Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recently I took a Cuban cooking class. Jamie gave me a gift certificate to a cooking school in Culver City for Christmas, we have been so busy since Christmas that last week was my first opportunity to take one. I was very excited to take this class, as I LOVE cuban food as does my other half :) The class was fun, we made several things, I was surprised at the amount of dishes we learned how to prepare; Empanadas with Picadillo Filling, Fried Yucca Chips, Cangrejitos,Puerco Asado, Drunken Chicken, Baked Whole Snapper with Sofrito, Basque Tossed salad with radishes and spanish olives, Black beans and rice, coconut flan, and of course mojitos! Here are some pictures of the treats I made!
I am excited to re-make some of these at home - the pork was beautiful - not to dry which is alway my fear when I cook pork. There is such a fine line between dry and cooked appropriately when preparing pork- my teacher suggested taking it out at 140 if not a tad bit earlier and letting it finish cooking as it rests. Until next time!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cooking as a child and the diner table

Some of my earliest childhood memories are waking up EARLY Saturday mornings while my parents were still sleeping and pretending to cook them breakfast. Of course I was not allowed to use the stove or oven without supervision and I was not tall enough to reach the pantry shelves so I was left with what I could reach on "my shelf" which was gum and zip lock bags. I would use the tea kettle that was on the stove and fill it with water adding my "spices" gum, salt and pepper haha. Stirring it until it was cooked perfectly and ready to eat. Looking back I feel bad for my parents who had to pretend to enjoy my trident cinnamon soup ;) As I got older and was allowed to actually use kitchen utensils my curiosity grew. I remember watching my grandma cook and she would let me sit on a chair in the kitchen next to her island and do the mixing or scraping of the bowls. I remember fondly my eyes tearing up over cut onions (a vegetable that my grandmother believes belongs in large quantity in EVERY recipe), her meatloaf was a victim of this belief often and to do this day I can hear my mom' voice whispering to me "just eat around the onions". I also remember the magic of pouring boiling water in with the JELLO mix and then magically the refrigerator would turn it into a yummy treat. For some odd reason or another my grandmother always had dozens of box's of JELLO mix with the date they were purchased hand written on them on in her bottom kitchen drawer, I would often organize this drawer by flavor as is it was one of the few things within my reach. She would teach me tricks about scraping the bottom of the bowl and the value of using every part of a vegetable so nothing would go to waste. On my birthday in second grade I had a dentist appointment, for some reason my mother forgot it was my birthday and cruelly decided that I needed a teeth cleaning as a proper way to bring in 8 years old - I remember being so bummed that this was how I had to spend my birthday, the dentist felt bad for me so instead of the normal treat of picking a prize from the wicker treasure chest they had a special present for me - a kids cook book. It had a recipe for every letter of the alphabet and to do this day I still make the T "Tuna Wiggle" as a treat on rainy days. Finally I had a real cookbook something that was meant for kids my age, I was so excited! My mom and I set up a system where I was allowed to make dinner once a week using a recipe from my kids cook book. From there my love for cooking grew. As I got older I cooked a lot of meals for my mom and I since she was working long hours and relied on me to be part of the team. In high school I would cook at my friends houses all the time, most of their parents thought it was great to have someone else cook dinner! Once I got to college in San Francisco I was always the roommate baking and cooking. My roommates would often complain that they would be gaining weight because of all the fresh baked goods laying around our kitchen. But no matter what they said I always kept baking and cooking. I love preparing food for other people, I love watching people enjoying something that I made - I love the community feeling that happens when people sit down together at a table and break bread. I think this is why cooking is so much fun to me. Sharing a meal with someone is much more than just sitting and eating, but it is what happens at the table that really matters. So many great conversations and laughter and wonderful memories are shared over food. I am still of belief that the table is where you eat, there is no T.V. watching during a meal, (In my house growing up we only had 1 TV and it was not on during dinner) you share your stories of the day, your thoughts, and laughter. The dinner table is quite possible my favorite place.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Italian at Home

Growing up in CA we never really ate Italian food much - we were more of a mexican food family ;-) But since then my taste has changed a bit; a few family vacations to Italy, falling in love with a native Jewish-Italian New Yorker, and the summer I spent in Italy attending Culinary and wine school - has definitely had an impact on my cooking life. Nothing beats fresh made pasta - a killer risotto and some great Chianti. I had a taken a Risotto cooking class for fun in LA after I first moved here but had yet to try it out on anyone, so while visiting my family up North I gave it a whirl - the risotto came out great, I believe my step-dad who has VERY high standards when it comes to Risotto said that it was "great, restaurant quality" < this is a huge compliment ! Also my fiance asks me to make this all the time, and now he even offers to be a stir boy !! ( yes! anyone who has made Risotto knows how crucial it is to always keep the rice moving) Needless to say I believe everyone enjoyed it, and I will admit that it turned out better than a lot of Risotto I have had in restaurants. Here is a picture of it below. Wild Mushroom and Red Wine Risotto!

And the wine used is CRUCIAL ! This wine turned out to be fabulous in the Risotto and by the glass !

I also paired this White Bean & Kale Tuscan soup with the Risotto - and man was it delicious! It was very filling though - it could defiantly be a meal in itself! I found the recipe in Sunset Magazine ( my favorite ) and true to form it did not disappoint!

Some gorgeous Kale!


Indian Food

My fiancee and I LOVE indian food but in our efforts to try and be healthier pre-wedding ( less than 3 months!) I wanted to try a healthier option - I came across this recipe in the New York times I was a bit nervous because I have never tried to make Indian food at home before, but I was seriously impressed as was my other half! I could not believe how great it turned out!

I went to a local farmers market to buy the spinach, garlic, and onion - when I saw how much spinach it required I was defiantly looking for a deal! The total cost with tofu and other ingredients was about $20 - not bad! I also made Saffron Jasmine rice to pair with it, and it turned out great as well. This recipe made enough for about 5 servings.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Souther California Provides

One think I have come to love about southern California as a San Francisco transplant is the fact that fruit grows here all the time! We have a lemon, lime, and orange tree surrounding our building and we SO take advantage of it. I LOVE when I can just pop outside and grab some fresh fruit, we have fresh squeezed OJ all the time now. Here are some of our pickins'

Spring has Sprung

As we all know being in the restaurant industry we work many holidays - Easter included. Since I spent my day in the restaurant I wanted to bring some treats to my staff that shared their Easter with me, and this was the result: