Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Moment on the Lips...

... a lifetime on the... well, you know what they say.

Last Sunday I began Introduction to Baking & Pastry. I walked in thinking I had it in the bag - I bake all the time at home. In actuality, I had to relearn how to measure. Cups and teaspoons do not exist here. I learned to use a baker's scale to measure in pounds and ounces. Once I got the hang of it, it was quite fun.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicken Potpie with Green Apples and Cheddar Biscuits

Fall is my favorite season. I love everything about it, from the tights and boots to the farmers' markets to the fabulous comfort food. This fall, my favorite comfort food has been coming from Pam Anderson's new cookbook, Perfect One Dish Dinners.

Recently, I tried Pam's chicken potpie with green apples and cheddar biscuits. This was an enormous hit. John had 3 servings and my friend Stacey described it as a "hug in a bowl." Who doesn't want a hug in a bowl? Recipe after the jump:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Stuffed Peppers, the Lazy Sunday Edition

Late Sunday afternoon, I had woken up from a delicious, after-beach nap, and was thinking about what to do for dinner. I did a quick check of Twitter and found my answer almost immediately. Someone mentioned stuffed peppers. That was it. I wanted stuffed peppers. Nothing else would do. Thank you @wenderly!

Since I’ve never actually made stuffed peppers before, I was winging it for sure. But with a quick call to my mom and a jaunt to the grocery store, the recipe came together. These stuffed peppers came out just the way I wanted: meaty and filling, flavorful, and slightly crisp on the outside. Perfect... if I do say so myself!

Oh! You might remember that I don’t measure when I’m cooking. So with my measurements below, use your instincts.

Here’s what you need:
- 3 Red Bell Peppers
- 1 Box Prepared Stove Top Stuffing*
- 1 Package Ground Pork
- ½ Red Onion, Minced
- Handful Sliced Cremini Mushrooms, Minced
- 3 to 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons Cream Cheese

*1. Prepare the stuffing according to package directions. I know, I know. I used boxed stuffing mix. So sue me. Set aside the prepared mix in a large bowl.

2. Slice the peppers in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds, veins and core. Blanch the peppers for about a minute. Set aside to cool.

3. In a large sauté pan, sweat the vegetables in a little olive oil. When the onions are translucent, add the ground pork. Cook only until the pork is no longer pink. Too long and your mixture will be too dry.

4. Drain any excess fat from the cooked meat. Add the meat and sautéed veggies to the stuffing and mix well. Add Parmesan, panko bread crumbs and cream cheese and blend well.

5. Stuff the mixture into the pepper halves. They should be nice and full. Sprinkle some additional bread crumbs and Parm on the top.

6. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the top of the stuffing is brown and crusty.

Enjoy with a green salad and crisp white wine!

Note: These reheat beautifully - whether you stick them back in the oven for a bit, or even in a rinky-dink office microwave.

Monday, August 2, 2010


This weekend I found myself unexpectedly free. Some travel plans fell through, John was away working, and I didn’t have school or any other commitments. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to do (and eat) whatever I wanted. Bliss.
Breakfast for dinner anyone?
Photo by Stacey Doyle

Friday night, my partner in crime Stacey and I decided on breakfast for dinner: French toast, brown sugar bacon, scrambled eggs… and beer. Surprisingly, the beer went very well with “brenner.” The cold, crispness of a lighter beer cuts the sweetness of the French toast nicely. Quite an indulgent meal.

Beer Tasting
On Saturday, I decided to keep my day local. I spent the morning hours sitting in my chair, reading in Lippitt Park. The park was bustling with people going to and from the farmer’s market. But I was keeping the day a little mellower. For lunch, I moseyed from my chair across the street to the Chez Pascal lunch truck for the most delicious pastrami sandwich I’ve ever had.

After the park, I made my way to Thayer Street to see a movie at the Avon. (The Kids Are Alright.) I love going to the movies with John or a friend. But secretly, I love going by myself even better. This fit right in with the spirit of my weekend. And the Avon has terrific popcorn. Does anyone know if they use real butter? It sure tasted like they did.

