Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous foodie stuff’ Category
I enjoy meandering through the aisles of Asian markets because there is always something new that I’ve never seen before, and I will often purchase something without even knowing how it’s used, just out of curiosity.
So, I was in an Asian supermarket the other day, browsing the fare, as usual. I was in the spice section and saw a plastic package with some reddish stuff in it. I had a suspicion of what it was supposed to be, so I picked it up. Sure enough, it was labeled “saffron.” One ounce for a whopping 99 cents! I had to take a picture of it because I couldn’t believe my eyes. And the picture doesn’t do it justice. This is the skunky, dusty looking stuff that they were trying to pass off as saffron.
Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of saffron knows that there is no way you can get it—any amount—for 99 cents. Those with a little more advanced knowledge of the spice know that it simply does not look like this. I can’t even imagine what, in reality, this stuff actually was.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Market prices vary but 1 gram of saffron can cost anywhere from $10 (on the cheap side) to $75 for Spanish La Mancha. Kalustyan’s in NYC sells 1-ounce jars of Persian Saffron for $200. Amazing that this store was able to magically sell 1 ounce of saffron for 99 cents. They probably took a miniscule amount of saffron dust, mixed it with other stuff, and called it saffron.
The adulteration of saffron is an age-old felony, ever since the luxury item was introduced to Europe by the Arabs in the 7th or 8th century (and probably long before that, too). The reason it’s so expensive is that harvesting it is labor-intensive. Each strand is one of only a few stigmas of a crocus flower. The stigmas are hand-picked and dried and it takes about 75,000 flowers tomake one pound of dried saffron.
In Italian, saffron is called zafferano; in French it is zafran. All three words come from the Arabic word za’faaran, meaning “yellow,” which is the color saffron imbues in food. This color is prized throughout the world—for example, in India, Buddhists wear saffron-colored robes.
Greek mythology tells us that a mortal man named Crocos fell in love with the nymph named Smilax, but she did not return his love, and for some odd reason of the Greek mythology kind, he was turned into a purple crocus flower.
Saffron has been used throughout history in numerous ways: it was used as currency; it was used to scent the baths and public halls of both Greece and Rome; Cleopatra used it in her make-up; and it’s been used for medicinal purposes. And the story of risotto alla Milanese, the classic Italian rice dish? Legend has it that that a jilted lover wanted to ruin the wedding of his ex-love and her fiancé by throwing saffron into the risotto to be served at the reception. The groom, a glass maker for Milan’s Duomo who loved to add saffron to his glass pastes for color; throwing saffron into the wedding risotto was the jilted lover’s attempt at mocking the couple. Of course, it ended up being a hit.
In the Middle Ages, saffron was more valuable that gold. One pound of it could be traded for a plow horse, and anyone passing off diluted saffron was burned at the stake. It is mentioned in the Bible, the Iliad, ancient Egyptian papyruses, and in the writings of the Greek historian Pliny. On Crete, there is a fresco that dates to 1700 B.C. on the palace at Knossos showing a worker gathering saffron. Saffron has been used for medicinal purposes and to make perfume and dye. Ancient Greeks used it to perfume the public baths. Romans drank saffron before alcoholic binges to ward off hangovers and then slept on saffron-stuffed pillows for a good night’s sleep. The Phoenicians used it to flavor love cakes, shaped like moons, and dedicated them to Astoreth, the goddess of fertility. It is said that Cleopatra used saffron as make-up. In Asia, saffron represented hospitality, while in India, people marked themselves with it to denote their wealthy status. At one time, it was thought that saffron was a remedy for, and could prevent, the plague. Called “vegetable gold” in some parts of the world, it is used in modern aromatherapy to increase energy. [This paragraph from What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way]
Rules for purchasing saffron:
- Never buy powered saffron. This is usually cut with inferior products. Only buy threads. Which leads to…
- Don’t buy packages that look as if some of the threads have been crushed to a powder.
- Threads should be a vibrant red.
- Threads should feel dry and crush easily.
- It should smell somewhat floral. Do not buy it if it smells moldy.
Here is my recipe for Risotto alla Milanese. Enjoy!
Risotto alla Milanese
Copyright © Roberta Roberti. All rights reserved.
