Thursday, December 24, 2009

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash. Yum! A few weeks ago I bought a baby butternut squash. It sat in my fridge for a week, waiting for me. I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it. So I decided to do a mock mini Thanksgiving dinner for myself. I baked some chicken, made a frozen bag of mashed potatoes, and I cubed that butternut squash. With it I put maple syrup, melted butter, half an onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and for a kick, crushed red pepper. Cooked it at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Usually, people put brown sugar or marshmallows on squash, but I love maple syrup on fish and mashed potatoes, so I decided to try something new. It was perfect. Crunchy on the outside and soft and mushy in the middle! I was so excited about this recipe, I wanted to make it for my family. For my birthday my mother bought a London broil and marinated it in honey and garlic. As a side I wanted real mashed potatoes and of course, butternut squash. I cooked the sides. Hey, if you want something done right, do it yourself. So I was pretty excited about everyone trying the squash. I kept checking it and checking it and it wasn't exactly caramelizing like I wanted it to and it was really sweet. However, it was cooked all the way through and it was scrumptious. All night and the next morning I couldn't figure out why it didn't caramelize like the way I wanted it to. Was it the altitude? No. Different oven? No. Did I forget to add something? YES I DID! The melted butter and garlic! How could I forget that?! It didn't turn into a beautiful golden brown because I forgot the butter and it was sweeter than last time. Melted butter and garlic. How on earth could I forget those two key ingredients? Anyway, my family still liked it, though it was just like eating melted sugar, in my opinion. Next time, I'll remember the butter.

Recipe for Butternut Squash
Ingredients:
- 1 to 2 baby butternut squashes, cubed
- Half an onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- One cup of syrup, or until completely coated
- 1 Tbsp of garlic, minced
- Half a stick of butter
- Crushed red pepper, optional
Directions:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish, or deep cookie sheet.
- Stir with hands, of course!
- Cook in oven for 35 minutes.
- Check tenderness. Remember crunchiness on the outside, soft on the inside.
- Enjoy! Oh and don't forget the butter!


"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!" -James Beard

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Julia Child

Last night I watched the movie Julie and Julia. Such a wonderful movie! When I saw it in August for the first time, I went out the next day and bought the books Julie and Julia and My Life in France. I also looked all over for her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I couldn't find it anywhere! Every book store said they wouldn't get any for a couple of months! So one night I went to Williams Sonoma for a new knife, and when I was there a couple months before I had seen the books, Volume One and Two! No other book store had both of them. I asked the saleswoman if they had any, and of course they were out. Another saleswoman overheard and said she saw it out of the corner of her eye! It had been behind the other cookbooks! I went home with both volumes and eager to cook a French meal. However, I have not had time to do so. So after watching the movie again with my family, I am pleased to say that I will making Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon sometime this week!

Watching how hard she tried to get her book published is an inspiration to me. I have decided that I will be starting my own cookbook.
Difficult? Maybe. Long? Hopefully. Delicious? Of course!
Over the next couple of months I will be testing recipes and writing them down. Thank you Julia, thank you very much for inspiring.
She showed us that burning your food, salt caps coming off, losing your omelet, overcooking your steak, and using tons of butter is ok. It's ok to make mistakes. It's a kitchen. It's food. You're not perfect, I'm not perfect, so why is our food always going to be perfect. Food is an expression. Remember that.

"It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it." -Julia Child

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Soup

Ok soup. What does it make you think of? I think of snow, warmth, hearty, runny nose, and chunky. I love soup! Any soup. My favorite is the traditional chicken noodle, but the only time I really it is when my mother makes it from scratch with corn on the cob and egg noodles! Yum. I remember coming home from school on snowy days and the house smelt like the soup. It was so comforting. Though soup is so basic, is makes us feel these warm feelings. Which makes me think, that the simplest things in life are the best things, is true. I know around winter we will be consuming a lot of soup! And why not? It warms our chilled bones and makes us feel better if we are a bit under the weather.
I know my youngest sister, Isabelle, is obsessed with soup. She is a "soup connoisseur" as we like to say in our family. Every time we go out she is always getting a cup of soup. Chicken tortilla, chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, corn chowder, french onion, etc. When I was in Florida last week, we stopped at a Perkins (gross, I know) on our way home from the beach. Isabelle ordered a kids chocolate chip pancakes, and of course a cup of chicken noodle soup! Now is it just me, or do these two things not really go well together? Oh well, she is ten, and hopefully she will grow out of it.
My favorite thing about soup is the "accessory" or side. Like a warm piece of french bread or a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Bread to me is an extra utensil used to wipe the bowl so you can get every last drop of that delicious soup. Oh, and I have to say that bread bowls are soup's greatest invention. It just sucks it all up and when you are all done eating all the soup, the bread bowl still has that great flavor.
I'm excited about winter and making more soups. I don't make soup too often, unfortunately, but I want to make more and maybe give some to families, neighbors, and friends. The holiday season is here and it is all about giving back to those you love, and soup gives warmth, and nothing is better during winter then to feel warm.

I have a great recipe for a quick Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. Don't forget the grilled cheese!