Photo by Stacey Doyle

Sunday. Ah Sunday. The most perfect beach day. Ever. The sky was blue. The temperature was moderate. And the beach was quiet. A stop-off on the way home for clam cakes, followed by a luxurious after-beach nap with the cat were an excellent way to end the weekend.

I know I won’t be able to be this selfish forever. At some point, John’s schedule will regulate a little and there may even be kids that need my attention. But while the opportunity exists – a little selfishness goes a long way.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thoughts At Large

According to the calendar, I have 7 more Sundays sans culinary school. While I’ve been enjoying my summer holiday immensely, I’m also itching to get back into the groove of the kitchen and get back to my school friends. Also, I’m afraid I might suddenly forget the difference between a fond blanc and a fond brun, or forget the measurements of a brunoise cut, versus a macédoine, versus a parmentière. Quick, quick, what are the leading sauces? Béchamel, espagnole, tomato, hollandaise, veloute and demi-glace. Phew!
During the upcoming trimester, I have Introduction to Baking and Pastry to look forward to. Legend has it, that class usually gets out early and laden down with treats. See, the school has a strict policy that food does not leave the building. So if we don’t eat it for lunch or dinner, it gets put in the garbage. I understand the fear – if someone brings something home and stores it improperly, and it makes them sick, the school can be blamed. Their issue with donating the food to a shelter is similar. I get it. But seeing the amount of food that is dumped is heart-sickening. There have been a few moments when I’ve seen a little foil package of leftovers somehow “jump” into someone’s bag and “accidentally” escape. I’ll say no more about those incidents. But I have heard that the pastry chef is a tad more lenient about letting the occasional baguette or croissant go on a road trip.
Also coming this fall is Beverage Service. I’m expecting to enjoy this class as much as I did Dining Room. Secretly, there’s a part of me that loves to serve people. I love the rituals. And I love the way you can make a person feel happy and taken care of with such simple gestures.
In the meantime, I’ve been doing what I can to keep up my own personal momentum. Though it’s always a struggle to keep a balance between work, family and other pursuits, I’ve tried to cook, blog, visit restaurants and farmers’ markets, and read and follow recipes as much as possible over the course of the summer. I still can’t watch cooking competitions on television. Watching a show like Top Chef only reminds me how much I have to learn. I watch as these chefs are dropped into a convenience store to make a dish out of only gas station foods. “Could I have done that?” I ask myself. “Would I know what to do with bull testicles?” Uhhhh… no.
But that’s ok. I’m learning. I’m experimenting. And someday, when I’m deftly preparing Rocky Mountain oysters with a flourish, I’ll look back and appreciate the journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chez Nom Nom Nom

Some nights, at some meals in particular, I become very aware of how lucky I am to appreciate amazing food and to live in Providence, where amazing food is so plentiful.

I took not a single photo at dinner tonight. I was too busy enjoying the company of my dinner companions. Lack of photos notwithstanding, our meal at Chez Pascal was just about perfect. It is Restaurant Week here in Providence, so we chose from the special menu provided for the occasion. (Psst... Restaurant Week lasts through July 24. There's still time for you!)

You'll have to indulge me in my copying of the dish descriptions straight from the Restaurant Week website. I'd rather admit that I copied and pasted, rather than rely on my shoddy memory and botch an important detail.

I started with the Stoney Hill Cattle Company braised pork meatballs with fennel, zucchini and green olives. The meatballs were small and delicate. By sight, I expected a heavy, Swedish style meatball. Not so. The sauce was flavorful, but not overwhelming. The qualities of the great fresh vegetables and olives were really allowed to come through.

For dinner I had the grilled swordfish fillet with a stew of local onions, carrots, zucchini and cilantro-espelette butter.  That butter! I don't think I ever want to eat another piece of meat or fish that doesn't have a sliver of compound butter melting over the top. The butter added a depth of flavor to the fresh fish that I haven't experienced anywhere else.

