Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Artichokes and Pasta

After my class last night, I wanted to cook! We didn't cook anything at school so all the way home I was imagining what to fix myself. Tuna? No. Chicken? Nah. Pasta? Heck yes, but with what? Tomatoes, garlic, and butter. So I went straight to the market to pick up a few ingredients I needed. After picking up some pasta and beautiful roma tomatoes, I wanted to go look at the produce again to see if I wanted to add anything else. Luckily, out of the corner of my eye, I saw these giant, green artichokes! You don't know how I excited I was, I think I might have let out a little hoorah in front of everyone. I have been waiting for months for the market to start selling them, and it was only 2 for $4! Amazing! I got three. I rushed home and put two pots of water on.
Nothing is more comforting than pasta. My mom made it all the time when I lived at home. Now when I have it, I think of the times when pasta sauce stained my lips, and I would slurp it up like in Lady and the Tramp. People think seasoning the water with salt is bad for the pasta, when in Italy they think the water should taste and smell like the ocean. When in Rome. I cooked my artichoke for thirty minutes and cooked my spaghetti to al dente. Al dente comes from Italian and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite", referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. Basically, it's the best way to enjoy pasta.
I sauteed my largely chopped tomoatoes and garlic in butter and poured it over my spaghetti. I melted some more butter for my artichoke to dip in. The artichoke was already zesty so I didn't add any lemon juice to the butter. Perfectly cooked food and a happy stomach equals total bliss.
I love that simple ingredients can be so incredibly appetizing, if cooked properly. Pasta, garlic, tomatoes, garlic, and artichokes can make you feel like you are eating like a king, or in my case, a queen. Remember, cooking is not complicated. It only will be if you make it out to be. You are in control of your cooking, not your food.
Be creative, have fun, and be merry with food.



"These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual "food" out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead."
-Miss Piggy

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ribs

Ribs are everyone's guilty pleasure, whether they are pork, beef, Asian, BBQ, dry, or wet, they always please a crowd. In my last blog, I posted a picture of some awesome Pork ribs I made in my Catering class. The recipe was so easy, but so delicious and the ribs were very moist and tender, just the way I like them. So I decided to finally post my recipe! When I made it, I was just eyeballing everything. So I'm going to try really hard to make sure the amount of ingredients are ok. And remember, you can always add more or less of something if you want to! Remember, a cook is an artist, they have their own palette. Also, I will post the roasted Asian vegetable recipe!

Soy Sauce and Honey Pork Spare Ribs

Ingredients:
-2lb of pork spare ribs

-1 tbsp of cumin
-1 tbsp of onion powder
-2 tsp of chili powder
-1 tbsp of red pepper flakes
-2 tsp of cinnamon
-Pepper for taste, no salt!

-1 cup of soy sauce
-1 cup of honey
-1/4 cup of brown sugar
-1/2 cup of fish sauce
-1/4 cup of rice vinegar
-1 tbsp of red pepper flakes
-If it is still salty, add more honey

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and a grill to high heat. If you do not have a grill, then a hot pan will do. I use my George Foreman grill at home.
-Mix the first 5 dry ingredients together. Coat the ribs with this dry mix well. Place on grill. This step is just to get a nice brown crust on the outside, not to cook all the way through.
-While the meat is on the grill combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. If you want more of a certain ingredient, add it!
-After the meat has a nice browned crust, place in a casserole dish. Pour your wet mixture over the meat evenly.
-Cover with foil!!!! This is important so that your meat won't dry out in the oven.
-Cook for 25 minutes.
-If it is not done, wait another 5 minutes.
-Serve and pour the extra juice over the meat.
-Enjoy!!!

Roasted Asian Veggies

Ingredients:
-1 onion, medium diced
-1 parsnip, diced
-1 bok choy, diced
-1 fennel bulb, diced
-1 Handful of cilantro, sprigs
-2 cups of teriyaki sauce

-1/4 cup of fish sauce
-1/4 cup of rice vinegar
-1 tbsp of red pepper flakes

-Napa Cabbage, optional, for presentation
-Can always add more of your favorite veggies!

