Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blueberry White Chocolate Cake

White Chocolate Cake Batter + Blueberries + Raspberry Pastry Cream + Sugared Ginger Crunch + Dark Chocolate Sauce + Caramel Spiral

The cake is a simple white chocolate cake batter poured into a ramekin, sprinkled with blueberries, and then baked until firm on the outside but still soft and moist on the inside.
The raspberry pastry cream is just as it sounds and lends a pretty pink color. It is underneath the cake.
The sugared ginger crunch is candied ginger stirred into a basic caramel brittle.
The dark chocolate sauce consists simply of dark chocolate and cream, melted together until silky and smooth.
And the caramel spiral is one of my signature pastry garnishes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Chocolate Banana Nut Dessert

Here is a plated dessert featuring more components I was trying out for upcoming competitions. I must use dark and white chocolate, at least one fruit, and at least one nut. The plate must also feature a sauce and a garnish. Here are the components:

  • Dark Chocolate Cake Base
  • Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Pave
  • Raspberry Banana White Chocolate Ganache
  • Peanut Tuile Spiral and Cup
  • Banana with Nougatine
  • Dark Chocolate Peanut Truffle
  • Cinnamon Banana White Chocolate Emulsion

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maple Cashew Icing

Maple Cashew Icing
1 cup cashews (preferably raw unsalted, but since roasted and salted are cheaper they work as well - soaking them draws out the salt)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: add a little sea salt, almond or lemon or rum extract, cocoa or melted chocolate, citrus zest, or chopped nuts

Soak the cashews until very soft, almost like soft bread. This can be done ahead by soaking them in a bowl full of cold water overnight or longer, or quickly by boiling the cashews briefly, or just covering them with boiling water and allowing them to sit for an hour or two. Drain well.

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. It is almost like making cashew butter. Add a little water or nut milk if needed to thin out the icing to the desired consistency. If the icing is chilled it becomes firm after a while, but will soften at room temperature. It doesn't harden as quickly on a cake stored in the fridge however.

This is an easy vegan frosting with no added fat or refined sugar. For a cream cheese-like frosting, add more lemon juice and replace the maple syrup with a more neutral sweetener such as agave or confectioners' sugar.

Monday, March 28, 2016

One Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake

One Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup  oil
2 teaspoons vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line desired cake pans.
In a large bowl, mix together the first five dry ingredients. Add the remaining liquid ingredients and mix well. Divide batter among prepared pans and bake until cake tests done.

This recipe makes enough for a two-layer size cake. So that would be two eight or nine inch round or square pans, one 9x13 inch rectangular pan, one 10 inch bundt, tube, or springform pan, 24 cupcakes, 48 mini cupcakes, or some combination of those pans.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bunny Butt Cake

Happy Easter Everyone!!!
Every year for Easter I make a decorated cake. I have done a white bunny, brown bunny, chick, basket, and egg. I always like to do a different design. I didn't have a lot of time this year, as I was busy cooking practice meals for competitions, so I went with a simpler design. I have seen this as a cake and cupcake design before and always wanted to try it.
It is a 'bunny butt cake'. Some versions have the bunny diving into a basket of candy or into some icing 'grass'. I chose just to keep my cake as a bunny. To make this, I made a standard two-layer size vegan chocolate cake recipe, baked in an eight inch round bowl, and three cupcakes (I actually made six cupcakes but reserved the other three for a different use). 

Ideally, I would have frosted the cake completely in white or brown icing to make either a white or brown bunny. But I didn't really have time to frost the sides of the bunny, and decided to go with a 'transition' bunny look - transitioning from a white winter bunny to the a  brown summer bunny.
I also made a new type of vegan icing - maple cashew, and because of the maple syrup it turned out a tan-color. 
I then dusted the entire cake with shredded coconut. The ears are just made of paper - I tried forming cupcake ears, but that didn't work either, and every version I say online used paper ears or didn't have ears at all.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Lamb Dinner

Today I made a leg of lamb dinner for Easter. I am practicing for an upcoming competition where I have to make an entree featuring leg of lamb, two vegetables, a sauce, a starch, and a garnish (minimum). I am given a limited list of ingredients to work with, which include fresh produce, dairy, herbs, spices, and dry goods. Here is what I came up with yesterday:

