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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Culinary Class Final -- The Perfect Egg


Eggs are the easiest ingredient to cook because they are so versatile and cook easily at a low heat. Obversely, they are one of the most difficult to cook well for two reasons: because they become leathery when overcooked (at temperatures above 180 degrees), and because the egg yolks solidify (cook through) at 149-158 degrees whereas the whites solidify at 144-149 degrees--meaning that theoretically, the temperature should be exactly 149 to cook the entire egg evenly. (read the Discover article on the perfect boiled egg). Incidently, if you see green around the yolk of a boiled egg, it was cooked either at too high a temperature or too long. The green is from hydrogen sulfide in the white interacting with iron in the yolk and will give off a "rotten egg" smell.
So, no wonder our culinary class final was to make a French rolled omelette, cooked through evenly, with no browning on the surface and seasoned well--a measure of our pan control and seasoning ability. We also had to demonstrate our knife skills with brunoise, julienne and dice. The most difficult is the large dice. Try making several 3/4" cubes from a carrot with perfect 90 degree angles and identical size! For those who are interested, here's the method to make the perfect French omelette (no browning or crispiness on the outside as many American omelettes are made): whisk 2 eggs with a tablespoon of water (not milk or cream as the fat inhibits the protein in the egg from encasing water in the omelette--which gives the moistness to the finished product), adding salt and pepper (and herbs if desired). Coat the bottom of your pan with oil and pour off any excess, heat it so the eggs will sizzle when added--no sizzle means the eggs will stick, stir the eggs with a heat resistant spatula and fold the edges in towards the middle. When the eggs are starting to set but still moist, "paint" the eggs across the bottom of the pan so the layer is even, then cook carefully--taking the pan off the flame and putting it back on to maintain a low temperature until the egg is almost set through. Lift one edge of the omelette and roll it up and onto a plate. Let it sit for a minute to complete cooking. When sliced in half, their should be a pinwheel pattern of the rolled eggs and the eggs should be moist but cooked thoroughly.
Thanksgiving leftovers are delicious! Wrap them up in dough, bake and serve with a rich Syrah.
Empanadas with Thanksgiving Leftovers:
Pastry for Empanadas:
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter
1/4 cup cold water
In a small bowl, mix the egg and extra yolk slightly, using a fork. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or two dinner knives (cross the blades so they act like scissors), cut the butter into the flour until the butter bits are less than 1/4" across. Mix in the egg with half of the water, mixing quickly with the fork until the dough just comes together, adding the rest of the water as necessary.  Knead quickly on a floured board, only to incorporate all the ingredients. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Making Empanadas:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap the dough. Spread out the plastic wrap and pat the dough flat. Put another piece of plastic wrap on top, then roll out the dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut into 6" circles using a cookie cutter or lid. Put leftover turkey, dressing, gravy and/or cranberry sauce in the middle, leaving 1/2" border of dough around the edges. You can also use a good melting cheese instead of gravy--like cheddar or Gruyere. Fold the dough in half and press the edges together to seal. If the dough is not sticking together, paint a bit of water or milk in the seam, then seal. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Serves 4.

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