Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gluten Free Spritz - Yummm!

  • 1 1/2 cups butter (yes, I used the real stuff for this recipe)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tspn almond extract
  • 3 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (I used Arrowhead Mills AP Baking Mix)
  • 1 1/2 tspn Xanthan Gum

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter, sugar, egg, and extract in mixing bowl. When mixed is creamed, slowly add in flour and Xanthan Gum mix. Use cookie press to press desired shapes onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes. (Keep an eye on them, don't let them brown! The bottom will be burned if the tops brown) Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool for two minutes on a baking stone. Remove to wire rack and allow to thouroughly cool.

My new toy!

My wonderful husband came home this evening with a large box in tow! In it, a KitchenAid Professional 600 stand mixer.

I am in heaven!! This thing is just like a mini Hobart, I'm very accustomed to using them in the bakery and production shop at school.

I simply could not wait to use it, so I made a batch of Spritz using my grandma's recipe, but adding a little bit of Xanthan Gum to compensate for the use of gluten free flour. The turned out great. No one could ever tell the difference, seriously!

GF Rice Treats

One would not assume that something as innocent as a Rice Krispy Treat would be off-limits to a kiddo with Celiac Disease. After all, it's just rice cereal and marshmallows, right?

Well, yes... and no. Traditional Rice Krispies do contain gluten, in the form of barley malt, rendering them a total no-no. So, what's a mom to do when her 7 year old is begging for them? Improvise! Absolutely!

Chocolately Gluten Free Rice Treats
  • 6 cups Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
  • 2 cups Cocoa Pebbles
  • 1 package Jet Puffed mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup dairy free margerine
melt margerine and marshmallows in heavy pan. add to cereal mixture and press into 13x9x2 baking pan. (grease pan well if pan is not a non-stick pan) Cut into squares, and enjoy!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Baking... back to the basics.

I love to bake. I've been baking since I was a little girl, standing on a step stool in my grandma's kitchen. Flour, sugar, butter... yum. Chocolate. Fruit. Nuts. Yum.

I continued to love to bake all through my youth, adolescence, and early adulthood. Then I got married and had kids. And, my second born was diagnosed with food allergies, particularly to nuts, eggs, and dairy. It's kind of difficult to bake without those items. So, I stopped baking. Period.

When B was days away from her 5th birthday, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease which causes the body to attack 'itself' in response to the ingestion of gliadin, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Ok, so it wasn't bad enough that I had to learn to bake without eggs and dairy.... now I could not use wheat flour either. What other options did I have?

In response to my child's extreme dietary needs, I became obsessed with food. I realized that the Culinary Arts, particularly the art of baking, was calling my name.

I just completed my first semester in the culinary arts program at Johnson County Community College and am very eager to start my second. Fundamentals of Baking taught me a lot about the science behind baking. It is with this newly gained knowledge that I will proceed forward to really start experimenting with alternative grains.

My love of baking is rekindled, now my desire to go beyond is taking over. I'm really excited about it. I'm constantly on the search for gluten free baking recipes, tips, flour mixes, etc. Becoming a part of the Iron Cupcake - Earth challenge is really going to test my abilities.


Wow, I'm really and truly a terrible blogger. But, I want to get better at this, especially as my love of all things "baking" grows, exponentially. I've been busy... I think it's safe to say "everyone" is busy during the holidays. Plus, I've had finals.

My grades for this semester were decent. I earned an A in Fundamentals of Baking, an A in Restaurant Sanitation and Safety, and a B in Professional Cooking. I was a little bummed about that particular grade, but satisfied with the knowledge that my Chef really doesn't give many A's at all. He's a great Chef, but he grades harshly... for a reason. He wants to turn out "the best" - not just adequate Chefs. =)

I've been experimenting, a lot, with gluten free flours, egg replacers, and all sorts of ingredient trials. I've decided to enter the Iron Cupcake - Earth baking challenge. I'm really excited about it, especially since my cuppy-cakes will all be sans gluten!

I learned about the challenge recently and I'm simply too enthralled with it NOT to join up!
I really can't wait for the new challenge to start!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Nameless Recipe

So, I had a craving for pot pie... not the outside, just the inside. But, I also wanted some rice, but not any rice, I wanted creamy risotto. I looked for recipes all over the place but couldn't find "just" what I was looking for. So, I created something.

It turned out wonderfully... and I can totally see me making this over and over again. Sure, I'll vary it up a little, but I thought I'd post my "recipe" for anyone who wanted to try something totally new and yummy.

