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Thursday, June 21, 2012

“Soup Seminar, Pt. XXXI: Cream of Spinach Soup—Elegant Cuisine at its Ultimate Best” by Chef James “Jimmy” Hall



Today, we continue offering albums by one of the all-time greatest rock bands to have come out of Los Angeles in the 1960’s—SPIRIT! Please go to Amazon.com and buy their FIFTH album, “Feedback.” This album was the first after the break-up of the original band and the ONLY one without Randy California—he had left and formed his own brief solo band. The band featured two outsiders and keyboardist John Locke and drummer, Ed Cassidy.  It’s of interest to fans of the band but probably to no one else. Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.  


COUNTDOWN TO THE END OF THE MAYAN CALENDAR…


Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 185 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!



STINKBUG 2012





Chef James “Jimmy” Hall

END Commentary 06-22-2012

Copyright © 2012 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 1,795.



AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CULINARY POLITICS



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Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Friday, June 22, 2012 by Chef James “Jimmy” Hall

SOUP SEMINAR, PT XXXI—CREAM OF SPINACH SOUP

 Soup Seminar, Pt. XXXI: Cream of Spinach Soup—Elegant Cuisine at its Ultimate Best” by Chef James “Jimmy” Hall

Auguste Escoffier: Master Chef, 1846-1935, the “King of Chefs and Chef of Kings.”

Bakersfield, CA, 06-22-2012 F: Good morning, friends, today is Friday, we’ve made it through the dreaded “Hump Day” and have come through with shining colors. I’m also excited as I mentioned the other day that we are doing SPIRIT albums as they are one of the greatest bands to have appeared on the Los Angeles music scene in the 1960’s, second only to the Doors, and continued on for decades longer until the death of Randy California.  A great band, they were a hell of a live act and defined what a power trio is and should be.  The album today is an interesting one as it is the ONLY Spirit album NOT to feature Randy as the band had more or less broken up and like all bands, they still owed their record company one more record.  So the ones that were left were joined by some other musicians and put out a subpar album but one that is still of interest to fans and collectors.  I suggest that you go out and buy it via taking the handy link to Amazon.com and snapping up the one priced right for you!   

Today, we commence our weekend journey with a cream soup that is among the classic ones: Cream of Spinach.  All of these came to us from the annals of the great French chef, Auguste Escoffier, the so-called “King of Chefs and Chef to Kings” who was born in 1846 and died in 1935.  He is the Father of Modern French Cuisine and Culinary thought and even though somewhat discredited nowadays due to the new emphasis on lighter cooking and less sauces, the dishes aren’t seen as much as once they were.  Still, those among you who wish to become great culinarians need to know how to make all of these things, as without the proper skills and knowledge, you will never go as far as you should or could.  Here’s our soup:

(#589) CREAM OF SPINACH SOUP



Cream soups are a sign of elegance and are often seen in fine-dining situations.  For the chef, they’re a great way of utilizing leftover, less-than-perfect vegetable(s) that need to be moved.  This is the perfect of all soups—yes, it sounds harsh to the uninitiated ear but soup is a great way for a chef to use up whatever it is, he or she has on hand.  The restaurants and other foodservice establishments that BUY their soups, frozen, canned, or pre-made are actually wasting money because (1) they tend to throw out more material than is used and (2) waste money buying something they can easily make.  Therefore, the places that make fresh soups every day will always have customers waiting to get in.  

Yield: about 2-quarts / Mis-en-place: 8 hours / Cooking Time: 30 minutes. 




Qty.
Measure
Item
Other
2
Cups
Chicken broth

1
Piece
Bay leaf

2
Cups
Heavy cream

.25
Cup
Bacon drippings

.25
Cup
Melted butter

1
Cup
Diced celery

1
Cup
Diced yellow onions

.5
Cup
Diced carrots

.5
Cup
Diced green bell peppers (stemmed, seeded, and de-ribbed)
.25
Cup
Diced leeks

.75
Teaspoon
Kosher salt

3/8
Teaspoon
White pepper

.75
Teaspoon
Ground coriander

3/8
Teaspoon
Whole thyme

3/8
Teaspoon
Dry mustard

1
Pinch
Sweet basil

2
Cups
All-purpose flour

2
Cups
Whole leaf fresh spinach, chopped (steamed 5 minutes; then rinsed and patted dry with towels to remove excess color).
.25
Cup
Softened butter

.125
Cup
Freshly minced parsley flakes
Rinsed
Spanish paprika




Method:

1.      Mis-en-place: have everything ready with which to work! Note: cream soups need to be as white as possible when completed; if not, they’re not professional.  The mirepoix vegetables will show up and that is desired as will the primary vegetable but what we don’t want is—in the case of spinach—excess color so it’s important to remove as much of that color as possible.  Steam and chop the spinach and then (1) squeeze out as much excess color under cold running water and (2) press the remainder. 

a.      Take the cooked spinach, tie it up in a stout cloth, and then twist it into a knot.  Hold the knot underneath cold running water and twist as tightly as possible—taking care to not burst the cloth!—until as much excess color has been rendered; then, place it into a colander and cover with plastic wrap.  Place a weight of some sort atop it and leave in the refrigerator overnight with a drip bowl underneath.  The next morning, whatever residual color is left will have been removed and it will also be fairly dry—this is perfect for cream soup (or any other recipe that calls for spinach in a cream sauce).