From What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way
5 cups hot vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron strands
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup grated parmigiano
Keep the stock simmering in a saucepot over very low heat. Take 2 or 3 tablespoons of the stock, place it in a small bowl, and steep the saffron in it. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the rice is translucent around the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add ½ cup (about a large ladleful) of the stock to the rice mixture, stir it in, and let it be absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock, ½ cup at a time and stirring it in. Allow each addition to become absorbed before adding more. Stir occasionally. After the second or third addition, add the saffron infusion, salt, and pepper.
After 4 or 5 additions, begin testing the risotto for doneness. Stop adding liquid when the rice is creamy and tender, yet firm to the bite. If there is not enough broth, add hot water to the stock pan and bring it to a boil. Add the water to the risotto, a little at a time, until the rice is cooked. Total cooking time should be 20 to 30 minutes.
When the risotto is cooked, remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese. Spoon it into individual serving bowls and serve immediately.
Leftovers can be used for rice balls or stuffing. Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator 3 to 5 days.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
I had to go into Manhattan the other day, to Broadway Panhandlers (a kitchen supply store), for some things that I needed. It was a frigidly cold day, and I had nowhere else to be (for the first time in a very long time), so I decided that afterwards, I would stop in somewhere and get a cup of coffee. Well, after I did my shopping, my bladder began warning me that if I decided to have any beverage with ties to Ethiopia, it would boldly protest. And because I hate using public restrooms, I decided to forgo the coffee. I was a little hungry, though, so I went in search of something that I could nibble on while riding home on the train.
A block away from Broadway Panhandlers, I spotted a Financiers, a French coffee/pastry shop, on Astor Place. There’s a Financiers around the corner from my school and I had stopped in there just about every week for a cup of Saturday afternoon coffee, but I had never tried one of their baked goods. So, here was my opportunity. I walked in and checked out the selection in the display case, and found it oddly sparse. I don’t know if this was normal for a Saturday afternoon or if they had gotten a huge influx of people stopping in for something warm and a bite to eat on this bitter January day, but there was not much of a selection. I almost walked out.
Then something caught my eye. Something labeled a galette de rois. With my very limited knowledge of French, I knew that this meant “king cake,” which was reinforced in my mind when I realized what time of the year it was.
King Cake is puff pastry filled with frangipane cream and is associated with the Christian festival of Epiphany. The feast of the Epiphany, traditionally falling on January 6, is the celebration of the revelation of Christ in human form. For Christians in the Western world, this more specifically celebrates the visitation of the Three Kings on the Baby Jesus, which is why the holiday also goes by the name of Three Kings Day. In the East, it revolves around the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. In the United States, the king cake is also eaten in celebration of Mardi Gras, as it is wherever Carnival takes place. Traditionally, a little ceramic baby (representing the Baby Jesus), or some other trinket, is baked inside the cake. The person who gets the little prize is responsible for hosting the following year’s Epiphany celebration. The English tradition is to put a bean in the cake, which is why it also goes by the name Bean Cake. (By the way, there’s a different kind of king cake that is actually a stuffed bread and which is decorated with bright Mardi Gras-type colors. That’s not the kind of king cake I’m talking about.) In the French tradition, a large king cake is topped with a paper crown.
Love Live the King
When I stepped onto my train, I sat down and reached into my bag for a bite of my galette de rois. I tried to break off a mouthful but as I pinched the crisp pastry, I discovered that it was so flaky that it crumbled in my fingers. And it was so buttery that my fingers came away with the pastry glued to my fingers. I knew that if I made any further attempts at breaking off a piece, I would be covered in puff pastry flakes. My king cake had to wait until I got home.
So, now I was home. I made myself some espresso and cut into my cake. The flakey layers crackled slightly as the knife went through them, which promised me a light crunch between my teeth. I wasn’t disappointed. The puff pastry was indeed light, flaky, and buttery, but not sickeningly so (when something is too buttery, it makes me nauseated). The frangipane cream was sweet but not cloying, and had floral, fruity notes. Frangipane is an almond pastry cream made from butter, eggs, sugar, and almonds. It is sometimes enhanced by almond or vanilla extract, or other flavorings. It was really a delicious dessert.