At this point, if I really listened to my body, I probably should have stopped. But there was dessert to be had. And you don't get to be a card-carrying Weight Watchers member by listening to your body tell you it's full! Jeez! For dessert, I chose the blueberry and almond tart with Chocolate Feuilletine Crunch and lavender ice cream. Warm. Crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Balanced with the cool, not too sweet ice cream. I normally don't choose fruit desserts. But this was way more decadent than I would have thought. A fantastic finish to a perfect summer evening in Providence.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Little Bit of Comfort

It's funny what a difference a couple of days makes. The recipe that follows was created and committed to paper on Friday. Five days and about 1,000 degrees later, I can't even think about meatloaf. But maybe one of these days, the mercury will fall below 102, and a little comfort food will hit the spot. Here's hoping.

If you’ve been hanging around The Coquettish Cook long enough, you know that in my house, we’re all about simple, delicious comfort food. So it should come as no surprise to hear that last Friday, I had a mean craving for meatloaf.

I know what you’re thinking. Meatloaf. A childhood memory that really doesn’t deserve much thought as an adult. But this version came out juicy and flavorful. Served up with roasted zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes, this meal was very comforting. Details after the jump.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What Says Independence Better Than Bacon?

It is the Fourth of July. I woke up bright-eyed and ready for breakfast at 7:30AM. There is nothing I love more than a leisurely Sunday morning with a big, lovingly made breakfast, a steaming hot cup of coffee and an episode of CBS Sunday Morning on the tube.

And what says "Independence Day" better than fluffy pancakes with fresh fruit, real maple syrup and confectioners sugar? Well, bacon does.

This is Boar's Head bacon, baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes with a sprinkling of brown sugar and cracked black pepper. It forms a crispy crust and makes the bacon taste like... meat candy.

Good morning, indeed!

PS... To everyone who said to me, "Where the hell is your next blog post?" I thank you. It's so nice to know that there are actually people out there - if only one or two, who enjoy what I'm doing here. I'll be a better blogger, I swear!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Harry's Bar & Burger

You’ll know it when you see the cow on the sidewalk. The cow will direct you into Harry’s Bar & Burger, at 121 North Main Street in Providence.

Harry’s is the kind of place I’ve been looking for. I’ve said to friends countless times, “I just feel like a burger and a beer.” That’s what Harry’s is all about. That, and a good game of beer bingo. Slinging brews is Harrison Elkhay, affable son of John Elkhay, Providence restaurant celebrity. Harrison owns Harry’s, and after 2 weeks, seems like he’s been behind that bar forever.

The location is the former home of Chinese Laundry. True to Elkhay form, if it doesn’t work, do something different. The space is small and cozy, yet hip. To get to the bathroom, you have to cross over a glass floor that reveals the room below. In the bathroom, I was treated to a showing of When Harry Met Sally, playing on the wall mounted, glass-enclosed television. No wonder the person before me took such a long time. At first, we asked for a table, and were sequestered upstairs into a tiny, empty, overly air-conditioned room. We quickly agreed to relocate to the bar, which was a fabulous move on our part. Harrison started by telling my friend and me that we both looked great – that got a few points. I was ready to like the place.

The beer menu is filled with unique craft brews, including my choice, the Old Leghumper Porter. Harrison also makes creative beer floats, like the Rogue Chocolate Float and something made with a Twinkie that I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around…

As for the food, the burgers are delicious and cheap. You get 2 sliders rather than one large burger. Harry’s also serves hot dogs, fries and a couple of sandwiches. My sliders were topped with cheese, pickles and crispy onion strings for a saltily-perfect accompaniment to my dark, smooth beer.

