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Tell me your 'a ha!' cooking moments; memorable techniques, flavours, combinations, etc.

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Personal illustrative example to clarify my request/question;

 

Example #1: Assorted recipes via Giorgio Locatelli that involved applying heat to tomato paste; the effect was memorable and unexpected to an amateur chef such as myself. I later learned that it's called 'pincage'.

 

Example#2: the 'raft' technique of clarifying a consomme.

 

I would prefer examples foremost in the French vein, and secondly in the Italian. As classical French is my current arena of exploration.

post #2 of 15

the tomato paste was on of my own AHA moments ABrown. I recently discovered that adding just a teaspoon of honey could dramatically alter the chilli/spicy/salty factor of a dish. I was amazed at how much a wee bit of honey could change so many faults.

welcome to CT by the way. You'll like it here

 

Huge fan of Giorgio btw. love his attitude to food. The series on uk food was great with the family and the fruit n veg guy.

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

P.S. to any and all responders to this here thread; i'm going to write them all down and try each and every one of them.

post #4 of 15
Some aha moments:
 
1. First time i did glace de viande. Laborious but extraordinaire.
2. Adding sachet d'épices to classic stews like ossobucco, goulash, etc. Last favorite: cloves, star anise, cinnamon.
3. Making pepperoni jam (see Recipes) as a challenge with some friends and getting it exactly the same as the one they brought from Italy.
4. Rediscovering a simple and classic well done béchamel, a sauce that i, don't know why, despised for years.
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #5 of 15

Hmm , i think the first time i made pastry cream was a great aha moment. 

After i made it , tasted it , and basically had an orgasm after eating it for the first time i cant help but have my mouth water after seeing it xD. 

 

Usually i love making sauces so when i see the chemical reaction especially when making them from scratch , i get super excited. 

Aside from pastry cream , the first time i made a bechamel and learned that you can check the consistency by sliding your finger down the back of the spoon was just a Oh wow ( like seriously ) moment. 

That and the first time i made a Beurr Blanc was also pretty oh wow. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #6 of 15

A few years ago, I watched a 3 michelin star chef make a béarnaise. Instead of clarified butter, he used chunks of cold raw butter, a rato of around 1tbsp per person (on 1 egg yolk per person + basis fluid). His comment; makes the sauce taste more like butter. He's so right!!

I now make béarnaise, choron, mousseline, Hollandaise... the same way.

Very Aha-moment! You will use less butter and the sauce is so much more tasty.

post #7 of 15
When I discovered I made better crème brulee without a waterbath. Lower temps longer times.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
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Fluctuat nec mergitur
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post #8 of 15

this is quite funny. 

was that chef you mention here, peter goossens, by chance? ;) I am a fan of his work......never had the chance to meet him or dine there...

if not, who was the chef you have in mind?

post #9 of 15

As a culinary student of course you try out things at home, too.

So, for my exams menu (coming october) I have a bavarois / bavarian cream flavored with chai  for dessert, (along with a orange/ saffron/ honey poached pear, and a caramel garnish on top of the bavarois).

I made the recipe for bavarois and it did not come out as I wanted......

The eureka moment came when I tried it second time and this time, after the mix came off the stove, I did not stir it over an ice bath but instead WHIPPED till it was cooled.

Got a very airy soft melting bavarois...

 

Same goes for my hollandaise, which I indeed now make with cold cubes of real butter instead of clarified butter. Its much more stabile too....

 

Lots of experience in baking (sourdough) bread, took me years.....many more examples.

Oh yes and how you learn to LOVE those aha moments!

 

And as for combinations.......lately I made a lot of combinations of lavender out of my garden with fruits like summer fruit soup, stewed plums or peaches, but also with SALMON....


Edited by Soesje - 8/13/13 at 7:59am
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soesje View Post

this is quite funny. 

was that chef you mention here, peter goossens, by chance? ;) I am a fan of his work......never had the chance to meet him or dine there...

if not, who was the chef you have in mind?

I assume you directed this question to me, Soesje. Absolutely right! I live at a 15 minutes drive from his restaurant "Hof van Cleve" but have never been there; my wallet doesn't accept "foliekes" like that anymore.

post #11 of 15

Wow chris, I would have gone and look for a job there if I lived that close...... but who knows, you will still get your chance sometime to dine there...who knows. ;)

post #12 of 15
deleted
Edited by Koukouvagia - 8/13/13 at 1:28pm

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #13 of 15

Why are we limited to french or italian techniques?  That's bogus.

 

As a home cook that taught myself to cook in my late 20's everything was a revelation.  The most major revelation was braising.  I had no idea that certain meats had to be cooked this way in order to achieve optimal tenderness.  Now it's my favorite type of cooking.

 

I learned most of my technique from watching cooking shows like Jamie Oliver, Sarah Moulton, etc.  I remember the first time I learned that pasta and sauce need to cook together.  I grew up eating naked noodles with sauce ladled over and now that seems like such an incomplete form of the dish.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #14 of 15

I discovered one day, through experimenting, that a marinade of pureed lemongrass, ginger and fish sauce is also a great way to make toasted coconut stick to pork tenderloin. I bake it on a rack and serve it with caramelized onion chutney. Pretty fantastic.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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post #15 of 15

Currently it is my exploration with different types of acids. It has completely changed my cooking and the tastes. It was great to see how a lemon or lime would affect a sauce as opposed to white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar would affect a marinade. Amazing! This is why I love to cook.

Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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