  • Spice-Crusted Roasted Leg of Lamb (self-butchered)
  • Blueberry Red Wine Sauce (sauce)
  • Herbed Pommes Duchesse (starch)
  • Butter Poached Carrot Curls (vegetable)
  • Creamed Asparagus (mystery vegetable)
  • Crispy Shallots (Garnish) 
It all turned out quite well and didn't take me too long to do - once I got the lamb meat off the bone. I didn't use recipes for any of it, just techniques I have learned and flavors I know work well together. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Practice Dessert Plate

I've got several competitions coming up, so I have been doing a lot of practicing lately. Planning menus, testing recipes, making practice plates, doing trial runs, and getting critiques from some awesome taste-testers. Here is a plate I did the other day. It wasn't an officially planned menu or anything, just some components I decided to play around with for fun and also to use up some ingredients I had around.
The components are as follows:

  • White Chocolate Lava Cake with Blueberry White Chocolate Emulsion Center
  • Blueberry White Chocolate Emulsion Sauce
  • Raspberry Ricotta Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Swirl
  • Nutty Tuile and Tuile Garnish
I've been playing with molten chocolate cakes a lot lately - I prefer dark chocolate, but white chocolate has been lending itself better to other flavors. The blueberry white chocolate emulsion was definitely a delicious hit. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nutty Chick Cookies

Yesterday I found a cute idea online for making little chicks out of macaroon cookies using nuts for the feet and beak and feathers. I happened to be making nutty tuile cookies yesterday, so I decided to try to form some of them into little chicks since Easter is just around the corner.
Well, they don't look as good as the macaroon version, but they have their own kind of charm to them. While the tuile cookies were still hot, I balled them up and allowed them to cool. I also left some of the cookies just flat. I used melted chocolate to attach a cashew halve to the bottom of the chicks for feet, and an almond for a beak, and colored candy coated chocolates for the eyes, and a piece of flat tuile for the top feathers.
The tuile recipe I used is the same one I used for the tuile cups for my pear ginger sorbet the other week, except I used a mixture of nuts instead of just hazelnuts this time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trio of Fennel Pollen Dusted Salmon

Poached Salmon Fillet with Fennel Pollen Butter, Fennel Pollen and Salmon Mousse, Crispy Fennel-Scented Salmon Croquette, Caramelized Onion Compote.
Here is the hot appetizer I made for my black box exam. I used salmon and fennel pollen in all three main components of this trio. I had never really heard of, let alone worked with or tasted, fennel pollen before. Upon research, I could not nail down a major flavor profile for it, but I knew it is one of those expensive ingredients that should be used sparingly.
First Salmon Component: I butter-poached the salmon in butter flavored with fennel pollen.
Second Salmon Component: A salmon mousse flavored with salmon pollen, lemon, and dill.
Third Salmon Component: A fried salmon cornmeal croquette sprinkled with fennel pollen salt.
Accompaniments: caramelized onion compote, and pickled celery allumette. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Caille en Sarcophage

Here is the main course I made for my black box exam: Pan Roasted Truffle-Scented Quail with Crisp Puff Pastry, Rosemary Mushroom Jus Lié, Glazed Carrot Curls, Cilantro Pesto.
I found the inspiration for this dish online, which means "Quail in Cage" and refers to a fancy, expensive version of quail sitting in puff pastry. 
I made my own puff pastry shells.
For the quail, I stuffed it with foie gras, seasoned it with salt and pepper, pan seared it, roasted it, and finished it with truffle oil. I didn't bother tying the legs up or anything.
For the sauce I made a quick rosemary and mushroom jus lie by sweating mushrooms in red wine, and reducing it with jus and rosemary.
On the side, I made a butternut squash puree and cilantro parmesan pesto for the plate, and butter-poached carrot curls.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bar Clam Tartare

This is the cold appetizer I made for my black box exam. An ingredient I received was a one-pound package of frozen thawed bar clams. Clams are tricky - you either have to cook them very briefly to avoid them from becoming chewy, or long and slow. I didn't have time to do long and slow, and I had never worked with bar clams before. So I decided to play it safe and serve them as a bar clam tartare.