My Nameless Recipe - Cornpeacarrot Risotto


2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups veggie stock
(or your stock of choice)
1 cup dry white wine
(something you'd want to drink...)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen carrots
1/2 cup frozen corn
cayenne pepper - dash
salt and pepper - to taste
1/4 tspn rosemary
1/4 cup "milk" (I used Hemp milk)
2 tbsp (vegan) butter

Heat oil in large saucepan, add chopped onions and sweat until translucent. Add rice and cook for approximately 3 minutes to toast the rice. Add one cup of stock and cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup white wine, cayenne, rosemary, salt and pepper, and veggies. Continue to cook until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1 cup of stock and stir continuously until all the liquid is absorbed. (This takes about 20 minutes.)

When rice appears creamy and fluffy... add 1/4 cup hemp milk and butter.... stir in well until butter is melted. Serve while hot.

Notes: You really can do almost anything with this. I used vegan ingredients, including the hemp milk, dairy free/soy free margarine, and homemade vegetable stock.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chili Mac - Vegan Style

I had way too much of my cocoa-coconut chili leftover, so I decided to kick it up a bit and make myself some Chili-Mac. I made up some organic Quinoa Curls, reheated some of my yummy chili, then mixed it all together. It made an incredibly hearty and tasty lunch!!! =)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yummy, yummy for my tummy!

What on Earth could be better than vegan "ice cream" full of gluten free cookie dough? In my book.... not much! This stuff is amazing!!! I shared a pint with Ian the other night, he LOVED it. And, he could EAT it... that's even more amazing.

If you are like me and want desperately to "ditch" dairy... but don't want to give up ice cream, this may be exactly what you need!!

For dinner this evening, I had gluten free pizza with vegan mozzarella, green peppers, and tomatoes, from Waldo Pizza. My baking team had a study party at Kari's house, and we'd decided to order pizza from the "hut." I was game for that... but then I remembered my pledge to myself, and my health. I brought my own pizza and dined with them. The pizza was yummy, and I returned home feeling very proud of myself for not giving in. Pizza Hut smells amazing, but I knew the havoc it would wreak on my digestive system. So, to the folks at Waldo Pizza.... thank you for thinking of the gluten free vegans!!! =)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cocoa-Coconut Chili

  • 1-1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 4-6 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 cans (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 oz) black beans
  • 1 can (14 oz) pinto beans
  • 1 can (14 oz) kidney beans
  • 1 can (14 oz) light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp chipotle hot sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernals
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1-2 fresh limes - for garnish.

In a large pot on medium heat, add oil, onion, celery, peppers, garlic, salt & pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and allspice, stir to combine. Cover and cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally; reduce heat if onions start to burn. When onions start to soften, add cocoa and stir for 1-2 minutes, then add tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, and coconut, and stir to combine. Increase heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn kernels and agave nectar, and cook another 5 minutes to heat through. Remove cover and let liquid reduce if desired. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce. Serve with lime wedges and squeeze on generous amounts of juice.

Recipe from eat, drink, and be vegan by Dreena Burton

Noodles & Co.

I know, I know... why am I providing a link to a restaurant, in my dining section, called Noodles & Co. when I'm clearly not permitted to consume noodles?? Well...rice noodles are perfectly fine for the gluten free, and this place came highly recommended by a Celiac friend.

I went there to try it out for myself. I was a bit apprehensive about ordering my meal to be made with rice noodles, but it was totally second nature for the cashier. I ordered Pasta Fresca with rice noodles rather than penne. The lady smiled and said, "Do you have an allergy?" I replied with a smile...and a nod, she then put it into the computer, and I saw the guy in the kitchen toss the pan he'd been using into a sink... grab a clean one, and begin working on my order. Bravo folks, bravo!!

So, today after Joshua's football game, I decided to treat all of my kiddos. Josh is not gluten free, in fact... he's a gluten junkie. He ordered mac and cheese with Parmesan crusted chicken, and licked his lips like a crazed person while he dined. The 2 little ones each had a big bowl of "plain" rice noodles. Today I had rice noodles with marinara and a totally yum-o cucumber and tomato salad. MmmMMmm. So, cheers to Noodles & Co. for being "allergy aware!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MmmM MmmM, Mac & Cheese!

I seriously thought my days of eating mac and cheese were over. Then, I found Playfood. =)

Today, I had gluten free, dairy, soy, egg free macaroni and cheese. It was wonderful.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scrambled Hollandaise??