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Combine your cut up vegetables in a casserole dish. Place several cilantro sprigs over.
-In a bowl, combine your wet ingredients and red pepper flakes.
-Pour over your vegetables and stir.
-Cover with foil!!!
-Cook for 30 minutes. If the parsnips are still tough, cook for another 10 minutes.
-Place cabbage leaves along the outside of a platter.
-When vegetables are done, pour in the middle of the platter, over the cabbage leaves.
-Place fennel sprig over for presentation.
-Serve and enjoy!



Let me know if you decide to make it! It is scrumptious! When I made it a second time at home, I made mashed potatoes. I want something that would suck up all those juices! Bon App├ętit!

"I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food."
-Erma Bombeck

Sunday, February 21, 2010

School

Sorry it's been almost a month since my last post! Things have been so busy with school and work I haven't been able to find the strength to sit down to blog. When I'm not busy, I'm either sleeping, with Matthew, or relaxing on the couch. And with everything going on, I'm still trying to find time to cook dinner at home, however I eat so well and so much at school sometimes, I don't cook or go out for several days! Free, delicious food. How much better does it get than that?
So, I love my classes that I am taking. Intro to Baking, Soups, Sauces and Consommes (yes, its all one class!), Intro to Foods, Catering, and Yoga!
In Intro to Foods, it's about learning all aspects of food and a kitchen. Very easy for me, but there is always so much to learn in this field!
In my Soups class, it's interesting and it is very important to know, however it is extremely boring! In the first class we had to make a chicken stock. After we put everything in a pot, we basically watched water boil for two hours. It's getting better though. We started doing sauces and we were able to make steak or chicken to go with our sauce. Finally, cooking!
Catering is by far my favorite class! In it, we are learning how to cook for buffets, family style dinners, plated banquets, and boxed lunches. In each class, my teacher buys a certain protein and vegetables. Each group gets the same thing and assigned different types of catering. I eat the best in that class.
I'm taking yoga for several reason. One, I want to strengthen my core, or really just my whole body. In a kitchen you stand all day and your back starts to compress so I really want to strengthen it as much as I can. Two, if I take it at school, I am more likely to go since it is for a grade and I will suffer the consequences more if I don't go.
Finally, there is Baking. I don't like it. "Hate" is too strong. I am awful at baking. Just last week I made pastry cream, and it didn't thicken right, so into the trash it went. I feel like when I mess up, it is a big deal, especially to my teacher. She never really helps, so it makes me want to give up even more. We made cookies the first week, and I was really good at that! I was amazing at it! I could make cookies with my eyes closed! I was ok when we did tarts, but again, my pastry cream didn't thicken right. I feel like I don't have the patience for this. In cooking I just estimate and add as much or little of something as I want and it is delicious and easy, but in baking, you have to measure every single thing, and sometimes I don't measure. If it looks like a teaspoon of salt, then it is a teaspoon of salt. I really want the Baking/Pastry degree. I think with it, along with the Culinary Arts and Culinary Management degrees, it will better my chances of getting a job. I don't need to know everything, but I will at least have experience of baking. And who knows, maybe it will grow on me. For right now though, it's like pulling teeth, and everyone "hates" having their teeth pulled.
Well, I hope you don't mind drooling. This is what I have made this semester so far.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies & Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Cream

Stewed Chicken with Latin flavors, Sauteed Green Beans, and Roasted Red Potatoes

Orange Peel and Lime Crown Garnish for Hors D'oeuvres Cheese Platter

Soy Sauce/Honey Pork Spare Ribs and Roasted Asian Veggies

Fruit Tart with Homemade Pastry Cream

Hopefully, I will post more pictures soon! Enjoy and leave comments!

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
-Jim Davis