To do this, I diced up the bar clams, removing the long feet. I mixed them with some diced red pepper and chopped chives. I flavored this mixture with some lime juice, sesame oil, salt, and pepper, and allowed it all to marinade.
I also made a quick avocado puree for the base of the tartare. 

To serve the tartare, I first placed a cut-out of mango gelee I had made on the plate. Then I spooned avocado puree into a ring mold on top of that, and pressed the tartare mixture on top of that, then removed the ring mold. I topped it with a sesame puff pastry cornet to add some crunch, and added orange curd as the sauce around the base. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Roasted Vegetable Tartlet

Rosemary and Thyme Pie Crust
Lemongrass Hummus
Roasted Carrots, Parsnip, and Zucchni
Smoked Oyster Mushroom
Grilled Sweet Peppers
Vegan Goat Cheese

The tart shell is a basic pie crust recipe baked in a muffin tin, but it is made vegan by using oil in place of butter.
The tart shell is filled with a hummus flavored with lemongrass paste.
The vegetables are simply thinly sliced and roasted in the oven with oil, salt, and pepper.
This is topped with a smoked oyster mushroom. 
The vegan goat cheese is an awesome recipe I came across that uses cashews, and is flavored with lemon juice and herbs.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Potato Kale Cakes

This is a quick vegan dish I made the other day. You can use it as an entree, a side dish, or an appetizer or hors d'oevure, depending upon size of cakes and accompaniments. 
Pictured here, they are served with sauteed summer squash, caramelized onion, pecan crumble, and carrot fluid gel.
Potato Kale Cakes
baby red potatoes, quartered
kale leaves, chopped
garlic, minced
seasonings: salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, etc.

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain off water, and add kale to the pot. Stir until kale is wilted, allowing the potatoes to become somewhat mashed. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding enough cornstarch to bind the mixture together and seasoning to taste. Form into patties.
To cook and serve: pan-fry or deep-fry patties or bake them, depending upon how much fat you wish to use.

Other Additions: Use any fresh or dried herbs or spices, add in other chopped vegetables, such as shallots, caramelized onions, or roasted red peppers; stir in chopped nuts; use flour in place of cornstarch; add in ground flaxseed, chia seed, or wheat germ.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Brussels Three Ways

This is an amuse bouche I came up with the other day. The components are: Candied brussels sprouts, Brussels sprout chips, Black garlic and brussels sprout aioli, Pickled cranberries, and Spiced toasted almonds. 

Candied Brussels Sprouts: Make a maple syrup and balsamic vinegar reduction, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and add Brussels sprout halves. Chill and drain.
Brussels Sprout Chips: Peel off individual Brussels sprouts petals and deep-fry until crisp. Season with salt.
Black Garlic and Brussels Sprout Aioli: Make a basic aioli, add black garlic puree to color, add julienned Brussels sprout leaves. Season to taste.
Pickled Cranberries: Make a basic pickling liquor using one part white wine vinegar, one part granulated sugar, to two parts water. Add a dash of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, add cranberries. Cool and strain.
Spiced Toasted Almonds: Toast almond slivers and spice with cayenne and chili powder.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


beef plate
Lately I have been cooking a lot of meat. Not exactly by choice, I've just been put on the rotisseur station and that has been my main responsibility. This means it is my job in the restaurant to cook all the proteins for the main courses. Where I currently am, this entails  six different proteins; 
duck plate
stuffed chicken breast supreme, duck breast, crusted rack of lamb, halibut fillet, salmon fillet, and eight ounce beef tenderloin.
The chicken is seared then roasted, the duck is slow roasted, the lamb is seared ten baked, the halibut is steamed, the salmon is grilled, and the beef is butter-basted. 
The duck, lamb, and beef could be asked for anything from rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done.
Sometimes the halibut or salmon are asked to be lightly cooked or well done.

