Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh The Weekend

This past weekend has been quite eventful here at The Culinary Institute of America.

My school was hosting the 3rd Bocuse d'Or Competition. What is this? Well, it is an event at which the top chefs from all over the country train for in order to win one coveted spot as the American representative for the worldwide competition in Lyon, France.

The Rec Center was transformed from mere basketball courts to an impressive Culinary Areana with stoves, mixers, ovens and cameras. The judges sat right up front, so everyone could see them as they dissected the dishes placed in front of them.

The judging panel was full of high caliber chefs such as Grant Achatz, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Daniel Humm. When they weren't judging the contest they were out signing books and taking pictures.

Justin and I with Daniel Boulud


After all the tasting and tallying, the winner who will be heading train extensively before heading off to Lyon is CMC Richard Rosendale from The Greenbrier. Congratulations! And also a huge congratulations to Rose Weiss, a culinary extern at Gramercy Tavern, who won the commis competition and a $10,000 scholarship to any Three Michelin Star Restaurant in Europe!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vin. Fin.

Wine is meant to be prepared with food, so, courtesy of the CIA, my wines class got to enjoy a meal at The Caterina de Medici. On the house. Wine and all.

We had a lovely four course meal with a total of seven wines. There isn't much else to say, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Brut, "Prior," Bortolomiol, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Venet, Italy
&
Mozzerella, Proscuitto, Pickeled Vegetables, and Arugula

Falanghina, Feudi di San Gregorio, Campania, Italy 2009
&
Bardolino Chiaretto, Cavalchina, Veneto, Italy 2009


Seafood Risotto

Aprelis, Pondere San Luigi, Tuscany, Italy 2001
&
Cannonau, Argiolas, "Costera," Isola del Nuraghi, Sardina, Italy 2007
&
Braised Beef with Polenta, Cipollini and Baby Carrots

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Homemade Trail Mix

So I'm trying out this whole being healthy thing for the new year. Not that I was particularly unhealthy before this year, but I figure hey, it cant hurt right. So in addition to cutting out french fries of my diet and hitting the gym with Justin more often, I am making trail mix with my new dehydrator that I got for Christmas this year.

Cranberries


I am starting out with just some basic things like cranberries, bananas and pears. I tried the bananas out first and completely ruined them. Apparently you cant start and stop the dehydrator multiple times a day...but bananas round two worked out wonderfully. The cranberries posed a bit difficult in the beginning as well, but  I figured it out. Apparently you have to cut the berries in half before dehydrating them. I plan on making some trail mixes that are flavored for certain foods like Banana Bread or Apple Pie. Mmmmmm.

Before

After


This is just my basic recipe for trail mix but you can put anything you want into it. The biggest things are 1. don't let the fruit touch each other on the trays and 2. use a source of vitamin C on fruits that are susceptible to browning.
Update: Well, the cranberries were not dried all the way so they molded in the mason jars and ruined everything. Second, the bananas take forever to dry. Its been twelve hours and they are still not ready.
Finally, there is a way to test out the fruit and see if they are ready to be put away in dry storage: put a few pieces in a ziplock bag and see if any condesation forms. If so, they are not done and need to be dried out more.

Amanda's Trail Mix
Yield: 2 Mason Jars of Snacks

1 Small Bag of M&Ms
1/2 c Cashews
1c Almonds
1 Bag Fresh Cranberries, washed and cut in half
4 Banana, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 Pears, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1c Plain Chex Cereal
1 Orange, juiced

  1. Space out the cranberries on two drying racks. Dehydrate on high for about 6 hours or until they have the texture of a raisin. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Mix with the candy, and nuts.
  3. Toss the bananas in half of the orange juice. Spread out on two dehydrating racks. allow to dry on medium for about six hours or until they become chewy with a slight crunch. Allow to cool and mix with the candy, nuts and cranberries.
  4. Toss the pears in the reaming orange juice and then place on two racks. Dehydrate on high for 8 hours and allow to cool.
  5. Add the pears and chex mix to the base and store until you're hungry!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Taste Wine. Spit.

I am at an interesting stage in the Culinary Institute of America's curriculum: Wine Knowledge. Everyday I get to sit in a huge wine cellar-esque room and taste over half a dozen wines from around the world. And yes, I have to spit them back out into a Dixie-Cup. Talk about charming, right?

The first day I had a variety of reds, whites and a [corked] rose. From the four tastings I have completed, I learned that I don't like very many wines. But there are a few varieties that I would like to have in my house one day like sweet Riesling, Port, Sauvingnon Blanc (from New Zealand) and Gew├╝rztraminer.



Now there is a technique, a professional technique, to tasting wines. Grab a glass and follow along! White wine is my favorite so that will be the example I am using.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tis the Season for Tapas

In case you haven't already noticed, Justin and I love to eat. Love. Love. Love. So for Christmas, what better gift than a gift card to The Rumor Mill, in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Bundled in our peat coats, Justin and I walked the streets of the historic town to the restaurant, hidden from plain view by the cobblestone path, known as Tiber Alley.

The biggest angst of being a young culinarian is that we cannot sample any sort of alcoholic anything. The Rumor Mill specializes in their fusion vodkas that are made in house. What is a fusion vodka? It is plain vodka that a flavor is infused into. That night's the special was a Pumpkin Spice Martini. Tell me you don't want one of those.

All whining aside, We ordered 10 plates, and they were delicious. Simply wonderful.





Our Menu
  1. Crab and Goat Cheese Dumplings
  2. Salmon and Mushroom Stack
  3. Duck and Cherries
  4. Seared Tuna and Edamame
  5. Honey Miso Scallops with Cucumbers
  6. Fish and Chips
  7. Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart 
  8. Mini Kobe Sliders
  9. Banana Wontons with Kahlua Ice Cream
  10. Chocolate Raspberry Cake


I would defiantly recommend the Crab and Goat Cheese Wontons, The Honey Miso Scallops and the Seared Tuna. Together this trio of plates stole the entire night.