Ingredients:
-Non-flavored oil, like a salad oil
-One shallot, minced
-Dy, chopped basil
-24 oz of tomato sauce
-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
-1 cup of half and half
-1 cup of chicken stock
-Season with salt and pepper to taste
-One bunch fresh basil, chiffonade

Directions:
Heat a pot on medium heat with oil. When oil is hot, add shallot and dry basil. When the shallot is translucent add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir. Add the half and half and the chicken stock! If you want it creamier add more half and half, and if you want it thinner add more stock. Salt and pepper to your taste. Now with the fresh basil, you can add it to the soup, or as a garnish on top of the soup, either way it taste great! Bon Appétit!

"There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get you soup in a can."
-Laurie Colwin

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

International Cuisine

So let me just start out by saying that I love my International Cuisine class! It is so fun and I feel like that is the class with the most creative control. && Chef Painter is definitely awesome and so much fun. He gives you good advice while giving you tips on how to improve your dish. I'd have to say he is my favorite, but shh, don't tell the other chefs. So each class we do a different country. So far we have done, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, Morocco, India, Greece, Thailand, and Spain! Next week we will be doing The Caribbean! So each class I have been working with the two girls who are way talented, Melissa and Kath! We each do a dish and help each other with whatever. We pick great dishes and try to make it stand out from the rest. So I have been trying to take pictures every class, but it's hard cause I keep forgetting my camera, whoops. But here are some shots I've gotten over the past several weeks!

Morocco


Everyone's food!


My food!
Moroccan Chili with 10,000 Grains of Sand. =]
Really, it's chili with a bunch of Moroccan spices, ground lamb, and veggies.
The couscous was cooked in chicken stock with pine nuts, golden raisins, mint, parsley, chives, and apricots. Chef Painter agrees that I make the best couscous. =]

India


Team Awesome.


Buffet of Deliciousness.


My Chicken and Apple Curry with an Almond Rice.

Greece


My Big, Fat, Greek Buffet!


My food. Green bell peppers stuffed with ground beef, white wine, spices, and feta with side of rice.
Gotta have a little Greek wine. Too bad we didn't have any Ouzo, OPAH!!!!

Spain


A paella fiesta!
I didn't take a picture of my dish, but I made pork chops with a white wine sauce with onions. It was good sauce, but it needed a big kick so I added Tabasco and red pepper flakes. It turned out great!
Oh and by the way, that's what the globe is going to look like in 2012. =]

I can't remember all the dishes I have made for the other classes, however I always don't have to worry about being hungry or think about what to eat for dinner.

video

Ciao Bella!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Amuze Amazing.

Amuze Bistro. Most amazing restaurant I have ever been to. I heard about it from this family I have babysat for. They told me I had to go. Last Friday, Matthew and I went there to celebrate our 3rd year anniversary. It was a beautiful evening. I wore a little black dress with pearls, he wore his suit with his checkered vans, of course! We both drove to Palmer Lake. At first we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere! We finally found it! It looked like a small home on a main street. It was so beautiful inside. Four tables with white linens and floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows, and beautiful artwork. That's right. I said four tables. This restaurant was rewarded "Best of the Springs 2009 - #1 Really, Really Small Bistro; The Gazette." I can see why. It was so hard to pick what to have! We spent so long deciding what to get. Here's the menu to prove it to you!

Appetizers

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Meltaway
Balsamic Syrup, Sambal Pepper Sauce

Wild Caught Smoked Copper River Sockeye Salmon Crostini Crispy Leek, Fried Capers, Tomato Cucumber Aioli

Brandied Mushroom Tartlet Herbed White Wine Butter Sauce

Soups

Roaster Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted Artichoke Soup

Salads

Mixed Greens with Shaved Blue Cheese, Bacon Lardons
Tomato Petals, Roasted Pine Nut, Herbed Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon Spinach, Orange & Sherry Vinaigrette

Campari Tomato and Mozzarella
Olive Medley, Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Entrées

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb Saffron Infused Minted Pea Risotto, Roasted Red Pepper, Mushroom Medley, Madeira Demi-Glace

Eight ounce Prime Filet Mignon White Truffled Mashed Potato, Grilled Asparagus, Raspberry Demi-Glace

Red Wine Braised Flat Iron Steak Cheese Polenta, Baby Carrots, Crispy Spinach

Halibut En Papillote
Spinach, Artichoke, Olive and Tomato Medley, Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce, Pommes Gaufrettes

Seared Long Island Duck Breast Huckleberry Habanero Pan Sauce, Wild Rice, Vegetables

Diver Scallops with Spinach & Cheese Ravioli Almond and Roasted Pepper Infused Alfredo Sauce, Crispy Sage Leaf

Desserts

New Mexican Red Chili Crème Brulée

Homemade Cherry Ice Cream

Grand Marnier Strawberry Shortcake, Chantilly Cream



We started off with a one bite tasting, compliments of the chef, of course. In this spoon it had, pear, blue cheese, bacon, and balsamic syrup. It was very tasty. You'd think that all of these components wouldn't work together, such as the blue cheese being to tart or the balsamic being to vinegary, but it all worked and it all made sense with my taste buds! It was so refreshing in a way, I was sad it was just a tasting.

