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Monday, May 16, 2011

“Kitchen Nobility—the Saucier, Pt. I”

The “Jefferson Starship” CD we are offering today is their twentieth release (1999), “Windows of Heaven.”  Another great CD that failed to chart as the band continued on led by guitarist/singer Paul Kantner. The band at this point was actually a much-longer lasting entity than the Grateful Dead although they certainly don’t have the discography to match them. But this album is still a great one so be sure to take the convenient link to Amazon.com and buy this excellent album as you won’t be disappointed!  Thanks, the Elemental News of the Day. 

Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 585 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                   STINKBUG 2011


James “JT” Tobiason
END Commentary 05-17-2011
Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions
Word Count: 2,613

Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by JT
Kitchen Nobility—the Saucier, Pt. I
Bakersfield, CA, 05-17-2011 T:  We just got in to Taft, California, having driven over from Frazier Park and let me tell you, the first thing we did was to go visit the Chicken of Oz where famed chef, Nels McDonnell runs the kitchen in the style of the Stockdale Country Club where he was brought up in the traditional ways of the kitchen by Stinkbug, Augustine Salazar, and Juan Aguirre.  This establishment has been there for quite a few years and is a credit to the growth of Taft, from the sleepy little racist town it once was to the bustling metropolis it’s become.  Anyhow, the first thing we did was to order dinner and then we got our drinks and we then stayed until closing time as the ambience was so good and the food so great.  Small town America is a place that everyone should revere as only here do you find the “real American.” 
The position of saucier in the kitchens of old was one of the highest posts that one could attain next to being the head chef himself. He was responsible for the making of all stocks from which all of the sauces of the house were created by him. As the sommelier is to wine, he is to the sauce from which many times they worked together to create.
     It takes a man or woman with the highest caliber of taste-buds to make the sauces which will accompany all of the dishes of the house. If the sauces lack that special touch, the dishes will fail but if they’re successful, the customers will be gratified and will return time-and-time again.
     Now the saucier doesn’t make all of the sauces of the house, the Pantry Chef makes the common things like the tartar sauces and other mayonnaise-based sauces, the cocktail and the horseradish sauces as he also makes many of the basic salads used by the house and garnishes (see next chapter- “The Pantry Kitchen”). The saucier creates the veloute and Béchamel, the special sauces based upon those basic sauces as well as the sauces of the hollandaise family and butter sauces. His touch on a dish is like the final brush-strokes on a painting that transforms it from ordinary to breath-taking!
     The saucier makes the tomato-based sauces such as the aforementioned and marinara. He will transform the veal stock or “Espagnole” as it is known in its rawest form into veal demi from which many of the sauces that flavor meat dishes are derived from. He works with the fragrances of the herb garden utilizing such herbs as parsley, chives, oregano, savory, marjoram, chervil, tarragon, rosemary, spearmint, thyme, basil and bay leaves.
     Besides making the mirepoixes, he will also work with spices such as peppercorns, allspice berries, saffron, juniper berries, mace, nutmeg and cloves. He will make the roux’s, white, blonde or dark with which to hold sauces together as well as work with lie. He will also oversee the reductions of various vinegars, wines, creams, and pastes. He will also make the pestos, hummus, and shellfish purees. And finally, if that is not enough, he will also make the dessert sauces if need be.
     Nowadays, I’m sure that position has fallen by the wayside just as baking has done. It is generally easier and less costly if the cooks in each station make whatever it is they need as long as the raw products are provided (like veal ju) and the chef monitors each on occasion in order to make sure that they meet the requirements of the house. And besides, if you really want to cut costs, there are a lot of good products sold by the big companies where all you have to do is to add the mix to water and boom! You’ve got veal demi, hollandaise, country gravy or whatever! You don’t have to do a thing except combine the ingredients together and put it on a stove in a pot. No wonder people from other countries can come here and be cooks because the directions are given in Spanish as well as English... go figure!
     Anyhow, I’m not knocking the products because they meet the needs of places that just do not have the time, the set-up, or the wherewithal to do these things. However, if you have the opportunity to dine out in the big cities at the finest of restaurants, you’ll be able to tell the difference. There’s something about the aroma, the flavor that excites the taste buds. In places like Calistoga, the restaurants grow their herbs right outside their restaurants and harvest just what they need on a daily basis, it’s really wonderful.
     Back in 1979 until I went to work at Stockdale Country Club, I didn’t really know a great deal about sauce-making. Up until that time, I’d either used instant or had someone else make it for me. Just learning how to make basic brown gravy, not even sauce was truly amazing. I had been learning how to make soups but there were gaps in what I could learn and use. Instant products were fine up until that time. As far as I was concerned, everything was OK.
     But then, I arrive at SCC in the late fall, early winter of ‘81 and boom! I’m being inundated with so many new things to learn and everybody was yelling at me, EVERYBODY! It was like a Marine Corps boot camp and I didn’t know if I would make it but I was damned determined to give it my best.
     We used instant demi there which was fine and possibly instant hollandaise, too, but every other sauce was made from scratch so I began taking notes of every kind (mental, written, whatever) so I could repeat them the next time they came up. In fact, I did very well and when I finally began to make many of the specials, I was set with my own sauces.
     Sauces are basically broken down into several different categories the first of which would be the sauces derived from animal origins such as veloute which is stock tightened with a roux which in essence forms “gravy”. Now you can either enrich a veloute with cream or make a sauce completely with dairy products and this is known as a béchamel. These two sauces are very important because it is from them that we move on to higher sauces.
