Thursday, September 30, 2010

"1,2,3,4. Can I Have A Little More?"

A few classes ago at Tech Center, Chef Kimmel taught us how to cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces-two breasts, two wings, two thighs, two drumsticks-it was far from glamorous.

A video to help explain [not mine of course]:

First things first, wash your hands, then rinse and dry the chicken [carry the chicken in a bowl so it doesn't drip and cross-contaminate everything withe salmonella.] Place the chicken breast side up on a plastic cutting board, never use a wood cutting board when handling raw meat, it absorbs the bacteria. Pull one of the legs away from the body and slice through the skin between the body and the sides of the thighs. Bend the whole leg away from the body until the hip bone pops from its socket- cut between the ball and socket to sever the leg. Repeat on the other side.

Once the legs are separated divide them into the and thigh. Do this by cutting through the joint of the drumstick and thigh.Repeat with other leg. Now you have your two thighs and drumsticks.

Now you need to get the wings off that bad boy! Pull the wing away from the body and slice diagonally 1" away form where the wing joint meets the body. Cut off the tip of the wing-save for making stock or throw it out. Repeat with the second wing.

Last but not least: getting the breast off the chicken. Set the chicken up vertically, so you can look down the neck cavity, and cut down through the shoulder bones to detach the back from the breast. You can save the backbone for a stock, eat the meat if you want, or just dump it. Once the breast is by itself cut it in two down the length of the breastbone.

Viola! a whole chicken divided into eight pieces. You can leave the skin on or take it off, its up to your personal preference, I usually take it off except for when i fry it.

Which reminds me, after we divided up our chickens, Chef Kimmel let us decide how to prepare our pieces. I chose to fry it, mainly because I am fried chicken champion, in the words of Chef, I "knocked Colonel Sanders out of the park," I was most pleased.

The breading was a crispy golden brown crafted with a perfect Melody of flavors, the chicken was tender and juicy, the ideal tasting conditions.

Southern Fried Chicken:
-8 pieces of chicken, skin on, [breasts each cut in half]
-2 eggs
-3-4 c. buttermilk
-1 tsp. liquid smoke
-6-8 c. flour
-3 tbs. dried rosemary
-2 tbs. paprika
-1 tbs. seasoned salt
-1/2 tbs. cayenne pepper
-2 tsp pepper
-Vegetable or soy oil for frying

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and liquid smoke. Set aside. In yet another medium bowl, combine the flour and seasonings. Take one piece of chicken, dip in flour, then buttermilk mixture, then dredge in flour, dip in buttermilk mixture again, then the flour again. This creates a nice breading on the chicken and dredge multiple times builds the potential crispness off the skin. Repeat with each piece of chicken, If more buttermilk mixture is need combine 1 egg and 1 cup buttermilk. For more flour combine another cup of flour with 2 tsp. rosemary, paprika, seasoned salt, and cayenne pepper.

Pour about 4" of oil into a large saute pan or pot with high sides. Heat the oil on medium heat. To check if the oil is ready, stick the end of a wooden spoon in the oil, if it bubbles all around it then its time to fry! Fit as many pieces in at a time as you can, make sure its not too crowded though. The biggest piece, usually the thigh, will obviously take longer to fry than the others, it should take around 20-24 mins. 10-12 each side. The pieces should be a delectable dark golden brown. If you are paranoid about it being done, check the internal temperature, 165 degrees is the safe zone.

Put on a plate, serve with biscuits, gravy,potatoes, etc. etc.


[Beatles Lyrics For Title]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

M.E.A.T.Y: Meat is Extremely Appealing Tasty and Yummy

The other night my Mama assigned me a glorious task--making meatloaf--a personal favorite. They key to a great meatloaf is proper moisture. If a meatloaf doesn't have enough tomato sauce or it has to many breadcrumbs then it will be crumbly and dry, not satisfying for my palate. Having said that if there is an excess of sauce or no binder or breadcrumbs, then the result would be a hot mess of a weird unappealing squishy meat-thing. I say "meat-thing" because if there's to much liquid then it wont stick together properly forming the desired loaf goal.

Aside from moisture one needs to create a good base with a variety of meats. I have something called the Holy Trinity of Meat. equal parts of ground beef, pork, and veal. The Beef gives the meatloaf or meatballs that classic meaty flavor. The Pork needs to be Italian, half sweet, half spicy, this adds a depth of flavor to the dish. However if you don't have the two different kinds of pork you can add a pinch of brown sugar or fennel seeds [for the sweet] and 1/2 tsp hot sauce [for the spicy.] Lastly, the Veal has a milder flavor and harmonizes all the different flavors together.

Meaty 3 Meat Meatloaf:

-1 1/2 lb. meat mixture [1/2 lb. each of ground beef, pork, and veal]
-1 onion, finely chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated*
-1 celery rib, finely chopped
-1/2 carrot, shredded
-1 1/2 tbs. paprika
-2 tsp. dried, crushed rosemary
-2 tsp. dried, crushed thyme
-1 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-3/4 c. tomato sauce
-2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
-2 tbs. Italian dressing
-1 egg
-1/2-3/4 c. plain or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat the hotbox to 350 F

In a large bowl, using your hand combine together the meat with the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and seasonings. Now add in the tomato sauce, Worcestershire and Italian dressing wih the meat mixture. beat the egg then combine with meat. Pour in the bread crumbs, making sure that the mixture is moist and sticks together.

Dump the meat into a greased bread loaf pan, distribute evenly. Make sure to push the edges of the meatloaf away from the sides of the pan, leaving an inch of space for the fat to drain into. Brush the top with tomato sauce to retain moisture, if you want wrap in bacon for extra moisture and flavor.

Put in the oven and bake for an hour and a half.

Take out, cut into slices. EAT.

