Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Life Lesson: Pictures.

Take lots of pictures and save them. Reliving memories through photographs is very enjoyable. You’ll be really glad you did.
May 27, 2011

Thoughts: Culinary School Week 2.

What a difference a week makes!

The nerves are gone and the newness is on its way out. We know each other’s names and are quickly becoming friends and partners in the kitchen.

This week we have been studying sauces and soups. Sauces being something that I am very interested in – I feel like I always make my mushroom sauce; time to branch out and learn some new ones. It was great to learn and make some basic sauces for which we can expand and experience on in the future. It is all in the basics after all. We have learned the important steps to creating a quality stock. We made Veloute and Veal Demi Gaze. We made French Onion Soup, a bechamel sauce, hollandaise and mayonnaise. We poached chicken in a court bouillon layered with mushrooms and wine. We learned how not to make a very fishy Caesar salad dressing – um, 14 anchovies = salty and fishy salad!

The biggest thing that I have learned in these 2 weeks is working with so many different people with all sorts of culinary backgrounds. It has been fun to learn new things from others. It has been comical and a bit stressful. It has been a test of my patience.

Personalities blending in a hot kitchen doesn’t always make a tasty stock! Like the pun?!?!

Yesterday, we saw a class that are close to their graduation, preparing a meal for other Chef Instructors and Admission Staff. They created a custom menu and presented it in a trial run for their final graduation ‘Harvest Meal’. The food looked delicious – the freshly baked bread had me drooling. Gives me excitement and encouragement in the weeks and months to come!

Chef Bob giving us a demo on Hollandaise – check out the mirror shot. Taken from my iPhone. 

May 26, 2011

Food: Black Pepper and BBQ Molasses Chicken Sandwiches.


Homemade BBQ sauce is a cinch to make. It’s as easy as 2+2. Okay, that doesn’t make sense. But for real – throw together the ingredients, stir them and you have it. This is finger licking good. Make sure you have lots of napkins close by!

Naturally, The Pioneer Woman gave me the inspiration but I of course added a little bit of this and that to make it my own. Mr. A thought it was a hit too. He even wanted to save the tablespoon of left over sauce for later!

Black Pepper and BBQ Molasses Chicken Sandwiches

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman and Cooking Light. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleshly ground black pepper + 1/2 teaspoon, divided
  • 4 tablespoons Chipotle Adobo Sauce (Chipotle Peppers Are Packed in this sauce)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • pinch (or more) red pepper flakes
  • 6-8 boneless Chicken Thighs
  • Crescent rolls
  • ** pickles, sliced red onion, cold slaw….to add on top, if you want
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1. Saute garlic in oil in medium-sized pan/pot for 2-3 minutes on medium. Please be careful not to burn the garlic.

2. Add the remaining sauce ingredients from ketchup to red pepper flakes to the pot (reserving 1/2 teaspoon black pepper). Stir to combine. Heat for 1 minute and stir occasionally. Turn heat off.

3. Trim chicken thighs – if desired (I remove the larger areas of fat). Place on rimmed cookie sheet (line with foil or be prepared to soak it over night to get it clean). Spoon sauce over chicken – you want each thigh to be coated with the sauce – there will be left over sauce. Sprinkle each thigh with black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn thighs over and sprinkle remaining black pepper on top. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and ‘pull apart’ or shred chicken with 2 forks.

4. Toast rolls and add a heaping amount of chicken on each roll. Pour more BBQ sauce on top. EAT!

*served with Roasted Broccoli and Maple Navy Baked Beans.

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May 25, 2011

Life Lesson: In front of you.

Most of the time what you are looking for is right in front of you.
May 24, 2011

Food: Blueberry Bran Muffins.


I like toast. I like bagels. I like English muffins. I could go on, but you get the picture.  Any of these will do in the morning…with some butter of course.  But these Blueberry Bran muffins added a different element to my weekend breakfast plate.

Bran does not make a regular appearance in my diet – so on Saturday morning I decided to change that.

With this addition of bran, it made me feel better. And adding a slab of butter didn’t hurt either!

Now that I have early morning drives to school, snacking on one of these will help me start out the day- nothing like starting out the day with some bran!

