Composed Cauliflower Soup: The Completed Dish

In a previous video, I demonstrated how to make a cauliflower soup base. In this video, we will complete the dish by presenting what is called a "composed soup," where the garnishes are placed in a bowl and the soup base is poured table side.

Related Posts

The list can go on, but instead, what are your ideas? How can you take fresh pasta and turn it into your own unique dish? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of our ongoing Completed Dish Video Series, which shows you how to combine multiple techniques into a restaurant quality dish. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.



Methods of Cooking and Technique: How to Choose?

The most important decision one can make in their kitchen is which methods of cooking to apply to any given product. It doesn't matter how expertly a cooking technique is executed, if it's the wrong technique for the end product, you'll never achieve a good result. For example, you would never braise a filet mignon or steam a beef short rib. Understanding how different cuts of meat or even vegetables react to heat and time will allow you to make an informed decision, choosing the best method of cooking to apply; an understanding which is the very foundation of the culinary arts.

The best way to choose a cooking method is to start with the product you want to cook. If it's a protein, you must ask yourself this one question; "is this a tough cut of meat, or a tender cut." Generally speaking, a tough cut of meat will be cooked using a "low and slow" method, which is necessary to break down the chewy connective tissue "collagen." Yet if a tender cut of meat is cooked using a "slow style" method, it will almost always dry out, turning a once tender cut into shoe leather.


Further Information

For more posts just like this, check out our ongoing Cooking Techniques Video Series. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

How to Make Basil (Herb) Oil

Flavor infused oils are a great way to add colorful contrasts and interesting tastes to a dish, especially as a last minute garnish. When making your own oils infused with the essence of a fresh green herb, you'll be walking a fine line between extracting the most flavor and color, and completely breaking down the chlorophyll molecules which will give an off taste and appearance.

In this video I demonstrate a great method for extracting both color and flavor using basil, yet this technique will work for any green herb including parsley, cilantro, tarragon, oregano, mint and marjoram, just to name a few.

The standard ratio used in this video is:

  • 3 parts neutral flavored oil (canola) to...

  • 1 part blanched basil leafs and stems

It is always preferable to use a neutrally flavored oil that will not overpower the fresh flavor of the herb being used.

Further Information:

For more posts just like this, check out our ongoing Kitchen Prep Video Series. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

How to Prep English Peas

It's spring time which means English Peas are now available. This quick video will show you how to prep and blanch English Peas which is a necessary step before adding them to salads, sautes or applying a secondary cooking technique.

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For more posts just like this, check out our ongoing Kitchen Prep Video Series. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

How to Peel Pearl Onions

Here's a quick video that will teach you how to peel and blanch pearl onions. Once prepped, pearl onions make a great accompaniment to many saute dishes.

You Might Also Like

For more posts just like this, check out our ongoing Kitchen Prep Video Series. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

Pancetta-Parsley Sourdough Bread | Video Recipe

This video takes our Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe and adds parsley and pancetta. It's great served lightly grilled with a little olive oil, topped with piece of sliced tomato and basil or for grilled cheese.

For a scalable recipe with instructions, click here.

Further Information

Tools Used

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.


Eastern European Style Sourdough Brown Bread | Video Recipe

For a scalable recipe, please visit our Sourdough Brown Bread Recipe Page.

In this video we’ll be making one of my new favorite breads, an Eastern European style brown bread. This bread has a unique, complex flavor that comes from the addition of coffee, molasses, fennel seed, caraway and balsamic vinegar, just to name a few (oh yeah, did I mention the cocoa powder?).

This is one of those breads that really benefits from the use of a sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast because of how natural yeast responds acid. Commercial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, doesn’t like super acidic environments. In fact, it’s most comfortable between a PH of 4-5. Its natural cousin (Saccharomyces exiggus) thrives in acidic environments, which is why sourdough bread (in the sense that it tastes sour) is actually possible.

So in this video, we’re not only using the natural sourdough starter to add depth of flavor to the brown bread recipe, but it is also better suited for the task of leavening, as compared to its commercial counterpart, because of the added acidity derived from the coffee, balsamic vinegar and molasses.

Methods and Terminology

If you are unfamiliar with the methods and terminology used in this recipe, please review the following audio lectures and videos tutorials before attempting. Once you understand the core curriculum linked below, this bread recipe and future ones will be much more achievable.

