How To Fry An Egg

There are so ways that you can go spectacularly wrong with an egg, even after you’ve chosen the perfect specimen. But there can be nothing more satisfying than tucking into a perfectly prepared egg atop a slice of Ancient grain toast.

In this simple video I walk you through the essential steps for starting your day sunny side up. I recommend that you watch and study the video several times before attempting the actual procedure.

Good luck!

 

For more of my instructional videos visit Bryce Chartwell on YouTube.

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How To Cook A Lobster

The Joy of  Lobsters:

 There’s nothing more satisfying than sucking the last gobbet of meat from the skillfully disassembled carcass of a fresh lobster. Unfortunately some people remain wary of preparing such a feast, intimidated by either the steps needed to prepare it or the panoply of equipment needed to eat it. Such concerns, in my opinion, are hugely overblown. With a little bit of care and attention fresh lobster can become a welcome addition to your list of everyday recipes.

 

 
Basic Cooking Steps:
  • Select your lobsters with care – avoid specimens with any hint of asymmetry, a roving eye, or a lack of enthusiasm.
  • Prepare your workspace ahead of time – you’ll need two pans, a large cutting board, and an extra-large pair of tungsten seafood tongs.
  • Fill each pan with triple-filtered spa water, add a pinch of salt, and boil vigorously.
  • Lower each subdued, but still live, lobster into the first pan – the so-called live pan.
  • After about fifteen minutes transfer the lobsters deftly with your tungsten seafood tongs to a second pan of boiling water, the so called dead pan.
  • Continue boiling the lobsters for about another two minutes until they are completely cooked. Wait until their shells reach a deep red – pantone #fb551c
  • Remove, drain and serve immediately with an extensive array of tools.
Variations on Basic Theme:
Several variations claim to calm the lobsters prior to cooking. This can help to improve the overall taste and mouthfeel of the seafood:
  • Lobsters Labrador – For Canadian lobsters only. Cook the lobsters over a wood-burning stove and in the presence of a large, docile dog.
  • Lobsters stevedore – Lift the lobsters into the live pan pan using a specially designed lobster harness. Empirical evidence is sketchy at best on the merits of this technique.
  • Lobsters toreador – A Spanish variation, though acceptable for lobsters from all points of origin. Hold a kitchen towel in front of the pan to shield the lobsters from their impending fate. Swiftly pull back the towel immediately prior to introducing the lobsters to the boiling water.
  • Lobsters troubadour – Appropriate for French and French-Canadian lobsters. Play soothing background music in the presence of the lobsters for at least thirty minutes prior to their termination. Smooth jazz or Gregorian chants apparently produce the best results.
A Few Words On Steamed Lobsters:
  • Some people prefer their lobsters steamed – an approach which I personally abhor.
  • In the hands of anyone less than an expert  like myself, this method can produce a mottled lobster with a flaccid, rubbery texture.
  • In my opinion you should avoid this method at all costs.
Closing Remarks:
With a little practice and attention to detail lobsters can make a regular appearance on your household dinner menu. I personally try to eat them at least once a week – I hope you will too.

How To Enjoy A High-End Restaurant

As the owner of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most exclusive restaurants I’m often asked how you should prepare for an evening of fine dining. It’s obviously in everyone’s best interests for the experience to go well. The last thing I want is to interrupt your dinner with a harsh word in your ear. Or, if things get out of hand, to have to forcibly eject you from the restaurant through a side entrance.

The advice I give applies equally well to any high-end dining experience – it all comes down to these five simple rules:

1. Be Punctual and Patient

Running a tight ship at a busy, high-end restaurant takes incredible operational skills and flexibility. The most important thing you, as a guest, can do is turn up on time. If you know you’re running more than three minutes late then let the restaurant know immediately so that they can try to accommodate your abject tardiness.

After you arrive you should appreciate that things can still go wrong on the other side of the maître d’. Even the slightest perturbations in the preparation of individual dishes can have an utterly unpredictable effect on the restaurant’s overall dining schedule. I’ve written about this so-called Butter Fry Effect elsewhere. Suffice it to say – you need to stay patient until seated.

2. Dress Safely and Appropriately

If the restaurant has strict guidelines for attire, as we do at The Last Parsnip, then you should study them carefully and abide by them at all costs. Seemingly minor requirements can mean a lot to a given establishment. For example, appropriately starched shirt collars may seem like a trifling detail to you, but to me it is a critical component of our overall ambience.

