Friday, September 29, 2006

Shrimp Fried Rice

Last night I whipped up a batch of my world-famous Shrimp Fried Rice. Ok, so it’s not really world-famous, but it’s damn good.

It’s a great vegetarian dish and you can substitute beef or chicken if you happen to be a carnivore.

Here’s out I put this meal together:

1. Cook some white rice.
2. Heat up some canola in a sauté pan or wok over medium high heat. Scramble up and cook an egg or two and remove from pan.
3. Toss in some diced yellow onions and cook until translucent.
4. Add shrimp. I use pre-cooked frozen shrimp.
5. Add rice and heat through.
6. Toss in any your favorite veggies. I use shredded iceberg lettuce, bean sprouts and frozen peas. Heat through.
7. Drench the rice with soy sauce – enough to give it the nice brown color and some salty flavor.
8. Add egg back to pan.
9. Garnish with chopped green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wine, Wine and More Wine

One of the classes that I will be finishing up in approximately two days is Wine. We’ve spent the better part of the last six weeks learning how wine is made, what wine goes with what food and what characteristics we should expect in various types of wine. The majority of the class consisted of classroom lecture. However, four days of the days were tasting days!

Tasting Day 1 – White Wine
Tasting Day 2 – Red Wine
Tasting Day 3 – Sparkling Wine
Tasting Day 4 – Dessert Wine

The kids under 21 are only allowed to taste the wine if they brought along a parent chaperone. Since the rest of the over age students (me included) were left without a wine tasting companion, our teacher graciously allowed us to invite a guest.

I braved white wine and sparkling wine days by myself. Each day we tasted an ounce of six different wines. Funny enough, my friend that sits to the left of me hated the sparkling wine, so I got a little extra on that day!

Regardless, I took my dad to red wine tasting day. He’s not a drinker, but has recently pursued the red wine market. He learned a lot, enjoyed the wine and probably had the most fun observing the wild frat-like antics of the students that make up my class.

My mom accompanied me on dessert wine night. She’s not a drinker either, and I’m pretty sure that my dad teased her to “not to get sloshed” in class.

My shining moment came when my mom introduced herself to Teacher. Teacher said, “Oh, you’re her mother. You’ve done such a good job with her.”

Gush, gush, gush. It’s never too late to make your parents proud.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dinner with a Friend

I had a friend over for dinner tonight and decided to prepare some recipes I learned in my last lab class. The result was Poached Salmon in Court Bouillon, Orange Salsa and Cous Cous with Toasted Pine Nuts.

The makings of Orange Salsa:

The finished result:

Court Bullion – this poaching liquid consists of mirepoix (celery, onion and carrot), half a lemon, parsley stems, crushed peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, and thyme:

Put it all together and you get dinner:

Boobs on a Bun?

I was searching the web for a cheese photo that I could incorporate into my profile and stumbled upon this:

What’s your caption?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Yep, that’s the amount I just racked up on my credit card in the name of education. I just purchased sixteen of the “must have” books for chef wannabes:

  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
  • The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection
  • The Oxford Companion to Food
  • Aquavit: And the New Scandinavian Cuisine
  • Essentials of Cooking
  • The Elements of Taste
  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One
  • Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making
  • Cooking by Hand
  • Larousse Gastronomique
  • On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
  • The New Making of a Cook: The Art, Techniques, And Science Of Good Cooking
  • Bouchon
  • Escoffier: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery
  • Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed
  • The French Laundry Cookbook
They should be arriving in 5-7 business days, at which time I will quit blogging and begin reading. Or, start blogging about reading. Or, maybe I’ll just post pretty pictures of the books. Or the things I cook from the books. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Right Around the Corner

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been in culinary school for 7 months, and after next week, I will only have 3 classes to go!

Coming up I have six weeks in a Baking and Pastry class, followed by six weeks in Garde Manger and then my final six weeks in the on-campus fine dining restaurant.

Once those classes are wrapped up, I venture out into the real world. I will have three months to complete a 270 hour externship of my choosing. As long as I am gainfully employed in a kitchen I can do and go just about anywhere. Catering, cooking, fine dining, personal chef. France, Italy, Spain, Cruise Ship, Las Vegas, New York.

Anything. Anywhere.