If you want to try making king cake yourself, it’s really quite easy, and here’s a recipe that I made up myself. Although king cake is usually for the Epiphany, I think it will go over very well any time of year.
Galette de Rois (King Cake)*
1/2 cup ground almonds
½ cup softened butter
2/3 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 package puff pastry (thawed if frozen)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine all frangipane cream ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
3. Cut four 4-inch circles in the puff pastry sheet. Place two of them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Place equal amounts of the cream in the center of the two circles. Top each one with the remaining puff pastry rounds. Pinch them gently around the edges to seal.
5. Beat the egg with a little water and brush the egg wash over the tops of each galette.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. If it gets too dark too fast, lower the heat to 350 and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes.
* For a traditional celebration, make several batches and place a little ceramic baby, bean or trinket in one of them. Share them with family and friends and whoever gets the prize will have to make them next year. You can also make little paper crowns and top each cake with one.
On this day, November 5, 1986, the James Beard House opened in New York City. James Beard was a chef, author, cooking TV show host in the 19402) and a culinary educator, bent on introducing the world to the joys of cooking. He died in in 1985 at the age of 82. A year later, many of his friends, including Julia Child, turned his home into a public space for culinary events and the James Beard Foundation was founded. JBF gives scholarships (of which I am a recipient) and James Beard Awards, given in many categories, such as Best New Restaurant, Best Cookbook, Best Food Writing, etc. In the culinary world, receiving a JB award is like winning an Oscar.
The townhouse in the West Village is an interesting space. You go down a few steps and to the right is the reception room/shop. To the right of that is a passage that leads to the kitchen, which then leads out to an atrium-like back room, with glass ceiling and a glass outer wall that looks out into the lovely sitting garden.
That back room was obviously an extension because the inside wall looks like the outside of a house: painted brick half wall, pipes, trellis-style wood on the upper wall. In that room, there is a staircase that leads up to the dining room. There are a set of stairs that lead up when you first walk into the house, too, but I don’t know where exactly that leads, since I’ve never been up there.
Although it is now a public space and the main office of a foundation, it still looks like a home. Many of the original furnishings and touches remain and you can almost picture James Beard sitting there in front of his fireplace, or browsing his incredible library of books.
Events at JB House give talents chefs a chance to show off their skills. Sometimes the dinners are a showcase for a particular chef/restaurant; sometimes the meals are collaboration from different chefs from different restaurants. But the chefs’ dishes are built around a theme. I was there the other day for a Día de los Muertos Fiesta event, a brilliant dinner composed of numerous dishes that left me not only full and satisfied, but lifted and inspired. I’ll be telling you about that in another blog.
I’m very grateful to the James Beard Foundation for choosing me as a scholarship recipient and for being instrumental in making the culinary arts a respected and enviable profession and pastime.
For more information about James Beard, visit the James Beard Foundation site.
On this day in history, Good & Plenty candy was introduced in 1893. Produced by the Quaker City Confectionery Company in Philadelphia, G&P is the oldest branded candy in the United States. There was a theme song to accompany a cartoon character named Choo Choo Charlie,who was introduced as the “spokesperson” for the candy. These were the lyrics:
Once upon a time there was an engineer
Choo Choo Charlie was his name, we hear.
He had an engine and he sure had fun
He used GOOD & PLENTY candy to make his train run.
Charlie says “Love my GOOD & PLENTY!”
Charlie says “Really rings my bell!”
Charlie says “Love my GOOD & PLENTY!”
Don’t know any other candy that I love so well!
I just remember the commercial from the 1970s with the box that moved like a train in time to the words: “Good n plenty, good n plenty, good n plenty.”
I had a friend and co-worker once who absolutely loved Good & Plenty and once in a while for Christmas or her birthday, I would wrap up a box of G&P for her. It always made her smile.
Anyway, hope this brought back some good childhood memories for you.
I love buffets. You can choose exactly what you want and, sometimes, how much of it. And buffets are very much a social affair. You have to get in line with a bunch of other people, which encourages verbal interaction (“Oo, doesn’t that look good?” “Hey, what’s that?” “I had that earlier. It’s delicious!”), and often share tables with others. And no one goes to a buffet by themselves.
