Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Means Fresh Food

The weather is finally beginning to warm up and the sun is making more frequent appearance and things are beginning to grow! I've already gotten to the beach twice. Nit only will garden fresh produce soon be available, but there are also many foraged items that are now or are soon to be ready for picking! Spruce tips, dandelion buds, forget-me-nots, and rocket are all around in my area now. Don't forget mushroom season, wild greens and edible flowers!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Coffee Juniper Duck

This is a dish I was responsible for during an eight course dinner at work the other night. It was course #4 of eight and consisted of: Coffee and juniper rubbed slow roasted duck breast, wild rice pilaf, wilted greens, and sour cherry compote. We served over fifty people. The coffee and juniper rub was something unique and new to me and I loved making and tasting the sour cherry compote. Other items on the menu included fresh oysters, lobster ravioli, local beef, asparagus, sorbet, rhubarb crumble, and ceviche.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Brown Sugar Brandy Caramel Sauce

Brown Sugar Brandy Caramel Sauce
Heat together brown sugar and brandy until golden brown and caramelized and sugar is dissolved. Add a dab of butter and a splash of cream. Reheat if needed to adjust consistency.

The amount of sugar and brandy depends how strong and thin you would like the sauce to be. You can always add a splash of brandy at the end of cooking for more flavor.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Smoked Chocolate

Did you know you can smoke chocolate??? I guess I didn't now that it couldn't be done, i had just never tried it. Then someone made smoked chocolate ice cream and gave me a taste. Then I tried making smoked chocolate cheesecake. It is good. Very good. Like campfire reminiscent. Try some smoked chocolate creme anglaise with meringue and graham crumble. Yummm. Smoked chocolate could have endless possibilities. Chocolate should be cold smoked so it doesn't overheat during the process. It doesn't take too long, around half an hour.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Caramelized White Chocolate

If you have never tried such a thing you are seriously missing out. It's not your fault, it has not become mainstream yet. I myself only tried it a few months ago; but one spoonful and I was hooked! Caramelized white chocolate is just as it sounds - you heat some white chocolate either in the oven or in a frying pan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden brown. It should look like the color of peanut butter. When the chocolate melts like this is does become somewhat chalky or lumpy but it can simply be blended smooth. The first time I made it I did not bother blending and I ended up with something like caramel with skor bits in it. The mixture will harden but if you blend in some cream it stays fairly smooth. Blended in cream cheese is really good too, and a little sea salt really helps to balance out the flavor.

I used to say I didn't like white chocolate, that it wasn't even true chocolate. But now, I'm a convert. Like, why do they not sell this in bar form??
My first attempt - kinda lumpy but so tasty

My second attempt was much smoother

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu
1 block very firm tofu
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cornmeal (grind it for a smoother texture)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dry the tofu very well and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the cornmeal, salt, paprika, and garlic powder and place in a shallow dish. Cut the tofu into pieces (any size you wish) and coat with flour. Dip in beaten egg then coat in cornmeal mixture.
Pan-fry in hot oil on all sides until crispy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Playing With Veg

So without going into detail, this is what I did today. I spent a lot of time playing with veg. Tiny little cuts of veg. Peeling, cutting, shaping, blanching, cooking, arranging. It's amazing how much you can manipulate just a few veg. I still have a lot of work to do with them as well. Every piece has to be identical and perfect; as well as colorful, appealing, and nicely shaped. It is the kind of delicate and tedious work that goes along with fine dining and the art of plating. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Thanks For Your Support

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the years as I have set off to transform my culinary dream into reality and into a career I am passionate and enthusiastic about. Here are the graduation cards you all gave me for finishing culinary school. There currently all stand on my dresser in my bedroom. I know I have thanked every one of you individually, but I also want to thank all my supporters - whether I have a card from them or not; I know many people support me in many different ways. So thank you all!!!! You know who you are. :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Amazing What You Can Do With Some Fruit

All of these amazing sculptures were made from just fruit and vegetables (aside from the few salt and spices art work also thrown in the mix). I see a lot of melons and apples, carrots and greens. I cannot take credit for any of these, I am not that could at fruit carving (yet). There was a demonstration at the conference I attended. Unfortunately, I missed the demo while competing in the competition, but I did get to see the finished products!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dinner At A Winery

One night at the convention, we traveled outside the city to a beautiful winery and had dinner there. We had samples of many wines paired with out meal, and got to look around the grounds. The winery is a family-run, small business and a great place for weddings!
One of the buildings

The vines

The dining area

Dining room

First Course: crab, brie, and truffle
cream soup with bread stick

Second Course: Fresh garden salad with
watermelon,goat cheese, and raspberry dressing

Third Course: Beef tenderloin, herb crust lamb chop,
asparagus mashed potatoes, arugula, crispy fried noodles, jus.

Fourth Course: Key lime pie tart with whipped cream and cranberry sauce.