Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012! Omg!

HAPPY 2012!

Again, I'm on the road. I feel like I spend more time driving than I actually do in with the people I am going to see. Regarless, it has been a great holiday season in Baltimore, Bethlehem and the Pocono Mountains.
It is New Years Eve and Justin and I are spending the night at his dad's house. We could have gone to New York City but I dont feel like waiting in Times Square all day. But hey. To each thier own.

Justin and I have added another goal to our bucket list: to celebrate New Year's Eve in Sydney Austrailia. Especially after seeing this video of their firework show.

Here is a recap of my 2011:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Deck the Halls

Happy Holidays, everyone!
It's that special time of year when friends and family gather around, the smell of baked goods fill the air and people are just, well, happier.
This Christmas I am back in Baltimore, celebrating the season with everyone from back home. Justin will be coming down to visit tomorrow and of course, eat.

Every year on Christmas Day, my relatives on Dad's side come over to share in the Christmas Festivities and then the day after Christmas we go to my Mom's side of the family's annual party. And of course, I have to bring something. I mean I do go to "The World's Premiere Culinary College". This is what I concocted this year. Yes, I know the custard ratio is wrong (typically it is 8 eggs to 1 quart of liquid) but this is how I was taught to bake bread pudding from a lady who had been doing it all her life in the basement of The Johns Hopkins Club.

This can be made the day before, allowed to rest overnight in the fridge and then baked the next day; it still comes out delicious. And as for the sauce, once chilled it will stay good for about 2 days.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Did everyone get a chance to see the menu?"

So its almost Christmas time at The Culinary Institute of America and let me tell you EVERYONE is excited to go  home and do a whole lot of nothing for 12 whole days. Free time is not something that we CIA kids get a lot of here so although I only have 1/3 of the winter break of other college students, I am ecstatic.
But before I can check out of Hyde Park there is a graduation to be served. That's right, served. I am in the Banquets and Catering portion of my education now which consists of both cooking and serving banquets of 60 to 300 people. My class already had the pleasure of creating the food for 6 days, so we now are serving the creations of our sister class.

Some of the things we made while in Banquets and Catering.

Serving is harder than I ever would have imagined. There's protocol for everything. Set from the right and clear from the right; that's American Service. De-crumb the table with your handy dandy crumber. Be a pessimist-- if the glass is half full, its actually half empty; fill it up! Remove the proper silverware between each course. And yes there is a specific way to hold the clean and dirty plates in your hand.

All of the spoons that were polished for graduation.

All rules aside, there are several reasons I love this class:
  1. I don't come home sweaty and stinky.
  2. I rarely get dirty.
  3. As Justin said "You come home pretty."
  4. Servers get to chat a lot during set up.
  5. Family meal is always made and plated up for me.
  6. I can wave at Justin through the big window.
  7. Free cappuccino!
  8. I am home, in my PJ's at 7:30pm.
  9. I sort of like to fold napkins.
  10. Pretty Ties!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baked Apples

This recipe was requested by my grandma. She really wanted to learn how to make Apple Dumplings so I went ahead and made them one weekend. It was pretty easy and super delicious. Try them, you won't be sorry.

Apple Dumplings
Yields 4

For the Dough:
1/2# All Purpose Flour
1/3# Butter, cubed, chilled
3 oz Water, cold
Pinch of Salt

For the Filling:
1/2c Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/8 # Butter, cubed
2 ea Apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters

For the Syrup:
1c Brown Sugar
1 c Butter
2 Tbsp Cinnamon

1. Mix the flour and salt with the cubed butter until the butter is broken down into pea sized globs.
2. Add the chilled water until the dough just comes together. Form into a disc shape and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 4 hours.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Reserve.
4. Grease a 8x8 baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 1/8" square. Cut into 4 even pieces.

6. Place 2 apple slices, a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar on each portion. Top with a square of butter.

7. Fold the dough up and around the apples. pinch all of the seams together. Place in the baking dish. Repeat for all of the dough.

8. Pour the syrup from step 3 into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.
9. Allow the dumplings to rest for at least 10 minutes before trying to serve these little purses.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pear Eight Ways

This was probably one of the most difficult class projects I have ever had to do. We were paired up and told that we had to create a dessert with the main ingredient being poached pears.

Of all the fruit. Pears. Seriously. Ugh. I am not a pastry person, why couldn't I get a nice fruit like cherries, or berries.

