND they are free for membership students!

Get Cooking With Us!

Bone Broth 101

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Bone broth, thanks to hipsters and crunchy folk, is trending now.

BUT…that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s EXTREMELY good for you and tastes delicious!

If Bone broth has your attention because of its health benefits, great!

But you don’t have to just drink it from a cup.

After you check out the steps below on making a hearty, nutrient dense bone broth, you can use it to make a number of different dishes!

How you make a bone broth in 5 simple steps…

Step 1: Buy your bones from a local butcher

When I headed into my local butcher on afternoon, he asked me, “Where are the boys?”

My response, “Home sick. That’s why I’m here. I need some bones.”

He shook his head in complete understanding. “One second”, he replied.

A few minutes later I was handed a big bag of beef bones cleaned and cut.

FOR FREE.

I see my butcher every week. He knows my kids, knows what I like and makes sure that the quality of what I get is top notch. He also will let me pay with a credit card even if my purchase is under $20. 🙂

Creating a relationship with your local butcher will not only leave you with good quality products where you know the source, but it’s strengthening your community for yourself and your kids. Not to mention supporting a small business.

It also may come with the perks of free beef bones. (since the bones are scrap for them anyway)


Step 2: Roast Bones @ 350 degrees

Put your bones on a sheet pan and pop them in the oven until they are seriously brown. The more brown, the more flavor.

 

 


Step 3: Simmer with Aromatics & Skim the Fat

Aromatic vegetables include onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass ect.                                        My traditional bone broth had:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Black Peppercorn

No need to be fancy. Just quarter the onions, cut the garlic head in half and rip the celery. Big pieces are good because they will be simmering for quite some time.

 

Then cover the bones and vegetables with water & simmer.

Simmering means small bubbles in your liquid that barly pop. Not big boiling bubbles. If you boil your stock it will be muddy in both look and taste. Gentle my friends. Give it your love.

As your stock simmers, the liquid level will drop and you can continuously add more water to keep it up.

When making your broth (or any stock), be sure to skim the fat off the top as it cooks. As your bone broth is simmering, the fat will naturally get pushed to the side. You can use a small ladle and gently dip it a centimeter in the liquid to collect the fat.


Step 4: Strain and cool quickly

After 15 hours of simmering and numerous times of adding more water to your pot as the levels decrease you want to strain and cool your liquid.

This is your end product:

That’s right…bone broth when cooled should look like jello. That’s all your collagen.

In the restaurant world, we sometimes have these contraptions that are basically giant plastic bottles filled with water. You freeze them and when you’re cooling stock, you put it inside the liquid AND put the whole container in an ice bath. It cools a giant vat of stock very efficiently.

At home, there is no such contraption. But, you can take a stainless steel bottle or silicone container and turn it into a giant ice pack.

I wouldn’t recommend plastic because I just don’t feel good about hot plastic in food.


Step 5: Repeat & Reseason

Finishing your bone broth is what will make all the difference in your end product.

Once you’ve strained your broth the first time, you’ll want to put the bones BACK IN THE POT with new water and aromatics for another round. 10-12 hours to be exact.

This step will extract all the minerals deep inside the bones and will pull out whatever extra flavor is left in there.

Then, you combine the 2 stocks you have.

Once you’ve done both rounds of simmering and your broth is done, you’ll want to season it. (Notice we didn’t put any salt in yet?)

I finish my broth with a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar and a good heap of salt. The vinegar cuts through all the fat and brightens the flavor. The salt enhances and brings out the flavors in the broth.

NOW COOK WITH IT!!

Bone broth is a great way to add flavor into other dishes.

When I teach kids and adults to cook with their senses and without a recipe, we talk about adding flavor at every step.

What that means is this: When you’re cooking, things are broken down into steps. At each of those steps, you should be asking yourself, “How an I add MORE flavor into this dish.”

cooking whole foods = big flavor and lots of nutritional health.

Check out our recipes on The Connected Chef for some great Chili, soup & legume recipes to add your broth too!

 

Enjoy and stay warm!

The secret to quick, healthy meals with your family…

Focusing on HOW you are cooking things as opposed to WHAT your recipe calls for is the beginning to freedom in your kitchen.

 

It not only opens up your creativity, but over time, it allows you to cook whatever. you. have. available. to make a kick ass, healthy meal in minimal time.

 

This mindset change has more implications than just quick, healthy meals too. It’s the beginning of your families new relationship with food. This relationship begins with quick, easy meals and ends with your ideal meal time on a regular basis.

 

But, right now your knees deep in shit to do around the house, work and making sure the kids still have what they need on a regular basis.

 

 

I get it, “your ideal relationship with food” is not top priority. And that’s ok. Parenting is hard and sometimes that means making hard choices that include putting your kids eating habits under making enough money for a roof over their head.

 

But it doesn’t have to be an either or situation

There is a way to provide your family with healthy meals that are quick and don’t take up all your time and mental space.

