Learn how to Cook!

 

Ricotta & Roasted Garlic Agnolotti, Hazelnut-Sage Brown Butter
Ricotta & Roasted Garlic Agnolotti, Hazelnut-Sage Brown Butter

COOKED, INC.

Cooked, Inc. is a culinary education program that is unlike any other. It is designed for people who already feel fairly comfortable in their kitchens but  want additional skills to raise their cooking game several levels.

  • The course is designed to last 16 weeks, for 3 hours each week
  • The classes take place in your home kitchen because this is where you cook
  • There is one chef/instructor who has over 30 years of experience in some of the finest restaurants in the USA.
  • The courses are down and dirty, which is to say you will be cooking and learning right next to the chef
  • You may invite up to 4 friends to each class to spread the knowledge around and help defray the costs
  • You will eat. You will get the recipes. You will, in fact, help develop some recipes and we will write them professionally (yes, that is a thing)
  • You pick out a 3 hour block of time that works for you. As time goes on and more students are added these choices will decrease. Basically you pick a day of the week and an afternoon or evening (if you need to miss a week we can reschedule the class)
  • The immersive, hands-on approach yields the best results for the student
  • We will talk about beverage pairings
  • You will learn how to cook without recipes
  • We have several instruction modules available so that you learn the things you want and not the things you don’t

    Local Beefsteak Tomatoes
    Local Beefsteak Tomatoes

 

As I noted before this program is entirely customizable so you can learn the things you want, but there are modules that I feel must be included to insure the success of your program. These include:

  • How to shop like a chef
  • Pantry basics
  • How to sharpen and use your knives
  • Food sanitation and food science
  • Discussions of different cooking techniques
  • Seasonality (why would you want to use a tomato in January?)

At the end of the program you will have significantly raised your skill level in such a way that you will be able to continue to do so on you own.

The cost of the program is not inexpensive but compared to annual tuition (not including any other fees) at the Culinary Institute of America it is a drop in the bucket.

If this sounds interesting to you please feel free to email me at chefkevinpenner@gmail.com to learn more and discuss your culinary needs. I think you will have fun when you learn how to cook!

Shop like a Chef

I have yet to see the movie “Chef” but I still get a sense the public has taken interest in our profession. The “farm-to-table” movement, the interest in using products that are grown in a sustainable fashion and popularity of “chefs” (and I use the term loosely) on television all serve as evidence of a growing interest in what we do.

If you read enough blogs, magazines and newspaper articles about the life of chefs and their work, you will find a lot of the same terms being used quite often. One of the most important things that chefs do these days is the “sourcing” of food. In a private home this is akin to shopping for groceries. But since chefs tend to buy their products lower in the supply chain than most people they are often able to have a connection with where their food comes from.  This is a situation that I happily endorse but home shoppers are not necessarily left out in the cold.

Berries on the vine
Berries on the vine

The obvious close food contact that non-chefs can use is the farmers market. Almost everyone there grew or made what they are selling and they can tell you a story about it. Also, depending on where you live, you might have access to locally caught fish, game, poultry and meat and all you need to do is search for it.

Charolais beef from McCall Vineyards in Cutchoque, NY
Charolais beef from McCall Vineyards in Cutchoque, NY

As a chef I think it is really important to know where your food comes from and any stories that are associated with it. This, I think, gives the products of nature a closer and more intimate involvement in our lives.

Local wheat berries for making your own flour
Local wheat berries for making your own flour

A couple of posts earlier I wrote about offering cooking classes this winter and “shopping like a chef” was one of the listed classes. I think this merits its own project. Having good products to work with almost always leads to more delicious food. It seems like a good place to start the journey. I will show you how to “Shop like a Chef” before teaching you how to cook like one.

Just like the cooking classes, this will be a three-hour session and the most number of students per class will be limited to six. If you’re interested you can reach me at chefkevinpenner@gmail.com and we can begin planning right away. Cooking and shopping classes also make great holiday presents, they keep giving and giving long after the class is over.

8 Hands Farm
8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, NY

Holiday Parties

The busy holiday entertaining season is upon us and it is time to start booking tour holiday parties.

At Kevin Penner Culinary Consulting we are offering in home cooking classes for up to 10 people. The classes are three hours and cover everything you need to know about food and cooking. These classes can be tailored to your needs and interests.

Another service we are offering is bespoke dinner parties. I will meet with interested hosts and plan every detail of your party. Plated dinners with three courses, tasting menus, ethnic foods and just about anything else you can imagine is what we can do.