We had a week to create the recipes, complete a costing, and compose a drawing of what our finished desseert would look like.

A week, it sound like a ample amount of time. Not at The CIA. Everyday here is the fastest day of my life, and with a job, there is absolutely no down time. So a week here is like three days elsewhere.

Chris and I figured it out, finally. We were to make a Cinnamon Panna Cotta with a Poached Pear Disc inside, Vanilla Creme Anglaise, a Port Wine Pear Sauce and a Petit Tuille Cookie.

We had one full day of prep plus two hours on the second day to create this dish that summed up all we had learned in class.

On day one, we made the vanilla sauce, poached the pears, assembled the panna cotta, and created a spiced shortbread as the stand for the dessert.

On day two the pear port wine sauce was finished and the tuille cookies made. Then came plate up.

Everyone served their creation at three thirty on the dot. And the dishes were tasted by everyone, includung Chef Englinski. Then came the critique.

Everyone was able to contribute to this discussion. My dessert was second to last and man, was my stomach turning.

Everyone loved it. The only critique was some vanilla bean in the sauce (who would waste a vanilla bean on 2oz of sauce) and to push the dessrt back an inch on the plate.

Overall -- Great success! 

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Four Ingredients...Endless Opportunities

Fathom this for a moment: with only four ingredients, three of which you have sitting in your cupboard, you can create at least 300 different items. Then take those items and add in two to three more ingredients that are also just occupying space in you fridge, and voilia! 65845645 flavor combinations each resulting in some so unique and amazing there will be no way you can turn it down. Lets talk bread.

Challah Bread

Monday, November 7, 2011

Temperature is Everything

Ever wonder why chocolate bars have such a nice snap? Why they are glossy and creamy? Why the chocolate decorations at a bakery are so much better than the chocolate decorations you make with melted down Hershey Kisses? It's all in the tempering.

Death By Chocolate
Tempering is a process in which the chocolated is melted, heated, cooled and the warmed to achieve all of the wonderful qualities we have come to know and love about a good quality chocolate confection.
On a molecular level, cocoa butter has six different formations, and we are after one formation in general. the one that will give us the perfect snap, sheen and color.

Every type of chocolate is differnet, therefore they need to be cooled to different temperatures before working with them.

White Chocolate: Heat up to 110 degrees; Cool down to 78 degrees; Bring Back to 82 degrees
Milk Chocolate: Heat up to 115 degrees; Cool to 80 degrees; Bring back to 86 degrees
Dark Chocolate: Heat up to 120 degrees; Cool to 82 degrees; Bring back to 90 degrees

So, lets break it down, step by step.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bread Should Never be Alone

Its Sunday, and what a better way to spend the day than with my wonderful boyfriend. This Sunday we went and had a lovely brunch, went to the farmers market and went shopping.

When I woke up this morning, he had a grand plan to surprise me with a trip to small place in Rhinebeck for brunch. I love brunch, so anything involving a lazy Sunday and hash browns, sign me up! We ended up at Bread Alone. On the outside, it looks like a run of the mill coffee shop, but on the inside it opens up into a coffee shop and a restaurant. We waited behind the locals for our table, sampling in house baked sourdough bread. We were seated a cute little table right by the kitchen's pass, so we could watch all of the excitement.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pot de Creme

So this is the first thing I made in Baking and Pastry class at The
Culinary Institute of America. Its creamy, sweet and looks really nice in its cute little ramekin.
I was really nervous when I was making it because I was afraid that I was going to scramble the eggs and ruin the whole thing; custards are temperamental like that.

A Plated Up Pot de Creme with Whipped Cream and Caramel Garnish.

Another thing you'll notice with this, and all of my future baking recipes, that they are predominately measured out by weight. Why? Well, that's because it is more precise. When making this recipe be sure to pay close attention to how things are measured out. Anything measured in ounces (oz) or pounds (lbs) has been weighed out on a scale and everything measured in fluid ounces (fl oz) has been measured in a measuring cup.

Olive Oil and Dessert

Sorry for the time gap between this post and the last, but things have been a bit crazy here at The CIA. Where to begin...
This past weekend Justin and I went to a lovely wedding in Bethlehem. There was good dancing, good food, and of course good company.