Harry’s has a small bar, which is perfect for getting to know the folks on neighboring stools. The great conversation, in concert with the good food and drink, and a fun atmosphere makes Harry’s a place I’ll surely return to.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Lobster

I have to preface this post by saying that I’ve never before been the person I’m about to describe. In high school, when we had to dissect a pig, I was right in there, knee deep in formaldehyde, cutting away.
But last Sunday in Purchasing and Product Identification, I cried during the lobster demo. A totally unexpected reaction. In Stocks, Soups & Sauces I relieved a fish of its eyeballs and used a Japanese butcher knife to hack it into sections. No tears. In Food Service Production, I watched with interest as we were shown the proper way to portion a whole chicken. No tears. But there was something about those lobsters…
Our large, handle-bar mustachioed chef wheeled out his specimens on a cart with a flourish. He said he had a special treat for us, as he gestured toward a form underneath a white towel. Had there been 2 lobster rolls under that towel, it would have been a treat indeed. But instead he revealed a live, 1 pound female lobster. And she was pissed. As he picked her up, flipped her over, prodded her with a pen, put her back down, picked her up, removed the bands from around her claws, put her down, touched her head, touched her eye, picked her up, put her down… she became even more irate. She began to foam at the mouth. Then he brought out another poor creature - a 4 pound male. He didn’t seem as angry. Maybe he thought he could intimidate with his size.
At some point during the demo, I realized my eyes were welling with tears. “Put them back,” I thought, “they’re afraid!” I knew that the fate of these crustaceans was to eventually be dunked in boiling water and served with butter and bibs. And really, I’m ok with that. I guess my hang up was that until the time they hit the pot, lobsters, like all living creatures that we’re going to kill for food, should be treated with a little dignity. After all, lobsters mate for life. If they have enough consciousness to choose a partner for a lifetime, then certainly they can feel the fear and anxiety of being treated like a specimen. And as a very wise friend said, when humans feel fear and anxiety, chemicals are released into our bodies. Are lobsters (and cows and chickens and pigs) releasing those very same chemicals, ultimately putting their fear and anxiety into the food products we eat?
I don’t know what this unexpected heart ache for a sea creature will mean to the rest of my culinary studies. I know that after watching Food, Inc., I’ve already made some major changes in where the meat that I eat comes from. I can’t imagine never eating another piece of lobster. I suppose this is just another lesson in taking responsibility for everything we choose to put in our mouths. Maybe not the lesson our chef intended with the lobster demo, but not a bad one to learn, none the less.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

The first commandment of blogging, they say, is “Ye shall blog often.” Also somewhere on that stone tablet is “Ye shall not whine about being too busy to blog.” But what can I say? Life happens. Sometimes a lot of it. So while we’re out experiencing it, we neglect to pontificate about it here on The Internets. Forgive me, for I have sinned.
But while I was “life-ing” instead of blogging, some interesting things happened. One was a fabulous trip to Oregon. I joined John’s family for a whirlwind tour of Portland, Eugene and the beautiful Pacific Northwestern coast.

I came back from my trip to Oregon with 2 realizations:
1. East Coast folks are RUDE.
2. There is no bad food in Oregon.
Oregonians are lovely people. In stores, in hotels, in restaurants – nothing but genuine interest in how your day is going. At first I wasn’t sure whether it was refreshing or quite frankly, terrifying, but by the time I landed at Logan Airport at the end of my trip, I realized that there’s no need to be as horrible as we are here on the East Coast. How was your day?? Are you kidding me? Eff you. Get out of the way!

And the food. The food was wonderful. Stay with me after the jump.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cooking School is Not For Sissies