We recieved a bread basket, but this wasn't any normal bread basket with butter packets. It was homemade rolls, cornbread, and garlic and lemonzest butter! Oh my it was so good! When I ran out of bread, I just ate the remaining butter! Ha!

For our first course we decided to get the Blue Crab Meltaway. It was a crab cake with balsamic syrup and a spicy pepper sauce! It was melt in your mouth goodness. It also is an award winning dish in the Pikes Peak region! Loved eating it every second!

Second course, we decided that we would both do a soup. No salad that night! That night they weren't offering the artichoke soup. However, as a special, they were offering a "harvest soup" which had squash, pumpkin, and all of those good fall flavors in one pot. So I got the harvest soup and Matthew got the tomato, pepper soup. We received shall bowls with different oils and centers. Mine had bacon, his had tomato paste. Confused, I thought it was another tasting, but no! Our waitress came back out with two thermises. Each one with our soups. She poured each soup into our bowls. It was steaming hott, just the way a soup should be served! I was really excited about trying this creamy soup, but I was more excited about trying it with the bacon. My soup was so incredibly rich and creamy. Loved it! And Matthew's was hearty full of wonderful flavor. We wanted to eat every last drop so we ate half of our roll and then used the other half to suck up the soup stuck to the bowl! It was amazing!

I convinced Matthew to order wine! Baha I did it! He ordered "Seven Deadly Zins", Zinfandel, 2006, CA. I had that wine in my Wines and Spirits class, and remembered you could never go wrong with a Zinfandel.

Third course. It was tough to decide what to get. For the last week I had been craving scallops. It was from all the chef competitions I had been watching on TV. Darn Top Chef. I decided to get pan-seared scallops with lobster ravioli. Matthew decided to get the duck that came with a wild rice pilaf, habenero sauce, and veggies! We were way too excited, and way too hungry to wait! Finally, it came! Hot off the line! My scallops were perfectly cooked. Had a nice crust on the outside. And I thought my ravioli was going to be a little baby ravioli, but it was bigger than my fist! Each scallop had a crispy sage leaf on it. It was just heaven on a plate. It's the only way to describe it. And Matthew's duck was perfect. A little pink, moist. I want it on my table now. We couldn't eat it fast enough, well actually we tried taking our time eating it, but it was to good to let it sit there for more than a minute!

We decided not to get dessert, unfortunately. I made him a homemade, 3 layered, chocolate cake, and it was sitting at home, waiting for us to devour it. I wanted to take a picture of it before we ate it, but we forgot and we took slices out of it.

Anyway, we drank the rest of the wine from his one glass, and headed home. We were perfectly full, happy, and in love. It was a beautiful night with beautiful food. I hope that some day we can go back.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Butter

The other day in my class, I had to melt an ounce of butter and then I was going to add bread crumbs and walnuts for a savory cheesecake crust. As I was melting the butter, a guy looked at me and asked, "Why the heck are you melting that much butter?!?" Ok I admit, it wasn't butter that was coating the pan, you could swim in it, however that's what the recipe said so I listened. I explained to this guy that it was for the recipe, and the I asked him a simple question, "What are the three stable ingredients used in classical, French cooking?" He stood there puzzled and answered, "Wine, cheese, and escargot." I laughed and shook my head no. I said back to him, "Butter, cream, and more butter." He laughed and we both looked at my lake of butter in my pan. I said to him, "When in the kitchen, do as the French do." I told him to say that to anyone who questions his butter quantity or quantity of anything.

Butter is bad, in a naughty way. Chef Blythe Beck has a concept at her restaurant that you shouldn't feel bad for eating all that butter, cream, cheese, bacon, and deliciousness. You should feel naughty and playful. Food can make us feel any emotion. Salads make you feel healthy, Asian food makes feel exotic, and dessert makes you feel regret. No matter what food you are eating, you should have pride and feel grateful. Restaurants want you to taste their succulent creations. The reason they add butter or anything like that is to add flavor. Flavor is key to a good experience at a restaurant. Just ask anyone, and they'll agree.

"Miss Child is never bashful with butter."
Phil Donahue

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My First Post! Yes!

Food is one of the most amazing little things we have. And sometimes it can be big, too, like those 2 pound, sweet, bbq ribs you had last night. Our whole lives we are surrounded by it, studying it, loving it, hating it, making it, dropping it, playing with it, throwing it, chopping it, fantasizing it, and of course, eating it! What makes you feel better when you know you are going home to a lavish feast, or an Asian microwave meal waiting for you to pierce the film, microwave it for 90 seconds, stir, and enjoy?

In this blog, I hope to convey my thoughts and feelings on food trends, contraversies, chefs[role models], markets, recipes, culinary school, my job in the industry, my mistakes, and eating. I will also try to take pictures of what I eat from time to time and put it up. I hope to talk about Top Chef, Julia Child, diets, roma tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, my recipes, the Food Network, Sunflower, overpriced products, Rachel Ray, and so much more.
Stay tuned for a very appetizing blog!
Bon Appétit!