Buffets are also fun for the cook. Over the years, I’ve hosted many parties and they were often buffets. Buffets allowed me to cook multiple dishes and try out all kinds of new things. In fact, they were the perfect vehicles for testing out recipes for my cookbooks. I could put out 10 seemingly disparate dishes across the table and guests could try what they wanted and leave what they didn’t.
It also made things easier for me in terms of serving. I just put everything out and that was that. I might have to refresh some things or make some last-minute preparations in the kitchen, but for the most part, once everything was on the table, I could sit and enjoy my friends while they enjoyed my food.
So, my class at the Natural Gourmet Institute had their mandatory buffet and it was great! Family and friends of the students gathered to enjoy the various offerings and from all accounts, they had an excellent meal.
We received a menu that we had to follow, but we improvised here and there. We got a huge box of figs and one of my classmates roasted them and sprinkled parmigiano over them. We added that to our dessert menu. I was in charge of the Apple Oat Crumble, which we piled into martini glasses, and I placed a fig in each one, which not only looked beautiful but it elevated a simple, rustic dessert to something more gourmet.
But, of course, it wasn’t all strawberries and cream. Some things posed challenges, such as preparing a whole poached salmon for service, which required carefully scraping this gray layer just below the skin without ripping the fish. And, once again, I knocked something over, eliciting a solid curse from me. The same dishwashers who had witnessed my crêpe batter disaster saw this, too. I’m sure they have labeled me the year’s biggest klutz.
Anyway, here’s my class’s menu. I also made the quinoa salad, so below is the basic recipe with my modifications. It’s incredibly easy to make but the results are so good.
All the photos in this blog are by my classmate, Barbara Vadnais (thanks, Babs). The thing that looks like a mummy is the salmon, which we wrapped in cheesecloth to flip it over after it had been poached.
CTP 197 Buffet Menu
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Whole Poached Norwegian Salmon
Cucumber Citrus Salsa
Lemon Dill Mayonnaise
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Vegan Caesar Salad with homemade croutons
Red Lentil Pâté
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and Poppy Seeds
Oatmeal Dulse Crackers
Apple Oat Crumble with Pomegranate Reduction
Roasted Figs with Parmigiano
1 cup quinoa
1 ¾ cups boiling water
¼ to ½ tsp salt
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tablespoons basil, parsley, thyme, or other herbs of your choice
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Wash and toast quinoa in a small saucepan. Over high heat, stirring constantly, until it smells nutty and browns lightly (5-7 minutes).
- Remove quinoa from heat. Add boiling water and salt. Bring back to a boil, stirring. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and all liquid is absorbed.
- Fluff with a fork and add tarragon and other herbs before serving.
- Add olive oil, a little at a time, just until quinoa is moistened. Adjust seasoning as needed.Yield: 6 servings
Chicagoans, sadly, have had to say good bye to Trader Vic’s, the original tiki bar palace. The Chicago Tribune reported it on July 6. Victor Bergeron opened his Polynesian-themed restaurant in Oakland, CA, in 1936 and in 1944 created what would become the quintessential, iconic island drink: the Mai Tai.
The tiki concept, wildly popular in the 1940s through the 1960s, began a shame-filled descent into cheese-land and many of the Trader Vic’s locations have closed over the last several decades.However, it seems that tiki-themed restaurants and bars are returning to reclaim their cheesy glory! There are 14 in New York City alone. And for you nostalgia-lovers out there, there are still Trader Vic’s restaurants to be found, from Sarasota, FL, to the United Arab Emirates, and even in Kiev, Ukraine, where it’s called the Mai Tai Lounge. For a list of locations, go to the Trader Vic’s website HERE. And I am not ashamed to admit that I own a copy of Trader Vic’s Tiki Party.
Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai
- 2 ounces 17-year-old Jamaican rum
1/2 ounce orgeat (almond syrup)
1/2 ounce orange curacao
Juice of one fresh lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup*
- Lime slice for garnish
- Sprig of mint for garnish
Makes 1 serving.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
I’ve said it before—when cooking gourmet food, making perfect little potato squares and joli carrot juliennes is pretty but impractical, there is something to be said about food used to create art. Food is a beautiful medium—colorful, fresh, aromatic, living. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a beautifully constructed plate of food?