Goodnight ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marshmallows Are The Food Of The Moon Men

The other night i was bestowed with the honor of sleeping over at my best friend Maggie's house. It was fabulous and she taught me a very very important life lesson. Put marshmallows in the brownie batter. Genius. Pure genius. Literally mind blown by how decadent, gooey, chocolaty, and eye-popping show-stopping these brownies were. I'm not even sure she knows how obsessed i am with this brownie breakthrough.

So Mags, when you read this, just know, you complete me.

Photo Cred to scrumptiousdelight

The crumb was compact and moist, yet it still had a lightness to it, as if it were a delicate cloud of gooey chocolate. When I picked it up i had to be cautious; it could cave in any second since its very molecules were unstable due to the yumminess. I took my first bite, a symphony of ambrosial tastes melted in my mouth leaving my taste buds moaning for more.The only thing i think could make this taste any more delicious would be to add caramel just because chocolate and caramel are soul mates in a steamy love story of tempting food.

Brownie Ecstasy:

-4 large eggs, separated
-1 c. sugar, sifted
-1 c. brown sugar, sifted
-1 c. [8 oz.] melted butter
-1 1/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/4 c. chocolate syrup or melted chocolate
-3/4 c. flour, sifted
-1/2 tsp. kosher salt. [omit if salted butter is used]
-1/2 c. mini marshmallows [or 6 big ones quartered]

-Soft butter for greasing the pan
-Flour for dusting the pan

Preheat the hotbox to 300 F. Butter and flour a 8" square pan.

In a medium size bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until a smooth homogeneous consistency is reached. Pour in both sugars, mix well. Add in the butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, flour and salt, stir until combined. Mix in the mini marshmallows. Now gently fold in the whipped egg whites, do not be harsh on them or it will cause all the air incorporated in them to be released. The egg whites give it a light texture.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 45 mins. You cant use the toothpick method to check for done-ness since they are so gooey. However, you might want to shake the pan, if the middle is still jiggly then its definitely not done.

Try to wait until it is mostly cooled before cutting it, i know it's tempting to devour them right away but patience is a virtue.

Grab a brownie and delight your sense with the pure deliciousity that is, brownie ecstasy.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Yeast, Bread, And Chemistry

Now today has been rather rough; i cut my finger at The Tech Center. I blame physics and my accident prone self. However, i didn't freak-out about it, even after i found out i had to go get stitches. Actually i was straight up annoyed because i didn't get to cook my Veggie Burger! LAME. The Only real painful part was when the doctor injected the numbing medicine into my finger. It was like a bee was stinging me, but the stinger was made of fire and death. I'm just glad it was the Center's knife and not mine. I have a Shun brand french [aka chef's] knife so basically if i were using that i would have probably cut much deeper, practically to the bone. So Glad that wasn't the case.

I'm feeling rather scientific at the moment; I decided to answer a very common question in the culinary world. Why the heck does yeast make bread rise?!
The answer is quite simple and scientific, and yes, something can be scientific and still be simple.

First off, many people are confused about what yeast really is. Yeast is a fungus. MMM now ain't that just so appetizing? The type of yeast most commonly used is a budding yeast named Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. I'll refer to it as SC for short.

Now SC lives a very simple life, its one and only objective is to intake sugars and starches for nutrients. As a result, SC releases Carbon Dioxide [aka CO2] as a byproduct.

So when a yeast bread dough left to rise SC is producing more and more CO2 which in return get trapped inside of the dough. The build up of the Carbon Dioxide is what makes the bread rise.

An important thing to remember is to always let yeast breads rise in a warm place because heat allows SC to pass gas faster. This is also why bread continues to rise throughout the baking process process because the heat of the oven sets SC into turbo mode.

Well that's my little science lesson for today! Hope you enjoyed my random knowledge!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Im Famished

Honestly, there is very little to eat in my house at the moment. I mean there are bagels and grapes and some blackberries but seriously? What happened to everything? I blame communism. Anyway I'm thinking about making some bread or muffins or something out of flour, yeast, butter and sugar since those are basically the only things in my kitchen right now. Hell i just might make cookies for dinner...dinner cookies. Yeah that's it ill attempt making a savory cookie.... this should be interesting. Ill post m discoveries later tonight.

Also I haven't posted in the last couple days b/c Ive been out of it and playing video games and trying to remember to do my homework; not to mention getting ready for the S.A.T. Oh the joys of high school!

On the final note, Tech Center was okay today. We had to make up our own Stir-Fry recipe, mine came out pretty good but I'm getting sick of just making stir-fries. I'll get over it,I love Tech Center.

Here's my Stir-fry recipe-

Sesame Honey Chicken Stir-fry:
-1/4 c. soy sauce
-1/4 c. chicken stock
-3 tbs. honey
-1 tbs. lemon juice
-2 tsp. sesame oil
-2 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp. curry powder
-1 tsp. ginger
-1 tsp. turmeric
-1/2 tsp. ground mustard

-2 cloves garlic,minced
-3 scallions, minced
-1 rib of celery, 1/4" thick half moons
-1/2 carrot, julienned
-1/2 zucchini, julienned
-1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
-6 oz. grilled chicken, 1" cubes

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add in the sauce mixture, bring to not quite a simmer. Add in the garlic and scallions, saute for around 3 mins. Toss in the veggies, cook for 5 mins.
Finally put in the chicken and heat for a final 3-5 mins.

Veggies should be a nice tender-crispness, or aldente [to the teeth.]

Serve with sticky white rice, so much more fun to eat it with chopsticks!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Till The Last Bite

I'm dead right now. I had a very difficult triathlon today, the bike course was described as "gently rolling hills". More like the Peaks of Hell! My quads are fried but i got 1st in my age group because i was the only girl my age with enough balls to take on the race. Anyways i need to talk ab out something delicious i discovered yesterday at the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Warrenton, Virginia.

