Cooking Basics: What Everyone Should Know
Sean Kahlenberg is a Chef-Instructor at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Hyde Park, New York, where he also earned his AOS in Culinary Arts. Additionally, he is a Certified Hospitality Educator. Chef Kahlenberg began his cooking career in his hometown of Wollongong, Australia, where he learned the trade of hospitality and restaurant and hotel management. After moving to the United States and graduating from the CIA, he worked at the famed Café des Artistes in New York City, the Commander’s Palace in Las Vegas, the Michelin-starred restaurants of Bradley Ogden and Daniel Boulud, and then became the chef de cuisine of Society Café at Wynn Resorts. After several years at Society Café, Chef Kahlenberg took the position of senior restaurant consultant and corporate chef for Blau + Associates, where he worked on projects for the Edgewater Casino, River Cree Resort and Casino, Turning Stone Resort Casino, and more. At the same time, he oversaw the operations of Simon Restaurant & Lounge, Honey Salt, R Steak & Seafood, and Buddy V’s Ristorante.
After his time traveling as a consulting chef, Chef Kahlenberg returned to the CIA in Hyde Park, where he has taught numerous classes, including Intraventure Operations. He also oversees the innovation kitchen on campus and serves as the executive chef of the school’s Italian restaurant, Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici.
01: Risotto and What to Do with the Leftovers
Rice is one of the most versatile grains in the world, and this risi e bisi, “rice with peas,” is one of the most delicious ways to use it. Among other techniques, you’ll learn how to keep the chlorophyll from turning black while cooking, how to relax the risotto on the plate for best presentation, and how to make perfect arancini with the leftovers.
02: Choosing the Best Method to Cook Vegetables
Should you peel a vegetable before cooking or not? Cook it in water or oil? Put a lid on the pot or leave it off? Add salt to the water—and if so, why? Chef Kahlenberg answers these questions and more as he begins with kitchen basics. Learn which knives you need in the kitchen and other tools you might need to add.
03: An Elegant Corn Soup with Lobster
In this lesson, you will cook, shave, and milk corn to create a delicious corn soup with julienned vegetables, an accompaniment to freshly cooked lobster. And once the lobster is cooked, you’ll learn the correct way to separate it to best access all its sweet meat.
04: Sautéed Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower
As you begin to prepare your scallops, Chef Kahlenberg shares the “secret” way chefs decide whether or not this seafood is truly fresh. You’ll also learn how to season and baste scallops to perfection. Roasted and puréed cauliflower seasoned with a white mirepoix makes just the right side dish.
05: How to Poach an Octopus
In this lesson, you’ll learn a dual-cooking method for preparing octopus—poaching and sautéing—for just the right flavor and consistency, as well as how to cut and plate the octopus. Your meal is completed with fingerling potatoes and a Spanish romesco sauce.
06: How to Break Down and Roast a Chicken
In this lesson, you’ll learn how and why to truss a chicken before roasting and the best way to season and oil the bird. Using a chef’s thermometer, you’ll learn how to manage the Maillard reaction while making sure the interior retains its juices.
07: Braising Short Ribs and Making Polenta
Cooking short ribs takes patience because it takes time to break down the connective tissue in the protein—but the result is well worth it! In this lesson, you will simmer, steam, and braise the meat before plating with cheesy polenta and delicious root vegetables.
08: Pork Milanese and the Art of Breading
Learn how to safely pound pork to create a thin, wide cutlet that will fill almost your entire plate. You’ll also learn how to bread the pork with seasoned flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and how to pan fry it, not deep fry. In addition, you’ll make a beautiful salad with suprêmed grapefruit.
09: Grilled Salmon: Breaking Down a Round Fish
Starting with a whole salmon, you’ll learn how to check for freshness; create the filets; and remove the ribs, pin bones, skin, and as much bloodline as possible. In addition to finishing the salmon on a grill pan, you’ll learn how to parch and cook quinoa for a delicious quinoa pilaf.
10: One-Dish Cookery: Coq au Vin
Coq au vin is a French chicken dish, all made in one pot. You’ll learn how to create a 24-hour marinade, braise the chicken while keeping the fond golden-brown, safely add and cook off brandy, and create the perfectly sized cartouche for oven cooking. To accompany the chicken, you’ll make a pomme purée and a garnish of onions and mushrooms.
11: Monkfish: From Bycatch to Haute Cuisine
You might think monkfish is an unusual choice for a gourmet meal: It’s a bottom-feeder formerly called garbage fish and is considered so “ugly” that it’s almost never sold with the head on. But with Chef Kahlenberg’s instruction, you will turn monkfish to a golden-brown delicacy, accompanied by a whole-grain salad.