While in Pennsylvania, we explored downtown again, this time during the annual Halloween Dog Parade -- probably the most adorable thing I've ever seen!
Bethlehem is full of little surprises, like a specialty olive oil store. Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Tap Room, is just what it sounds, casks and casks of oils and vinegars straight from Italy. After perusing the store on our own for awhile, the owner introduced himself and began giving us a tour around the shop.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple of My Eye

We never run out of things to do in Hudson Valley.

Justin and I gave my aunt and cousin a tour around our school this weekend. It brought back memories of my first tour around the seems like so long ago.
After being re-inspired, we decided now is a good time for some Street Food. On campus, on a one way street, on the back of the campus, through a partially opened kitchen window, Justin and I handed off two small white coupons for a rectangular box before running back to my car.

Sounds shady right? Not at all. SACE, Students for Advanced Career Education, frequently sells, what is known as "Street Food" out of the Angell Hall kitchen window. They have a variety of themes, this one being Greek.
They spent all of Saturday prepping at The Rec Center, and lucky for me, I got a sample. I was sold and bought two tickets for the event.
Upon arrival Justin and I ordered the Combo, which was Chamomile Tea, Pita, Hummus, Tzatziki and Falafel. It came out pretty promptly in a cardboard box that we hurried with pride to our car. The amount of food was impressive for only five dollars, and boy was it delicious.So delicious in fact, that it was gone before I managed a picture. The pita was hand made and perfectly warm around the cucumbers and the falafel. The only thing I would do differently: ask for a fork.

Monday, being a national holiday and all, we had off school. So, Krissy, Justin and I went apple picking at Fishkill Farms. The apples were scarce but it was still a great time, climbing trees, picking apples and of course trying to figure out a system as to who would go to the highest point for that perfect apple.

Me in a Tree

Krissy in a Tree

Justin and Krissy Below the Tree

After filling our three bags we headed to the farm store for pumpkin ice cream cones-- that barely lasted ten minutes, some cider-- which barely made it home, and some apple cider cinnamon sugar donuts-- that barely made it a day.

I wonder what we will do with all of these apples...I see some recipes coming soon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Trip to Germany and a Quick Stop in Spain

This weekend I went to Pennsylvania to visit Justin and help him move all of his stuff back up here to The Culinary Institute.
Being a foodie couple, of course we had to take advantage of the cuisine in Bethlehem, PA. Lucky for us there was a food festival going on at The Steel Stacks in celebration of Oktoberfest.

Justin, his parents and I spent the entire day amongst old steel factory ruins, throngs of people and small heard of miniature doxens.

Justin and I started off on the right foot by devouring sauerkraut prorogues and curry wurst. "What is curry wurst?" you may be thinking. It is a combination of sausages, cut into bite sized pieces, topped with a tomato curry sauce. I think it is an acquired taste, but Justin loves it, even though he says the version he had on the streets of Germany was way better.

Currywurst Sauce
Justin and Currywurst

Mrs. Christen and I waited in line for a while for the next round of German fare. We emerged from the stand with wiener schnitzel, potato pancakes, a meat pie and German beef stew. It was all delicious. Being mostly Irish, it was quite interesting to try a variety of traditional food from another country. At a glimpse, it appears as though the Irish and the Germans have nothing in common, but after surveying what we have retrieved, I started comparing what I knew to what I had. The German meat pie remained me of a Shepard's Pie while the potato pancakes were definitely reminincisent of my favorite potato dish, Champs.

As if that wasn't enough food for one day, Justin and I found a danish stand, and of course decided we needed one. It was warm and gooey and covered in powdered could you go wrong?
After a lovely day eating, listening to music and exploring the renovated steel stacks we all headed home.

If you know anything about me, you know that I can put away some food, so after a few hours of digestion, Justin and I went out for a lovely dinner date.

A small burnt orange restaurant named Tapas was the perfect place to spend our Saturday night. We were seated at the table for two in the window and started off by ordering the specials of the night and then an additional four courses plus two desserts and a latte.
For those out there who don't know what a tapas style meal is, it may seem crazy to eat that much food, but in reality it isn't. Tapas is a Spanish style of dining where a couple small portions of a variety of items are served to share.

We had (in order):
Scallops with Mango Salsa
Lamb Kabobs with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Mushroom and Quinoa Flat Bread
Mussels with Fries
Crab Croquettes
Yellowfin Tuna
Churros with Chocolate and Vanilla Sauce
Lemon Sorbet

Fully satisfied, we left to go watch another marathon of Ghost Adventures to finish off a weekend in Bethlehem.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Very Foodie Weekend

Sticking with the inevitably foodie weekend theme, Sunday, Krissy, Stephanie, Cameron and I went to the town of Rhinebeck for the weekly farmers market.