If you’re interested in planning an event you can reach by email at chefkevinpenner@gmail.com

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with an allium theme.
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with an allium theme.

A Bit of Life on the East End of Long Island. If you’re a Chef.

Here is a quick slide show of cooking during the spring and summer on the east end of Long Island. It’s a taste. Stop out for a visit, go clamming, visit the wineries and breweries and eat some delicious locally sourced food. You can visit working farms and see where your food comes from.

The Next Brooklyn Food Fad? The Iowa Tenderloin Sandwich

I will attribute the title to nothing more than speculation on my part. But it seems like another regional culinary tradition, in this case the Iowa Tenderloin Sandwich, needs to be co-opted by the hippest borough in New York City. Why? Because it’s f*cking delicious!

Think about it–a thinly pounded piece of heritage pork loin or tenderloin, breaded with panko bread crumbs and deep-fried or pan-fried, served on a toasted burger bun with tomatoes, onions, pickles and mustard. Boom! Pork Milanese on a bun! Now where is that craft beer?

When I was the chef at the 1770 House in East Hampton, NY I would, from time to time, run this on the downstairs tavern menu. As a kid who grew up in Iowa it was always my favorite sandwich and to this day I still get cravings for it. Like any sandwich or any regional food there are both good and bad versions and lot that fall somewhere in the middle. I was always fond of the version at Joensy’s in Solon, Iowa. I was back in Iowa a few weeks ago for a cousin’s wedding and I made the trek to Solon only to find Joensy’s had closed and become a craft brewery. The irony. There is another Joensy’s in Cedar Rapids and apparently in Iowa City as well. I missed the Iowa City location when I was back in town.

There are no shortages of other places to get a decent “tenderloin” sandwich. This is true not only in Iowa but in other midwestern states as well. In fact, the sandwich was first made in Indiana at a place called Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, although some of the folks in Iowa say eastern European immigrants introduced it because they loved their schnitzel. It is a brilliant sandwich regardless of its origins.

As with many of our favorite foods there are “rules” about it. My rules are no ketchup, sliced tomato in season is much nicer. I also abhor brioche or sourdough burger buns (just as I do for burgers). It has to have  a squishy white bun that offers no resistance when bitten into. The story is not the bun–the bun is just the delivery system (as it is with burgers). The rest of the stuff like raw onion, half sour pickles and mustard are fine with me.

This sandwich has Brooklyn written all over it. But remember, no ketchup.

 

Cooking Classes Fall 2014

Recently I have decided to offer cooking classes. The courses will be custom built around the interests of the students and they will take place in your home kitchen. I will cover all of the north and south forks on Long Island and Manhattan. Some of the things we will cover include:

How to sharpen knives

The proper use of knives

How to equip your kitchen

How to shop like a chef

Pantry basics

Understanding seasonality

Meat & fish butchery

Making soups and stocks

Making salads

Cold appetizers (including tartars, crudi and lightly cured items)

Hot appetizers

Vegetarian & vegan foods

Cooking fish

Cooking meat

Cooking vegetables

Street foods

Ethnic food (Middle Eastern, southeast Asia, China, Japan, India and the subcontinent and more)

Italian cuisine (including making pasta at home)

French cuisine

Modernist cuisine

And more

Pricing will be done on a case by case basis. I suggest class sizes of 6 or fewer people per session in order to keep the process orderly and the discussions informative. Average course time will be three hours.

Advanced classes in full animal butchery, cured meats, smoked meats, making tofu and making cheese are going to be available in the near future.

Inbox me with questions or to sign up for classes. My email is chefkevinpenner@gmail.com

cropped-IMG_1122.jpg IMG_1994

Not sous vide...6.5 minutes to perfection
Not sous vide…6.5 minutes to perfection
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Forming Agnolotti
Forming Agnolotti

Random Thoughts about Cooking

Here it is, October 2014! Where does the time go when you’re having a blast? This last year (I am defining a year in terms of summer to summer) has been fun, illuminating and in some ways humanizing. Here are some random thoughts about cooking on the two forks.

Last year, right about now, I was finishing out twenty-two seasons (again, that means summer) in the Hamptons. Since then I have spent my working time on the north fork of Long Island cooking, comparing and contrasting the two places that are geographically close yet very far apart.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with an allium theme.
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with an allium theme.

And the take away is?

The north fork has more farms, more wineries and is generally a more agricultural area. What does that mean? It means the north fork has collectively embraced it’s past and future as a place where food is produced from beginning to end. The aquaculture, viticulture and agriculture all have very firm foundations in place on the north fork. The restaurants, brewers, wine makers and other artisans close the circle of agriculture by celebrating and showcasing what has been grown in the area.