My Fabulous Team: Patti, Susan and Max

Another class complete, another set of lessons learned. Nutrition & Sensory Analysis was by far my favorite class so far. And I swear to you, that is not because our instructing chef was… well, let’s call a spade a spade. He was a full on, 5 alarm hottie. I’ve never seen so many women in chef’s caps drooling on stainless steel tables before.
Ahem. I love you, John!
But like I said; my enjoyment of this class was not based on visual appeal alone. Chef Hottie-Pants was the most laid back chef I’ve encountered so far. We cooked big breakfasts for ourselves after lectures, we listened to music while we worked, we joked and laughed. We weren’t a production class, so we weren’t under the same time constraints as I’ve grown accustomed to in my other classes. The atmosphere in the Sensory Analysis kitchen more closely approximated the way I’m used to cooking in my own kitchen. More after the jump...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Last night I made delicious and surprisingly hearty vegetarian quesadillas with a 5 color salsa. But we were so busy throwing the quesadillas down our gullets and washing them down with cold beers that I didn’t take a single photo. I still want you to know about this meal though, because it was incredibly healthy, filling, and even low fat. So. Pretend for a moment that we are not completely visual creatures and just go with me for a minute. Hmm… I just looked at my last post. What’s with me and warm toasty bread stuffed with goodness lately? The details after the jump...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dinner for One

Quick dinner for myself:

Flatbread with grilled chicken, monterey jack cheese, avocado and tomato.
On the side, mango, blackbean and bell pepper relish.
Easy, fast and sooo yum.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Accidents Can Be Beautiful

Tonight I made a massive quantity of my beloved macaroni and cheese to serve at the Ronald McDonald House tomorrow. Since we weren't going to be able to eat the mac, I also heated up some pizza in the same oven.

And then the most terrible / wonderful thing happened.
Are we witnessing the magic of a new recipe being born?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vee Veeeeeeeeeee

On Friday night I headed to the Boston area to have dinner and catch up with my oldest friend, who lives in Roslindale. Roslindale itself seems to be rather restaurant deficient, but fortunately, Jamaica Plain is restaurant-rich and right around the corner. We ended up at Vee Vee on Centre Street. Vee Vee describes itself on its website as a “new American bistro, and overall, my impressions were positive.
When we arrived at about 7:30, the small, stylish restaurant was full and the wait was slated to be about 30 minutes. But we were happily equipped with a place to sit and a glass of Tempranillo La Planta, a very nice Spanish red.
Once seated, we quickly arrived on 2 appetizers, the shrimp and scallop cakes, served with chipotle aioli, and the special mushroom risotto. These were good, but not overwhelming. The cakes were nicely fried and tasted like your basic fish cake – the actual shrimp and scallops didn’t make much of an impact. The risotto was better – creamy and salty, just like I like it, with nice meaty chunks of mushroom.
For our entrees, I chose the panko and dijon-crusted pollock, served with white bean puree, potato, leeks, fennel, and niçoise olive tapenade. I had never had pollock before, so I was drawn in by the idea of something new. I’ll definitely look for it again. Pollock is a clean tasting, flaky white fish. And I love the way panko bread crumbs function. They’re so light, and really seem to compliment whatever they bread, rather than weighing it down. In terms of plate presentation, I wish there had been more olive tapenade – the presentation was very… tan.

Meanwhile, my lovely friend ordered the spicy sambal tofu, served with ginger-coconut red rice, fried plantains and mango salsa. While tofu is not actually my cup of tea, I did sample one of her plantains, which was tasty and she seemed quite pleased with her selection.
Overall, Vee Vee was a nice choice. The company was wonderful, the atmosphere was a nice combination of cozy and hip, and the prices were reasonable. I probably won’t be back, just by virtue of the fact that there are a lot of restaurants in the Boston area that I’d want to try before I start recycling. But if you happen to be hungry in Jamaica Plain, Vee Vee is a strong option.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 2 of Man Cookery

When last we parted, I had started detailing a week's worth of menus made for The Pickiest Man Alive. The Wednesday of The Man's arrival, it was midnight stromboli. On Thursday we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Tini. Since I've reviewed Tini here before I won't get into too much detail, except to say that if you ever find yourself looking at the Blackbird Steak Sandwich on the menu, order 5.

