Brrr!!! Welcome to a brisk, chilly November. We are getting excited as this month, we will be traveling to Cleveland for one of the best food shows in the country, The Fabulous Food Show, at the I-X Center, Nov. 14- 16th. If you are in Cleveland and attending, stop by the Ergo booth and say hi to Scott, Mike and Chef Randy and check out all the great Ergo products available. This time of year, one great way to feed your family is simple one pot meals so in this edition of Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we are covering Cooking with Woks. Our Chef’s Spotlight is the Jersey General Chef Frank Benowitz. We have a deliciously healthy Chili recipe from Kimberly Winder. Our Gourmet Store Spotlight this edition is Bowery Kitchen, located in NYC’s Chelsea Market. And lastly, we have an awesome Spotlight and coupon code discount on our Crimson Series Knives.
Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips: Cooking with Woks
One of our favorite methods of cooking is in a wok. They are simple, yet very versatile, require little oil, making them an economical way to cook. A woks unique shape allows it to distribute heat evenly through the pan and get very hot, making them perfect for stir-fry cooking. While they may not be necessary for every kitchen, for true food enthusiasts eager to recreate their favorite Asian recipes and flavors in their own kitchens, a wok and steamer are musts in their kitchens.
Thousands of years ago, Chinese cooks figured out how to prepare healthy food quickly using a simple piece of equipment – the Chinese wok. Once you’ve decided to add a wok to your supply of kitchen equipment, you’ll want to shop around to choose the best model. Originally, all woks were round bottomed and made of iron – designed to be used with the traditional Chinese wood stove. Gradually, the iron was replaced with carbon steel. Today, there are all types of woks on the market: aluminum, copper, stainless steel.Traditionally, the wok came with two metal handles, making it easy to lift in and out of the stove. I prefer the modern woks that have one long wooden handle, like a skillet, they are easier to handle in my opinion.
The wok’s most distinguishing feature is its shape. Classic woks have a rounded bottom. Hand-hammered woks are sometimes flipped inside out after being shaped, giving the wok a gentle flare to the edge that makes it easier to push food up onto the sides of the wok. Woks sold in western countries are sometimes found with flat bottoms — this makes them more similar to a deep frying pan. The flat bottom allows the wok to be used on an electric stove, where a rounded wok would not be able to fully contact the stove’s heating element. A round bottom wok enables the traditional round spatula or ladle to pick all the food up at the bottom of the wok and toss it around easily; this is difficult with a flat bottom. With a gas hob, or traditional pit stove, the bottom of a round wok can get hotter than a flat wok and so is better for stir frying.
Seasoning Your Wok:
You may have heard that it is very important to season(carbonize) the cooking surface your wok before trying it out for the first time. This is a the most important step, if you are to get years of fabulous food from your wok. This only applies to carbon-steel or cast-iron woks. If you have purchased an electric or non-stick coated wok, be very careful as the pan can get to hot ans catch fire. See your instruction manual for specifics on seasoning if you have one of these types. Seasoning removes the preservative oil manufacturers place on the wok to prevent it from rusting, replacing it with a light coating of cooking oil. It is also important to properly clean your wok after each use.
~Wash the wok in hot water with a small amount of liquid detergent and a scrubber (such as a stainless steel sponge or pad).
~If needed, scrub the exterior of the wok with the scrubber and an abrasive cleanser. Do not use the abrasive cleanser on the inside of the wok.
~Rinse the wok and dry thoroughly.
~Place the wok on high heat.
~Move the wok, turning it and tilting it up to the rim and back, until the metal turns a blueish-yellowish color.
~Remove the wok from the stove element. Turn the heat down to medium-low
~Add a thin film of oil (about 1½ teaspoons) over the entire inside surface of the wok. There are several ways to do this. One is to use a paper towel to rub the oil over the surface. You may want to use tongs to hold the paper towels. Another way is to use a basting brush for barbecues or any other heat-proof brush to brush on the oil.
~Heat the wok on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes
~Wipe off the oil with another paper towel. There will be black residue on the towel.
~Repeat steps 7 through 9 until no black residue comes up on the paper (about 3 times). The wok is now ready to use.
If your wok becomes gunky and sticky or gets rusted you can clean the wok with salt. Simply put half a cup of salt in the wok and heat on high, reduce the heat if it gets too hot. Using your spatula send the salt up to the edges very carefully. Hot salt is dangerous. Do this for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow the salt to cool to warm. Using a cloth rub the spots where the salt has stuck to in order to get rid of the gunk or rust. Discard the salt and wash the wok in hot water with a soft sponge. Re-season the wok.
Cooking With Your Wok:
Cooking in a wok is very simple. Many things can be cooked in a wok. Remember that woks are meant to cook very quickly so it will be necessary to have everything prepared. When preparing food to be cooked, remember that small uniform pieces will cook the most evenly. After adding a tablespoon or so of oil, heat your wok on medium to high heat. Cook meat first and when it all seems done on the outside, add any vegetables and sauces. In only a few minutes, the meat will be completely done and the vegetables will be tender yet crisp. You may also fry, braise, or poach in a wok. Gauging the temperature for each of these cooking techniques is very important. Keep in mind that oil and water do not mix, so if you decide to poach in a wok, be sure to dry and season the pan thoroughly after you’ve finished.