There were tables and tables full of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, wines, baked goods, and even local meats. After perusing the entire selection I opted, first, for some rocket arugula and a small bunch of frisee.

Rocket arugula, a salad green, is a version or arugula more suited on the west coast than the east coast. Originally planted by colonists, this green has flip flopped between food and medicine for nearly two hundred years. What medical purpose could our balsamic vinaigrette coated greens have? In biblical times it was said that Oroth (biblical term for rocket arugula) could be used to treat eye infections, as a deodorant, and a digestive aid. Who knew one little peppery plant could do all of that?

Rocket arugula is a tender, slender, peppery green, perfect in salads, on crustades, or sprinkled on a pizza. It is sharper and more pungent than that of the traditional arugula. "Rocket arugula" used to refer to simply wild arugula but, the term now has become to identify a whole new species altogether. Was my arugula wild or a a separate plant? I don't know, but it was very tasty.

I also purchased some baby ginger. At first I didn't know what this thing was, but I decided I needed it. It was a lumpy pinkish white bulb with a large green shoot coming out of the top. As I was paying for it, the man gave me some useful advice as to what to do with it. I learned that the shoot can be used to make a tea and the bulb does not need to be peeled before use. It is milder in flavor than that of adult ginger and can be eaten raw. I julienned a small piece of mine and tossed it with my mixed greens, some goat cheese, a julienne of the ginger shoot, some sliced pears and a few wedges of beets that were cooked in a ginger infused syrup. Delicious.

How would you spend your weekend if you were in the Hudson Valley?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"There are Bold Eaters and Old Eaters, But There are No Bold, Old Eaters."

Happy Fall everyone!

This lovely fall morning was the annual CIA mushroom forage, lead by mushroom expert  Bill Bakaitis.

Early this morning, about  forty of us, met up in a local, yet secret, location to begin our forage.

"It is safe to pick mushrooms here today, but never again can you come to these woods with the intention of finding mushrooms. Its called trespassing."

So off we went into the woods, stopping to go over a few interesting finds, including Winter Berries and a Sassafras Tree. Once cross the railroad tracks, the woods were ours to rummage through and scour for mushrooms.

At first they were few and far in between, but once our eyes adjusted to what it actually was we were looking for along the woodland floor, all sorts of things started to appear.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pom Poms and Bon Bons

No, I have not turned into a candy eating cheerleader. Well, not yet anyway. What this is really about is my new love affair with this juice:

Yes, that is the inside of the fridge.
 So lets talk about why I love it. Well, first, it tastes amazing. Second it comes in a really cool bottle. And third, I am currently taking a nutrition class which is in turn causing me to meticulously read all of the labels on the food I consume. As it turns out, there is a substantial amount of potassium in there, scant amounts of other nutrients, antioxidants and, my favorite, is 54% real juice with no preservatives. Short shelf life? Yes. Worth it? absolutely. Oh and its called Pom, get it, Pom Poms...anyway.

Second up on the list of things I have recently discovered I need more of in my life is desserts from Baby Cakes in Poughkeespkie. Okay, so maybe not need but defiantly want. My roommate, Krissy was nice enough to bring me back this wonderful Chocolate Mousse Cake.

I am not going to acknowledge this in regards to my nutrition class. I think I will just eat an apple to balance this one out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is It Chili in Here, Or Is It Just Me?

This Weekend was the 20th annual Chili Cook Off here at The Culinary Institute of America.

Every year, students ponder the perfect team name, labor over the most creative decorations, and most importantly, slave over the greatest chili the students and the judges have ever had the pleasure of tasting, all in hopes of securing the coveted title of Chili Champions.
This year, fifteen teams got the chance to impress students, staff and the locals with their chili.

Instead of being one of the thousand individuals who got to taste the chili, I was one of people chosen to set up, operate, and break down said event. All in all, it wasn't too bad of an experience, I mean hey, I got free soda and a snazzy staff t-shirt.

Set Up

Even the CIA runs on Dunkin

More Set Up
The competition was very interesting this year. We had a firetruck, dancing chili peppers, cattle and a few students who just could not escape business casual. To sum it all up in two words: Great Success!

Oh yea, and the winner was:
Team Smokes a Lot. Congrats you guys.