It was bound to happen, Chef says it always does.... someone in class would scramble the eggs for the hollandaise.

I've made hollandaise before, successfully, so I knew that I would not have any problems with mine.


I scrambled my eggs... what a mess. I totally blame the electric flattop.... the heating elements were "off" all night. A setting of 1 caused butter to boil within moments of hitting the heat. I felt the eggs starting to scramble and Garrison, one of my teammates, started saying, "Oh no.... oh no!!" As soon as I realized what was happening, it was too late. I held up my whisk and saw Chef glance at me from across the room, a big smile broke across his face and he said, "Told ya."

He walked across the room to our work station and examined my eggs. He grabbed a lemon and said that we might be able to save it. A little lemon juice, a couple teaspoons of water, lots of melted butter, patience...and love... and we saved it!!! However, before we knew it would turn out alright, Garrison grabbed the cayenne pepper and said, "Here, let's try this." As he sprinkled it into the sauce, some went right up my nose and in my eyes. Not fun! But funny....anyhow.

In the end, Chef called our sauce "Hollandaise Diablo." It was HOT, and it was actually quite good! Too bad we didn't have any extra eggs to pour it over!!

On a positive note, my Bechemel turned out great.... it had a perfect nappe! My veloute' was a bit... well... pale. Since my team used a vegetarian stock, it lacked the color that the rest of the class's stock had. In fact, our veggie stock looks somewhat like lemonade. Tastes fine, but just doesn't look quite like everyone elses.

Due to the fact that our dark veggie stock lacks the "gelatin" from the bone marrow in the beef stock, we don't have that perfectly thick consistency to our Espagnole either. In fact, we had cooked ours about 25 minutes when we began to realize that we simply were going to need more roux. It took forever to even make a dark roux (oh, how I hate using flour!) and next week we'll have to make even more. Blah! In any event, the Espagnole was cooled and frozen before it was run through a china cap, so we'll have to do that before we can cook with it next week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


(Picture will be posted soon!)

We made Challah in Fundamentals of Baking last night. It was so pretty when it came out of the oven. I still have a ways to go in learning to braid it properly.... but it was funny working on it.

I brought my personal loaf home, and Adam took it to work to feed the guys breakfast. I'm so glad the tasty treats I bring home aren't going to waste. I think Adam's coworkers like the fact that they have fresh homemade baked goods every Tuesday morning. =)

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I just found these today.... and I love them, so I simply had to post. =)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Five-Ingredient Potato Lasagna

  • 2.5 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 2 (15-oz) cans sliced potatoes, drained
  • 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 tablespoons freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly oil an 11x7-inch baking dish and spread with 1/2 cup of the spaghetti sauce. Layer with half the potatoes, 1 cup of the cottage cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Repeat layers starting with potatotes, and ending with parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

From The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen by Donna Klein

Note: This recipe is SO easy.... it literally takes only minutes to throw it together. It makes for a great quick meal when you have to get out the door, but still want that home cooked meal before you go!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Zucchini Risotto Pie with Rosemary and Marinara

  • 1 1/2 cups arboria rice
  • 2 tblns extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3 cups gluten free marinara sauce
  • Fresh Rosemary sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 10-inch quiche dish or pie plate.

In a large stockpot filled with boiling salted water, boil rice for 8 minutes and drain well.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook - stirring until softened. Add zucchini, 2 tablespoons of the rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add rice, eggs, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and milk to the skillet; mix well to thoroughly combine. Transfer to pie plate. Bake, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, or until set and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the marinara sauce and remaining rosemary to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

To serve, cut the pie into 6 equal pieces. Ladle equal portions of marinara onto each of 6 serving plates and top with a piece of pie. Serve at once, garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired.

(6 main-dish size servings, or 8 side-dish servings)

Note: This pie is yummy! The crunchiness of the parmesan and the lingering taste of rosemary just makes it sooo good!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bountiful Breads

These gorgeous rolls came home with me last night. They were straight out of the oven, steaming hot, when they went into the box. Pulled from a bakers oven just moments before, the aroma was intoxicating. Fresh baked bread... what on Earth could smell better??

Inside this box there are both hard and soft rolls. They were made in my Fundamentals of Baking class, as we were learning the 12 steps to yeast bread production. I'd post the recipes, however... I'm not yet proficient at converting to "baker's percentages" and these particular recipes made something like 9 lbs of dough a piece.

