Sunday, November 29, 2009

Julia and Kate?

One week from today, I start the adult culinary degree program at Johnson & Wales University. For 2 years, I'll spend every Sunday in the kitchen at JWU, learning techniques, making mistakes and following my passion. I am unspeakably excited.

Here's how I'm told it works. I'll arrive on campus at 7AM and go to lecture for 2 hours. At 9, I'll go to the kitchen, where my class works on lunch. First up for me is Stocks, Soups and Sauces. At noon, all the classes in session go to the student dining room where we are served the lunch that we've all be working on various pieces of. Then back to the kitchen, where we work on dinner. Finally, we end the day in the dining room once again, where we are served dinner, finishing off the day at 6:30.

It's an amazing time commitment. In addition to working full time, 5 days a week, I'll be adding an 11 hour day on what had previously been my "day of rest." But here's the thing: Last month, when I took the tour of JWU, I was actually in tears as I was walking past the kitchen classrooms. Because I knew that that was where I was supposed to be. I couldn't imagine anything I'd rather be doing.

I can scarcely imagine all the things I'll be learing on Sundays over the next 2 years. While I enjoy every second I spend in my kitchen at home, I certainly don't know all there is to know. Some of the things I'm looking forward to learing are...

- Reductions (I can't seem to make them reduce now.)
- What to do with a whole chicken (or fish, or hunk of cow)
- How to improvise
- And so many other things I don't know yet that I don't know.

One week from today it all starts. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sweet & Savory

Last night I had dinner guests, and I was looking for something easy, yet special to make for dessert. I got a great idea from Real Simple that I modified a little bit to take advantage of a great local treat.

Chocolate Nut Bark with Matt's Candied Nuts

First, I set up a double boiler with a pan of shallow water and a bowl to melt 8 ounces of Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate.

Then, I poured the melted chocolate onto a cookie sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper, and spread it out with a rubber spatula. Here comes the good part.

See the nuts I poked into the chocolate? Those are Matt Jennings' candied nuts from Farmstead. The nuts are covered in beautiful herbs and spices that, when combined with the semi sweet chocolate, made for the perfect salty sweet combo. Refrigerate the bark on the cookie sheet for at least 30 minutes before you try to break the bark. Yum!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Sandwich in Pictures

I picked up a few delicious ingredients from the Winter Farmer's Market yesterday to make sandwiches. I came home with a baguette from Olga's Cup & Saucer, Besto Pesto, Narragansett Creamery mozzerella and a couple of farm fresh tomatoes.
I think I can skip the running dialog on this one!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go inhale my sandwich!

Miya's Sushi, New Haven

Last Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to visit Miya's Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut during New Haven Restaurant Week. It was a two hour drive, but so worth it.

New Haven's first sushi restaurant, chef Bun Lai's mother opened Miya's in 1982. But when you walk into Miya's today, it's clear you're in Bun's territory. If Miya's were a frat house, Bun Lai would be the president. If it were a rock concert, Bun would be the lead singer. His big personality bubbles over into every facet of the restaurant. Delicious details after the jump.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm Still Full!

So this weekend, J was home from Alabama and I took some time off to be with him. We did lots of fun things, but one thing we did in abundance. The weekend was pretty much a four-day food orgy. What would you call that? A foorgy?
Sadly, I was so buy shoveling yummies into my face that I didn't even once pull out my camera. How about that? It remains true that I am a lover of food first and a photographer 47th. (That's ok, I leave that to the professionals like Stacey Doyle and David Dadekian.) The lack of photos accompanying this post just means I'll have to be extra-special verbose for you... after the jump, that is.

Cookie Porn

The Veterans' Day holiday afforded me the opportunity to stay home in my sweats and spend some time in the kitchen. These little babies are from Smitten Kitchen's recipe. Ready for more cookie porn?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh Technology, You Slay Me

Well. Isn't that special. Blogger has decided that my photo, bio and other widgets would look better down at the bottom of my main page, underneath my posts. Thanks Blogger, for taking that liberty. Ack! Anyone know how to fix this delightful issue? Help me out and you get...

Homemade Sweet Potato Fries!

And I guess if you can't help me with Blogger, you should be able to make your own sweet potato fries, so here you go...

1. Cut potato into 1/4 inch fry shaped pieces. Put them in a bowl and drizzle enough olive oil so that all of your fries glisten. Eeeexcellent...
Now add your spices. I used cumin, onion powder, coriander and salt. Go ahead and use whatever you like, I don't think you can mess this up.

2. Lay fries on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Don't let them touch! God help you if they're touching! Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Leave 'em alone and let them do their thing in there... you know, not touching.

3. After 15 minutes, flip them, and then put them back in the oven for another 15 to 20.

4. If you like to dip your fries, a mixture of fat free plain yogurt, mayo, honey, cumin and coriander should do the trick.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some

So I tried my luck at hand-made ravioli - pumpkin ravioli - for the very first time. There was much hype. I talked about it at work, I bragged to my friends, and oh, the humanity, I twitted the hell out of it.
Alas, it was not perfect. I knew as I was progressing through the recipe that this dish might not be my greatest success, but I proceeded. Come dinner time, I set the plate in front of my hungry guinnea pig and she dug in. The verdict? "Well, it's not like I won't eat it." In other words, "this probably won't make me gag." Ah, thank heaven for friends.

But this web site is all about the journey, right? If I were perfect, I wouldn't be starting cooking school in December. If everything I did was a smashing success, I would be Smitten Kitchen. So. Let me tell you about what this recipe should have been, and where I think I went wrong. I would love to hear your comments and advice, so help a girl out! (After the jump.)