Apr 24, 2009

i've decided that i'm not fit for the professional kitchen. i can't get comfortable with the stainless steal, high heat and impersonal banged up pots and pans. i just don't fit in. i am looking forward to seeing where i fit in outside of the commercial kitchen once i'm done with school. in the meantime i need to try harder to thrive and learn and cook well in a the kendall college kitchens.

i'm half way through my methods of cooking class, where we're learning to sear (not "boil") meats, poach fish, braise more meats, and sautee, among other things. we made pasta last week and now i'm on a kick - i can't stop thinking about rolling out dough and making crazy ravioli. last weekend we had some friends over for dinner and i finally followed through with my threat to duplicate Schwa restaurant's famous quail egg ravioli. the results were fantastic.

schwa on the left, me on the right (test ravioli with a chicken yolk, but you get the idea). not exactly identical, but still worth the effort. the secret is the truffle oil ricotta - a little ring of it keeps the yolk in place as you make the ravioli.

last night in class we braised. lamb, veal, beef. braising is one of my all time favorite cooking methods (is it totally nerdy that i have a favorite cooking method?) but the braising i do at home - rustic, loose, le creuset dutch oven - and the braising we do in class - exact, uniform, shitty bent pans - are worlds apart. it's hard to learn to do something differently when you already feel like you have it down.

i have a few big projects coming up, i have to come up with a business concept, name, logo and tagline for my foodservice business planning class and i'm having trouble with it. i know it's just an assignment and i can do absolutely anything, but i can't help attaching meaning to it, approaching it as if it were my final say in what i am going to do with this adventure. and that is still a big fat unknown.

in other totally unrelated news, two new babies came into my life this week - little tyler was born on sunday night to a good friend from college and yesterday, my stepsister made me an aunt again with little lizzie. i can't wait to meet them.

Apr 12, 2009

today craig and i celebrate our six year wedding anniversary. six years. it feels like it has been so much longer, yet the time has just flown by. six years ago today we used the words "forever and always" to promise our hearts to each other for eternity. and i wore a dress that was every so slightly too big with 4" heels and he had a soul patch on his chin. we were two 23 year olds who didn't know any better than that we loved each other and always would. we had no idea that it would only get better as time went on.

last year we celebrated five years with a trip to chile and had an amazing experience. five years is big. five years is a milestone. five years is worth celebrating. six - six years is just six years. but it's one more year than five, so i guess it's a big celebratory milestone plus one. the traditional six year wedding anniversary gifts are candy or iron and the modern gift is wood. so we're finally buying a proper wood bedframe. it seems appropriate.

there are millions of reasons i love my husband, but here are six that strike me as special at this moment:

1. he has never, ever, refused to eat something i have cooked. even the sticky massive tasteless rice noodle disaster of 2003. he is also an incredibly adventurous eater - sometimes more than me. (hoof tacos? craig tried them.)

2. he never fails to give me at least one compliment a day. he can tell when i want someone to tell me i look cute.

3. he always looks great. he's a very handsome man. and he lets me cut his hair the way i like it.

4. he let me help my mother move half way across the country to be closer to us. he hasn't complained once.

5. he keeps doing things that make me proud of him and excited for his (our) future.

6. everything is meaningful to him. even the little things. i love that.

Apr 10, 2009

my second quarter of culinary school started this week. i am taking three classes - foodservice business planning for ten weeks, and methods of cooking for 5 weeks, followed by intro to garde manger for the second 5 weeks of the quarter. so far we've cooked vegetables (why do the french boil everything?) and starches - rice, risotto, potatoes and pasta.

i had to be a smart ass and hand cut my pasta instead of using the cutter attachment for the pasta roller. i keep forgetting how easy pasta is to make - i'm definitely going to reincorporate it into my rotating dinner menu.

it feels great to be back in class- i really missed my classmates and the experiences we share in the kitchen. it also feels like time is slipping away too fast. i've already technically completed 1/4 of my studies - and although i have learned a lot, i'm not sure i've absorbed as much as i had wanted to. i'm also feeling overwhelmed, like i don't have enough time to myself anymore. i'm working on ways to deal with that, and hopefully i'll come up with a solution soon...

i'm getting the spring itch - i keep wearing clothes and shoes that probably aren't quite ready to

i don't know if i've mentioned this before, but my company has been amazingly supportive of my cooking school venture, and has given me a budget to cook for the office about twice a month. i've been cooking soups exclusively so far - chicken noodle, split pea, minestrone, tortilla, lentil, chicken and rice, cream of chicken, and today: matzoh ball. one of my jewish coworkers brought in her grandmother's incredibly vague matzoh ball recipe ("omi's matzoh balls") for us to decipher, and although i had never even tasted matzoh ball soup before, i think we figured out the quantities allright and made a damned tasty soup.

so here is the recipe - my interpretation of Omi's matzoh balls soup.
serves 15-20.

for the matzoh balls:
1 box matzoh, broken into smallish pieces
1 large onion, small dice
2 oz butter
6 eggs
1 tbsp garlic salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup matzoh meal

for the soup:
1 pound of carrots, sliced
2 large onions, small dice
2 oz butter
8 quarts of chicken broth
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • to start the matzoh balls: soak matzoh in warm water for about 5 minutes until soft. drain and squeeze out excess water.
  • sautee onion in butter over medium heat until translucent. add drained matzoh and cook, stirring to break up the matzoh, for about 5 minutes. turn off heat and cover. let sit for 10 minutes or so to steam.
  • spread matzoh and onion mixture on a baking sheet or platter to cool, stirring every few minutes.
  • for the soup, while the matzoh mixture is cooling heat butter over medium heat and sautee onions and carrots until onion is translucent. add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
  • to finish the balls: combine eggs, garlic salt, pepper, salt and nutmeg. get yourself a bowl with some cold water to dip your hands in - this will prevent the matzoh ball mixture from sticking too much. when matzoh mixture is about room temperature, add eggs and use your fingers to combine. add matzoh meal.
  • roll balls with the palms of your hands to about ping pong ball size, dipping your hands in the water occasionally to keep the sticky mixture from sticking to your hands. your mixture should make about 75 balls.
  • add balls to simmering broth and simmer for just under 5 minutes. when they're done they will float to the top.
  • serve 3-4 matzoh balls per person and sprinkle with a bit of finely chopped parsley.