The rolls in the box were shaped by me, myself, and I. The round ones are shaped well, I have one half way decent double knot in there, and a couple flubs. =)

Regardless.... both my husband and my 10 year old son loved them. Adam took some to work, while Joshua nibbled on one as a bedtime snack. (Yes, there were more in the box before the boys got a hold of it!) Brenna, my gluten free daughter, took a whiff and said, "Smells good, but they are gluteny." She knows she can't have them, and she knows that Mama will make a yummy gluten free alternative just for her!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ian's Birthday Cupcakes

As I have mentioned, two of my three children have pretty severe food allergies. My little boy turned 3 yesterday and I wanted him to be able to have his cake... and eat it too. So, I made him cupcakes using a Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate cake mix. I've used this mix before and it's really very yummy. However, my fail safe recipe for buttercream calls for meringue powder. My little guy is severely allergic to eggs so that recipe would not be safe for him.

I scoured the internet looking for dairy and egg free recipes, but no one recipe seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. I decided to incorporate different ideas from different recipes and create me own. I have to say... it turned out really well. Everyone liked it!!

Allergen Free and Toddler Friendly Buttercream Frosting

3.5 Cups confectioners sugar
1 cup softened margarine*
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
2 tspn orange juice
2 tbspns cocoa**

Mix together in stand mixer until smooth.

* I used Mother's Kosher for Passover Margarine, since it contains no dairy OR soy
** I didn't happen to have any cocoa on hand, so I used Ian's "Toddler Health" chocolate (dairy free, soy free, nut free, egg free, rice based) supplement. That added a little bit of "health and wellness" to his sugary treat. =)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gosh, I'm so far behind!!

I have neglected my culinary blog, and for that... I apologize. Eventually I'll post pics from my final dinner class. It was awesome.... simply awesome. =) In the meantime, here's a cross-post from my other blog.

I started classes last week, once again. This semester I'm taking Fundamentals of Baking, Food Safety and Sanitation, and Professional Cooking 1.

In a quest to help our Mother Earth a bit more, I've recently decided to adapt a vegetarian lifestyle. At the time I'm writing this, I've been 100% "meat free" for 5 days. So, naturally... the first night of my professional cooking class was a bit awkward as I realized how much meat I'd have to be handling/cooking. Thankfully, there is a hard-core veggie in my class and our Chef allowed us to team up together, and will work with us to help create vegetarian friendly meals. Granted, we'll still have to learn to cook all the meats and we'll have to use stocks in some of our cooking, but it's awesome that he's willing to work with us. =)

Six professional chefs, from Egypt, are in my Safe-Serve class. They are going to be a big asset to the class, I think. Chef M and Chef S both said that typical Culinary students have a strong desire to refrain from eating *anything* after the first week of PC1 & Safe Serve classes. They are both right. I have no desire to eat anything.... but of course, my body is telling me that I must. So, for breakfast I had a vegan cookie and a glass of YurbaMate tea. I hope it lasts me all day... as I do not want to eat. Period.

I'm going to post this very same posting in my culinary blog....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Tonight was our graduation dinner. It was so much fun! There were 5 dishes and each team was assigned a component of the meal. My team made blackened tilapia with balsamic tomatoes.

We ate, we drank, we laughed... and we were all a bit sad that our time together was coming to an end. Chef McPeake taught me SO much, I'll be forever grateful. I plan to take additional classes at the Culinary Center, but now it's time for me to move on. I'll be starting in the Culinary Department at Johnson County Community College on the 16th of August. Goodness... I'm excited and nervous at the same time!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fillet of Salmon en Papillote


4 salmon pieces - 6-8 oz each
Fresh Black Pepper, as needed
Kosher salt, as needed
8 oz fish stock
4 oz white whine
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
4 teaspoons minced shallots
4 tablespoons sliced scallions
4 oz brown mushrooms, sliced
4 slices lemon

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut parchment into a heart shape large enough to enclose the fillet.
(note: we used parchment rectangles and were taught how to fold it into a heart shape as we were sealing the paper)

Place salmon on the parchment heart. Sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper. Top with stock, wine, shallots, scallions, mushrooms, butter, and lemon slices.

Fold the paper over and seal the sides tightly.

Place individual bags on HOT tray or sizzler platter. Place in 400 degree oven for 5-8 minutes and serve immediately.

*Be careful when you cut the bag open... it WILL be hot!!!

Class 5 - Moist Heat

I think this has been my favorite class thus far. We really did a lot of cooking this evening. We discussed the various methods of using moist heat cooking, including steaming, En Papillote, shallow poaching, braising, and simmering.