I find it stressful enough cooking meats, as I don't often cook them and it is the main focus of the meal. There is no time on a busy night to probe meats, or compare a steak to a certain place on your palm to check the doneness. But somehow I learned along the way, and the other night I successfully cooked 54 covers, including a ten-top. Just check out those crosshatch grill marks. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bread Dip Trio

LEFT: Walnut Sage Pesto
Blitz walnut halves with sage leaves and walnut oil. Blend in minced garlic, salt, ground pepper, and fenugreek to taste. May or may not use parmesan cheese.
MIDDLE: Maple Lime Butter
Cream butter with maple syrup and lime juice and/or zest.
RIGHT: Spicy Chili Hummus
Blend cooked or canned chickpeas with sweet chili sauce. Add garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Vegetable Carpaccio Salad

  1. Shaved Black Radish (large white rounds, left side)
  2. Carrot Curls (three orange strips, outside rim)
  3. Butter Poached Parsnip Rolls (small yellow rolls, mid-plate)
  4. Mesclun Greens (bottom of the plate)
  5. Patridgeberry Coulis (small dots inside the radish)
  6. Carrot Fluid Gel (three small orange dots, top, bottom, and left of plate)
  7. Walnut Sage Pesto (green blobs atop the greens)
  8. Blood Orange Vinaigrette (mixed in with the greens)
Salad: Vegetable Carpaccio of shaved black radish, carrot curls, butter poached parsnip rolls, mesclun greens, partridgeberry coulis, carrot fluid gel, walnut sage pesto, and blood orange vinaigrette.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nutty Lacy Tuile Cookies

Nutty Lacy Tuile Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup golden corn syrup
1 cup ground hazelnuts or almonds, or nut of choice (nut flour)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour

In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir in nuts and flour.
At this point, the batter may be used right away or stored in the refrigerator for later.
To make tuiles: spoon batter onto silicone-line dbaking sheets. I used about 1/4 teaspoon for each tuile, but you may use more for bigger tuile. Space them far apart, I recommend doing no more than six per baking sheet, as they will harden before you can form them anyway.

Bake at 400°F for 5-10 minutes until the edges are browned and center is golden. They need to set for a minute or two on the cookie sheet after coming out of the oven and will color slightly more, so do not overbake them. They are really easy to overbake, and be sure to use a convection oven so they bake evenly. If they are underbaked, they will fall apart.

To form the tuiles, you can drape the warm cookies, carefully removing them from the cookie sheet with a flat metal spatula, over ladles, a rolling pin, or roll them into a cigar shape, as you desire. I used a two ounce ladle to form cups to hold my sorbet balls from the other day.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sweet and Spicy Balsamic Roasted Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Balsamic Roasted Nuts
1 cup mixed nut blend (any kinds you like - I recommend three varieties) 
2 Tablespoons espresso balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch chili flakes

Toss all together, spread on a baking sheet, and roast at 350°F until toasted. Let cool, then break into pieces. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ginger Pear Sorbet

Tonight I participated in an eight course tasting menu, and one of my responsibilities was to make the sorbet course as a palate cleanser between the fourth and fifth courses. I decided to go with ginger pear for my flavor. I served a scoop of sorbet in a hazelnut lacy tuile cup, garnished with some strips of candied ginger.

Ginger Pear Sorbet
50 ounces fresh, overripe pears, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
one bulb fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
4 1/2 cups white wine
3 cups granulated (white) sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice

Place the pears and ginger in a wide, shallow saucepan and cover with wine, sugar, and juice. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes until slightly reduced. Purée through a high power blender until smooth, then pass through a china cap to strain. Pour liquid into a shallow metal pound and freeze until mixture is cold, a few hours. Pass mixture through an ice cream machine, then freeze again to firm up before scooping.

This is a super simple sorbet recipe and it's really, really delicious! It tastes of fresh pear with a hint of ginger and a refreshing taste of wine. I just used a basic salted cooking wine, but if you can, splurge on a better quality wine and add a pinch of kosher salt to the mix. Overripe, mushy pears are fine, and even ideal for this. This recipe need not exact, it is pretty forgiving. One batch makes around two quarts or sorbet.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Platters For Sharing

Cheese Board
 Featuring: Le Douanier Cheese, Blue Cheese Balls, Extra Old Clothbound Cheddat, Feta Espuma, Parmesan Tuile, and Accompaniments: honeyed bakeapples, pear chutney, parsnip crisps, pickled figs, microgreens.
Charcuterie Board
 Featuring: Pork Rilette, Speck dry-cured beef, Duck Proscuitto, Foie Gras Ganache, and Accompaniments: pickles aprocits, crispy asparagus, mustard pickles, leek oil, crisp parsley, caramelized onion focaccia crouton.
Seafood Board
Featuring: Smoked Shrimp, Smoked Scallop, Cured Tuna, Smoked Swordfish, and Accompaniments: carrot fluid gel, pickled sea asparagus, jerusalem artichoke crisp, crispy cod skin.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Best Easiest Vegan Chocolate Mousse