My first visit to the north fork was a long time ago. At least twenty years ago. My most recent visits have found it beautiful, exhilarating and a perfect setting to celebrate the pleasures of the table.

I would like to have some tables in the area.

Blue Tomato

The North Fork: A Late Summer Report on Food

As we near the end of the first week of August on the east end of Long Island (and pretty much everywhere in the northern hemisphere) business is brisk, the weather has been great and the fish are landing. So far this summer at the North Fork Table & Inn, where I have loitered in the kitchen with my friend Chef Gerry Hayden, we have featured a number of locally caught yellowfin and bigeye tuna. We have also featured a good amount of locally caught striped bass, fluke, black sea bass and swordfish.

Beautiful Bigeye Tuna
Beautiful Bigeye Tuna

In our opinion beautiful local seafood is best served simply with beautiful local vegetables. The local crop of tomatoes is just beginning. Literally. Tomorrow we will receive, along with other fruits of the earth, our first tomatoes from MarGene Farm in Mattituck, NY. We have also used tomatoes and plants from our friend K.K. Haspel in Southold, NY. K.K. takes a biodynamic approach to growing food and we love it! Her kale, herbs, tomatoes and flowers are delicious and beautiful.

Mixed Large Heirloom Tomatoes
Mixed Large Heirloom Tomatoes

The summer harvest of sweet corn has also begun and the white corn we have been using from Al Krupski at Krupski Farms has been amazing. It is sweet and delicious beyond belief and we have used it in sweet and savory dishes at the restaurant. In the savory part of the kitchen we have prepared a delicious chilled corn soup with crab meat. Claudia Fleming, who is married to Chef Hayden, is  one of the most formidible pastry chefs in the world and she has made sweet corn ice cream to go along with a blueberry financier. The blueberries come to us from our friends at Oysterponds Farm.Sweet corn ice cream. Holy shit!

We have been using a large variety of vegetables from our good friend Stephanie Gaylor at Invincible Summer Farms in Southold, NY. Stephanie is the queen of seeds and is as crazy as we are about finding food with a story and a history. Stephanie brings us a shit load of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables and fruit from around the world. Fennel pollen? No one does it better.

Do you like oysters? We sure do and the waters of Great Peconic Bay are ideal for growing them. Our good friend Phil Mastrangelo farms them with a special touch at Race Rock Oysters. Eat the oysters!

Local Fluke Crudo with Compressed Cavaillon Melon
Local Fluke Crudo with Compressed Cavaillon Melon

Chicken. Is it the animal protein of choice for the walking dead or is it something to be reckoned with in the restaurant kitchen? I think it depends on who you ask. As a chef I generally like to avoid dealing with such a bland topic. Until now. Now we have Browder’s Birds from Mattituck, NY. Holly and Chris bring us birds of distinction and, at the North Fork Table & Inn, we actually send over vegetable scraps for the chickens to eat before cooking the birds and serving them to our guests. Finally, now, we should talk about beef. Thursday, later in the afternoon, we will be taking on a beef carcus from McCall Wines. Russ McCall grows grapes and makes wine. He also grows Charolais cows. Charolais beef is lean, especially when it is grass-fed and raised naturally. We love it. The slow growth of the cattle means it will taste beefy and delicious. So far it has been a delicious summer and it will only get better as we head in to the fall.

Breaking down a cow-one side of a front quarter
Breaking down a cow-one side of a front quarter

Summer on the North Fork: The Crop Report

Well, it’s here. Summer on the North Fork 2014 is in full swing on the east end of Long Island. It is still a bit early to call it a winner but it looks like a contender. The weather has been pretty incredible and we seem to get the right amount of rain whenever we need it. Let’s hope the trend continues.

The summer of 2014 is my first summer in twenty-three of them that I find myself not cooking in the Hamptons. So far so good. The North Fork has been treating me very well and I am really loving the stage that is set with the farmers, fishermen, winemakers and craft beer (and spirits) folks that comprise the culinary scene in the area.

I will post more later but suffice to say that thanks to the North Fork Table with my friends Gerry Hayden, Claudia Fleming, Mike Mraz, Mary Mraz and the crew that they have assembled the summer of 2014 is shaping up to be very special.

Berry nice!
Berry nice!

 

 

A journal of cooking and eating and agriculture. Cooking is the final act of agriculture.

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