Tonight we made:
*Braised Savory Swiss Steak (quite unlike anything my mother used to try to pass off as such)
*Aromatic Citrus Herb Butter for Steamed Asparagus
*Fillet of Salmon en Papillote
*Classic Chicken Eugenie
*And... a hand made Beurre Manie'. (uh... yum!)

I'll post recipes as I get the chance. The kids are CraZy already today!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Class 4 - Veggies

This was a super great class. I do love my veggies. I'll have to add my recipes later... however, I'll share what we made.

*Sauteed Green Beans Almondine (this ain't your grandma's green bean dish!)
*Perfect Creamed Spinach
*Glazed and Candied Baby Carrots
*Drunken Mushrooms (the perfect steak-topper)
*Winter Ratatouille


I am really looking forward to class this evening. It'll be all about the veggies. If it weren't for my insane love of chicken, I could easily be a vegetarian.

I have to admit, I've been watching "The Next Food Network Star" and I was super excited last week when Kelsey announced that she'd be making a white chocolate beurre blanc. It was exciting because I actually know what a beurre blanc is! =)

Still, knowing what I've learned about seafood in the Midwest, in general... I won't be running to Red Lobster to try Kelsey's Macadamia Crusted Tilapia with White Chocolate Beurre Blanc. I think I'll wait until I'm back home, much closer to the East Coast.

I hope to bring my camera to class this evening, and have some awesome shots of the school, my classmates, and whatever it is I end up making tonight!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oh gracious...he was right.

I decided to reheat my beautiful green avocado beurre blanc and take a picture of it. I really wish I'd had my camera with me last night, or thought about it as soon as I arrived at home.

Alas, Chef Richard was right. There's no reheating the sauce once it's been allowed to chill. It was a mess. A gloppy, green, disgusting mess. It still smelled pretty darn awesome... but really, no one on this Earth would want to eat it! So, for now... I'm afraid I simply can't share a photo.

Avocado Beurre Blanc

Avocado Butter Sauce - Yield 1 cup

4 ounces white whine (Fume' Blanc or Chardonnay)

1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces sweet butter, cut into cubes (cold!)
1 avocado, mashed smooth
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Place wine, vinegar, and shallots in a Calphalon sauce pan (it must be heavy and non-reactive) or a coated saute' pan. Place on range and immer until the liquid barely covers the shallots.

After reduction is complete, add cream and reduce again until the cream is lightly thickened and VERY shiny.

Whisk the butter into reduction, beating constantly, back and forth until all the butter is incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in avocado pulp. Season with salt and papper to taste. Place in glass or ceramic contianer and hold warm for service.

Note: This sauce must be served immediately. It will not hold for very long. You can't freeze it, or reheat it. If you have to make ahead of time... you can made the reduction through the cream stage, ahead of time. Once you add the butter... it must be served. =) It's Oh-SO-good!!!!

Class 3 - Seafood

While it's true that I'm not a big fan of seafood in general, I learned that part of the problem is that I've just never had really good seafood!

Chef started class tonight by reminding us that we live in Kansas...and there is no such thing as "fresh" seafood in this part of the country. I've eaten salmon in restaurants before, and while it's been good... it's never been great. Last night I had a GREAT piece of salmon. My mouth is watering, just thinking about it.

Here's a few pointers... from the perspective of a seafood chef in the Midwest:
  • Know your purveyor. That's the single most important rule to buying seafood.
  • If the seafood smells fishy... do NOT buy it. Fresh seafood should not smell.
  • Never wrap fish in plastic wrap. It will cause it to spoil more quickly. It should always be allowed to "breath."
  • Higher fat = more flavor (that holds true with anything, I think)
  • If you grill fish with the skin on, you are going to lose all the flavor when you remove the skin... so, remove before grilling.
  • In this area, specifically, the *best* place to buy fish is Costco (or Sam's) because the fish is I.Q.F. (individually quick frozen, on the boats) It's as close to "fresh" as we can get. Again, this is specific to the area I live in.... the dead center of the country.
Tonight we made several dishes and had a lot of fun. Though, we had to use the new kitchen at the school and it's much smaller and far less accommodating than the big "old kitchen." I had to work at the back of my stove and that caused me to have to rely on another team member to adjust my heat. Thankfully I still had access to two burners, otherwise I would have been in trouble when she didn't hear me say, "reduce... reduce, reduce!!!!!"

