Food Buzz


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Food inspiration provided by Olivia Ciel

This past month has been a series of ups and downs... Downs included two (unplanned) surgeries for me, one for dad (he's doing great) and missing lots of class time.  Ups included (unplanned) visit from mom, delicious delivery of cupcakes from R, spending lots of quality time with my family and the arrival of my niece, Olivia!

With all of the downs, it's been hard to get motivated to cook or do much of anything other than "take care of myself" as I've been advised by my family.  Lucky for me, the arrival of Olivia means I get to take care of my sister and her family!  I am currently staying at their place and helping them while they catch up on sleep and take care of their new addition.  One of my self defined duties includes cooking for them - talk about motivation!

I do have some limitations as I need to provide nutritious, mostly vegetarian meals that don't have a ton of spice/onion/garlic.  Last night I made an easy and delicious roasted summer squash (four different kinds from the farmer's market) and carrots served with couscous.  Light, easy, healthy and delicious.

For lunch today I made a fresh pasta salad that included lots of green veggies (sugar snap peas, arugula, zucchini from the farmer's market), a light vinegar and oil dressing, freshly shaved parmesan and fusilli.  Again, another summery, easy, affordable meal that everyone enjoyed.  Picture below.

At two days old, Olivia did not get a chance to try this food, however, through feedings, she will gain the nutrients her mom received from this meal.  Olivia has truly inspired me to provide nutritious meals for her family and I look forward to creating more for them to enjoy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Do you like your Kit Kats spicy? Me neither.

I just thought this was one of the crazier food reviews I've seen online... Found on - one of my fave food blogs.... Wasabi Kit Kat!?!  Apparently it is famous in Japan and is actually kind of...good!  (According to Cakespy, but I'd be willing to try it myself). 

Check out the review and photo here.

Apparently the candy bar also comes in the following unusual flavors: Pickled Plum, Lemon vinegar, Cucumber, Yakimorokoshi (grilled corn), Pepper, Apple Vinegar, Veggie, Soy Sauce.  I think I'll probably stick to regular good old milk chocolate for now.  Although a future visit to Japan may entice me to try them all.

Have you tried any unusal candies while traveling outside of the US that you would (or would never) recommend?  Do tell!

Chow for now! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Soul (and the Body)


I have had another minor health setback but am on the mend.  Two surgeries in as many weeks have left me in a food funk...craving everything from mentos (the freshmaker) to meatballs and everything in between.  But doctor's orders require that I stick with mild (aka boring) until I am better.

The most gourmet food I've been able to eat in the last 10 days has been my dad's delicious homemade chicken soup. He makes his chicken stock using a freshly fabricated chicken, chopped veggies (mirepoix) and lots of yummy herbs and spices.  Once that is done, he pours the stock through cheesecloth and uses it as the base for the soup.  He makes his soup with matzo balls but it can also be made with rice or noodles. Kind of interesting timing as I am catching up on the Stocks and Sauces chapter of my culinary text. 

Chicken soup has always been known to help with colds...maybe it's the steam and the warm broth hitting your sore throat, but it really is a balanced meal with meat, vegetables, grains and lots of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.  I can see why it would help "heal" any malady.  I found an article on that explains the scientific facts behind "What Grandma knew all along..."

Now that I am home, I am doing my best to eat well and get back on my feet.  My nutrition class has helped me to balance out my meals so that I am not just eating from one or two food groups.  Hopefully I will be able to finish up my last couple weeks of classes starting on Thursday night.  I miss the people and the food.

What is your favorite meal to eat when you are sick (and have an appetite)?    Please share!

Chow for Now. :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fancy French lunch (and dessert!) with a good friend.

Yesterday I caught up with my beautiful friend D, who looks radiant and is a few weeks away from having her first baby!  Since I missed her shower two weekends ago becuase of my appendicitis, we had lunch to catch up yesterday.  She wanted to cook for me so she made lunch and I made dessert.  It was all quite DELICIOUS!

