Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tonight we are going to a restaurant called Silver Pond for some (according to chef) legit Chinese cuisine. I'm excited but I'm also still broke, so I'm expecting a bittersweet experience.
I've decided on a menu for my Foundations class final exam. Here's what I'll be making:
Soup course: Zuppa Pavese (Pavia Soup) - this is a fairly simple soup but has a great presentation quality and will be really tasty. You toast bread in a pan with some butter then put it in an empty bowl. Crack an egg on top of the piece of bread then fill the bowl with boiling hot chicken broth, poaching the egg. Top it with some extra pepper, grated Parmesan and minced herbs on top and that's it.
Second course (appetizer/salad/amuse bouche/whatever): Antipasto platter - I'm going to make some Prosciutto and Provolone cheese crostinis and serve them with three toppings: artichoke heart bruschetta, kalamata olive tapenade and three pepper tapenade.
Third course (entree): Pork Tenderloin alla Napoli with Broccolini and Penne.
I'm feeling pretty confident and excited about this. I making some things that are very different from what the other students are making so we'll see how it goes but like I said, I'm excited.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Self-gratifying place setting
Japanese Eggplant (after being mauled)
Udon Noodle Soup w/ Duck
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Bacon Wrapped Hot Digs in Maple Bar Donut Buns
I think you're gauranteed a heart attack with every three bites.
White Bean and Ham (we used more bacon than ham)
Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Tomato Soup with Parmesan Touilles and Savory Whipped Cream
And then this was just a random amuse bouche type plate. From the top going clockwise: olive tapenade, fire roasted pepper tapenade on a waffle cut potato chip (I forget the French name for this), more olive tapenade on a chip, stuffed mushroom (these were AWESOME), fire roasted pepper tapenade by itself, and a sort of chicken salad mixture thing on a chip, with fried leek strings and savory whipped cream in the middle.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
“Thank you for Jesus and God and Mama and Daddy and me and Cosette. Thank you for Jesus and Little K on the tv at church. Let Cosette and me and mama and daddy have no bad dreams. Dear Jesus’ name. Amen” -Connor (4)
“Jesus loves me so….Bible tells me so….Jesus loves me so….Amen.” -Cosette (2)
>>Last night we had a guest instructor schooling us on some Japanese food. We made miso soup, soba noodles, fried tofu, vegetable and shrimp tempura, and (oh yes) sushi. Okay, so I loooove sushi and had never made it before last night. It was awesome. I realised how easy it is to throw sushi together, but I also realise now how difficult it would be to truly master. Not so much for flavor but sushi is all about presentation. Perfect cuts, perfect arrangement, perfect rolling (or nigiri-squeezing), etc. I wish I would have had a nicer plate, something square and dark colored maybe, but at least I have pictures this time!
Not bad for my first time, eh? It all tastes wonderful, my favorite was the spicy tuna handroll. I think I've got the bug... I could totally see myself a few months from now with all my own stuff at home to make sushi, and with the new Asian market that just opened down the street that sells everything I would need (including sashimi grade tuna-maguro), it would be all too easy.
In case you're interested, here's what on the plate: the roll is a California Roll (sushi rice, sesame seeds, crab, avocado, cucumber, tobiko [fish eggs], and nori [seaweed]), shrimp nigiri (the butterflied shrimp has a dab of wasabi on the underside to help it stick to the little palm of rice that was squeezed, which is what nigiri means), tuna nigiri (or nigiri maguro), and the yellow one is nigiri tamago (tamago is egg, it's kind of like an omelet but the eggs have a little salt and sugar in the mixture and is cooked in a square pan in thin layers of egg that you keep folding over - this was really cool and I think it's a great example of how the Japanese take something simple like scrambled eggs and cook them and present them in a way that is far superior and beautiful), and lastly, the spicy tuna hand roll (my favorite) which was tuna mixed with rooster sauce (I don't know the name, but it's that chili sauce with the picture of a rooster on the bottle), a little mayo, and green onions; also in the roll is the sushi rice, avocado, and a leafy green called shiso (similar in flavor to basil, actually).
>>Okay, now for the "Snow" part of the title... yep, winter is here. Last night we had our first snow. It's very pretty, just a light blanket of snow over everything. It didn't affect the roads at all, which is good because I really, really need to go get some new tires...
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I also finally got a braised pork that I'm actually happy with. I want to work on the seasonings/flavorings some, with the desired end result of Carnitas like I used to get back at Super Mex in Cali. There just isn't any good, hardcore Mexican food here in Colorado Springs. At least not that I have had yet.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Same pizza but covered with mozzarella
The pizzas were really freaking good, and I'm getting a little faster and better at making my own doughs.
Last night was NY strip, sauteed and basted with rosemary garlic butter. It's sitting on top of a carrot mash and tomato mushroom gratin. The steak was great and the veg was tasty, but looked a little like baby puke. I like the tomato gratin but I'm thinking I should concasse the tomatoes first, there was way too much liquid.
My beautiful wife, Nikki came home last weekend with a 1.75 liter jug of Jameson's. I loved her and despised her in the same moment because I knew what this would do to me, especially being that I have the week off from school. I make a point not to get sloppily drunk anymore, but it's been six days since she brought the jug home and it's over half gone...
Trouble in a bottle.
On top of that, she'll be up in the mountains this weekend on a retreat. I plan on doing a lot of reading and cooking, but it's just not as fun (or maybe purposeful) without her around. I've always said that I started cooking because I love to eat, and boy do I. But really, I'm not sure how true that actually is. When I'm home alone I'll just do whatever is quick and easy. I get excited about cooking when I'm cooking for others. There's no better feeling to me than to see someone else bite into something that I made, roll their eyes back in their head, and groan about how good it is. Nikki does this pretty much every time I cook. I think it's more out of love and support than anything else, and she's fairly easy to please when it comes to food. It may not be the most advantageous critique in terms of helping me develope as a cook, but it sure is edifying.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Oh well, on to what really matters: the practical. Here's what I made for my entree.
We had to make two courses, a salad course and an entree. I was originally assigned chicken for my protein and saute for my method but when I got to school the chef decided too many people had chicken and he wanted more variety so he switched me to beef and told me I could cook it however I wanted. For a split second I was thrown off because I had really prepared myself to saute chicken, but really there's nothing I enjoy more than grilling some steak. So I grabbed a NY strip, threw it in some herb oil to marinate and then got to work on the salad and prepping the rest of the entree. For the salad (sorry, forgot to take pics) I used spring mix greens, cantaloupe, crisp raw onion, and a Thai vinaigrette, which turned out pretty nice, I thought. I garnished it with some minced lemon zest, parsley, cilantro, and red pepper. For the entree I made a pumpkin coulis (basically a puree), fried potatoes, and wilted spinach. The garnish was just scallions and bell pepper for color. Here's what I thought could've been better - the pumpkin coulis had a touch too much salt; the potatoes could've been a little crisper; and I felt like I used too much shallot with the wilted spinach. Here's what the chef though:
ACE!! Yep: 100%. He gave me a 10 out of 10 on everything. It's kind of funny how critical you can be of yourself and your own handiwork but then turn around and get a critique like that from a professional. Obviously, it made me feel great and the whole work issue just didn't matter to me anymore. It was a nice way to finish off before the fall break. Now I have a week and a half of no school to relax, read, cook at home, or whatever. My wife will be happy since I'll be cooking for her and I also plan on finishing The Physiology of Taste and writing a report on it (chef said he'll give extra credit and it's a phenomenal book anyway).