My partner, on the other hand, was awesome tonight. We are in tables of 4 and with most dishes we divide into teams of 2. My partner is Jenifer and she loves cooking as much as I do. She's as eager to learn as I am, and it makes her a LOT of fun to work with. The other two ladies on our team aren't quite as enthusiastic as Jen and I. But, they are really nice and easy to get along with, so it all works out.

Jen and I really took turns with our duties. I made most of the sauces, while she was in charge of grilling, searing, frying, and preparing the fish and shellfish.

I made the creamed spinach for Oysters Rockefeller and received accolades from my entire team. They loved the spinach, as did I. I watched as they devoured their oysters, and smiled as they rolled their eyes back in their heads. Hahahaha!!!! I'm allergic to shellfish, so I didn't even bother to try them. Though, I did grab myself a small dish of the spinach before I threw the rest over the oysters. It really was *that good.*

Chef made a statement, early on in the evening, that someone would be "breaking" their sauce tonight. I took that as a personal challenge. I was going to make the sauce, and it was going to be good. =)

Jen helped gather the mis en place for the avocado beurre blanc while I chopped and diced my shallots and threw them in the pan. I allowed the wine and white wine vinegar to reduce to almost no liquid at all. The shallots were just exploding with taste. Once I got to the stage where I was able to whip in the butter, I was getting tired of standing over the pan... and I was starting to get very warm.

It took me a good 20 minutes to whisk in the cup of cubed butter.... but my sauce did NOT break!!! I was hot... nearly sweating, and my arm was starting to hurt, but it was perfect!!! In fact, once it was finished... it was the perfect hue of green and the taste was amazing!!!

By the time the sauce was ready Jen had just finished searing the salmon, and I poured the sauce generously over the fish. She kept saying, "that looks perfect" over and over again. She tasted it... and a huge smile came across her face. I took a big bite...and the same smile followed. It was heaven on a plate!!!

Several classmates walked over to our table to peek at my sauce. I felt as if I'd just won some sort of prize. =) Even Chef had a great big smile once he took a taste of the avocado sauce.

I am proud to say that Chef asked the entire class to give us a round of applause as we'd made the *best* butter sauce. I was beaming with pride. And, that was about the time I started to react to the teaspoon of steamed mussels broth that I'd tasted earlier in the evening. I knew that was a mistake.

My face began to swell and turn bright red. I was itching all over, especially my face. Jen, who is a nurse by day, noticed...and asked if I was alright. She knew that I'd tasted the broth.... and started rummaging through her purse for an antihistamine. I took some medication that I had with me...and it helped immediately.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. I went right to bed, well.... right to bed after making Adam try the butter sauce. =)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Coffee Cocoa Spice Rub

This is GREAT on pork tenderloin. We also made this in class, searing the tenderloin in the pan and then finishing in the oven. It was seriously YUMMY!!!

1 tablespoon black pepper - course grind
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons espresso, fine grind
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons cocoa - unsweet
1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Tip: Combine the above a day in advance to allow flavors to blend together.

Bourbon Marinade for Chicken
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup bourbon (can use Jack Daniels, too!)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 honey
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger, fresh - peeled and minced
1 tablespoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon white pepper, ground

Tip: Marinade contains sugar, take care not to grill over high heat. Watch carefully so that the marinated chicken does not become charred.

** Marinate chicken 4-6 hours before roasting or grilling.

Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs beef tenderloin tips, cleaned
Kosher salt and pepper, as needed
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups beef stock (we used the stock we'd made in class last week)
1 tablespoon Dion mustard
1/4 cup sour cream
1 small white onion, sliced thin
1 cup baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced.

tip: When searing tips in pan, do not overload the pan and cause the meat to boil instead of searing. Cook meat in batches, if needed, to achieve the proper searing technique.

Slice meat into 1/2-inch-thick long strips; season with salt and pepper just before adding to pan.

Heat skillet over medium high heat; add olive oil, then add butter. Once the butter starts to foam add tenderloin strips and sear until golden nice and brown.

Remove meat to a warm platter and hold.

Add sliced onions to pan and deglaze the drippings and flavors with onions. Cook until soft and slightly brown. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over onions and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring to keep flour for burning. Add stock, stirring to keep from forming lumps, bring to a quick simmer... and simmer for 10-15 minutes, adding more stock if necessary.

Reduce to a simmer, add mustard and beef tips, bring back up to a quick simmer. Remove from heat, and add in sour cream. Stir well... serve over buttered egg noodles.

