Change of Pace and theme!

So I’ve decided I need to start keeping track of everything I’m learning at Trace.

Trace is the new restaurant opening December 9th at the W Hotel in Austin, Texas. This blog will be a way for me to keep track of notes of the day, dishes, specials, recipes, terms and new ideas.

Our Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant is coming from Daniel in NYC, which is currently rated the 8th best restaurant in the world. To say the least, in the past week I’ve learned a lot about true, high end, 3 star michelian cooking techniques. I will start with a new term.


Crash- To crash.. Through the process of cooking, keeping whatever is in your cooking vessel at a high enough heat so when you add the next item it will not slow down the cooking process.

Example: While making our tomato compote, first add rough chopped garlic and thyme with a heavy amount of EVO. Once the Thyme stops popping, remove from pan and cook the garlic until it’s slightly browned. Add in tomatoes and cook down until it becomes paste consistency (this takes awhile.) Pulse in blender or with hand blender to slightly emulsify more EVO. Add salt.

To properly Braise: Keep in mind, this is a 2 day process.  Start with heavily seasoned seared meat then a heavily pincaged (browned mirepoix with tomato paste) Mirepoix ) a ratio of 50% Onion and 25%Carrot and celery, then “crash” in your red wine. Add a small handful of flour (this will help with the Jus) Put a sheet tray on top of the mirepox-then re add your meat, bone side facing up. If you have a second layer, make the bones face down so they’re on top of each other. Add cold veal stock and make sure it’s completely submerged. Simmer until the bones just pull out. Pull the meat and let cool and cut/portion the next day. Reduce the Jus until it’s correct consistency and add to the portioned meat.

Xantham gum- A powder that adds height and thickness to a sauce. The ratio of Xantham gum to any sauce is .3% (measured in grams, generally.)

Bell pepper Coulis: This is a very simple item you can add to any dish to give tons of color, height and flavor.

4 bell peppers, rough chopped,

.3% xantham gum by weight.

Salt and white pepper to taste

Sautee bell peppers until lightly colored, puree. Add Xantham gum while pureeing. Let cool.

Grapefruit Vinaigrette-

5 grapefruits, juiced

White vinegar, 2 caps worth.

1 shallot and 1 clove garlic, brunoise.

5 fennel seeds, toasted then crushed with the side of your knife.

Salt, White pepper, Cayenne pepper.

3:1 ratio, blended oil to amount of juice.

Combine grapefruit Juice w. vinegar, garlic and shallot. Slowly wisk in oil, then add cayenne, salt and white pepper to taste.

That’s all I’ve picked up on so far over the course of the week. If I learn anything cool tomorrow, it’ll be here.


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Sausage “bolognese”

To start, here’s a helpful video I made on how to dice an onion:

A bolognese, traditionally is made with ground pork veal beef and mirepoix (50/25/25 onion carrot celery). This is made with hot Italian sausage, and the longer the sauce cooks, the better and more intense the flavors will be.

Ingredient for the sauce:

1 whole onion, diced.

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 tbsp itallian seasoning of 1Tbsp (dried) oregano and 1Tbsp (dried) basil.

2tbsp Crushed red pepper (CRP)

2 links hot Italian  sausage (skin removed)

1 medium sized (29oz) can diced tomatos

1/2  bottle red wine (I usually used Cab. sav)

2Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Other ingredients:

1 box of rigatoni

Fresh basil

Shredded mozzarella cheese.

1/2c Parmesan cheese

Sauce preparation:

In a large sauce pot cook the sausage until golden brown with no oil. Remove sausage from pan and add carrots, onion and garlic, sautee until onions become translucent. Add sausage back into pan, along with wine and tomatoes. Now the trick is letting it reduce. Cook this at a low heat, (a couple bubbles a second) for 45 mins to an hour. Don’t add the salt until it’s ready. Here’s a picture of how far I reduced the sauce:

In a separate pot, fill with about a gallon of water and 1/4 cup of salt.

Salted water for pasta should taste like the ocean, it’s the only way to flavor the pasta itself. Once the water has been brought to a boil, add your pasta and cook until it has a slight bite to it (Al dente.) Once that’s done, strain and cool the pasta. Add a little oil so it doesn’t stick. Enjoy the leftover wine, too. 🙂

To finish: Once your sauce has been going for about an hour, take it off the heat and add your salt to taste, followed by your pasta and parm. Throw it in a casserole dish and top with mozzarella. Put it in a oven and bake until the top is golden brown and heated all the way through.

To serve: Simple scoop out, tear up some of the fresh basil with your hands, put it on top and enjoy!

The cheese wasn’t browning fast enough so I put it under our broiler for about 1 and a half mins:

Final product:

And finally, the plated product:

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Hello world!

Introduction/First dish: Spicy Udon Noodles.

Hi there everyone. My name is James, and I’m a professional cook working my way to chefdom. I’ll be posting things from where I work, new specials, and things I’m cooking at home! Everything from home that’s not too complicated will have a recipe, things I would add to it, and what I thought of it on a 1 to 10 scale (as requested)

Last night I made some Spicy Udon Noodles with sweet peanut crusted chicken. Udon are my favorite type of noodles, super thick and made of wheat. The combination of sweet from the chicken and spicy from the noodles and sauce made this a very well balanced dish.

What you’ll need:

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 thai chili, thinly sliced

3 green onion, thinly sliced

1 onion, diced

2 bell peppers, diced. (I picked up a bag of frozen onions and peppers for a dollar at the local grocery store)

Things I would add: Baby bok choy, 1 head

1 small piece of ginger, julienne

For the sauce:

1/4c soy sauce

1 Tbsp Chili paste

2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce

1 Tsp sesame oil

1 Tsp Sesame seeds

a very small amount (few drops of) Fish sauce (Fish sauce has an incredible flavor but smells like death, so it needs to be used in a extreme moderation. I’m just starting to learn how to use it properly at Uchiko)

For the Chicken

Boneless chicken thighs

1 box of “A taste of Thai Spicy peanut bake”

Standard breading procedure (Eggwash with salt and pepper) Flour with s+p and the peanut breadcrumbs.

Cooking Procedure

Preheat oven to 450

Put on large pot of water for the noodles.

Cut your Onions, peppers, garlic and Thai chilies

Combine all sauce ingredients together in a bowl

Add chicken to your standard breading procedure First flour, lightly coated followed by the eggwash and then peanut breading. Put chicken on a oven safe pan with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven.  Cook your Udon noodles until soft, strain and cool off with water. In a large sautee pan, add Onion, pepper, garlic and chilies and cook until garlic and onion become translucent. Add sauce and bring to boil, add noodles and reheat. By this time your chicken should be done. Pull out of oven. All that’s left is plating!

I plated the noodles in a bowl, sliced the chicken and fanned it around the plate and garnished with the fresh scallions.  I really enjoyed this dish and hope you will too!

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