Alternatives To Using A Poolish Starter

This recipe benefits from the use of a sourdough starter because the natural yeast is much more resilient to acidic bread doughs (created in this recipe by the addition of vinegar, molasses and coffee). If you really don't want to use a poolish starter, mix the sponge ingredients together the night before as instructed in step one above, but add an extra 50g of bread flour and 50g of water along with 4g of instant or active dry yeast. Allow to ferment overnight and continue recipe as instructed.

Recommended Tools For This Recipe

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.



Fresh Pasta Pappardelle with House Cured Pancetta and Fava Beans | Video Recipe

I'm really proud to present this video because it's a long time in the making; not necessarily the completed dish itself, but all the fundamental cooking techniques required to actually execute this dish properly. When the thought struck to start a cooking "blog" (back before I even created FCS), I originally intended to chronicle advanced cooking techniques from a working chef's perspective.

Yet wanting everyone to be able to play along at home, I was concerned that I would constantly have to stop and explain that "the reason your knife cuts aren't accurate is because you need to use a professional pinch grip and utilize your guide hand properly." Or "your pan reduction sauce isn't turning out because you skipped a couple key steps in the stock making process and then later the reinforce and reduction stage.

So instead of jumping straight into advanced cooking topics, I realized it would be helpful to lay down a base curriculum, that started with the basics and progressed much like culinary school would. This is what led me to start podcasting, originally with The Free Culinary School Podcast, which latter morphed into this site, StellaCulinary.com.

What excites me is that for literally years now, as I've preached and posted off and on about technique being king and creating your own recipes. This pasta dish illustrates a new "baseline" of where we'll be going in the future. This isn't a recipe, but more of a collection of recipes and techniques brought together to create a delicious completed dish that I would be proud to serve to a paying customer. But more importantly, this video illustrates how you yourself can combine the techniques covered in our video tutorials and audio lectures to find your own unique style and develop your own creative recipes.

That is what Stella Culinary is all about.

Here are the techniques used in this video:

Just to illustrate the versatility this pasta dish allows, here are some ideas:

The list can go on, but instead, what are your ideas? How can you take fresh pasta and turn it into your own unique dish? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of our ongoing Completed Dish Video Series, which shows you how to combine multiple techniques into a restaurant quality dish. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.



How to Make Fresh Pasta | Video Recipe

In this video I will be demonstrating how to make fresh pasta from scratch. Once this technique is mastered, there is literally no end to the infinite variations you create upon this simple theme.

A Note On Flours Used For Fresh Pasta

In the above video recipe, I use 00 Pasta Flour, which is a finely ground "soft" style of wheat flour predominately used in Northern Italy when making fresh pasta. In Southern Italy, hard durum wheat is preferred, but other forms of flour are used in various regions or by creative chefs including rye, buckwheat, barley, rice, chestnut and chickpea. However, these less traditional flours are usually used in conjunction with durum, semolina (which is derived from durum) and 00 flour to enhance the fresh pasta's flavor and texture.

If you cannot find 00 pasta flour, a national brand of AP flour can be used, yielding decent results.

Ingredients Used For Fresh Pasta

  • 9 oz 00 Pasta Flour

  • 6 oz Whole Eggs (both measurements are by weight)

In this video, the flour and eggs are weighed out on a digital scale to give the "pasta newbie" an accurate starting point. However, once you get comfortable with making pasta, the ingredients can generally be "eye balled." A good pasta dough should be stiff yet workable enough to roll through a pasta machine. Also, depending on the type and style of pasta being made, some or all of the egg can be replaced with water, olive oil can be added for flavor and extensibility, and other flavoring agents like fresh herbs, spinach, vegetables juices and squid ink can be worked into the dough for unique, creative flavors.

How To Make Fresh Pasta

  1. Mound measured flour onto a clean work surface and form a well in the center of the flour so that it resembles something similar to a miniature volcano.

  2. Pour eggs into the center of your flour well, break yolks with the tines of a fork, and scramble eggs while slowly drawing in more flour from the surrounding mound.

  3. Use a bench scraper to form into a rough, shaggy dough, cutting the flour into the eggs.

  4. Mound dough together and knead for about 2 minutes until a stiff, cohesive pasta dough is formed. If the dough is sticky or tacky, dust hands and work surface with additional flour and continue to knead until a proper, stiff consistency is achieved.