Class 2 - Meats

In tonights class, we learned all about meat. The class was broken down into the following sections:
  • Meat Identity: where cuts come from
  • Trimming a whole beef tenderloin: buying, trimming, and how to utlize the different parts productively
  • Using a Jaccarder on Meat: purpose and proper use
  • Whole Chickens: sizes and uses - butchering
  • Which cooking method is correct? - simple rules to understanding which cooking methods to use with regards to the different types of meats
We discussed the different gradings of meats, carcass divisions in beef, veal, lamb, and pork, matched cooking methods with cuts, and cooking methods of poultry.

We also did a lot of cooking, recipes to follow. =)

Our homework for this week is to go to the grocery store, identify 5 different cuts of meat, discuss where they come from, and the best cooking methods to apply to each cut. We also have to research the "Maillard Reaction."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chef's Comments

Chef walked around the kitchen last night, picking up each container of stock - holding it up to the light, and commenting. I had frozen my stock and had to thaw it out previous to class. It was taking much longer than I'd hoped, so I the big old disk in a sauce pan and heated it up. I noticed a few more imperfections as it heated up, so I strained it through a cheesecloth, again.

When he picked up mine, he looked at me and asked if I'd just made it. I explained that I'd frozen it and reheated it. He looked at it in the light and said, "nice color." He then opened it up and smelled it.

He put the lid back on the bowl, held it back up again and said, "When it's done correctly, you can smell the herbs and vegetables, nice." And with that, he set my bowl back down on the table in front of me and moved on to the next stock. =)

There were stocks that were much clearer than mine. There were some that were much darker (with beef, the darker the better). There were a few that were much cloudier. In fact, he stopped at the one and said, "You boiled this, didn't you?" The poor lady looked down and admitted that she had the heat too high and had not been paying attention.

I felt pretty good about the comments I received. =)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Comments on Brown Stock

I made my stock...and the smell is heavenly. To tell the truth, it tastes pretty darn good! And, I really love that homemade stock isn't anywhere near as salty as store bought. However, my stock isn't perfect, despite the fact that it took 6 hours to make, from prep to final strain.

I will update this once Chef explains what I did wrong.

My observations -
1. Chef said that the "perfect" stock will be amber and clear.
Mine is a bit cloudy. He said that cloudy often occurs when the stock is allowed to boil too rapidly, or too long. I allowed mine to come to a slow boil, and I immediately reduced the heat to a simmer. I'm not sure why it's not as clear as it should be.

2. The perfect stock will be gelatinous when it's cold.
Mine isn't. Period. I have no idea why... perhaps I strained it too much. But, there was an awful lot of bone marrow in there, which would have prevented it from being clear. It's very liquidy... there's no gel to it at all.

Imperfections aside, I can't wait to actually use it for something. The smell is very enticing... and the taste... well, nothing short of "delish." I just wish I knew what I did wrong!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We all grew up knowing we had 4 senses of taste... sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. And, then there's umami - the sense of savory. Umami is when the sense of taste combines with the sense of smell - to bring about the enhancement of flavor.

A great example was given last night. Imagine you are completely blindfolded with your nose plugged, and someone puts a jelly bean in your mouth. You didn't see the jelly bean beforehand, but you are able to sense, through taste, that it's either: sweet, salty, sour, or bitter. But, you don't really have the ability to identify the flavor of the jelly bean until you unplug your nose and utilize the sense of smell. That is umami.

Chef explained that most of us have items in our home that have Umami, such as ketchup, soy sauce, parmesean cheese, red wine, etc. These things are added to foods to make them savory and robust.

He recommended the book The Fifth Taste: Cooking with Umami by David and Anna Kasabian.

Interesting, huh?

Brown Stock

2 lbs beef bones
7 cups cold water
4 oz mirepoix
Sachet d'espices
1 oz tomato paste

  • Roast bones, tomato paste, and mirepoix in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until bones and veggies are golden brown.
  • Combine bones, mirepoix, and water
  • Bring to a boil, slowly.
  • Skim surface with a spoon.
  • Simmer for 2 hours
  • Add sachet d'espices; cook for another hour
  • strain, cool, and store - refrigerated or frozen
Yeilds 1-1/2 quarts.
*note* - you can use beef, veal, or chicken.

Class 1 - Knife Skills

Last night I finally got to test my new Westhof... and I'm still afraid of it. It's a big knife, and it's going to take me a while to learn how to use it properly, but I'll get it. I must have sliced and diced 12 pounds of celery, carrots, red potatoes, onions, and garlic. My hands stink, and no matter how many times I rub them on stainless steel, the onion smell continues to linger. Yuck.