12: How to Make Rack of Lamb Persillade
What really brings color to this meal is the bright green persillade that will coat the lamb after it has been seared in a pan and before it goes into the oven. You’ll also learn to make a caponata—a warm vegetable salad with eggplant, raisins, capers, and pine nuts—as an accompaniment. A beautiful meal.
13: Making Your Own Pasta: Potato Gnocchi
Gnocchi, sometimes called Italian dumplings, is a pasta made with flour and potatoes. Learn about a few of the 200+ types of potatoes, their range of starch-to-moisture ratios, and which potatoes are best for making gnocchi. You’ll learn to mill, cut, and shape this pasta with a gnocchi pallet—and make a delicious sauce to accompany this Mediterranean comfort food.
14: Making Your Own Pasta: Butternut Agnolotti
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to determine exactly how much flour and eggs you’ll need to measure for pasta. Once the dough is made and rested, you’ll learn how to use the pasta roller until the dough is exactly the correct consistency and how to use a piping bag to insert the roasted butternut squash mixture. Delicious!
15: Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
To brine or not to brine? While there are pros and cons to both, in this lesson, you’ll learn Chef Kahlenberg’s method of brining and cooking turkey, as well as creating delicious stuffing and cranberry sauce. With the chef’s tips on prep and cook times, it will all come together exactly as you’ve always hoped.
16: Seafood Delight: How to Make Cioppino
Cioppino is a Portuguese seafood stew that made its way to San Francisco and is now considered a classic of that area. For this dish, you’ll learn how to prepare shrimp, mussels, calamari, clams, halibut, and scallops, as well as cleaning, cutting, and cooking leeks. Grill a baguette to finish and you’ll have the perfect seafood meal!
17: Finding Your Roots: Maple-Roasted Celeriac
While vegan menus can be a challenge for any chef, as umami can be difficult to include, Chef Kahlenberg shares his own tricks to address the issue. You’ll learn how to clean, peel, and prepare celeriac; clean and prepare a variety of carrots; and how to season, cook, and plate this delicious vegan meal.
18: How to Make Great Paella
Paella is an ancient, summertime, one-pot seafood and rice dish originating near Valencia, updated here to include pork and chicken. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to render fat from chorizo to use as a cooking medium, create a sofrito, parch rice, bloom saffron, prepare artichokes—and bring it all together in one special pan for a unique culinary experience.
19: Smoking Pork with Mexican Street Corn
This recipe requires a bit of advanced planning, as the marinated and fully seasoned pork must be smoked for 16 hours. You’ll also learn how to prepare corn so it can both steam and grill at the same time for maximum flavor, and to create and dress the perfect Virginia slaw.
20: Dover Sole: Breaking Down a Flat Fish
Dover sole is a flat fish and a bottom-feeder that almost always comes whole with the intestines left in, requiring very different preparation and cooking than a round fish. Chef Kahlenberg demonstrates how to remove the skin by hand, which must be done before cooking. You’ll also make perfectly sized fondant potatoes, as well as beautiful asparagus.
21: You Too Can Make Ratatouille
This French vegetable stew is given such a beautiful presentation by Chef Kahlenberg that it almost looks like a work of art! Step by step, you’ll learn how to remove the bitterness from eggplant and how to cut all vegetables to the exact same size, including using a ring mold for the red and green peppers. In addition, you’ll make a delicious branzino and tapenade.
22: Making Roast Beef and Potato Gratin
Learn how to trim, score, and tie beef before you start cooking to help with flavor and presentation later on. After oven searing, you’ll use a chef’s thermometer to determine when to remove the meat, resting it with carryover cooking to complete the process. You’ll learn to make a delicious potato gratin, as well.
23: Patience, Pickles, and Crispy Fried Chicken
These easy-to-make pickles need to sit in brine for one week before eating, so you’ll need to start early on that one! The chicken also requires patience, as you’ll prepare your 9-cut, leaving it for 24 hours in brine and then 24 hours in buttermilk. At that point, it will be ready for dredging in spiced flour and fried to a beautiful golden brown. Coleslaw is the perfect way to top off this classic American dish.
24: My Big Steak: Executing a Three-Course Meal
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to create a three-course meal and have it all come together with perfect timing. You’ll prepare filet mignon from a beef tenderloin, create a spinach salad, a potato salad, and a chocolate tarte with raspberry coulis. Bon appétit!