This restaurant is pretty frigging good. They had a delicious cheese plate of blue cheese, a hard white Cheddar, and some sort of medium hard cheese; partnered with slice green apples crispy nutty crackers and delicious crusty bread.

However the cheese plate is not why I have taken such a liking to this place, it was the Chicken and Red Grape Pizza. I saw it on the menu and knew i needed to eat it.
This personal gourmet pizza was exquisite. The chicken was tender and juicy, the juicy hot grapes bursted in my mouth with their caramelized sugars flirting with my taste-buds. Underneath these tantalizing toppings was a sheet of perfectly melted Gruyere cheese on top of a thin tender pizza crust. I enjoyed it to the last bite which in my opinion is the goal of a chef. Anyone can get someone to love the first bite but it takes talent to get someone to enjoy a dish just as much till the last bite.

I've formulated what i figure is the closest recipe ill get to this glorious dish.

Chicken and Red Grape Pizza:
[You can use a thin 6" frozen pizza crust if preferred]
-1 tbs. sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt, kosher
-1/2 tbs. pure olive oil
-1/3 c. warm water
-1 c. bread flour
-1 tsp instant yeast
-an extra tsp. olive oil
-1 chicken breast
-12 seedless red grapes
-2 or 3 oz. crumpled Gruyere cheese
-1 tsp. snipped chives
-1/4 tsp. pepper
In a large bowl place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, flour, and yeast. [you can use an electric mixer on low for this.] Combine until the dough just forms into a ball. Dump onto a floured surface and knead for 15-25 mins. Form a smooth ball and place in a glass bowl. Pour in the extra tsp. of olive oil and toss the dough to coat. Cover in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until double in size.
Meanwhile, cut the chicken breast into very small, bite size cubes. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the saute pan. Gently saute with a pinch of salt, half a pinch of pepper, and 1 tsp lemon juice.
Preheat the hotbox [with the pizza stone on the lower rack] to 425 F

Mold the dough into a 6" pizza crust; form a rim to keep the toppings in; brush with olive oil. Crumple the Gruyere evenly on the crust. Sprinkle on the pepper. Distribute the grapes and chicken bites, evenly covering the pizza.
Place pizza on the hot pizza stone. Bake for 15-20 mins, until golden brown crust and the cheese is melty and bubbly.

Cut into fourths; sprinkle with chives and dig in.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Whip It!

As i staggered through my front door after a delicious Philly Cheese Steak sub from Angelo's I went into my kitchen to see what i wanted to cook for later. My eyes were immediately drawn to the heavy whipping cream. At that moment I recalled that there was one sheet of puff pastry left. So of course i made cream puffs! A good puff needs to be flaky, a little sweet, buttery, and tender on the inside. The cream to accompany it needs to be thick, fluffy, and just the right sweetness. This whipped cream and puff recipe combo makes for a delicious little elegant dessert.

I kinda feel like shit because I've barely drunk enough water to sustain a good mood, and i have AP US History and AP English homework to do so I'm trying to be short here. [sorry :'( ]

Whipped Cream:
-1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour all ingredients into a bowl. Whisk by hand until stiff peaks form. You can whip the cream with an electric mixer as well on a low to medium-low speed. Should be thick and creamy; not to mention yummy.

Cream Puffs:
- 1 sheet of Puff Pastry Dough
-1/3 c. sugar
-1 tbs. butter, melted
-1/2 c. Whipped Cream

Preheat the hotbox to 350 F

Thaw the puff pastry dough as directed on the box. Usually 30 to 40 mins. Set on a cutting board and make 1" wide strips lengthwise, now take those strips and cut them in half. Roll the strips into individual balls, or "puffs." Roll the dough balls in sugar then dip in the butter. Place on a greased cookie sheet; bake for 20-25 mins or until puffed up and a light golden brown on top.

Remove from the oven and transfer onto a cooling rack; allow to cool for 10 mins. Take a knife and slice the puffs in the middle so you have a crevasse to place the cream. Spoon as much cream into or on the puffs as you want. Serve warm or cold from the fridge. Drizzle or dip in melted chocolate if you so desire. I would have but alas no chocolate sat in my cabinet nor in my fridge.

Store extras [doubt you'll have any] in the fridge or freezer.

Pop one of those bad boys into your mouth and savor the sweetness of that cute petite puff.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biscuits; An Art Form

I'm not sure if I've actually eaten dinner tonight, but i did wolf down three delicious honest to goodness southern buttermilk biscuits. I count it as my dinner, all i need to survive are biscuits with gravy, honey, or jam, that and Betsey Johnson clothes.

Now I believe that people have lost the concept of a good biscuit. The majority has had their taste buds zapped and brain washed by dough in a can.I'm pretty sure lots of people have never had a homemade biscuit, they have no idea what they are missing out on. Seriously man, getting the right biscuit out of your oven is like angels singing from the heavens, they're that good. Not to mention if it comes out of my grandma's oven, I cant even convey the feeling my body experiences when i devour one of her delicious pillows of biscuits. Yum. However my recipe is almost just as good as hers, i still haven't perfect my technique. Either way the out come is a flaky buttery biscuit that's just sweet and salty enough, soft and not to dense with the right sort of chewiness in the center. They're good for breakfast, second breakfast, tea, snack, lunch, dinner, supper, desert; anytime just pair them with the right add-ons.

For example, have them with sausage gravy for breakfast, jam for tea or a snack, whipped cream with fresh sliced strawberries for a desert. etc. etc.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
-3 c. AP flour
-1 tbs. baking powder
-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 c. granulated sugar
-3/4 c. butter, softened and cut into pats
-1/2 tbs. tupelo honey
-1 1/4 c. buttermilk [or 1 cup regular milk]

Preheat the hotbox to 450 F

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar. Throw the butter into the flour mixture and using two knives, cut criss-cross through the mixture until the consistency of coarse meal forms [you can use your hands instead of the knife technique.] Stir in the honey then form a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the milk in and use a fork to for the dough. Dump onto a flour surface and knead the dough 6 to 10 times. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until a 1/2" thick. Next take a floured 2" round cookie cutter and cut out your biscuits. Roll up the scraps and repeat until all the dough is used. Place the rounds on a greased baking sheet 1" apart from each other. sprinkle with some extra sugar and salt on top of each. Cook for 10-15 mins.

