Monday, October 15, 2018

Do You Know the Secrets to Building the Perfect Burger or Sandwich?

With the new school year well under way, and the repeated task of packing of kids lunches again, got me thinking about sandwiches. When you make sandwiches (or even burgers for that matter), do you fly by the seat of your pants? Simply throwing together ingredients haphazardly between bread/buns, or is there an artform about it? A mapped-out procedure, if you will? No, I don’t work as a sandwich artist for the popular submarine sandwich chain. This is just something I have learned over the years.

This technique I am about to share with you has been tried, tested and true. I have experimented many times over with numerous ingredients, in different combinations, and my steadfast rules are accurate. These steps will have you making sandwiches and burgers better than you have ever done before. Now these rules won’t apply to simple kids’ sandwiches (like peanut butter & jelly, and such), they are meant for more ‘complete’ sandwiches. Read along and you will understand. If you are vegetarian or vegan, I will apologize in advance that I have not included your preferences in this scientific breakdown of layering ingredients.

Most sandwiches and burgers consist of a bread top and bottom with a meat protein in-between. The
secret lies in the placement of all the other ingredients. Should you place them below the protein, or above the protein?

My unwavering criteria for perfection are simple: strong tasting ingredients should be placed below the protein, while light and creamy ingredients should be placed above the protein. But why, and how does that make a difference? Isn’t everything just chewed up in our mouths anyway and make for the same intermingling of flavours regardless of how it was assembled beforehand? Not exactly. We have a myriad of taste-buds located on different areas of our tongues and they do not all pick up the same flavours. That’s the best way I can describe it from a chef’s perspective.

Now when I say ‘strong tasting ingredients’ I mean stuff like ketchup, relish, mustard, barbecue sauce, onions, pickles, hot peppers, etc. Anything that has a strong, overpowering, or pungent flavour. These should be placed below the protein.

‘Light and creamy ingredients’ would include lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayonnaise, etc. and should be placed above the protein.

I know I have only included handful of examples of each type of strong, or light and creamy ingredients, but I think you get the point. With anything you are wanting to place inside a sandwich or burger, I simply want you to decipher it into these two simple categories and place it as stated. Trust me, it will make a huge difference.

Not a believer? Then put it to the test: build your sandwich or burger as I have suggested and take a bite. Then cleanse your palate with a drink of water, turn the sandwich upside down and take another bite. You will find that the first bite just tastes better.

I also have one more important tip for you: if you are adding lettuce and tomato, make sure you season with salt and pepper – it makes a world of difference as well. This is not the time for table salt however; I want you to use a pure salt (kosher, sea, Himalayan pink, etc.) because in raw applications like this, table salt will taste too chemically directly on your tongue.

Until next time... Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Day 9 of 9 "Spoons & Tunes": Nashville, Memphis & New Orleans

I'm a little bit late posting this blog entry - I got home very late last night, so I haven't had a chance until now. However, it was an uneventful day of traveling, so I guess that is good news! 12 of us flew
home together on 2 flights - the first one to Denver, and the second to home in Vancouver. The remaining 8 guests decided to stay an extra day and are making their way home today.

Like I mentioned, yesterday was uneventful... well except there was a strong, but brief storm that came into New Orleans yesterday morning. Thunder, lightning, wind, hail, name it! I could see Royal Street from my 11th floor room and it was completely flooded as the storm drains were all back up and overflowing. Very briefly I was concerned about getting to the airport. However, it seems that for the most part these storm bursts are brief, and it was sunny and hot again before too long.

We said goodbye to our Tour Manager Derek at the hotel and then said goodbye to our driver Alvin at the airport - they were great and really complimented the 2018 Chef Dez Culinary Tour.

Both of our flights were on time, we said goodbye to each other once landing, leaving with great memories to cherish from this incredible trip to Nashville, Memphis, & New Orleans!
Don't miss out on next year's 2019 Chef Dez Culinary Tour to Portugal - we would really like for you to join us! Click HERE for a detailed itinerary, and until next time... Happy Cooking!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Day 8 of 9 "Spoons & Tunes": Nashville, Memphis & New Orleans

Coincidentally our second day in New Orleans was today and it is also our second last day for the 2018 Chef Dez "Spoons & Tunes" Culinary Tour... bit that didn't leave us singing the blues (we did that in Memphis) - we had a lot to do today!
The first thing on our agenda (after the included hot breakfast buffet at the hotel, of course) was to board our coach and head out of town to the swamps of Louisiana.

Included in the itinerary was a fully guided swamp cruise to see alligators and other wildlife, and it didn't disappoint.

We were warned:

The swamp was beautiful with all the different types of trees and the Spanish moss hanging from all the live oaks.

Our first run in with any wildlife was a blue heron:

...but then we travelled farther and found... more birds:

...and an airboat (also known as a fanboat):

...and natural gas:

But we traveled even farther until we came across...


And here are more photos and videos from our swamp adventure:
They were using marshmallows to entice them.

Yes, we even got to hold a baby alligator!

Here's me eyeing him up for the stewpot! (ok, just kidding!)

And here's an albino alligator they had at the store when we returned. Yes, it was alive!

Then we headed back to the city of New Orleans.

The rest of the afternoon was a free day so I went for a walk...

...until I came to the famous Café du Monde:

There I met up with Carol & Kathie from our tour group for Beignets and Café au Lait. Amazing!

I then strolled the streets and went to the fresh air market for some last minute souvenir shopping.

That evening at 5pm we had a group meeting where we drew for the grand prize of a Large Big Green Egg (complete with stand, shelves, and accessories totaling $1900) through the Official Chef Dez Scavenger Hunt. And the winner was Gay H.!

Our group was then treated to a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking hosted by their Chef Ricardo and Yours Truly:

We then headed to Bourbon Street as a group so that on our last night of the tour we could treat everyone to a jazz show and some beverages! I had a hurricane and I think all drinks taste better on Bourbon Street. Check out my Facebook pages for some video from Bourbon Street and the Jazz band.

Afterwards we all headed back to the hotel to turn in for the evening. Tomorrow will be our last official day of the 2018 Chef Dez "Spoons & Tunes" Culinary Tour as we prepare to make our way back home. Goodnight...