All of the miripoix veggies that were cut up went into the oven with beef knuckles to create a beef stock; we'll use the stock next week for "meat class." I do have homework, and I wasn't expecting that. I have to make my OWN beef stock, from scratch, and bring in a cup for the Chef to grade. He's been doing this for 25 years, he said, "I'll be able to tell, with one look, what you did right or wrong." Ohhh goody. =)

We discussed all different types of knives, their uses, what they are made of, how to care for them, and the different parts that make up a knife. It really was very interesting... even though Chef Richard assured us that this particular class would be pretty boring. I can't wait for the next class. I was fascinated by this one, if he thinks it was boring, next week outta be fantastic!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Shoes... glorious shoes!

I've been searching for the perfect "kitchen shoes" for a while. After searching high and low, I came across Klogs Chef shoes. I tried them on...and instantly fell in love. They aren't the prettiest shoes in the world, but they are the most comfortable I've ever had on my feet.

In all honesty... I'm a Crocs gal, I love those things....and I don't care one bit that the vast majority of folks I know absolutely hate them. They are comfortable... and as a person who's already had knee surgery and has chronic back pain, comfort is the end all... be all. However, I'm not allowed to wear Crocs in the classroom or the kitchen. So, Klogs it is!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


From June 3 until August 12, I will be taking classes at the Kansas City Culinary Center.
  • Week 1 - Knife Skills
  • Week 2 - Meats
  • Week 3 - Seafood
  • Week 4 - Vegetables
  • Week 5 - Moist Heat Cooking
  • Week 6 - Dry Heat Cooking
  • Week 7 - Mother Sauces (Tomato, Veloute, Bechemel, Espagnole, Hollandaise)
  • Week 8 - Small Sauces (deglazing, wine infusion, etc)
  • Week 9 - Final Dinner Class
Beginning in the fall semester, I will taking my classes at JCCC.
  • HMGT - 120 - Food Service Sanitation
  • HMGT - 123 - Professional Cooking I
  • HMGT - 223 - Fundamentals of Baking


For months now I've been researching knives. I knew that I would be required to learn how to use them properly. The knives I have are what we could afford on a newlywed budget. As newlyweds, I was not working (having moved half way across the country) and my husband was in school, full time. We were broke. Our knives are crap.

I've studied Shun, Wüsthof, Global, Henckles, and a couple other brands. I was bound and determined to love the Shuns. However, they were slightly uncomfortable to hold. Since I have small hands, I was sure that these Japanese knives were going to be perfect. Well, they are perfect...but not for my hands. The Henckles were incredibly too heavy. I mean... I'm sure they are awesome, but I've dealt with carpal tunnel before, and I have no desire to deal with it again.

I tried a few more, but none felt to fit my hands... until the Wüsthof! And, not just any Wüsthof... the "8" Classic." It fits like a glove.

I walked out of the store with my chef's knife and a Kuhn Rikon 3.5" paring knife.

I can NOT wait to learn how to use them, properly!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Long ago, in a galaxy far far away...

That's when my love affair with food began. My grandma, "Nanny", introduced me to the culinary world when I was a very small child. At a time when I wasn't even allowed IN the kitchen at home, my grandma had me cooking and baking with her on the weekends.

Nanny subscribed to several cooking magazines and we'd sit down and examine the recipes in each one. Her favorite was "Taste of Home." When I married my husband and moved away from my life-long home, Nanny gave me a subscription of my own for Christmas.

Over the years, I learned to make substitutions in recipes to adapt them for my grandfather, who had been diagnosed with type II diabetes. We worked to improve the healthiness and reduce the sugar in the recipes that we'd loved throughout the years. I really loved spending time in the kitchen with my grandma. Being in the kitchen, today, helps bring back all those wonderful memories.

I've now been married for 10 years, and recently returned to school to finish a degree I started long ago. However, my love for all things culinary and my daughter's necessity of a gluten restricted lifestyle lead me to change my focus and direction. As of 6/3/08, I will begin my career as a student in the Culinary Arts. I can't wait!!

I will begin my schooling by taking a Professional Culinary Arts program at the Kansas City Culinary Center. Once I complete this program, I will begin the Hospitality Management program at Johnson County Community College. My concentration is Pastry/Baking and I will begin the curriculum, specific for this course of study, in August 2009.