Dip in honey or spread on jam, take a deep breath to build the effect;bite; swallow;enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Alas, What Crimes Have Been Committed In The Name Of Chowder!"

I some how managed to get two hours worth of homework done in one. What a champ! Today was a fun day at tech center, we made chowder. It's called a chowder, not a soup, and not a stew. Don't mix em up! Super delicious no matter what you call it though. The only problem was it was extremely hard for everyone to cram in on the stove. Two kids got burnt today. However one of the guys determined we were all gonna be "close" friends by the end of he year do to this cramped space. I enjoyed the pun. We made a vegetable chowder with chicken stock. I cant wait till meat is brought into the class. Meat is neat after all. I also got fitted for my chef uniform today at Tech Center, I cant wait to parade around in it.

Chef Kimmel went over the idea of a roux and how it thickens sauces and soups, showed us the proper way to scald milk, an peel the skin off tomatoes.

Scalding milk is where you heat it up so its hot but make sure it doesn't boil or curdle, that would result in an off taste and viscosity.

To peel the skin off a tomato, first cut a small "X" on the top of it. Now place in boiling water for around a minute or until the skin starts to pop off. Shock in ice water to make sure it doesn't cook and keeps it color. now using your fingertips, gently peel off the skin. To seed the tomatoes cut into quarters and squeeze out the seeds into a bowl. After this julienne them and then make small dices of the tomato for this recipe.

Creamy Vegetable Chowder:
-2 oz. butter
-3 oz. flour
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1/2 onion, small dice
-1/4 to 1/2 zucchini, medium dice
-1/4 to 1/2 yellow squash.medium dice
-1/2 carrot, medium dice
-2 celery ribs, medium dice [half-moons]
-3 to 5 white button mushrooms, sliced
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. dried basil
-2 bay leaves
-1/2 tsp. thyme
-1/4 tsp. white pepper
-4 c. hot chicken stock
-1 medium tomato, peeled; seeded; diced
-2 c. hot milk
-1 large russet potato, peeled; medium diced; boiled till fork tender

In a large saute pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and onions, saute for a minute or two. Throw in the zucchini, squash, carrot, celery, mushrooms and seasonings, cover and sweat until the veggies are a little under aldente, so they are still slightly crunchy. 5-10 mins. Stir in the flour to the vegetable medley and cook for 5 mins, stirring constantly to ensure the flour doesn't burn. The addition of flour makes a roux to make the chowder thicken up. Next pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes, whisk the mixture vigorously for a few mins to incorporate air and to keep the flour from clumping. This aids the thickening process. dump in the milk and potatoes. Whisk and cook for another 5 to 10 mins. take off the heat and allow to thicken up a bit more for around 5 mins. REMOVE THE BAY LEAVES. they can get stuck on the inside of your throat since they are so thing. you will choke and die.

Ladle into a bowl and enjoy. I prefer to have it in a mug so i can drink it.

[Louis P. De Gouy Quote For Title]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Puff Daddy? Oh My Bad, Puff Pizza.

I went shopping with my sister earlier to blow of some steam, nothing like retail therapy! I bought a devil horn hat. It's adorable. On a side note, I spent a lot of time dicing carrots and julienning them for practice. It is impossible to make perfect even squares out of carrots.

Anyway, when i got home and she drove back to her apartment, i got to thinking about what i wanted to do with this puff pastry i had in the freezer. I ping ponged ideas in my head. Should I make a dessert? Pot Pie? Napoleons? Then it hit me, Pizza. Genius. Delicious. Easy.

I let my pastry thaw, but while i was doing that, i whipped up a quick sauce. Almost the same one i used in the "A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush" post. []
However I had to settle for canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh cherry tomatoes. None the less it was still exquisite on the pizza.

I normal make my own pizza dough and i was worried that maybe a puff pastry wouldn't be a good enough thickness or texture. If you like a really doughy thick dense-ish crust, then i wouldn't recommend puff pastry, however if you don't mind a thinner crust go for it.

Pastry Pizza Is Yum:
-1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed for 30 to 40 mins
-"That's Amore Tomato Sauce"[from the bird in the hand post] or your favorite pizza sauce
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese, or fresh mozzarella cheese in 1/4" thick slices.

Preheat the hotbox to 425 F

Set the pastry on a greased cookie sheet. Fold over the edges so it resembles a small pizza crust, [enough to hold in the goods.] Then take a fork and prick the dough so it wont let the sauce explode off. Next spoon over the sauce and spread evenly across the dough. Now sprinkle the cheese on top. Add whatever toppings you want, bacon, peppers, peperoni, sausage, etc. Cook in the oven for 15 mins, until the cheese is melted & bubbling and the pastry is a golden brown.

Take out; Slice; Devour; Enjoy
I'm off to do the Trig homework i put off till just now.
Oh Procrastination, how I've missed you.

Later Broskis !

Will You Ever Forgive Me,Blog?

I'm very troubled today, i remembered that i haven't posted anything new on here in forever. I feel as if my jam is offended. I think ill make something with puff pastry I have in my fridge, I'll post food stuff later.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Ship Sprung A Leek!

I took a nap on my best friend's couch today after school, she has the most comfortable couch in the universe. I wish i could keep that couch in my pocket and set it up where ever i wanted to take a glorious nap. But as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic. Anyway when i got home, i remembered i had some leeks left over from when i bought them a week ago. I had to use them today or the consequences might have been deadly...

