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

Food Service Trends and the Economy

At tomorrow's class - providing it doesn't get snowed out - I have to turn in the first paper I've written in about a decade. I chose the topic of how the current state of the economy will effect food service trends for the coming year. What was different about writing this, as opposed to all of the other papers I've written is that it's actually a subject I care about. So I like to think that I was a little more thoughtful, a little less cavalier with this one. In addition to the food industry publications I used as sources, I also had the opportunity to get a few amazing local chefs to weigh in on the topic. So follow the jump to see what I came up with. And many thanks to Matt Jennings, Joe Hafner and Bun Lai for taking so much time to thoughtfully answer my questions!