When a restaurant declines to offer a specific dress code then it is best to plan ahead. Gain whatever intelligence you can before arriving – by carefully scrutinizing photos of the restaurant online or by quizzing previous guests. The following are generally helpful recommendations:

  • Avoid discordant colors that are at odds with the restaurant’s décor. Color clashes, when extreme, can produce spectacularly unfortunate reactions from other diners.
  • Avoid materials that generate high static charge in a typical restaurant environment (reference the Tribolectric Series). At all costs never wear rabbit fur with plastic seating – the results can be catastrophic.

3. Study The Menu Beforehand

Take time to study the menu online before arriving – and commit as much to memory as possible. The benefits of such preparatory homework are twofold:

  • As the guest, you will feel more confident about your evening, and will be comfortable in your menu selection ahead of time. Dismissing the menu as an unnecessary encumbrance with a casual flick of the wrist is a guaranteed way to impress your waiter.
  • For the restaurant, better-educated guests mean more efficient dining. Also, better preparation reduces the risks of an ignorant guest claiming that the dish “just wasn’t what I expected”. With a smartphone in hand there simply is no excuse for confusing bucatini with perciatelli.

4. Prepare Adequate Conversational Gambits

Any elite restaurant lives and breathes by the ambience that it creates – with a healthy susurrus of conversation being a critical component.

As a guest you should invest carefully in the following:

  • Take time to research the members of your party. What are their likes and dislikes? Personal weaknesses or failings? Do they have “missing time” on their resumes?
  • Prepare notecards to act as aide memoires throughout dinner. Consult them discretely as needed.
  • Use incendiary remarks sparingly but effectively. Almost all successful evenings require at least one.

A top flight restaurant will generally abhor the vacuum of conversational silence. At The Last Parsnip we constantly monitor the overall noise level in our dining area. When it dips too low we introduce background chatter of a suitable conversational quality through our in-wall speaker system.

5. Eat Correctly

My last piece of advice concerns eating etiquette. Remember, exquisite food should be consumed with exquisite care. The last thing you want is a faux pas with your foie gras.

These are just some of the essential techniques to consider:

  • Always angle a soup bowl away from you when spooning the food, and never aspirate for more than two seconds.
  • Stir your coffee clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, never more than twelve times.
  • Capture spaghetti with a fork in your right hand and a medium-grade spoon in your left. Maintain a counter-clockwise rotation of the fork when inserting it into your mouth to avoid unwanted drips.

 

I hope these simple but effective tips help you when approaching your next night of fine dining. Remember, it’s all down to preparation. If things go horribly wrong and you’re asked to leave then you’ve most likely only got yourself to blame. Enjoy.

How To Choose An Egg

Cooking with eggs is one of life’s simple pleasures – right up there with spatchcocking a Cornish Game Hen or pit-roasting a Highland Cow.

However you plan to prepare your chef d’oeuvre the first step is always to select your eggs with extreme care. Creating the perfect dish is made all the more difficult if you start with shoddy materials.

Steps:

1. Packaging Distribution: Open up the egg carton and carefully review the placement of eggs within. Ideally you should choose eggs that are evenly distributed both laterally and vertically throughout the packaging. This ensures that the effects of any tipping and / or bruising in transit are minimized.

2. Aspect Ratio: The precise dimensions of your chosen egg will make a significant difference. Using Vernier calipers, measure the height and breadth of your egg several times. Average out each set of measurements and then calculate the ratio of height to breadth. For best results you should always look for a so-called “Golden Egg” – one whose dimensions approaches that of the Golden ratio.

3. Circular Consistency: When viewed from above your egg should be a perfect circle – lacking any obvious bumps or dimples. Place your egg inside a small circular container such as a measuring cup, and then take a photo from above. A careful visual inspection should then be sufficient to weed out any eggs that are suspiciously deviant in this regard.

4. A Balanced Posture: As a final step place a small amount of Kosher salt in the base of your measuring cup. Place the egg with minimal adjustment onto the salt and observe its natural posture. Any eggs that have a tendency to tip should be discarded immediately. However, those with a natural inclination away from the vertical of more than ten degrees should also be shunned.

Tips:

  • Expect to reject approximately 65% of any store bought eggs.
  • Always look for eggs with an even distribution of color and a pleasant hue.
  • Never use eggs that have been jostled or mishandled in transit. Avoid eggs whose carriage has included traveling on a bicycle, riding on public transport of any kind or crossing over a cattle guard.

Following these easy steps will allow you to approach your egg-based dish with confidence and enthusiasm.

How To Toast Bread

Many novices simply don’t have a clue how to prepare a slice of toast. At best their naive fumblings produce an undercooked and over-buttered mess. At worst they can permanently damage their taste-buds and ruin any high-end kitchen equipment.

In this short video I guide you lovingly through the best way to produce perfect toast every time.

For more exceptionally helpful instructional videos visit Bryce Chartwell on YouTube