Recognized as the cleaning whisk or the bamboo wok cleaning brush, this small broom-like brush is made of bamboo bristles. Bundled jointly and tied at the top with strings, this easy device is the answer to removing stubborn food remains while not damaging the wok. Just use the bamboo wok cleaning brush in a swirling motion below running water. The bamboo whisk is tough and functional and it can be used for mainly stainless steel cookware. This bamboo wok cleaning brush may be ordinary in appearance but it is a well-organized and simple way to clean your wok. After using the brush to remove the food bits, scrub your wok with dish detergent and hot water. Dry the wok and rub a bit of oil around the inside of the pan. This will make sure your wok lasts a long time and that it gives your food a great flavor.
Chef Frank Benowitz
Since 2003, Chef Instructor Frank Benowitz has been employed by Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in West Windsor, NJ as a professional staff member in the Hotel, Restaurant Institutional Management (HRIM) & Culinary Department and teaches a multitude of HRIM, Culinary and Business courses. Chef Benowitz is a MCCC graduate and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree through Thomas Edison College and his Master’s Degree through Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Spending only a few years working in hotels and restaurants, much of his culinary knowledge was a result of culinary book study/classes and then working with dozens of extremely talented Chefs and absorbing information/culinary techniques to build a sound foundation to teach his students. His love of food and cooking is apparent in each demonstration and each class in which he teaches. He truly feels that you must continuously learn and improve your knowledge/skill base to be successful in the culinary world. As such, he serves as Hospitality Club Advisor (winning the prestigious Advisor of the Year Award twice already) – creating/serving menus for catering efforts typically between 50 – 300 guests. Also, he has served as a Judge for a variety of savory and sweet culinary competitions throughout the Tri-state area.
In 2006, he became co-host and co-producer of Dish It Out with Chef Doug Fee (originally airing only locally in Mercer County, NJ and now available in multiple counties in NJ along with upstate New York, Maine, Connecticut, South Carolina and soon in to appear in additional states via their local television channel markets). Dish It Out, will enter its 9th season in Fall 2014, and has won multiple awards, including a 2014 Silver Telly. Several episodes are now available on the internet via You Tube shown in many culinary schools throughout North America.
Speaking of awards, he has earned the 1st Place People’s Choice Salsa Award, many years in a row, at the annual NJ State Chili and Salsa Championship. Also, in 2013, Chef Benowitz won 2nd Place in the NJ State Seafood Challenge held at the Governor’s Mansion. By popular demand, following numerous awards, his famous mango salsa is now available for purchase via The Jersey General.
In recent years, Chef Benowitz has had the pleasure of working with/for several celebrities along with some well-known Chefs such as: Robert Irvine, Walter Scheib, Ellie Krieger, Michael Voltaggio, Fabio Vivani, Mike Isabella, Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jose Garces, Cat Cora, Sara Moulton, Bobby Flay, Rick Bayless and Emeril Lagasse.
Here is a Healthy Fall Recipe where good knives come in very handy to prep. From Kimberly Winder– who will be a regular monthly contributor. Here is a recipe for Vegetarian Chili that is really delicious and requires a lot of chopping. I make it frequently in the winter and fall. It is a perfect football recipe, too. Even carnivores like it.
by Kimberly Winder
Prep time: 15 minutes
Prep notes: Cooking time: 30 minutes Yields: 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced, (or one can organic diced tomatoes)
1 carrot, cut into quarter moons
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups cooked or canned red, black or kidney beans
1 cup water
2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
Heat oil in a large heavy pan and sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, chili powder and cumin and sauté for 5 minutes. Slowly add beans, water, tomato paste and salt. Cook on low to medium heat for 20 minutes.
Add as many veggies as you like such as bell peppers, zucchini and corn kernels.
Gourmet Store Spotlight
Shop with the top Restaurant chefs and professionals as well as Food Network Stars at Bowery Kitchen Supplies. Opened for business on the famous Bowery Street Restaurant Supply Street in 1975, supplying New York’s finest Restaurants, Bars, Lounges, Deli’s, Bakery, Pizzerias & Caterers! they opened a second store in the The Chelsea Market Home, also home to The Food Network Studios and numerous other well known food related establishments.
On a daily basis the on-stage personalities and talented chefs in hundreds of kitchens in New York use their cool gadgets and traditional chef tools to create feasts for the stomach as well as the eyes. Visit them and experience the market yourself.
Bowery Kitchen located in the New York City’s Chelsea Market, with entrances at 75 Ninth Avenue and 88 Tenth Avenue. Chelsea Market is an indoor arcade-style market (one whole NYC avenue-to-avenue block) with the finest raw and prepared food shops in downtown Manhattan. Mailing Address is: 460 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 USA Telephone: 212-376-4982 Fax: 212-242-7360 Or you can email them at: Info@Bowerykitchens.com
Chop Talk Product Spotlight
Ergo Chef Cutlery’s Crimson Series Chop Talk discount coupon code for 15% OFF.
Coupon Code: VIPfall15
Till next time: