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BN Cuisine with Chef Fregz: Dial-A-Chef Now

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Salut a toutes!

In the past two weeks I have been very busy. We had the filming for the Knorr Tatse Quest Re-Seasoned (Season2) where I am a judge on the show. Calabar was great, Abuja was great as well. I can’t wait for you guys to see the auditions and the whole show.

This week, I wanted to draw back a little and give a small “class”. I am going to try to answer some questions I get asked – especially in the comments. I thought to play the Prof role today and teach rather than cook. Do not worry recipes would be back in no time.

Olive Oil or Extra Virgin Oil

This is a question I think I get asked everyday. These days, people want to change their diets so changes like the oil they use in their cooking changes and everyone hears “extra virgin olive oil is the best” and jump out and buy gallons of it. They end up having it as kitchen decoration. Why? because they hate the “taste”.
Now, Extra Virgin Olive oil is really the first oil from the first press of the olive. Hence, it is a very strong pure oil that has a high concentration (although least acidic 0.8%) of that grassy kind of lemony taste. It is usually cold pressed and thicker than the regular olive oil. It is also more expensive than regular olive oil too.
Then there is the Virgin Oil that’s not blended with any other oils and has a higher acidity up to 2%. It is best for garnishing and not so much cooking. The third press with some pomcae oil gives you your plain olive oil that can withstand a bit more heat in your fry pan and does not have such a strong flavour.
Extra Virgin Olive is good for your skin, hair and making the best salad dressing or making delicious dips for dunking bread, poultry or even meat in.

Cooking-With-Extra-Virgin-Olive-Oil-Is-a-Not-a-Very-Good-Idea-Specialists-Explain-Why

Olive oil is also a good vehicle for making flavoured oils. A personal favourite is garlic and rosemary oil. Very simply, heat the oil to a point where is hot but not scalding hot. Throw in a few bashed cloves of garlic and a few springs of rosemary. Leave to infuse in a warm place till it cools down completely. Let it stand in the fridge for about a day. After that remove the garlic and keep in a jar with some of the oil and reserve in the fridge and discard the rosemary sprigs. This oil you can use as a final touch to your pasta dishes, toss with some potatoes for roasting. You can use it for sautéing vegetables and making great dressing as well.

Olive oil also works in some cake recipes and these days Olive oil makes its way to things like Olive Oil and Balsamic ice-cream. Pierre Herme makes an amazing Vanilla and Olive oil macaroon.

Grilling or Frying?

Plantains… Grilled or Fried What Team do you play for?

Again in the light of eating better/healthier everyone is trying to “cook better” so we are trying out best to restrict our deep frying to scared things like “Dodo” and puff puff (I swear I haven’t had those in ages). So, we have turned to grilling, especially as shallow frying sometimes can even be worse than deep frying. So grilling wins.

Grilling is essentially using less oil and very high heat to cook meat or vegetables. A grill pan or griddle pan are ridged or have lines that are slightly raised that way the oil goes to the bottom of the pan and the heat from the ridges do the cooking. They give off line grill marks and a near smoky taste. I personally like grilling meats like a rib eye or rump steak. Vegetables like Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Fennel, Cucumbers, Aubergines and Tomatoes are excellent!Again toss these vegetables in some flavoured olive oil salt and black pepper and place on the grill.

Then there’s also pan grilling when you use a flat surface little oil and place on the grill part of the oven which is usually the top. This method is great for fish and poultry like chicken and turkey.

Pasta: To Stick or Not To Stick

cooking_perfect_pasta

cooking pasta

This is one question I think I would forever be asked. “Chef Fregz please how do I stop my pasta from sticking?” I know some remedies offered – from using too much oil when boiling it to adding butter. My issues with that is people tend to add to much oil or butter and it’s such a slippery mess to place in your mouth and the edges of your mouth constantly need a napkin. So what’s my solution?
The Pasta Water.