I decided on making potato-leek soup since i had all the necessary ingredients. On the down side i realized i didn't have a blender till after i had finished simmering the leeks and potatoes...I had to cream it together by hand resulting in a slightly more lumpy consistency than anticipated. Having said that, the soup was still scrumptious, i love the light onion flavor of the leeks, it melds all the flavors together nicely. After i made the soup though, i was kinda bummed that i didn't make leek rings [i always want to say leet rings]. They're like onions rings except with leeks so they're smaller. I'll make those another time when i feel like frying something.

On another note, be sure to rinse the leeks nice and well. Since they are grown in sand you need to make sure you get all the sand and bad stuff out before cooking. Don't want anyway, including yourself, having to have a grainy sand crap.

Leeky Soup:
-3 tbs. butter
-2 to 3 medium or large leeks, sliced into half moons about a 1/4" thick
-1/2 tsp. honey, preferably an amber
-1 tsp. salt
-4 c. vegetable stock or chicken broth
- 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
-1 tsp. paprika
-1 1/3 c. heavy cream
-1/2. buttermilk

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the leeks and honey and sweat for 5 mins. Sprinkle in the salt and cook for another minute or so. Next pour in the broth then add in the potatoes and paprika; turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Now lower the heat and bring to a simmer; cover and continue to simmer for 45 mins. Using a stick blender, or a regular blender puree the leek and potatoes until a liquidity mashed potatoes consistency. Blend in the cream and buttermilk until smooth.

Serve with buttery crackers and grated Asiago cheese. Oh and don't forget to maybe add some crumbled bacon or fresh snipped chives on top too.

I was more than happy to eat this. Its such a mild onion flavor but you can taste the smokey undertones of the paprika and the sweetness of the honey in a beautiful way. The fact that i basically end up loving any food with potatoes in it was a plus as well. Its a great dish for cold or hot days because you can eat it piping hot, or chilled, so no matter what time of year you can always enjoy leeks if you have them!

Off to another day at the Tech Center tomorrow!

Enjoy yourselves, okay?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Need To Be Sloppy

Oh how wonderful today was. I had my first day at the Chesterfield Technical Center, It's where i get to go every other day to study culinary instead of school. This place is spectacular, my teacher, Chef Kimmel, Is amazingly nice, and the kitchen is awesome. The gas stove has 20 burners, 10 in the front, 10 in the back; not to mention the pantry is filled with so many spices! After Chef Kimmel tested our knowledge of kitchen and culinary tools, he got us working on our cooking project of the day, Sloppy Joes. First Chef demonstrated mise en place basically having everything ingredient you need prepared and ready before you begin the actually cooking. Once we got started it was hectic,the 22 of us running around with pots, knives etc etc. It was exhilarating. The clang of the cooking spoons against the pots, the sizzle of the ground beef, the swift chopping noises; I was in my element.

After we had finished making the sloppy joes, we began to clean up our station a little before we went off to the cafeteria to eat.It was awkward since i didn't really know anyone to sit with, thankfully this one girl from my class invited me to sit with her friends. They were all girls so i mean i didn't have much to talk about with them, I'm more into talking about video games, not listening to pointless gossip. I appreciated it none the less.

When we returned to the culinary room,we began the clean up process. There were two super large sinks, each divided into thirds; one part for cleaning, another for rinsing, and the final one for sanitizing with water mixed with bleach. We also had to sweep and mop the floors, clean the stoves, take the garbage out, make sure all of our supplies were accounted for, turn in our knives, and was the tables with water and bleach. Sounds like it might be dull, but trust me, it's never boring in the kitchen, there was always something to do.

Pac-Manwhich [lolpun!] photo cred to

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches:
-8 oz. ground beef
-1/4 onion, diced
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-2-3 un-pitted green olives, minced [optional]
-1 tsp flour
-1/8 tsp. dry mustard
-1 tsp.paprika
-1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 tsp. honey
- 1/3 c. ketchup or tomato sauce
-1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

First heat a pan on medium high heat.When hot enough to the point where the meat sizzles when it touches the pan, brown the meat with the onions, garlic, and olives. Drain some of the excess fat, but not all of it. Stir in the dry ingredients, simmer for 5 mins. Mix in the wet ingredients, simmer for another 5-10mins. Serve the sloppy Joes on toasted hamburger buns, a warm bun always tastes better.

It was a nice tasting Joe, or Jane in my case I suppose. Making these from scratch always tastes better, and you know whats in it, not to mention you can pronounce the ingredients. So basically, this recipe demolishes "Manwhich." Manwhich is for pussies! Whoopzie Doodles, i need to mind my mouth.

Its a basic recipe, but that's what this place is all about, learning the basics, knife skills, how to handle certain ingredients, etc. etc. So basically its legit awesomesauce to the max. I also have to wear a chefs uniform, which is freggin sweet, cant wait till the order comes in for it.

OH,on top of all that i had my first ever interview,for a job at "Party City", I nailed it. The manger said he put me in the "hire" pile. So in 1-3 weeks ill be working at one of my favorite stores! Excitement!

May the force be with you...


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day Of School,I Need Stew.

Today was the first day of school; hectic to say the least. My best friend, Mary, pulled up in her cherry red, beat up, convertible, not as good as the 73' Maverick she bought but now isn't functioning. That Maverick is straight up gorgeous, Mary and I have a thing for old cars. As i was saying she picked me up and as we approached the stoplight just on the outskirts of our neighborhood, I realized i had forgotten my book The Kite Runner, in my room. I freaked out and Mary turned around ASAP. I made a picture of me freaking out, on paint.

And yes, my jacket is that colorful.