2.      The next day at soup time, combine the first THREE ingredients together in the top of a Bain Marie or double boiler atop a medium-high flame—heat up.

3.      Place a rondeau or other heavy-bottomed saucepot over a medium flame.  Spray it with PAM or with some such other food release spray.  Add the bacon fat to it and heat it up.  When it’s sizzling, add the vegetables and the seasonings and braise over moderate heat. 

4.      Cook until the vegetables are tender and translucent and the air is aromatic with the scent of cooking veggies, herbs, and spices.  When the vegetables are, add the flour and stir it in with a spoon.  Cook—stirring constantly—over moderate heat until the soup’s roux has tightened up and is somewhat “fluffy”—the roux is now ready.

5.      Raise the heat on the cream, stock and bay leaf to a boil and then when it is, raise the heat underneath the roux.  Pour the liquid into the roux—whisking constantly and furiously—until it’s incorporated and has thickened up.  Lower the flame to medium-low and allow it to cook, removing the floury taste and developing the soup. 

6.      This is the important part of roux-based soups: cooking the roux.  It is important that it be allowed slow development over moderate heat as this will add increased flavor, make it stronger, and will rid it of the floury aftertaste.  If it’s too thick, add more cream and stock to obtain the proper consistency. 

7.      Finally, re-chop the spinach and then blend it in with the butter.  Allow the spinach to be dispersed throughout the soup while the butter will enrich it.  When it’s done, taste it and readjust the flavorings as necessary and then serve it in either individual soup bowls or cups OR in an elegant soup tureen at the table. Be sure to accompany with hot French bread and butter.  Garnish with parsley flakes and paprika.

8.      Leftovers should be poured into a shallow pan or baking dish and placed atop a wire rack to cool.  Spray a sheet of wax paper with PAM and place the sprayed-side-DOWN atop the soup to prevent the formation of an unattractive skin. 

9.      When cooled to below 45°F, the lower end of the Danger Zone for foods, transfer it to a sanitized airtight container and equipped with a tight lid.  Label, date, and refrigerate.  Cream soups generally remain “fresh” for 1-2 days and after that should be tossed out so always make sure to use them before the end of the optimum time.

This is one of the all-time great classic cream soups, much loved and desired in fine-dining situations.  Keep the recipe handy, as it will be used repeatedly.

--------------------------------------------

As always, we have a great time around here and that is why we want all of you to become a part of the organization by submitting articles to us for inspection and full-credit.  It is a great thing if you would do this, as it’s a symbiotic relationship: we give you the space to share your recipes and in return, you send us more and more people who will become dedicated followers of the END.  Currently of multi-diversity across the Internet, it is important that the voices of more and more people from all walks of the foodservice profession are heard—join us. We urge our readership to write to us, leave comments, and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it’ll be fun! Expect that when all of us have run through our cycle, we will be introducing some brand-new talent or so I’m told.

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

We are on the downhill slog of our week together and I’m looking forward to the future: I guess I will return sometime in November, which will put me here prior to the big day of December 21, 2012.  If the world isn’t destroyed at that point, then I will be back in the spring of 2013, I mean, who could ask for a better work arrangement than what we have here at the END?  I urge all of you who might be interested in writing for the blog to get in touch with Moses Scharbug III via the PO Box address listed on the blog.  We would like to give others the opportunity to be heard and to reach the culinary world that envelops the planet. Food has become a passion for so many people that it is difficult to discount its effect on the whole.  Who cares about elections, the nation’s problems, and whatever else is going on when we can enter the kitchen and whip up a recipe?  The culinary life is a good one and we all function together in peaceful harmony.                                         

Anyhow, let us close with this impassioned plea—please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by SPIRIT and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com—we want to make some money here so help us out by buying something!  We are allied with them and are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!  

Thank you!

Jimmy Hall

James Hall

Cook III, CWC, ACF, CA273 Santa Barbara ACF chapter and HI033 Maui Chef’s and Cook’s Association

______________________________________________________________________
This is me as a chef during the 1980's when we took a group photograph for a Chefs de Cuisine yearbook. At the time, I was working at a hotel in Bakersfield, CA, down on Union Avenue. It was still somewhat nice and the area was still the original "restaurant row" of the city. I am now in my sixties and am working over in Santa Barbara, CA, as a food and beverage director for a country club.

Chef James “Jimmy” Hall writes from Santa Barbara, CA.
---30---

The END Commentary for Friday, June 22, 2012 by Chef James “Jimmy” Hall

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.

REFERENCES:

The one-and-only Chef James “Jimmy” Hall writes this original essay.



Recipe created by Chef James “Jimmy” Hall on May 21, 1983 in Bakersfield, CA.

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BUY “FEEDBACK” BY SPIRIT ATAMAZON.COM NOW!






The Chef’s Culinary Nightmare: the end is indeed coming soon so beware of BOTH November 06 AND December 21, 2012!

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