Kai with soul

Last updated 08:48 20/02/2013
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ANDY JACKSON
Bill Ratu prepares sweet corn, green bean & fennel Salad.

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The school year is in full swing; the boys are back into the school routine and in the hospitality department we are getting them back into thinking about how things work in our little part of the school.

This year Adi and I are trying to shift the boys' attention from the end result (the eating) to the work they do before they start cooking. Once these skills are learnt and practised, they will provide the boys with more fulfilment than just having a feed. How are we going to do this? We are focusing on their " mise en place". Mise en place is a French term that translates to "everything in its place" - that means the work they do before they start cooking.

The best example of mise en place is that of Jamie Oliver in his 30 and 15-minute meals series. The way he can achieve the results he does is because of the preparation he does before he starts cooking. This prior preparation includes things such as reading and understanding the recipe, having the right equipment and having all the ingredients ready to go.

This prior preparation is not only relevant to cooking, but other professions too. It can also be adapted to all aspects of our lives. Imagine how smooth those school mornings can be when the lunches are made (by the kids) the night before, the school bags are packed and the uniform is ready . . . you may even get another 20 minutes in bed!

One thing that we are trying to instil in the boys is that mise en place is more than just a term to remember; it is a mindset that once perfected will enable them to produce quality results. With the popularity of the subject growing, kitchen space is at a premium. It is essential that the boys learn techniques that can not only save time, but also allow them to work in the most economic fashion they can. The steps that we expect the boys to follow are: Read and understand the recipe

Collect and measure all ingredients

Prepare the work area. This means ensuring they have all the equipment they need and that any unnecessary clutter is away

Preheat the oven or any pans that are required.

Peel and cut, open and unwrap all ingredients and place in appropriate containers ready to be used.

Once these steps are complete, the cooking process can start. We encourage the boys to clean as they go to maintain a clean and tidy work space.

In those homes where the young chef is cooking for the family, instilling the importance of prior preparation in them at an early age will make the experience more enjoyable and they will feel empowered to cook more. So parents, I urge you to let the young ones into the kitchen and encourage and guide them to practise mise en place and I promise the experience will be the start of a great cooking journey.

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The recipes I have chosen for today all require a relatively high level of mise en place. The spring rolls call for a lot of knife skills at the beginning and then once the filling is cooked and wrapped, they are able to sit until they are required to be cooked at the last minute. The chicken parmigiana is a family favourite of ours, where the crumbing of the chicken breast can be done well in advance and goes well with a variety of sides. The fresh corn and green bean salad makes the most of the vegetables that are in our gardens at the moment and once the vegetables are prepped, is a simple and tasty dish to put together. When you are trying these recipes, or cooking your next meal, remember your mise en place. The more you can do before you begin cooking, the easier and better the cooking .

Content provided by Aaron Lock.

Fresh Corn and Green Bean Salad

1 fennel bulb

2 tsp brown sugar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 fresh corn cobs

250g green beans

1/2 cup olives

1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup parsley

For the dressing:

2 cups basil leaves

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp mustard

1 garlic clove

juice of half a lemon

1 cup vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Mise en place

Salad:

Trim the roots from the fennel and thinly slice.

Marinate the fennel with the brown sugar and lemon juice.

Remove corn from husk.

Precook corn.

Trim and blanch beans.

Cut kernels off corn.

Halve cherry tomatoes.

Roughly chop parsley.

Dressing:

Measure all ingredients.

Salad: Layer fennel, corn, beans, olives, cherry tomatoes and parsley in a serving bowl.

Dressing: Combine all ingredients, except for the oil.

Using a stick blender, slowly poor in oil to emulsify.

Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle over salad.

Pork & Vege Spring Rolls

1 tsp sesame oil

75g pork mince

1 spring onion, chopped

2 tsp fresh minced ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp soya sauce

2 tsp sweet chilli sauce

1 1/2 cups finely chopped green cabbage

1 small carrot, grated

2 tsp cornflour

cup mung bean sprouts

4 spring roll wrappers

Mise en place

Thinly slice cabbage

peel and thinly slice carrots

Preheat frying pan

Turn on oven to 200C fan bake

Crush garlic clove

Mix cornflour with water

Line baking tray with paper

Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan. Add the pork mince and spring onions. Quickly stir-fry until the pork colours. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add soya sauce, chilli sauce, cabbage and carrot. Continue cooking until the vegetables soften.

Stir cornflour mixture into the pork and vegetables with the mung bean sprouts. Remove from heat, season and allow to cool.

Take 1 spring roll wrapper. Place a quarter of the filling in the corner. Fold in the sides to encase the filling and roll up tightly, sealing the end with a little cold water. Place seam side down on the baking tray. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Brush liberally with oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crispy, turning once during cooking.

Chicken Parmigiana

1 egg mixed with a little milk

75g breadcrumbs

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast

jar of pasta sauce (or homemade if you have it)

50g cheese (preferably mozzarella, but whatever is in your fridge)

2 slices ham

Mise en place

Cut chicken in half lengthways.

Crumb chicken.

Grate cheese.

Preheat frying pan.

Preheat oven to 180C bake.

Gently fry crumbed breast in frying pan with a little oil and butter until golden brown on both sides, but only half cooked.

Put chicken breasts onto oven tray.

Lay ham on top of the breasts, cover with pasta sauce and top with cheese.

Bake until cheese has melted and chicken is cooked through.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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