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

Makes 16 muffins

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup blueberries, frozen
  • 1 tablespoon rolled oats, optional for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins.
1. Whisk together in a large bowl the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients through salt.
2. Combine in another bowl the buttermilk, molasses, egg, butter and oil.
3. Add wet ingredients to large bowl with flour – mix until just combine (don’t over beat the batter). Fold in blueberries.
4. Let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Divide batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle rolled oats on top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

May 23, 2011

Life Lesson: Acting like a child.

Being an adult can be fun when you are acting like a child.
My husband has taught me this!
May 20, 2011

Food: Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream.

What to bring to a girls night? Well, cupcakes of course. Cupcakes are just perfect! Bite sized so that you don’t think about portions or having too big of a cake slice. And when you have a second and a third cupcake you still don’t feel guilty.

I love plain white cake but in the effort to jazz things up a bit – lemon became the star. A little zest, extract and food coloring did the trick!

The food coloring was a last addition – I love the nature look of white cake with the hint of lemon but I wanted the little cute cakes to look more like lemons!

*Yes, I didn’t put on a ton of Buttercream. I am more of a cake girl so the soft mountain peaks of frosting did it for me. Decorate any way you like with as much or as little frosting as you want. It’s your world.

Adapted from Jamie from My Baking Addition

Makes about 20 medium to large-sized cupcakes. Best to use an electric mixer (KitchenAid) for this recipe. 

Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • lemon zest from two large lemons
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 -2 teaspoons yellow food coloring, depending on how yellow you want them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.

4. Place the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of your mixer and beat for 1 minute. Add the butter and beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extracts.

5. Add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter incorporated, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Add yellow food coloring and beat for 2 minutes. If the yellow color is too dull, add a few more drops and mix. Fill each cupcake mold to 2/3 full.

6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center of cake. Cool on wire rack.

Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Beat all ingredients together until combined. Taste test. May need more powdered sugar.

2. Ice cooled cupcakes.

May 19, 2011

Thoughts: Culinary School Week 1.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love roasted chicken. But I will not be cooking it for a while.

It has been the week for roasted chicken, potatoes and the vegetable of the day at Culinary School. I can say that I’ve master the art of butchering a raw chicken including ‘frenching’ the wings. We pan-fried bone in breasts and braised turnips and ate lots of mashed potatoes and Gratin Dauphinoise.

This week was spent covering the basics – Knife skills. Basic Potato preparation. Mirepoix. Safety and Sanitation. Basic Tongue tastes. The Kitchen Brigade. Methods of Cooking. Chicken, chicken and more chicken. And cutting a few carrots and onions along the way.

The other students are as eager to learn as I am. I can’t remember when I was at school when students were so driven to learn and excited to listen to their professor (Chef). There are 3 kitchens – where we are able to talk briefly with the other students who are further along in the course than we are. To listen to their enthusiasm and describe all the cool things we will be making in the weeks to come, enlightens and motivates me.

*Photo taken from iPhone. Chef Bob is near the back left. 

Phew, 1 week done…a few more to go.

May 19, 2011

Life Lesson: Satisfaction.

You can run after satisfaction, but satisfaction must come from within.

-Yogi, tea bag quote. Read on my way to school this morning.

May 18, 2011

Life Lesson: Sail.

Learn to sail. The freedom that comes with the wind in the sails and the effortless movement through the water will bring you peace. Unless of course you capsize. Try it. You will like it.

May 17, 2011

Food: Spicy Honey Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs cook in no time. And the dark meat is so very flavorful.

I trim a bit of the fat off of them – it makes me feel better. Dark meat is oh so good + the spice combination = a winner.

Sweet and spicy are a great combination. The honey creates a sauce combine with all the spices…make sure you drizzle the left over liquid in the pan over the top of the chicken. You wouldn’t want to waste any of that.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Spicy Honey Chicken Thighs

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons medium chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (add more if desired)
  • 6 – 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons honey
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl and toss to coat. Place chicken on broiler pan lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken for 5 minutes on each side.
3. Remove chicken from oven and brush or drizzle honey on chicken. Broil for 1-2 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush/drizzle chicken with remaining chicken. Broil for an additional 1 minute.



May 16, 2011

Life Lesson: Innovate.

In order to innovate, you have to know where to begin.

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