  5. Wrap pasta dough in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. This will allow for the flour to fully absorb the moisture of the eggs and the gluten strands to hydrate and relax, making the overall dough easier to work.

  6. After resting, unwrap pasta dough from plastic wrap and cut into halves or quarters, depending up how big you work surface is. Remember, a small piece of pasta dough can easily become a long, unmanageable sheet once rolled to its finished thickness.

  7. Dust a single piece of pasta dough on both sides with flour and pass through the rollers of a pasta machine set on it's widest setting, usually number one. Fold the pasta back on itself, and continue to roll through the widest setting, each time folding the dough in half, and continue for 12-14 passes or until the sheet of pasta dough becomes "spring and silky" (see video above for a better visualization).

  8. Continue to pass pasta dough through your rollers and after each pass, crank the dial on your pasta machine down by one click (thickness) and continue until the desired thickness of your pasta dough is reached. For more delicate pasta, roll dough as thin as possible. For pasta that needs to hold up during longer cooking, roll sheets a little thicker, and use a harder style of flour like durum.

  9. Cut pasta into sheets (the length of which you want your finished noodle to be), dust sheets generously with flour, stack, gently roll and cut noodles into desired thickness (please see video).

  10. Cook pasta immediately in boiling, salted water for about 1-2 minutes. Pasta water should almost taste as salty as the ocean.

Helpful Tools For The Amateur Pasta Maker

External Pasta Making Resources

For more posts just like this, check out our ongoing Kitchen Prep Video Series. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

What Is Pancetta and How To Make It | Video Recipe

What is Pancetta?

What is pancetta and how is it made| Video RecipePancetta in its simplest form is salted and cured pork belly that is native to Italian Cuisine and loved throughout the world. Commonly referred to as "Italian Bacon," pancetta's major difference from it's American counterpart is its lack of smoke. Pancetta is commonly flavored with different seasonings and spices, with each region of Italy, (and chef for that matter), having their own preferential spice blend. Common flavorings include, but are not limited to, black peppercorns, garlic, fennel seed, nutmeg, red chili and coriander. I prefer some less traditional flavors when making my own pancetta at Stella, and so far, the pancetta police hasn't come-a-knockin'. Here's my take:

How To Make Pancetta

Just with any other culinary pursuit, before one even gets started making pancetta, you must first acquire the highest quality products possible. This is even more imperative when making charcuterie, especially a simple form like pancetta, which doesn't have smoke or prolonged cooking to hide the protein's inferiority if bought from a low quality source. Make sure you purchase pork belly from a reputable farm that raises happy pigs, preferably organically fed and all natural (meaning no hormones added). In fact, one of Europe's biggest secrets to their wonderful charcuterie is their happy, fatty pigs.

Unfortunately, the US pork industry had a multi-decade identity crisis, attempting to breed the fat and flavor out of our pork, in a futile attempt to compete with chicken. You can be the most skilled charcuterie expert in the world, yet if you start with an inferior piece of meat from a poorly raised animal, you may as well be attempting the Starfleet Academy's Kobayashi Maru if you're still expecting to produce a tasty piece of pancetta.

Also, while we're on the subject of ingredients, please make sure that your dried spices are fresh. Just because they're dried doesn't mean they have an indefinite shelf life. If your spices came in a pack of 20 that was given to you as a gift two Christmases ago, you might want to look into buying some new spices.

The spices and flavorings that I use in my pancetta recipe are:

  • Black Peppercorns

  • Star Anise

  • Coriander

  • Fennel Seed

  • Mustard Seed

  • Orange Zest (definitely not traditional but I like it)

  • Sometimes cloves

  • Sometimes garlic

  • Sometimes nutmeg

The spices really can be mixed to taste, using your nose as a guide. Toast spices in a dry pan until they start to release their essential oils and become aromatic. It is mainly this aroma that will be flavoring your pancetta. Grind toasted spices into a fine powder, making sure you have enough to sprinkle on the bottom side of your pork belly with the majority left over to generously rub into the fat cap as shown in the video.