I was so panicky because I had two books [one being the Kite Runner] due along with essays for the first day of my AP English course. Now i had both of my books, but somehow i winded up not having my papers with me. I was fucking pissed to say the least. Thankfully, my teacher was understanding and allowed me, well my dad, to email her the essays as soon as i could without taking off. Dodged a bullet there, I'm always forgetting things, and it sucks because even though i procrastinate, i always end up getting my work done, so if I forget to bring something I flip out.
Not to mention i lost my schedule after only my 2ND class causing me to embarrassingly ask someone in guidance to print me off a new one. However I think I'll like my classes, especially chemistry, I'm a major science geek.

The time has come, for the subject of food! HUZZAH! Now I did some research on Brazilian cuisine because it's the country from which Ive chosen to cook from today. Awesomesauce? I think so.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and probably the 4Th largest in the world. Around 1/4 of the known plants can be found in Brazil, not to mention the Amazon River runs through it and has the largest rainforests in the world.

In the 1500's the Portuguese landed in Brazil, bringing with them their various cooking techniques and food preferences. They brought sugar, citrus fruits, and recipes for some sweet treats, European influence is what developed Brazil's undeniable "sweet tooth." However, a long time before the Europeans even thought about the new world, Indian groups lived and Brazil and grew manioc, which is a root similar to the potato. Manioc is now one of the staples of Brazilian cuisine, along with: rice, garlic, parsley, beans, pork, and beef. The national dish is actually a meat stew called Feijoada, me being me, I decided to prepare it. [I wanted to make Ambrosia which is a sweet custard like desert, but i didn't have enough eggs.]

This stew is flavorful and hearty, packed with the bold smoky flavors of the meats blended with the sweetness of the tomatoes. Furthermore, the beans gave it a most pleasing texture. Traditionally this dish is served with white rice, manioc, orange salad, and kale, but i just had it with a nice piece of crusty bread.

-3 strips raw bacon, cut into fourths, width wise
-2 yellow onions, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
-1 lb smoked sausage
-1 lb boneless beef, any cut. Flank steak, or stew beef are good choices
-14 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
-1 tbs. Dijon Mustard
-1 c. hot water
-4 c. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper

In a large pot fry the bacon at medium-high heat. Once fried, reduce to medium. Add in the chopped onions and minced garlic and cook for 2-3 mins so they are soft. Slice the sausage and beef into 1" pieces, then add them to the pot. Brown the meat on all sides, then stir in the tomatoes, mustard, hot water, and the salt & pepper .Cover and reduce heat to a simmer; simmer for 45mins. Be sure to stir it often, around every 10 mins or so. If it starts to get to thick or dry, add in an extra 1/4 cup of hot water. Now pour in the beans, cover once more and cook for a final 10mins or until the beans are to your liking.

Sorry there are none of my pics, my cameras on the fritz. Lamesauce, but here is a picture of it [courtesy of]

I'm a sucker for soups and stews, and for bacon and sausage, so to me this dish was a winner. It made my insides smile, and yes I'm the kind of weirdo who enjoys stew when its still burning hot house is cold okay.

Goodnight good fellows.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Want Wontons

Tonight is quite amazing. Its beautiful outside and my kitchen smells awesome. The scent of corriander and chilli peppers still lingers. The burn of the spice still dances upon my lips, and my tummy is most satisfied. My Papa, sister, and I feasted on delicious Mantu , which are steamed dumplings, a popular dish in Afghanistan. The country of the day. COOL.

Yogurt, coriander, garlic, onions, green onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and fruit are staples in Afghan food. Not to mention its a combination of the many different ethnic groups, such as Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks, with Indian influence of use of many spices such as saffron, corriander, black pepper, cardamon, etc etc. Also Lamb is a huge favorite amoung Afghan cuisine. Mmmm Lamb.
I decided to make mantu because it sounded delicious. Lamb and Onion dumpling. yum? I think so.
Mantu Dumplings:
-3 tbs. oil
-1 lb. minced/ ground lamb
-1 yellow onion, finley chopped
-2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated.
-1-2 red chilis, finley chopped
-1 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 tbs. coriander powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-A package of premade wonton wrappers.
-1/2 c. plain yogurt
-4 extra cloves of garlic, finley minced

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the onions and garlic until translucent, 2-3 mins. Add in the meat, cook until brown; breaking it down into a fine texture. Stir in the seasonings and chilis, add in 1 tbs of water, continue to cook for 15 to 20 mins. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Take one wonton wrapper and place 1/2 tbs. of the mixture in the center, wet the egdes of the wrapper with water. Take another wrapper and cover and fold until all edges are sealed. Repeat until all the filling is gone. Place in a steamer and steam for 30 mins.
Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the yogurt and the extra 4 cloves of minced garlic, pepper to taste. This will be a most loveley sauce to compliment the dumplings.

Take the dumplings out, dip them in the sauce, eat, enjoy.

These wonton thing-a-ma-gigs are so freggin good. Flavorful, spicy bold, but the sauce is tangy and cool with a lot of zip. Great Combo.

Praise The Sky For Spinach Pie

I rolled of my Papa's futon this morning, futons are stuffed with hate, and i felt the urge not to move for quite some time. Eventually i got up and got ready to go out for a nice bike ride with my daddy. The weather has been amazing recently, like the dragons of summers heat is flying away making room for autumn coming in the next month or so. Before I went on the ride i had myself a glass of chia seeds, lemon juice, sugar, and water. It takes like slimy lemonade, but in a good way, and it's pack full of omega-3's and omega-6's, not to mention gives you quite the energy boost. Chia seeds are amazing fuel. It was a beautiful 22 mile ride, This one part we were going down this winding road and all i could focus on was the gorgeous trees with sun permeating through the gaps and the forest surrounding the street. I happen to love nature quite a bit. That's for another post though.

This post is about what i was supposed to make yesterday, Albanian Spinach Pie.

Now Albania is located in South-Western Europe, with the Mediterranean on its Western border, Serbia to the North, Macedonia to the East, and Greece to the South. For obvious reasons, Albanian cuisine is influenced by Greek, Italian, and Turkish cuisines. There are many dishes with Lamb or Veal, not to mention many dishes contain nuts or yogurt.
I took it upon myself to make a popular dish, Spinach Pie.