I have talked about aquafaba before - simply the liquid from a can of beans or from cooking beans (most commonly chickpeas, but any beans tend to work). It is the vegan alternative to egg whites for meringue, pavlovas, marshmallow fluff, and extra body to baked goods. It magical how adding a little chocolate to is makes a rich and decadent mousse, which is, in my opinion, even better than traditional chocolate mousse as it still has all that air and richness, without the fattiness of dairy. 

This mousse can be considered healthy if you cut back on sugar. The amount of sugar you use depends upon your personal tastes and the percentage of dark chocolate you use. Unfortunately, I have not yet found success with sugar alternatives such as maple syrup, agave, or fruit purees. 
Best Easiest Vegan Chocolate Mousse
1/2 cup aquafaba
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 - 1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
50 grams dark chocolate (I used 90%)

Beat the aquafaba, vanilla, and cream of tartar together either in a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld mixer. I highly recommend a stand mixer if you have one; if not do like me and prop your handheld mixer up on some tins or a bowl, as your hand will get tired and your ears will get sore. This beating process can take up to ten minutes, though I find it starts to get quite thick around five.

Beat until it forms the equivalent of soft peaks of egg whites, then gradually beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form.

Meanwhile, while whipping mixture, melt the chocolate until smooth and allow it to cool slightly. Gently fold the cooled chocolate into the stiff whipped mixture. Mousse is now ready to eat! I am unsure if it holds in the refrigerator - my batch did not last long enough to test that theory; however I have read that whipped aquafaba does tend to deflate in the refrigerator, but can be rewhipped. Not sure how chocolate affects this.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Sweet Potato Custard

Sweet Potato Coconut Custard + Cranberry Hazelnut Granola + Maple Syrup Reduction + Melon Pearls + Pickled Chutney + Microgreens
Sweet Potato Coconut Custard
450 grams sweet potato, baked with skin on until tender, then peeled and puréed
400mL canned coconut milk
2-4 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons agar agar

Whisk the warm sweet potato purée and milk together in a small saucepan. Whisk in the syrup and agar agar. Bring to a boil over gentle heat, stirring often. Allow to boil for a minute or two until slightly thickened. Pour into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (size depends upon how thick or thin you would like your custard to be). Chill until set, in the freezer if you would like it to set faster. Cut into desired shapes while still firm, and allow to soften and come to room temperature to serve. Can be stored refrigerated or frozen.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Gouda Panna Cotta Plate

The other day I came up with this cold appetizer for service. It consists of: 

  • Gouda Panna Cotta
  • Parmesan Hazelnut Crustini
  • Blue Cheese Aioli
  • Poached Pears
  • Berry Coulis
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Chocolate Balsamic Hazelnut Dressing
  • Toasted Hazelnut Crumb
I called it 'Hazelnut Cheese Trio'. 
The panna cotta was a leftover I was using up, so sadly I do not have a recipe. I also found the poached pears and coulis, found some dandelion greens, and made crumble and crustini, and a dressing to bump it up.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Skills Secondary Competition

Today I volunteered as a runner for the Skills Secondary Competition. It is similar to the Skills Competition I competed in two weeks ago, but instead of black box ingredients, the competitors, who are not as experienced at this level, get a menu with recipes to follow and execute, along with a small parstock list to make the plates their own.
Tonight's menu was:
Appetizer: Fish Chowder
Entrée: Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Peppercorn Sauce, Maple Glazed Carrot Batonnet, Sautéed Spinach, Gratin Dauphinoise
Dessert: Carrot Cake with Fresh Fruit Garnish

A look at all five competitors' meals...