Onto Friday. We were joined by our dear friend Stacey as well as John's mom, Susan. The menu for the evening was marinated flank steak, risotto and roasted asparagus. And lots of wine. The verdict: Yummy noises all around. The details after the jump.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Lovely Week

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s hardest to cook for those you love most? It’s true in my case. John, the man that warms my heart and curls my toes, is a very, VERY picky eater. His favorite foods are those involving cheese, beef or bread - preferably all 3 together. Don’t even think about trying to give him eggs or tomatoes, or anything squishy, multi-textured or slimy.
I have to say that in the eight years we’ve been together, John’s palate has grown by leaps and bounds. And I like to think that I had something to do with that. He’s much more open to trying things, and has much more appreciation for food as more than just fuel. Go me!
When John is home, we eat out a lot. Since our time is short, we tend to look at his week home as one long date. (A sort of wonderful way to have a relationship, by the way!) It’s also easier to let a picky eater just choose off a menu then to try to cook up something that might not fly. We’d go for a few wonderful meals out, maybe order in, and I’d cook him one or two meals myself. But when you’re trying to be more conscious of the money you’re spending, that much eating out isn’t your best option. So this time, I tried something different. I planned a week’s worth of dinner menus for us, building in 2 nights that I wouldn’t be cooking. I made it fun by printing out actual little menus, which I presented to John before each meal. To the best of our ability, we stuck to the menu and had 5 nights of very enjoyable dinners. So for my next several posts, I’ll let you know what I made and how it went over with my picky audience. Shall we?

Monday, February 8, 2010

In the Dining Room

Yesterday I finished my second class at Johnson & Wales: Essentials of Dining Room. I learned so much from this class - enough to color every restaurant experience I have going forward. A sampling of the things I learned:

  • Always, always, always mark for the course before bringing the course. "Marking" means bringing the appropriate flatware. I was terrible at this at first. I'd have to say: "Ooh, let me get you a spoon for that soup!" I hate when this happens in a restaurant, and I will never forget to mark for the course again.
  • Speaking of soup, did you know that a thick soup is served in a bowl with a potage spoon? And a thin soup is served in a bowl with a bouillion spoon? Me either. But I do now.
Garde Manger Buffet
  • I learned that "garde manger" means "keeper of the cold food" and that I ADORE the garde manger buffet: pate, crudite, puff pastry with seafood, cold salads... I love it all.
  • I learned that chamomile is not a tea at all, but rather a tisane, an herbal infusion. I learned to taste tea with the 5 S's, just like you would a wine: see, sniff, swirl, savor, swallow or spit.
  • I learned the difference between viticulture and viniculture, what factors to use when desribing a wine, and how to present and open a bottle at the table. 
  • That you should always serve "open to the guest" on the right, with the right hand.
  • And that I really enjoy serving.
  • I know many more napkin folds than I ever thought I would. Above is the bishop's hat. I used this fold when I set the table at John's grandparents' house last week, for which I earned: "This is what you're learning in school?" Note to self: no napkin folds at home.
  • Finally, I confirmed the knowlege that going back to school at 31, when you know it's because you're passionate about what you're doing, is by far better than going to school at 18 because you're supposed to. Far better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Multiple Foodgasms

Last Saturday while John was in town, we met up with some of his friends and hit the venerable Nick's on Broadway. I had been to Nick's quite a while back for a delicious breakfast, before they moved. But I had yet to experience dinner there. I had no idea what I was in for.

Foodgasms after the jump...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Elio's and Other Favorites

Last week, I Tweeted about how easy my crock pot Middle Eastern lamb stew was. I actually said that it was as easy as Elio’s Pizza was back in the day. Apparently, I struck a chord. Food bloggers, photographers and chefs alike Tweeted back about their fond memories of Elio’s. If you didn’t have Elio’s, a McCain product, I’m so sorry for you. Because it was delicious. There was nothing quite like breaking that frozen pizza slab into 3, carefully repositioning the pepperonis for maximum pepperoni-to-bite ratio and popping those little beauties into the toaster oven – till they were almost – but not quite! Burnt. Then you’d have to wait a few minutes, because God help you if that hot Elio’s cheese hit the roof of your mouth. That was a 2nd degree burn right there.

All of this got me to thinking about some of my other fond food memories. From back before we were foodies and food-talkers and chefs. When we were just kids who loved frozen, rectangular pizza. Here are a couple of mine. I’d love to hear yours!