Food styling is a specialty skill and a career in and of itself. (It’s not as easy as it looks.) Magazines (and cookbook publishers) rely on food stylists to make the recipes look enticing to readers so that they will want to make them. They want readers to drool. If the recipes are a food magazine’s foundation, and cooking information its structure, then food styling is its paint and flower garden. The photos are used to captivate people and lure those who would otherwise ignore a recipe, or the magazine, or food altogether.
This past week’s class at the Natural Gourmet Institute was Food as Art, which was about plating techniques, making food look beautiful and appealing on the plate. We whipped out the ring molds and squeeze bottles and created plates of fancy. Teams of two had to make an appetizer and an entrée, and each person made a dessert. It was kind of like Iron Chef or Chopped, where we were given certain ingredients and we had to come up with stuff to make.
For the appetizer, my partner and I made tofu steak with persimmon coulis, sautéed oyster mushroom, and blanched string beans for garnish. For the entrée, we made warm beluga lentil salad with ricotta salata and spinach on a bed of grilled zucchini and green sauce (this was really brown lentils and crumbled tofu–the object of the exercise was not taste but appearance only, so we were able to pretend that one kind of food was really another). For dessert we had almond cake, chocolate sauce, chocolate sheets with pretty designs on them, custard from Egg class, nuts, and various fruits, and we could use any of these items as we wished. I scooped out the custard and mixed it with passion fruit and put it on top of a cake round. I then sliced and fanned out a strawberry, put it on top, and drizzled it with chocolate. Yum.
Of course, I forgot yet again to bring my camera so I have no photos of anything.
I got some beautiful baby lettuces to take home, which provided me with the base for a great salad that I had for two lunches. Below are the elements of my salad (plus a few suggestions, what I marked as “optional”). You can add or eliminate anything you like.
Lettuce-Chick Pea Summer Salad
This makes one very big dinner salad or two smaller lunch salads.
1 packed cup baby romaine
1 packed cup baby red leaf lettuce
¼ cup grated carrot
1 cup chick peas
1/3 cup walnut pieces or pecans
¼ cup shaved Parmigiano
¼ cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup cooked forbidden rice
¼ cup Kalamata olives (optional)
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
¼ cup corn (optional)
½ cup croutons (optional)
Combine all ingredients, except the eggs, croutons, and dressing in a medium bowl and toss together. Sprinkle the croutons and lay the egg quarters over the top. Pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy. To bring this somewhere for lunch, combine the salad as instructed in a tight-sealing bowl and bring the dressing in a separate container. Add the dressing when you’re ready to eat.
I guess it’s a good thing that National Beer Week and Grape Popsicle Day (May 27) are just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. Well, I’m sure that the beer holiday, at least, was made the fourth week of May because of Memorial Day, but we won’t split hairs.
Anyway, if you want to know all about beer, try 2BaSnob or the beer guide at Food & Wine. As for the grape popsicle, I thought I’d go one better than the cold ice on a stick–a cold cocktail. Here’s a recipe for Grape Popsicle Cocktail from GroupRecipes.com. And remember, be responsible…don’t drink and drive!
- 2 oz vodka shopping list
- 1 oz red grape juice shopping list
- 2 oz lemon-lime soda shopping list
- Highball glass with ice shopping list
- Garnish-grape Popsicle on a stick for the side of the glass
- Combine ingredients over a modest amount of ice in a skinny highball glass.
- Garnish, of course, with a grape Popsicle.
- Be careful — too much ice and the Popsicle becomes unmanageable, and that’s just no fun.
Hi, folks–whew. Had my knife skills test last week and did pretty well! Woo-hoo! Though I’ve been cooking for many years, culinary school requires that you learn certain techniques in style and uniformity of cuts, and it’s been kind of difficult for me to wrap my brain and fingers around that.
So today, I’ll talk a little bit about knives.
Recently, I had to do my first Friday Night Dinner at the Natural Gourmet Institute. For those of you who don’t know what that is, the school opens up on Fridays to the public as a restaurant. Guests get a prix fixe meal of an appetizer, entree, and dessert, and the menu changes every week. The students sometimes plan the menu (which, at some point, we all must do), but usually it’s the designated chef’s menu that the students must execute.
