From the Executive Chef at Arnold House Nursing Home
Hello everyone, my name is Dennis. I am the Executive Chef at the Arnold House Nursing Home. I have worked for the Arnold House for over five years. My everyday challenge is, “How can I make every dish more enticing for the elderly residents I serve?” Please enjoy Part 1 of Cooking for our residents at Arnold House Nursing Home.
The fragrance of food and how important it is to stimulate the elderly to eat.
It is easy to make a dish so much better with aromatics and which is often overlooked. Just the smell alone intrigues people. Not only is smell and taste but appearance is very appealing to the eye. Who doesn’t like being asked what is that wonderful smell in the kitchen or how did you make that garden salad look so out of this world. Let’s get cooking!
The first thing I learned in Culinary School was making a roux. Simple, equal parts fat, equal parts flour. The next step was mirepoix French for 50 percent onions, 25 percent celery, 25 percent carrots. Then it was sachet of spices, a cheesecloth of fresh herbs and spices. Just those 3 things alone have endless possibilities.
We will start with roux, not an aromatic but very important for a base of flavor. No more corn starch! Save that for your tennis shoes! The most important part of making a roux is to remove the starchy flavor of flour. A tan color for light gravy’s and chowders. A dark color for your jambalaya and brown gravy’s. But be careful the darker it gets the hotter it is, known as the “Kitchen Napalm”.
Next is mirepoix, ah the things you can do to with these vegetables to improve any dish. I love when I get asked how you got that dark roasted taste with your Chicken gravy or did you get that color by using Gravy Master, Absolutely not! I use 50 percent Onions, 25 percent Celery, and 25 percent Carrots, which equals 100 percent flavor! I personally use 2 methods sautéed in butter or good olive oil or just roast them in oven. Remember the darker the color the robust the flavor. Just the smell alone will bring people to your kitchen table.
Finally we get to the herbs and spices. There are 2 methods of doing this one is called sachet French for bag it’s a cheesecloth wrapped in butchers twine tied to a pot of stock, soup or gravy. Its contents usually contains garlic, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley sprigs and thyme. The twine helps because it is easy to remove for the taste you are going for. The other way is called bouquet garni which really made from herbs with stems like parsley, leeks, celery. Thyme sprigs, basil and bay leaves tied to butcher twine to the pot. With doing this you upped your Beef Stew or Tomato sauce with your grandma’s recipe.
Next in part 2 I will break down the different types of aromatic cooking and the regions it is used. Plus the many herbs to knock out the next time you make that roast beef, roast poultry or fish. No more uneventful salad’s either.