Hoodsie Cups
Oh, that sacred combination of chocolate and vanilla in a sugary soft serve. The meltier the better. And when you got one, you couldn't forget to get the little eating stick! I feel like growing up, a lot of the foods I loved involved an implement that was included right there with the treat. Which brings us to…

Handi Snacks
Always in the lunch bag. Back before I could put a name to my anal retentive qualities, I would spend the better part of school lunch making sure that I spread just the right amount of yellow cheese on those buttery crackers so as not to get a skimpy schmear for the last cracker. Delightful.

Fun Dip
Raise your hand if you tired of the eating stick after a few passes and just dumped the sugar down your gullet! By the way, in searching for a photo of this item, I discovered that the candy stick that came with the sugar was called a “Lik-M-Aid.” Nice.

Tuna Casserole
This was one of my favorite Mom dishes. She used to make it for my best friend and me. One time she forgot to add the tuna. We thought that was a riot. Sorry Mom, the story still circulates to this day!

"The Good Cheese"
After school, we used to go to my best friend’s Dad’s house and head straight for the fridge for “the good cheese.” Now today, this would hardly qualify. But back in the day, “the good cheese” meant the Land O’ Lakes deli slices – NOT the Kraft singles. We thought we were so elegant eating cheese that didn’t have to be separated from its plastic sheath!

So what about you? What did you grow up on? I’ll treat the bearer of the best answers to a box of Elio’s Pizza and a Capri Sun!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh, the Possibilities

Veal Sweetbreads

I’ve been remiss here. I’m finding that work and school and life are such a juggling act, that on the scale of priority, blogging tends to fall somewhere between flossing my teeth and organizing my sock drawer. But while I have minutes to spare, I had some thoughts on school. One culinary course down, a second course begun. I am officially in love. It doesn't hurt that I did very well in Stocks, Soups and Sauces, which bolstered my confidence immensely. But I'm also getting into the rhythm of things now and I realize I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

First, I want to once again thank everyone who offered their insight for my food trends paper. The assignment was to pick a topic and find magazine articles supporting your topic, and make an argument either way. The chef said that mine was an excellent paper. She said I was the only one who took the time to think outside the box of the articles. I got a 100. So, to Joe, Bun and Matt: thank you!

Sometimes Bad Things Happen to Good Chickens

After we received our papers last week, we took our final exam and completed our practical. In the morning: knife cuts and a soup. Our team chose vichyssoise and my soup turned out quite nice, thank you very much. After lunch, it was 2 sauces. I was assigned hollandaise and mornay. I was so happy I could have cried. The white sauces I knew, and felt fairly confident about. The brown sauces, well...

Oyster Rockefeller

Chef was pleased with my hollandaise, especially after my Week 2 debacle, where I kept attempting hollandaise and inadvertently making scrambled eggs. Yuck. This time, I did it just right. The texture and viscosity were perfect. I went a little heavy on the lemon juice, but it wasn't detrimental to the overall flavor. The mornay was a success as well – for the most part. Chef said that again, the texture and viscosity were perfect. But I didn’t cook my roux for long enough, and as a result, the mornay had a slightly chalky taste. But I’m still pleased with the results of my practical!

Course #2: Essentials of Dining Room. This is where we learn front of the house. I have to confess, I was a bit apprehensive about this. I have never waitressed a day in my life, I’m a little bit uncoordinated, and oh yeah – I’m deaf in one ear. But the surprise of a lifetime: I loved it! I love the ettiquette and protocol. I love making people feel warm and welcomed. I love expressing myself through food. This Sunday, I’ll do my best to take some photos in the dining room.

Until then folks!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

From the Trenches

Bouquet Garnis in Leek Leaves

Chicken Parts. Mmmm...

A Whole Lot of Mirepoix

In the Walk-In

Bread and Wine at Lunch

Creamed Pea and Mushroom Soup

Spinach and Garlic Stuffed Lamb