Now that your are spices ready to go, it's time to talk about salt. Whenever making any type of charcuterie, I prefer to use kosher salt, which is designed to easily adhere to pieces of meat. This makes it ideal for the curing process. To the kosher salt you'll be adding some type of sodium nitrite, whether it be pure sodium nitrite or some sort of curing salt mix that is nitrite cut with sodium chloride (standard salt) to make it easier to measure.

As I demonstrate in the pancetta video, I prefer to use pure sodium nitrite, mixing it with kosher salt as needed. This allows me to easily adjust my nitrite levels from batch to batch, as needed for different charcuterie projects. My formula for the curing salt I use in this pancetta video is:

Kosher Salt Weight X .002 (.2%) = Sodium Nitrite Weight added to my kosher salt.
-For Example-

1,000g Kosher Salt X .002 = 2g Sodium Nitrite. Mix kosher salt and sodium nitrite together and you have your curing salt.

A word of warning; 4g of Sodium Nitrite is considered a lethal dose. This is why many charcuterie books recommend you buy pink curing salt, cut with regular salt and died pink. This makes it easier to measure and less likely that an unsuspecting family member will mix it up with the table salt when taking the initiative, (just to prove that miracles do exist), to fill the family salt shaker. But to put this into perspective, maybe during a full moon at the end of February in a leap year, my entire pancetta recipe will contain 4g of sodium nitrite. This means you will have to consume an entire side of cured pancetta to kill yourself. My humble conjecture is, if you consume a whole log of pancetta in a single sitting, sodium nitrite is the least of your concerns and in a weird twist of irony probably won't kill you because you're body is obviously acclimated to substantial forms of abuse.

If using pink curing salt, Michael Ruhlman, author of Charcuterie, recommends every 450g of kosher salt be mixed with 50g pink curing salt (that's 11% pink salt based on the baker's percentage). For more information on Ruhlman's Pancetta Recipe, see the external links section at the end of this post.

what is pancetta and how do you make it

Now that you understand the finer details concerning salting and spicing, the rest of the process for making pancetta is fairly straight forward. Take your happy, well produced pork belly, rub it with toasted and ground spices, and generously salt both sides. Place in your refrigerator and allow to sit in salt mix for about 7-10 days. I prefer to press my pork belly with weights during the salting process, but this is just a matter of taste and it will lead to a slightly saltier end product that is more shelf stable. See video at the top of this page for more information.

After the salting period, the pork belly (which is now technically pancetta), is thoroughly rinsed under cold, running water. Most forms of pancetta available in the United States are rolled, as demonstrated in this video recipe, but that is not always the case. Once rinsed, some people prefer to stick a string through one corner of the pancetta and hang as is. Whether or not the pancetta is rolled is purely a matter of taste and style.

At this point, the pancetta will need to be hung in a cool, dark place with moderate humidity for at least 2-4 weeks before enough moisture has evaporated to intensify the "porky" flavor and make it a finished product. Some forms of pancetta can easily be cured for 3 months or longer before serving.

At Stella, I simply hang the pancetta in my walk-in refrigerator, which has a temperature of around 36°F/2°C, and a relative humidity that hovers around 70%. Generally speaking, an ideal "curing room" is about 60°F/15°C with 60% humidity; at least when hanging pancetta. There are three main things that can possibly ruin your pancetta during the hanging process; temperatures over 70°F/21°C, extreme humidity (both high and low), and direct sunlight.

The temperature will allow for harmful bacteria strains to grow in or on your pancetta, but if using salt mixed with sodium nitrite this is fairly rare. What's more common is that the high temperatures will cause the fat in your pancetta to go rancid, as will direct sunlight. If your humidity is too high then the pancetta will never "dry out" or "cure" properly, and if your humidity is too low or non-existent, then the surface of your pancetta will become dry before its interior moisture can evaporate.

Devoid of temperature and humidity extremes, pancetta can be hung in a cool place out of direct sunlight for the 2-4 weeks required for proper curing. After that, loosely wrap finished pancetta in plastic wrap and store in your refrigerator. If properly stored, you're pancetta will last at least three months in the fridge. If the cut end oxidizes and turns grey slightly, simply trim and discard, and continue to serve as normal.

More Stella Culinary Resources

Home made pasta with pancetta

External Resources (For Pancetta Lovers!)

For more techniques, recipes and information, check out our ongoing Charcuterie Video Index. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.
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