     Remember the stock derived from the previous chapter, the one made from veal bones (#209). You put twice the quantity you want in a sauce pan on the stove and gradually reduce it so the flavor intensifies and then you thicken it with a brown roux or jus lie, a corn starch thickener. To give it great flavor when it’s done, add some fresh rosemary and thyme to it and let it rest 10 minutes before straining.
     NOTE- when you use a roux, you have to let it cook longer so that the flour develops and thickens it. Beware that your roux is not too stiff because you certainly don’t want lumps in it!
     So, there we are VELOUTE, BÉCHAMEL, AND DEMI. Next on the list are sauces derived from TOMATO products such as marinara and then those derived from egg emulsions like HOLLANDAISE and MAYONNAISE; and then sauces such as oriental ones that rely upon CORNSTARCH for their thickener and then finally, those based upon VINEGARS such as dressings and marinades. If we didn’t cover those in the last chapter, we will in the next. And, in the section regarding desserts, we’ll discuss sauces related to those as well as any other items related to those like sweet cream and whipped cream.
     The first thing we need to discuss regarding sauces is the thickeners we’re going to use. Traditionally, sauces are 1) created through reduction, 2) roux (flour and oil), 3) corn starch or 4) other things we won’t discuss here because we normally don’t employ them in the professional kitchen or at least I haven’t seen them in the 29 years I’ve been around!
     1) REDUCTION- reduction is a method whereby something is reduced upon itself such as a demi until it needs to be tightened with a little cornstarch and water (lie) for a velvety sheen or heavy cream until it is half as thick when you began so that if you’re adding it into a dish it thickens immediately.
     Reduction also works well with vinegars and wines because it allows you to concentrate flavor without excess volume. A reduction of balsamic vinegar and sgr would give you a sauce that you could employ from a squeeze bottle that would more-or-less hold its shape on an entree of something like pan-seared salmon.
A reduction of wine would add power to a demi already thickened with lie that would add concentrated flavor to good effect.
     2) ROUX (pronounced “rooo”): It is important to know that the idea behind the flour-fat mixture we know as “roux” has been with us since 1651 when Francois Pierre La Varenne, “The Father of Classical French Cuisine” published his cook book, the monumental Le Cuisinier Francois. Up until that time the idea of roux as a combination of flour and fat, generally butter but many times salad oil (modern times) as not all of us are as dedicated as some in the culinary world. For wonderful advice on roux, please see “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen Cook Book” published by Morrow Books 1984. The man is a wonderful man whom I hope to meet some day and have the honor of dining at his restaurant, “K-Paul’s” in New Orleans.
     What I consider to be a white roux is one in which melted butter or salad oil is combined together and not cooked. It is used for dishes for which you want a light-colored sauce. Generally, I make my roux’s of equal parts although sometimes I make them thinner which is called slurry because you just pour it in. You do this if you’re concerned that your dish might get lumps in it, say as if you’re making a stew.
     A blonde roux is one that I cook over low heat stirring frequently so that it begins to brown lightly, a tannish color. When it has reached this state, it’s ready to work with or put aside for use later. Please note that all of your roux’s can be refrigerated for later use as they last for quite a long time.
     The third roux is my dark roux which I cook for a long time over very low flame, stirring almost frequently. There is another way that you can do this and that is by putting it in the oven, pan-and-all at 350 F and just letting it cook, stirring occasionally. This is a good way to achieve proper results without having to stir it every second. This roux is used for my darker sauces although the other ones can be as well in a pinch.
     If you begin to notice black particulate matter in your roux, pull it off the stove top and let it cool. Then, dump it out and begin again because the previous batch burned. In the course of my work, I find it handy to have some of each made because now that the saucier’s position is basically being done by the line cooks, the sous chef or chef, one has to be ready!
     One interesting point brought up by Chef Prudhomme is that Cajun cooks use light roux’s for dark meats and dark ones for light dishes. He says in this way that the roux’s compliment the dishes because dark meats are seen as heavy, dark and somewhat bitter to paraphrase him while the light white meats which are sweet are complimented by the darker roux. Now, I, myself have never done this but we must applaud him for being the great chef that he is, perhaps as brilliant as Auguste Escoffier, “Chef to Kings, and King of Chefs”, the Father of Modern French cookery
     However, I will guide you as to what roux I would use so we’ll all be on the same page together. Now, the last thing we’ll discuss is 3) Cornstarch and its role in the kitchen. Cornstarch is made from the endosperm of the corn kernel and is very useful in the kitchen. From thickening pie fillings to sauces, it would have been impossible to get along without it. It basically was a God-send!
     There are thickeners that restaurants employ that are even better called CLEAR GEL which doesn’t get lumpy when refrigerated and a sauce stays the same whether it’s hot or cold. However, it’s made from animal by-products and vegetarians can’t eat it just like they can’t regular Jell-O or instant puddings or whatever. But, in the kitchen, it is simply marvelous in making everything from oriental sauces and glazes to fruit pie and cream pie fillings.
     I am definitely a chef of unorthodox ways which tends to get me looked at in funny ways but what the hell, screw ‘em is what I say.
     The issue of combining a liquid with a roux is not always an easy one so what I do is to scoop the roux out of the sauce pot and into the bowl of an electric mixer and then treat it as if I were making an emulsion- slowly drizzling in the liquid bit-by-bit but speeding it up as the roux incorporates it. In this way as I mix on medium speed, I can guarantee a perfect sauce, combined well, with no lumps.
     Then, I pour the sauce through a chinois and back into the pot where I finish cooking it. Heck, I don’t care, let them eye-ball me but you know what? It comes out perfect every time!
Well, there you go: the ground floor of the Saucier Chapter and tomorrow, we’ll begin diving into recipes.  Like always, you are in good hands and we aim to please. Now I can go back to bed and then it will be time to go to the hotel bar!  Bye!
Thank you!
James “JT” Tobiason
Professional Baker, American Baker’s Association, ACF, CWC

