(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Working in a kosher chef can be fun and exciting. I love putting out great food for people and seeing their excitement when they see and eat the food.
There are tons of great ingredients and I never let kashrut be a liability for my cooking.
1. Buy the best you can of any product that is in-season and as local as possible. It is Farmer’s market season and the stalls will be bursting with fresh produce soon. This is the time of year to fill your menus with berries, fresh greens and other produce. Every savvy chef knows that seasonal produce is better priced and better tasting than out of season produce.
2. Only make substitutions if it does NOT ruin the integrity of the dish. Crème Brulee has the word cream in the title. The dish needs cream-not soy! Enough said! On the other hand, I have made many desserts and pastries with natural pareve ingredients and did not lose the whole point of the dish.
3. Let nature dictate what you eat. There are so many great foods that are naturally kosher
and that do not require supervision. Most hard spices like cinnamon, coriander seeds, fennel and anise seeds, and more are all kosher. Nuts are kosher
and my favorite extra virgin olive oil does not require hashgacha. Eat hearty from nature and the food will always be tasty. Use less packaged prepared foods, they tend to taste the same and are not good for you.
4. Go with your strengths-not your weakness. When planning an event for a group, I know that my salmon rivals any chefs anywhere. The salmon is the same. I also know my chocolate is as good as the best restaurants in the world (I use Callebaut, and you should too!) so I level the playing field and my food will always come out on top. I cannot compete using fake fats and faux dairy products, so I do not even use those products.
5. Put some love into your food. Every single ingredient going into a dish should be delicious and the entire meal will show the care and love you put into it. Perfect Salmon Nicoise
A salade Nicoise comes from the Mediterranean coast in France. It is my favorite summer salad and classically uses local ingredients. For this version I am using Wild Salmon. Wild Salmon comes into season in the spring and summer as the salmon make their journey to spawn. Wild salmon tastes rich, buttery and is loaded with the healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are so good for us. Farmed salmon are inferior in taste and appearance and are fed food with coloring agents to dye their flesh to mimic wild salmon.
I wait all winter for salmon season and only use the wild product in my home and professional kitchens.
(Serves 4)For the salmon:
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 6-ounce Wild Salmon filets, skin off
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Several thyme sprigs
1 6inch X 6inch square of cheesecloth, kitchen twine
Preheat oven to 270
1. Place the extra virgin olive oil in a shallow pan. Place the salmon in the pan.
2. Assemble the cheesecloth pouch of aromatics by placing the lemon zest, chili flakes, garlic, peppercorns and thyme into the cheesecloth and tie is with the kitchen twine. Add the pouch to pan with the salmon. Place in the preheated oven and poach for 20-30 minutes until the fish feels slightly firm.
3. Gently transfer the fish to a platter to cool and strain the oil, refrigerate the oil. The oil can be used up to 3 more times to poach fish. For the salad
4 cups favorite mixed baby greens
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into halves
4 anchovy filets
Cooked and chilled French green beans
Cooked and chilled new potatoes
½ cup favorite black olives
2 tablespoons capers
1. Place all of the above ingredients on a decorative platter with the cooked salmon filets. Drizzle with Tarragon vinaigrette.Tarragon Vinaigrette
½ cup chopped tarragon leaves
3 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1. Whisk all of the above ingredients together and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.