Byrek Me Spinaq [Spinach Pie] :
-1 c. olive oil
- 3/4 lb. Filo Dough, about 30 sheets
-1 1/2 lb. spianch leaves, chopped [raw, not frozen]
-6-8 oz. crumbled feta, or 1 c. diced
-5 green onions [scallions], chopped, about 1/2 c.
-2 eggs, beaten
-1/2 tsp salt
preheat the hotbox to 350 degrees F.

Get a medium sized round casserole dish, or pie dish; brush with a little of the oil. Layer the sheets of Filo two at a time, then sprinkle with a little of the oil. Repeat until half of the Filo is used. Mix the Spinach and salt together in a medium bowl. Add in the Feta, onions, and eggs. Cover with the remaining Filo using the same technique as before. Dizzle a samll amount of oil over the top. Bake for 30-45 mins, or until golden brown.

The edges of mine got Burnt >.< , but it was still delicious. There is something about Spinach Pie that kind of warms your heart. Its a humble dish, but it still knows its good. This Albanian dish is a close relative to the Greek dish called Spanakopita, which is also super yummy...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What Had Happen Was...

I didnt cook today. i got distracted. However I did make strawberry pear jam at midnight when i couldnt sleep. I'll make double stuff tomorrow.
Soooo heres are adorable comics from

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meat Is Neat

A very low-key day indeed. I actually don't quite remember what i did...rode my bike, swam? I'm uber wiped out so im gonna keep this short and sweet.
I made an Australian meat pie. Which was yumminess to the max! I didn't have any ground beef so i had to mince a boneless steak i had. It took forever, but it tasted just the same, if not even better.

Now Australia is the smallest Continent, so its the 'country' of the day. The English were the first to establish settlements, however, agriculture there was a mega fail. So the depend on a lot of food from England. The Irish and some Asian countries migrated down under and had an influence on their cuisine as well.
I made a meat pie because it's the national dish of Australia. More than 260 million pies are eaten every year there.

Australian Meat Pie:
-3 tbs. of olive oil
-1 medium vidallia onion, finely chopped
-1 lb. of ground, lean beef [80% meat to 20% fat is preferred]
-1 tsp oregano
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
-1 tbs. corn starch
-3/4 c. beef stock
-1/3 cup tomato pasteCheck Spelling
-1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
-1 tsp Vegemite or 1 vegetable stock cube
-2, 8" pie crusts [homemade is always better]
-1/2 tbs butter, melted

Preheat hot box to 430 degrees F ; 220 C.

In a medium skillet heat the oil, add in the onions and fry until translucent, 3-4 mins. Toss in the spices and beef, cook until browned. Combine 1 tbs of the stock and the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl. set aside. Now add the remaining beef stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Vegemite. Bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and simmer for 10 mins, or until thickened. Pour the beef mixture into one of the pie shells, now cover with the remaining crust. Brush with the beaten egg. Then make slits in the middle of the pie to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 20 mins.

Take out and enjoy. yum diddly dum dum.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Beauty Will Buy No Beef"

After my sister left to take all her crap back to her apartment, I went to work in my backyard. Scrubbing the deck, pulling weeds, raking, etc. I was out there for around two hours so i worked up quite the appetite. I was Ready to start cooking some Argentinean food. However, I lack the proper ingredients so i waited for Mama to get home to let me drive to the store. The two of us took it upon ourselves to holler out the windows when we drove under the overpass. As always, it was fun.

A fairly large country on the southern part of South America lies with the Andes mountains on its western border. It's Argentina, the country of the day!! WOOT!

Now in Argentina, beef is ranked highest of all foods, Argentinians also eat more fruit than any other country in the world. So wouldn't it make sense for them to combine the two? Oh it does, its yummy, and its flavorful. Not to mention the addition of potatoes and sweet potatoes with it. Perfect.

BTW potatoes come from the Andes mountains, they didn't originate in Ireland.

Many immigrants came from Spain and Italy, but others came from Britain, Germany, and there were some Jewish immigrants too. The Italians introduced pizza, and various pasta dishes to the country, while the British brought over tea and established tea time in Argentina.

Carbonada Criolla:
- 3 tbs. olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb. flank steak
-4 large tomatoes, thickly chopped
-1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
-1 large onion
-2 bay leaves
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp. oregano
-2 c. chicken stock
-2 potaoes, cut into 1" cubes
-2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
-2 ears of corn, cut into 1" thick circles [or 2 cups frozen corn]
-2 zuchinni, diced into 1/2" pieces
-2 peaches, diced into 1/2" pieces
-2 pears in 1/2" pieces

Heat the oil in a heavy pot on medium-high. Sear the steak a 2 mins on each side mins per side. Remove from pot cut into desired size, most likely 1" cubes and set aside. Now in the same pot, add in the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and pepper until softened. Throw in the oregano and bay leaves. Pour in the chicken stock; bring to a boil. Return the Beef to the pot, add potatoes and sweet potatoes, Cover and simmer for 15 mins. Stir in the corn and zucchini. simmer for 10 mins or until the veggies are just soft. Throw in the cubed fruit and cook for a final 5 mins. Serve piping hot to your family, friends, or both.

This was a truly interesting dish, one bite you have savory beef with tomatoes, then the next bite you get a sweet cube of fruit with corn, or sweet potato and zucchini, and if you can manage to get all the parts of the dish at the same time its a melody of flavors that make your taste buds smile. Aside from that, it's a very colorful dish and looks beautiful when you stare at it face to flavor. You can also tell the Italian influence with the use of oregano, garlic, and bay leaves, and i like that about this dish. You're not to sure what to expect.