Both of us are big fans of Ina Garten (also known as The Barefoot Contessa), a Long Island woman like myself who makes lovely French influenced meals and desserts.  D even got to meet her once and got her autograph at a book signing.  Diana chose to cook Ina's Blue Cheese Souffle and made a lovely fresh salad using vegetables from her garden and the farmers market.  She topped the salad with Ina's ceasar dressing (made without raw egg but still delicious!) and also served chicken ceasar salad sandwhiches.  All of these dishes came out delicious.  A picture of the finished souffle is below...before we attacked it.

I knew when D told me she would be making a souffle for a Wednesday afternoon lunch that I had to make an equally fancy dessert.  I have made this Rustic Pear Tart before and it's basically fool proof.   The recipe was from Sunset Magazine (east coasters check it out - it's a gorgeous magazine).

Recipe is below along with pics.

Rustic Pear Tarts with Crème Fraîche

Time: about 1 1/4 hours. Fresh pears and purchased puff pastry add up to an incredibly easy seasonal dessert.

Yield: Serves 6


1 sheet (about 10 by 12 in.) frozen puff pastry (14-oz. package), thawed
2 or 3 firm-ripe pears, such as Bosc or Comice
About 1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 large egg, beaten to blend
About 2 tbsp. turbinado sugar
6 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out pastry to 16 by 18 in. Cut pastry in thirds lengthwise and in half crosswise. With a wide spatula, transfer the 6 rectangles to baking sheets.

2. Core pears and cut into thin wedges. Arrange, slightly overlapping, on pastry rectangles, leaving a 1 1/2-in. border bare (angle slices if necessary). Warm marmalade in a microwave oven to melt, then brush over pears. Fold border over edge of pears, stretching slightly and pressing down to hold. Brush new edges with egg, then sprinkle turbinado sugar over tarts, especially pastry edges.

3. Bake until pastries are richly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk crème fraîche and granulated sugar until slightly thickened. Serve tarts warm or cool, with crème fraîche.

I made two medium sized tarts instead of 6...and I cut the marmalade, crème fraîche and sugars in half. 
This could be my "signature dessert!"

Chow for Now! :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Can I get a "quack quack" ??

I fabricated my very first bird last night!  Yes, that's right.  Oh wait, you've never heard of the phrase "fabricating a bird" before?  Basically it means you cut it up into smaller pieces for cooking.  Wait, rather than explain, check out the pics of our team's fabricated guinea fowl below!

Step 1 - flap bird's wings (just kidding, lay it breast side down):

Step 2 - Hack through both sides of back bone in order to remove it, pull out plastic-y keel bone located on the inside of the bird in order to cut all the way through the breast:

Step 3 - make a cut to separate the legs from the breasts.  It's pretty obvious once you have the bird cut in half to figure out where to cut - there is nothing but skin there:

Step 4 (no picture) was to crack the 2nd joint on the wing and cut through, then separate the 2nd and third joint.  Leaving the first joint connected the breast makes it an "airline cut."

I was a little nervous but it was fun!  My team cut up a guinea fowl and a muscovy duck.  We got to cook and taste duck livers (really rich, too rich for my taste, but interesting), we made a duck taco with the leg (really delicious), and duck kidneys (not for me).

All of this learning would not have been possible without a visit from Brian Reff of Grimaud Farms of California who not only works at Grimaud but is also a purchasing professor in the Culinary Department at GCC.  An interesting guy, he gave us lots of information on the different kinds of poultry that exisits - from fryers to roasters to Magrets to Pekins to Moulards.  It was an interesting lesson for sure.  Unfortunately, the Pekin ducks that he brought in had their heads and feet still attached:

That duck's face may stick with me for a while... :/

Final thought - did you know that  Pekin duck is the kind of duck used to make Peking duck?  Pekin is the duck, Peking is the method of cooking Pekin duck.  Just a little fact for the day.

Chow for Now! :)