 

What if I told you that you don’t have to reread a recipe 10 times while making dinner, or measure every little thing because of your fear of screwing it up. Or that you can use whatever items you have in the fridge instead of going to the market for that 1 ingredient you’re only going to use ONE TIME.

 

It’s possible and I’ve seen people change their weeks around. How? They learn to cook with their senses and based on methods and techniques of cooking.

 

How do you cook with your senses?

By moving away from the question “WHAT do I cook for dinner?” and beginning to ask yourself “HOW am I going to cook dinner?”

 

Changing that one simple question will change your approach to cooking forever.

 

Thinking about the methods and techniques that you are using to cook is the beginning to freedom in your kitchen. Once you can do this successfully, you are well on your way to looking forward to dinner time and being able to even bring your kids in on the action.

 

And if you are already in a place of enjoyment in the kitchen, this will strengthen your skills and give you the foundation that will open up new flavor opportunities for you. Your creativity in the kitchen will blossom!

Stop Stressing About What’s For Dinner!

Download 4 steps to quick, healthy meals as a family.

 

As a chef for David Burke in NYC, I was forced to focus on my methods and techniques of cooking. It was how I moved from a new line cook to executive sous chef in just a year.

 

As a parent, these methods & techniques have served me well in getting a yummy, healthy meal on the table FAST.

There are two rules to cooking with your senses:

  1. Season as you go: do not just season in the beginning or only at the end of your meal. When you are cooking, you are BUILDING FLAVOR. To layer flavors, you need to season (salt and pepper) throughout the cooking process.
  2. Taste as you go: Since the flavors of your dish are being layered, that means that they are changing as the cook. Tasting your food throughout the cooking process trains your palette and allows you to learn how flavors develop with time. (i.e. You might not need some salt in the beginning, but as time rolls on, things might call for more salt.)

 

Now, all of this is great information to change your long game.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT?

 

What can you do to get a quick dinner on the table for your kids tomorrow?

Many people love a One Pot Meal. These are great, but take a TON of prep time. Even if you have a crock pot or instapot, you have to generally do a lot of cutting and prep work to get your ingredients to that stage of cooking.

I’ve put together a checklist for you.

Here are the top cooking techniques & their how to steps that will start you on the path away from recipes and allow you the freedom and joy of cooking with your senses (with your family).

Stop Stressing About What’s For Dinner!

Download 4 steps to quick, healthy meals as a family.

The #1 message for your kids about food…

 

For those of you who don’t know me. My name is Kim. I’m a mama of 2 insanely cute, but crazy as hell little kids. I have a calm as fuck husband who balances us all out and deals with all our insanity. I’m from Long Island, NY and spent most of my childhood growing up in typical suburbia. I didn’t eat farm fresh food from a mom or grandma that spent hours in the kitchen. My mom was a single, working mom who did everything she could for my sister and I (and anyone else in the area who needed it).

We didn’t eat out much because we didn’t have the money. She cooked simple, quick food. Lot’s of pasta, meat and potatoes and frozen (and even canned) veggies. Her specialty was Roast Beef and Mash potatoes with gravy. I didn’t eat crappy food, but it wasn’t anything steeped in culture either.

I always loved to eat though. And thank god, I was never taught as a girl that eating too much was something to watch out for. It was always something that tapped into that primal part of my brain and made me feel good. The more I ate, the more I learned, and the more I wanted good quality food. Not snobby stuff, just the best of whatever it was I was having.

Thinking about it now, I think that came from my dad. He’s always had this little Italian grandma sense to him. Always making you eat more and always spending money on the “good stuff”. Granted, the good stuff to us was Red Lobster and the Sizzler. But hell, we were high end middle classers. The point was that he always attached good feelings to food. Food was fun — exciting and adventurous.

As I got older, I didn’t mind investing my time into making something I could enjoy. The result was worth the effort. “Fresh” mozzerella (it wasn’t actually fresh, now that I know better — just less processed), tomato and basil for an after-school snack as a teenager was normal.

I could have eaten just ice cream from a bowl, but I wanted to take the extra time to make a waffle to pair it with. Hell, who doesn’t want a warm Eggo waffle and mint chocolate chip ice cream. — See!? You want it right now don’t you? 🙂

I realize now that the most important thing I got from my parents around food was something they did mindlessly. They instilled in me that food was ok. Food was fun and indulgent and worth your time.

FOOD IS WORTH YOUR TIME.

That is a message worth passing on to our kids.

That’s the message I model to Lucas and Thiago when I carve out the time for cooking dinner as a non-negotiable, even though I’m tired from being up all last night nursing an almost 2 year old like he’s a newborn (damn teething) and haven’t stopped moving since 6:30am AND I know I’m going to yell waaaay before bedtime even starts.

We have our days of tomato sauce and pasta, of take-out and plenty of leftovers.

But the thing my kids see on a regular basis — 

Good Food is Important.

And that’s the message I want to pass on to you.

Sending you love and Red Lobster,

Kim

xoxox