So, I got there early and I was waiting in the common area for someone to tell me what to do. A little Japanese woman came up to me and asked, “You’re here for the Friday Night Dinner, right?” I said yes. She said, “I am the chef for the dinner. I am Hideyo.” Okay, so now I’ve met my chef. I was a little concerned at this point about being able to follow her directions because she had a really thick accent. But I took it in stride. I’ll be fine, I told myself.
Then she said, “I heard you are a good student, so I’m putting you in charge of the pastry.” My first thought was that my class hadn’t done pastry yet. Wouldn’t she want to find out first if I’ve been trained in that art? She said the dessert for the night would be a cake. Then I thought, okay, I’m no stranger to baking, I can handle this.
“I want you to look at the recipe and read it.” She handed me a stack of recipes and turned to the cake page, saying, “You are the master of this cake.” All righty. She indicated that there was a lot to do and that it would require a lot of time.Three other people were going to help me with it. That meant it was complicated. But, fine, I’m no stranger to complicated either. I can handle this. Then she stated, “This cake is the most important part of my menu.”
Great. No pressure on me.
I looked at the recipe…and my stomach lurched. I had never seen a recipe written like this in my entire life. Instructions for the preparations and assembly were on two different pages and you had to flip back and forth between the two pages. On the second page, the 5 different elements were in these boxes all over the page: a gluten-free cake, raspberry puree, raspberry cream, chocolate-avocado cream, and glaze. There was nothing consecutive or sequential about this recipe. And to make things worse, everything was in grams. Those of you outside the U.S. will think nothing of this—you weigh your ingredients all the time. But most Americans do not and it’s not something I’m used to. Now I’m starting to freak out a little. But I think, I know my way around a kitchen. I will get a hold of this recipe and master it. Here’s the thing, though. When you’re trying to control the execution of a recipe, and the people who are working with you don’t know that they should be deferring to you and would not defer to anyone but their chef anyway, you’re going to have a problem.
And I did. I completely lost control of the damn thing. No one was communicating and we kept overlapping steps. The real problem, though, was that every one of us was completely confused about this recipe. There was so much confusion and chaos in the kitchen, I was trying to pull everyone’s efforts together, and there was no communication, but what there was…was a screw-up. Oh, how I screwed up!
I had to make applesauce by roasting and pureeing apples. Then I had to weigh out 600 grams. Except that I forgot to weigh it and used the entire batch, mixing in other ingredients. When the chef found out, she asked me, “Did you weigh the applesauce?” I said no, and she asked, “Why?” I had no answer. If could have crawled under the table, I would have. I had failed my chef and wanted to cry. She began doing these mathematical calculations, mixed in other stuff for the cake batter, and separated the batches. I had no clue how she figured out how much of each ingredient to use, but she made it work.
The next day, she showed me how I had to cut it. Three cakes had to be sliced with excruciating precision. And I was allowed to use the knife only once. When I sliced, I handed it over to someone else, who put it in a pan of hot water, cleaned it, and wiped it try. Meanwhile, I sliced with another knife. So we had these two knives rotating. It took an hour to cut these perfect little triangles. Once we were on the plating line, executing the chef’s vision of each course, I picked up those chocolate-covered rectangles very gingerly and placed them on the plates just so. Once I passed each plate to the the next person, it was out of my hands. I was like a mamma bird sending off her chick into flight. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera so I only got a crappy camera phone shot, and before the cake was plated.
The entire experience was traumatic and I think I’m scarred for life. But in the end, she shook my hand, patted me on the back, and said, “Good job.” (She was tougher than her size would suggest—I thought my lung would collapse from that pat.) Despite the major faux pas and my inexperience in a professional kitchen, I think I did well overall. Most of all, it was exhilarating. There was an adrenaline rush about it all. It was damn hard work but I really enjoyed it. Mind you, it confirmed for me that I don’t want to be a restaurant chef, but I think a part of me will forevermore crave that high.
~ Appetizer ~
Red cabbage and red grapefruit terrine
Beets and potatoes with tahini sauce
Broccoli rabe in Japanese mustard sauce
~ Entree ~
Tofu carpaccio with watermelon radishes
Green pea falafels
Steamed quinoa with bamboo shoots and spring vegetables
Raw kale and avocado salad
~ Dessert ~
Raspberry almond chocolate cake
Hojicha ice cream