Other popular dishes include the, empanda which means little meat pie, which is served with hot chimicurri sauce. There is also something that is similar to chicken fried steak called, milanesa, which is beef that is dipped in eggs, crumbs, and then fried. Also I like Argentina because it's South America's largest honey producer, and I love me some honey.

Goodnight, sleep well, feast on.

[English Proverb For Title]

A Balanced Diet Is A Cookie In Each Hand

Excitement was afoot this morning, as me and my mother were preparing for my Tech Center orientation. At my school,once you become a junior you can go to the Chesterfield Technical Center to study something of your choice. It ranges from engineering to cosmetology, but I of course chose to take the one year Culinary Arts Program. I can't wait,mainly because i am going to dominate this class, not to sound cocky, but I'm determined to tear shit up. Also I really really want to partake in a competition to see how my skills match up against other young cooks like myself. Also I can rack up a ton of scholarship money for Johnston and Wales through this! Oh happy day.

Once I got home and Mama went back to work, I studied up a little on Argentina, today's country. My sister,Hillary, then proceeded to call me and said she was coming home for me to help her make cookies to take back to her apartment. I instantly agreed, for i am a cookie person, apposed to a brownie person. Having said that, I do like brownies,but If i had to pick one, I'd pick the cookie. But I digress. Once she got here we took out all the ingredients to make sugar cookies. After they were done, I enjoyed mine with a cup of peppermint tea.Which is completely relevant to the Argentina post I'll put up tonight since the British brought over and established tea time there.

Sugar Cookies:
-1 c. butter, softened
-1 1/2 c. sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 egg
-1 tsp baking soda
-A dash of salt
-2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
-1/3 c. sugar

Preheat hotbox to 375 degrees

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl, use a whisk or an electric hand-mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla, egg, baking soda, and salt to the butter mixture, combine. Gradually mix in the flour. Once dough has formed pull off around 1" pieces of dough and roll into balls, coat with sugar, then placed on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 12 mins.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kiss My Couscous

It has been a long day. Woke up way to early, Great Grandma went to the hospital, painted a picture for my sister, couldn't find half of my t-shirts. Stared at The Kite Runner for a few minutes. It has been an off day. But however, i took the edge off with some yummy food. Today is the first day of my 80 days of culinary "travel", and the first country is Algeria! I studied up a bit on the flavors and food of this land, and found it to be promising. [most food is (: ]

Algeria; a country comfortably nestled between The Mediterranean Sea and The Sahara deserted. Steep mountains, rolling valleys, majestic plateaus; one of the biggest countries in Africa. The Fertile Northern coastline is home to olive, fig, agave, date and other palm trees. Salt Marshes are found on top of the plateaus in the central area, ad the Sahara stretches across the South. Algeria is known for its wheat cultivation, the early Berber tribesmen were the first to make couscous,the national dish, which is usually served warm with lamb or beef on top with something like tomatoes, chickpeas and carrots.

Algeria is a melting pot of Berber, Turkish, French, and Arab flavors, ginger, saffron, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, and mint are pantry staples in the Algerian kitchen. Dates, raisins, and other dry fruits are also extremely popular in their cuisine. Lamb is also one of the most popular meats in Algeria, a traditional way of preparing it, Mechoui, is when they roast lamd on an outdoor spit and season it with herb butter so the outside is nice a crispy, while the inside remains moist and succulent.
[Picture Credit to, ]

No meal is complete here without bread [My kind of country!!!], usually a long french baguette style loaf, or sometimes flat wheat bread.

They also enjoy mint tea, I was a happy camper when i found this out, because quite frankly, i really like tea. I Have a bazillion tea cups, an array of different teas, and a fucking tea pot in the shape of Henry The VIII's head. However, that's a different story for another post.

Since it's the national dish, i decided to make couscous! I've never made couscous before, i think i had it once before tonight at my cousins down in Florida a few years back, but my palate doesn't seem to specifically recall this temptress. YAY FOR ADVENTURE AND LEARNING HOW TO MAKE NEW THINGS. Thankfully, this is super easy to make! Basically you just boil water, dump in the pasta [yes its pasta, not a grain,] and let it sit. Simple enough.Hahaha wrong.

My first batch came out a little to dry; i called for a redo. [What? I'm a perfectionist when it comes to culinary.] Not to mention me trying to find couscous in Food Lion, is like trying to find a needle in a fuck stack. Pardon my err French [picked that phrase from some movie i watched a few weeks ago tehehe] I tried asking someone and the two workers in the pasta isle with me didn't even know what it was. I need a map. Mama ended up having to find it for me on her way back from work, i thanked her for being such a Pro.

So after i got all the ingredients together: plain couscous, raisins, fresh mint, oil, salt, cumin, I got to cooking!
Spiced Mint Raisin Couscous:
-1 1/4 Cup water
-1 tsp cumin, saffron, turmeric, or cardamon [pick your poison, but only use one]
-1 cup couscous
-1/4 cup raisins
-1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
-2-3 tbs fresh mint, chopped

In a small pot, bring the water to just a gentle boil and remove from heat. Add in the 1tsp of the spice of your choice, allow to steep for 10 mins. Bring the infused water back to a boil, remove from heat yet again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and let it rest for however long the box tells you too, or if you're using actually couscous and not couscous mix boxed crap, let sit for 15 to 30 minutes until desired texture is reached. Fluff with a fork. Serve with fresh mint.

After tasting this, I can now say I'm a fan of couscous. Mama also liked it, she loved the flavor combo, but unlike me she's been a fan of the pasta for a long time.

When i took my first spoonful, i taste the coolness of the mint co-exist with the spice of the cumin, while sweetness burst-ed from the swollen raisins. I took a fancy to the texture of the dish immediately. Also the taste of it makes me think of something I've had before that isn't it and now IT'S REALLY FREGGIN BUGGING ME. I'll quit geeking out and learn to deal, because I'll probably figure it out when im trying to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed the flavors of Algeria, i did, minus the geeking out part. Adios!