The winner will not be announced until the official Skills award ceremony next week. The top three were Competitors #2, #3, and #5. I was a runner for competitor #3. 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Regional Hot Competition

I recently competed in yet another culinary competition, but this one was different. It was a team competition, rather than individual, and it was a regional competition - with teams from different cities competing against each other. It was my first competition in a totally unfamiliar kitchen as well, one I only got a tour of an hour before the competition started. 
Our mandatory black box ingredients, supplemented by a nice parstock list, were as follows:
3 kg Scallops 10/20 count
30 Squid Tubes, 60g each/7.5-10cm
6 kg Mussels
8 Local Free Range Chicken (Small 900g - 1 kg)
1.2kg Pork Belly Rind On
600g Local Purple Radishes 'Kn-Bravo'
4 Fennel
1.8kg Golden Beets
6 Lemongrass Stalks
3.6kg Savoy Cabbage
3kg Local Mustu/Crispin Apples
1.5kg Frozen Wild Blueberries
600ml Maple Syrup

300g Dark or Milk Chocolate Callebaut Crisperals

I am extremely proud of our team. We have been practicing for months and felt very comfortable with the execution, timing, taste, and presentation of the menu we decided on. We had an excellent kitchen mark (40% of the final score comes from how well we work in the kitchen - cleanliness, cooking techniques, product utilization, etc.), with only a few minor blips. We felt very happy about our plates and immediately following plating, all felt it was the best we had ever done and we had nailed each and every component. We were super proud. 
The rest was up to the tasting judges - always subject to some matters of opinion. Although we did not place first in the tasting, we did come out of the competition with higher scores than all the senior teams, and with silver medals! Congratulations to all competitors and a huge thank you to my team members - I could not ask for a better team!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Caper Oil

Flavored and infused oils seem to be a widely popular trend right now. Herbs are particularly popular, steeping fresh herbs into a basil olive or neutral oil to add some extra color. It also adds flavor to many dishes used in place of plain oils. Amped-up salad dressings, sauteing chicken breasts, adding shine to cooked vegetables, etc. It is also a great way to use up herbs that are past their prime freshness. Of course herbs aren't the only types of oil, I have recently tried a fantastic trout oil made from roasted trout bones, arugula oil, fruit oils, and of course, roasted nut oils.
Pictured on the left here is caper oil - made from capers ground with oil. It's flavored with a little maple syrup and ground fenugreek to round out the saltiness of the capers. This is a bit of a thicker oil, but it could also be strained for a thinner oil. This is used more of a dipping sauce or condiment than a cooking oil.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Ginger Lime Jam

Ginger Lime Jam
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
2 cups lime juice
1 cup granulated (white) sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and almost syrupy. It will thicken more and form more of a syrup once cooled.
This jam has a pleasing zing to it, and because of all the lime juice, it isn't too sweet either. It can be used in more savory applications and pairs particularly well with nuts. Pictured here in the center, is has a beautiful shine to it and would be delicious on bread or biscuits, as well as a jam cooking filling option.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Pretty Pink Aioli

Pretty Pink Aioli
1 large whole egg
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon dry mustard powder
1 cup canola oil
beet powder/dust (dehydrated beets, pulverized into powder)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Aioli can be made either by hand, or in a food processor or blender. Neither one is particularly faster, unless you are making large batches, which would take much longer by hand. Either way, mix together the egg, vinegar, and mustard together well. Slowly stream in the oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking or mixing constantly. Add beet powder to achieve desired shade of pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: For a garlic-flavored beet aioli, add minced garlic in the beginning. 

Pictured here on the right, it makes a great condiment for bread or vegetables. A beautiful, natural color, especially for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Fruit, Cheese, and Platters, Oh My!

Here is a look at some of the fruit and cheese platters I have put together recently. 
Canadian Flag

Syrian Flag



Very full


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

First Place In Skills Competition

On Saturday, I participated in another culinary competition, much like the one I participated in last month (see This time, my black box ingredients were: one leg of lamb, one two-pound whole trout, four ounces of shredded parmesan cheese, and ten ounces or frozen mango pieces. 

This time, having one competition under my belt, I felt a little more confident. I put many more components on my menu, making it so I really didn't even have two minutes to spare. I also left my menu prepping a little more to the last minute. But I managed to pull it all off in time, despite having a broken oven (and having to run back and forth to an oven a distance away), and only three working burners instead of four. Here is a look at my plates!