Category: troubleshoot recipe

16 Dec


Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live – How Many People Burnt their Eyebrows Off Last Night?


How many people burnt their eyebrows off last night? I’m referring to the Flambé lesson taught last night on Fox from Gordon Ramsay in his new television cooking show called Cookalong Live.

Gordon Ramsay’s: Cookalong Live – is a cooking show where Chef Ramsay “teaches” home cooks across the country how to follow along and prepare a three-course meal in 60 minutes. Kind of like Rachel Ray meets the Amazing Race with a dash of fireman? You had to see it.


In Gordon’s own words in an intro video;

“it doesn’t matter if you’ve never cooked before, because I’m going to be with you every step of the way.”

I have a LOT to say about this statement and this show but I’m going to hold back to hear from our cooking school students to see what they thought first. Tomorrow we will post links to skill & technique videos related to this menu because we certainly didn’t see much teaching happening on this show. Is cooking really that easy?

Cooking is very much about temperature and technique. Like driving, you need to have driving skills. Similarly, the cooks and chefs from your favorite restaurants have cooking skills and have mastered basic cooking techniques to ensure that you get that perfect meal delivered to your table. Try throwing a ten year old behind the wheel with no driving skills and let’s see if Gordon can talk him through to ANY destination. No offense Gordon. You are unquestionably an amazing chef. But let’s teach America – and you know what I mean.

In the first course from this show, there were a number of very critical steps that if not executed well, would lead most home cooks completely off the success path. As an example, what if your pan was too hot and you over-browned the garlic? I can tell you right now, you’d have a very bitter end result. Don’t believe me? Try the first exercise from this lesson on sweating. Learning simple cooking skills and techniques, like how to properly sweat ingredients, can and will completely turn your cooking around, yet few even know how important this is.

In the second course – great dish – but how do you know if the pan is the right temperature? How much oil do you add to the pan? How do you know when to turn the steak? What’s searing? What’s a crust? How do you get a nice crust? How do you test the steak for doneness? How… how… how… and most important why are all these things important and how does each step (technique) impact the next step?

I really hope that everyone in our ‘Rouxbe’ world understands that all these little things are important to driving success in the kitchen. It’s these simple things that separate good cooks and chefs from home cooks that think that following a recipe without skill & technique is the path to better cooking. Amazes me.

You might be interested to know that professional cooking schools do not – for the most part – teach recipes. They teach cooking skills & techniques.

For more reading see:

Recipes – The GPS of Cooking
The Biggest Misconception in Cooking: Millions in the Dark!

UPDATE: Here is the link to the follow up post, along with supporting recipes, for the Gordon Ramsays’ Cookalong Live Show.

12 May


Ya Win Some – Ya Lose Some!


With so many fresh vegetables starting to appear, I was inspired to try a couple of different recipes. Awhile back, I saw a recipe for braised radishes and shallots. In my head, I thought, “this could be interesting”…

I really like radishes and have never had them cooked. They were easy to prepare and fairly quick to make, but in the end, I didn’t love them. Even though I knew that braising would soften the texture, they didn’t meet up to my expectations. They also looked like yummy baby red potatoes, so when I bit into them, my taste buds were actually anticipating something quite different. It’s amazing how much we eat with your eyes.

Next, I tried a recipe for roasted kale. I love love love kale and I am always looking for new ideas. My favorite ways to eat kale are either lightly sautéed or braised. Here is a delicious and easy recipe for Braised Kale.

Now, this recipe for roasted kale said to lightly coat the kale in extra-virgin olive oil and a bit of salt and roast for about 5 minutes. Then re-toss and roast for another 10 minutes. In my gut, I didn’t have a very good feeling about it; but, I thought by some soft of magic, the kale might actually turn into some kind of delicious kale chips. Instead, imagine kale that had been left out to dry in the hot sun for at least 3 weeks…and that was only after about 5 minutes of roasting. So sorry Mr. Kale!

In the end, dinner was still yummy, but I will not make either of these side dishes again. It is always good to apply basic techniques to various ingredients to see which suits your taste buds best. For some I suppose that the roasted kale might be nice. Sometimes you can hit the jackpot and sometimes you can fall quite short. It’s how you really learn about ingredients and the world of cooking.

What about you? Are you adventurous in the kitchen? Or do you just stick with what works and don’t vary things up a whole lot?

Ciao for now


25 Jan


Recipe Critical Points #1: Lemon & Parsley Chicken


Okay… now that we’ve released a lot of lessons in the Rouxbe Cooking School, it’s time to start applying what you’ve learned to troubleshoot recipes (without even cooking them). If you follow this series, we promise you that it will soon become so obvious to you why recipes just don’t work for everyone (even the very best of recipes, from the very best chefs).

The following recipe comes from a very popular unnamed book. It’s probably a super recipe, but there are a number of inherent trouble spots that might slip up the less experienced home cook. And to all you Rouxbe Cooking School students, as you now know, it’s all about technique.

Have a look at the recipe and method below and tell me where one might have some troubles. By talking about this, you’ll start learning how to avoid simple common mistakes that could greatly impact your final recipes.

Lemon & Parsley Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken breast fillets, halved lengthwise
Cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra oil for sauce
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the pepper and add to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes each side or until browned. Add the extra oil, capers, chili, lemon rind and garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the lemon juice and parsley. Serve with a rocket (arugula) salad.

The goal of this series is to help you break-free from following the “do this.. do this.. do this…” kind or recipe instruction that we’ve been programmed to follow for a very long time.

Let’s see how sharp you are. For bragging rights… :-)…

Related Article: Millions in the Dark.


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