Whatever pasta you’re making, you need lots of water. Then you may add a drop of olive oil and the water must be salted well but not a poisonous saline solution. When you have boiled the pasta al dente or however mushy you prefer, drain but RESERVE YOUR PASTA WATER. That is your solution. Pasta water is the one thing that naturally keeps pasta separated. Also you need to keep the pasta water hot. If you have a bowl of pasta that has sat for too long, just heat up the pasta water and use a few serving spoon to rejuvenate the sticky pasta. You could do this in a pot on a high heat to give the a “just out of the pot feel”

However, if you need to serve pasta way in advance. I would recommend you cook the pasta very “al dente” so when you reheat the pasta it’s just perfect.

*al dente literally translates to “to the teeth” this is when pasta is cooked but not to a really soft consistency.

Where Do You Get That?

I won’t say I am slightly tired off people saying there’s no “this and that” in Nigeria. I wonder why they ask when they refuse to go out and check for what is out there. Apart from the fact I did two posts on sourcing produce and ingredients, I still have people who ask the same question. I assume it’s never going to go away. {Click here to see the posts previously}
I will add that you can get some powders and spices you may not find here on places like Amazon and find a freight forwarder who would ship it to your doorstep. You can also beg a friend or family member to bring it in for you. Right now some of my favourite places to get fresh vegetables is a store opposite Ecobank on Idowu Taylor Victoria Island here in Lagos. I also have L’epicerie and La Pointe where I get all the really fancy vegetables like yellow zucchini, charolais beef, scallops, quail, fennel, rocket and wasabi paste.

These stores also stock amazing wines! Shop Perfect in Ilupeju on Ade Akinsanya Street is my best place to get spices and coconut milk prices are the best! The market in Jakande is great for Asian produce things like Bok Choi and loads of spices like sesame oil and sichuan peppercorns. It’s after the third roundabout in Lekki. Make a right after the pedestrian bridge right after KFA Event Centre. You can ask for directions by the side of the market-there’s also a wide array of art work there.

For the health food people, my joint right now has to be So Fresh on Awolowo road. It’s opposite the Yinkabodyline Store. Almond Milk to Moringa Seeds and loads of fresh smoothies are available there. They stock a lot of pomegranate, fresh herbs and fruit and vegetables also. They have loads of oils as well from coconut to flax seed to canola oil. They also stock raw brown sugar and loads of seeds and nuts.

If you still need to ask for something please do!

What Wine Can I use To Cook?

I also tend to get this a lot. The hard and fast rule is “if you can’t drink it don’t cook with it.” But people beg to differ. They insist that it must read “cooking wine” on the label… err no! My rule is buy a cheap wine that tastes great but not the top of the range stuff and cook with that. I use wines that are about a thousand Naira to cook. Occasionally I find great tasting wines for as low as eight hundred Naira deepening on what part of town I am in!

I know someone is about ask “Must I use red wine for red meat only and white for white meat only?” Again it’s the basic rule but not the ultimate value to live by. You can make a red wine gravy for example and serve it with a “steaky” fish like Giwan Ruwa or Grouper or Cod.

You could also make a beef stir fry and add a splash of white wine for that Sao Xing Rice wine Asian Taste even of you do not have the authentic stuff. Most chefs would recommend a dry sherry for that. I mean there’s the classic Coq Au Vin French dish where chicken is cooked in red wine so it’s almost a myth that red wine must only go with red meat and white wine with white meat. Please go ahead and experiment in your kitchen!

And yes if someone thought to themselves can I use a Rosé to cook too? I would say yes but let’s keep it to desserts.

You can poach some pears in a rose with some sugar and Vanilla Pod and serve with some Strawberry Ice cream and some chopped Kiwi and Mint.

This pear was poached in some red wine. Vanilla Ice cream is a friend here. You could also macerate some berries in the wine for a grown up touch to desserts.

Here’s a Strawberry Granita with cherry liqueur and rose wine to further buttress my point

Lastly,

How Do I Cut Onions Without Crying

Quite frankly you would always cry. A sharp knife is one of the best remedies.

