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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Change, Change, Change.

Story of my life ever since I've graduated high school. As I sit back and think about it, it is pretty crazy. In the past year I have lived in four states, traveled to six and have cooked well over ten thousand meals. Wow.
Green is Where I Lived and Pink is Where I Visited

Now back at the good ole' CIA, I've learned that, things are only sort of the same as the way I left them. Not that different is a bad thing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Before the S'mores

Brad Grating Cheese
So after an amazing day of doing nothing but watching camp worthy shows and playing Scrabble, it was time to make dinner; over the campfire of course! While I compiled the mise en place, my brother, Brad, built up a good size fire to get the show on the road. 

The most important part of this whole menu is making sure the cast iron is hot enough before adding the ingredients, or else you will be there all night trying to crisp off the bacon. And time is definitely of the essence when there is a thunderstorm threatening the potatoes au gratin.

Photo Credit: Karen Welsh
Despite the thunderstorm mid preparation, everything turned out wonderful. The recipes are listed in the order you should start them on the fire so that everything gets done at the same time.

 Try it out and let me know how your campfire cookout goes!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hungry Jack

This past weekend my brother and mother whisked me away to the middle of the western Maryland for a mini vacation. At the campsite, with only a fire pit and some cast iron pots, I created a breakfast fit for any lumber jack. Forget s'mores and weeny roasts, this is the breakfast of champions.

Cooking over a campfire was definitely a challenge. There is definitely a lack of control over the temperature and the cast iron retains its heat so if it starts to scorch, there is no saving it. On the upside, it is pretty impressive to say "I made restaurant quality food all over a campfire".

This recipe is more for the technique really; how to get that crisp praline bottom infused into a pancake.

Of course, this can be made inside as well, in a nonstick pan or on an electric griddle.

Pumpkin Praline Pancakes

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Scream, You Scream...

With all of these peaches I had to think of something else to do with them before they spoiled. So, embracing my deep love for sorbet, I decided to come up with a peach inspired flavor.

I did not use my standard recipe for this sorbet, instead I tried a healthier path, replacing the sugar with honey and keeping the peaches in bigger pieces when blending it.

You will need an ice cream machine to make this. Mine is nothing special at all. I have an ice cream machine from the 1970's, if I had to guess. I found it in my grandmother's basement, it has one speed and yes, you do have to add ice and salt.

My Ice Cream Machine

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just Peachy.

Recenty, I have been faced with a plethora of peaches, and believe me, I am not complaining. I love peaches, so I came up with a few recipes for my favorite peachey foods.

I love cobblers. They're sweet and crisp and go super with ice cream. And almost anything can go in them. Here is my recipe for a hot bubbley peach cobbler. The best part is, with apple season around the corner the same recipe can be used for an apple cobbler.  

Peach Cobbler
Photo Credit: Kelsey Welsh

For the Filling:
1 1/2 lbs Peaches
1 c. Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ginger

For the Topping:
1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Stick Butter, room temperature
1/2 c Brown Sugar
1/2 c Oatmeal
1 Tbsp Cinnamon

  1. Bring a large part of water to a boil. While that is coming up to temperature, score a small "x" on the bottom of each peach.
  2. Drop in the water for 35-45 seconds, remove and submerge in an ice bath immediatley. Allow the peaches to cool for about 1 minute, then remove the skin by peeling it off, starting at the "x". 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bet Your Bottom Dollar on This Casino

With the "R" months rolling in (months ending in an "r" for you non Marylanders) it is time to crank out the oysters. Raw, shooters, chowder, name it, we've put an oyster in it.
My Grandfather has his own secret recipe for Oysters Casino that is to die for. Never really measuring this recipe,and doing it all by feel, it was quite fun to see and record this recipe first hand. The recipe below is mind boggling good. He makes his in a well seasoned cast iron pan. It definitely makes it taste that much better!
People have been known to eat bowls of the stuffing, plain, because waiting for the oysters to cook was just too much time!

Pop Pop Greenhorn's Oysters Casino
Yield: 36 Oysters on the half shell

8 slices Bacon, small diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 stalks Celery, small diced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, small diced
1 small Onion, small diced
1/4 bunch Parsley, minced
2 sticks Butter
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 slices Wheat Bread, toasted and small diced
1 tsp Old Bay
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Pretty in Pink

I just got this new 12" Microplane Classic in Pink over the past weekend. I was so excited because it seems like every time I look for one they never have pink. But, I struck it lucky at the outlets and just had to buy it.
I have always been a fan of Microplane, but I especially love the Classic Series. Here's why:

  • Pink is my favorite color. But fear not! They come in a variety of colors to match any decor or any style.
  • The blades are made in the U.S.A, thus supporting the economy.
  • The packaging doubles as the blade guard--limiting packaging waste.
  • The blade is razor sharp and remains sharp for a years.
  • The handle is clean and easy to maintain. I have the all plastic handle as opposed to the Comfort Grip handle. I like it more because the grip cannot be cut or dinged up from wear and tear of the commercial kitchen.
The common ailment of Microplane users is how to clean the tiny teeth free of debris. Well I have created a clever fix. All you need is an ice cube. After zesting, grating, shredding whatever your heart desires, grate an ice cube and voila! Clean!