END Commentary for Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by “JT
Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.
This original essay was written by the one-and-only JT.
“Stinky” of the Elemental News of the Day for the best of the news, politics, sports, foodservice, hotel and restaurant business, the end times, the end of days, the apocalypse, armageddon, and whatever else happens to pop up!


This is #1193, a 16" x 20" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, "Panning for Gold." It's among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!
Web Pictures I
This is a scene of the Pacific Ocean from the boardwalk of the Miramar Hotel in the 1970's when the Magnolia Hilltop Brewers used to vacation there whenever they took a break from gigging in Kern County. Santa Barbara, California, is where the Miramar Hotel is located.

This is an acid trip photo taken on 03-08-1977 featuring one of the bandmembers alone in the wilderness contacting UFO's.

This is a photo of Brian Carrick on the road on 01-04-1977 somewhere in western Kern County. 

This is a photo of Jimmy Hall on 05-28-1977. He took the place of Randall Kyles who retired due to marrying his lovely bride, Debbie Kyles and starting a family. Jimmy was one hot guitarist and used to play with a band called Dynasty Rock in Bakersfield, California.
This is a shot of guitarist Randall Kyles on 04-09-1976 live in concert fronting the Magnolia Hilltop Brewers.

This is a photo of MHB bassist, Victor Gaona, on the road from one gig to another on 01-04-1977. Victor was a great bassist and could play any song and sing them as well.

                              Candied Parsnips at the Stockdale Country Club in 1987.


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