However, my complete solution is just to peel and throw into a food chopper. If I’m doing a bigger batch I use my Kenwood food processor. There are also ways people claim you would not cry when chopping onions e.g

1. Soaking the onions in salt water for a few minutes
2. Lacing the chopping board with Vinegar
3. Breathing with your mouth while cutting

Again, I strongly suggest a sharp knife and a processor!

If you do not have time for this, just have your serviette or napkin handy close to you to dad away your sulphur induced tears.

Please if you have any other pressing questions please send to features(at)bellanaija(at)com

A quick shout out to Seun who emailed asking for a recipe for a sauce for Christmas to go with Chinese Rice well below is a small idea…

This my some pork ribs I marinaded with the following

Teriyaki Sauce
Sesame Oil
Chilli Sauce
Five Spice powder
Onions
Ginger
Garlic
Rice Vinegar
Fresh Chillies
Fruit Chutney
Char Siu (Red Chinese BBQ Sauce)

The rack got steamed for about 30 minutes then went into the oven covered in foil for 15mins at 190 degrees Celsius. Then I removed the foil and cooked till its started to brown. I also kept basting it with the juices that flowed from the cooking. As the liquid dried out a bit more I glazed it with the Char Siu BBQ sauce for that final stamp of sticky goodness. You could decide to add some more chilli throwing some chopped vegetables and add water and thicken with cornflour and have sauce instead to go with your rice!

I would still do a rice and a sauce recipe for the Christmas posts but I thought I should start with that.

Try and Turn Up in your kitchen this weekend!

Bonne Weekend!
Ciao!

Photo Credit: www.dimasharif.com | www.kidspot.au | www.blogs.usda.gov| www.flickriver.com | www.eatboutique.com| www.collegerecipecafe.com| Adebayo Rotilu for Twelve 05 Foodography

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Chef Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste. He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more visit www.cheffregz.com.Chef Fregz provides premium private catering services. For bookings and orders email [email protected] @Chef_Fregz on Instagram and Twitter. You can check out the Chef Fregz Page on Facebook as well.

Chef Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste. He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more visit www.cheffregz.com. Chef Fregz provides premium private catering services. For bookings and orders email [email protected] – @Chef_Fregz on Instagram and Twitter. You can check out the Chef Fregz Page on Facebook as well.

10 Comments

  1. Robin Hood

    November 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    For the love of Food. Every time I read your pieces, i feel like going to the kitchen.

  2. Don'tcare

    November 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I’m hungry!!!!

  3. Tiki

    November 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Ooooh Chef Fregz! I’ve been cooking on a gas plate for the better part of my adult life, but your recipes have inspired me to get a gas cooker + oven (plus it was about damn time I started acting my age lol). Please keep the delicious recipes coming!

  4. St Catherine the Great

    November 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Put your onions in the fridge. Cold onions don’t make you cry.

  5. jinkelele

    November 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    where do u get fresh strawberries in lagos? no vex if u’ve already mentioned this.

    • gbemi

      November 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Call08086321256,they. Can even make you chocolate. Covered. Strawberries

  6. great post. I have an infused rosemary olive oil which I made with cold olive and coconut oil (both extra virgin). You loose the nutrients in extra virgin oils when you heat them. Olive oil is my favourite oil! I love the color, taste and smell. I agree its great for the hair and skin. I always mix it with all my hair n body products. and I’ll add a bit on my toast and drizzle a bit on cooked stew so it just simmers but doesnt cook.
    I heard holding your breath while cutting onions help, but i’ve never tried it. grilled dodo? im sure it doesn’t taste as good.
    themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

  7. okk

    November 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    i don’t know why chef fregz keeps writing “salut a toutes” . It should be ‘tous’ . You use ‘toutes’ when referring to only females.

    • Mo

      November 23, 2013 at 1:51 am

      Loooool..
      Was just about to write the same thing!!

  8. mia

    November 23, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Grilling plantain is one thing I love doing now. I assure you it’s healthy and can be eaten with sauce or vegetables.

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