Are you hiring?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stubbs Sandwich

Has anyone ever had one of these?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

100 Things About Me: 81 - 100

81. I own a hundred pairs of shoes, but mostly I wear the same pair of black flip flops, day after day, after day.
82. I love cold weather. If Austin wasn't the most awesome city in the world, I would have moved to Antarctica by now.
83. I rarely eat ice cream, but when I do, I do it up right with all the fixin's.
84. I have subscriptions to 4 food magazines and I usually read them cover to cover twice.
85. I have a few grey hairs, and I'm not afraid to pull them out or cover them up with hair dye.
86. I'm addicted to chapstick. I have a tube beside my bed, on the coffee table, in my purse, in my car, in my desk drawer, and the list goes on.
87. I also love gum. I almost always have a piece of it in my mouth.
88. I have a tiny family. My dad is an only child and my mom has one brother. I only have 4 cousins. Gossip travels fast!
89. My grandfather emigrated from Holland, so I have some second generation European roots.
90. I am directionally challenged. I get lost easily and people constantly tell me to get in my map.
91. I think I snore.
92. I'm scared of the dark so I always sleep with a night light.
93. I always have to sleep on the side of the bed farthest away from the door. You know, in case burglars or rapists come in during the night.
94. I laugh easily.
95. I can touch the insides of my elbows together. Apparently that means I'm double jointed.
96. I was forced to watch Rent on Broadway and then fell in love with everything about it.
97. I like to karaoke, but I generally make an ass of myself while singing.
98. I like to bet on horse races.
99. I recently had a Big Mac for the first time in my life.
100. I'm finally done with this list!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Castle Hill Café

I’ve lived in Austin for so many years and I’ve passed by this restaurant a million times on my way to 6th Street. I even went to the door once with a dinner date, looked at the menu and decided that it was too expensive for my budget at the time.

I finally got around to checking this place out last month and loved it so much I’ve already been back three times. I am absolutely addicted to the Hacked Chicken Salad. It is quite possibly the prettiest food I have ever eaten and tastes phenomenal. There are so many elements to this salad: field greens, cabbage, corn relish, sweet walnuts, grilled chicken and an amazing, creamy sesame-ginger dressing. And for an extra bonus, the plate is garnished with cream cheese dumplings and sweet corn mini-muffins.

The only hitch in my most recent visit was an overcooked steak ordered by my dining companion. Rather than complain, my friend J simply stated, “I guess this is their version of medium.” I had to laugh. Having just finished a six week class on meat cookery, I am well versed on what a medium steak should actually look like – and his wasn’t it. Thankfully, J seemed to enjoy his meal nonetheless.

In addition to eating, I wanted to capture the Hacked salad on film. Having recently discovered some new settings on my camera I spent the first few minutes after our meal arrived snapping some shots. I'm sure the people around us thought I was crazy, or maybe they thought I was an ultra-cool restaurant reviewer. Nah!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Weekend Photos

Pimpin' It Longhorn Style!

Amazing Seats at the Biggest Game of the Year

Me and My Sister

Blimp Over the Stadium

Biggest Jumbotron in the World

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Puppy Love

There are 3 things in this world that I hate more than anything:

1) Going to the video store (which I've recently rectified with a ridiculous Netflix obsession)
2) Grocery Shopping (they should deliver!)
3) Vacuuming

Growing up, I can't remember a time where my family didn't have a dog. We've had Zonker, Mollie, Harvey, Sadie, Belle and now, Maggie. All had their particular favorites - popcorn, grapes, cheese, ice cream and apples, among others. While they had their preference in people food, they weren't too discriminating when it came to cleaning the floor. If someone was in the kitchen, the dog was too. Sniffing, snacking and loving every bit of every scrap that found its way to the floor.

My friend T stopped by the other night with her friendly Labrador. I was thrilled, not only to see T, but because I hoped her gentle giant would "vacuum" the mess that had become my kitchen floor. Turns out the Labrador was more interested in my balcony than my gourmet doggie treats.

Tonight I whipped up another batch of pasta yuminess. Unfortunately I slopped a bunch of herbs, chicken and carmelized onions on the floor. As I finished the dish and waded through the sloppy mess on the floor, I couldn't help but think of our dogs, always at our feet, eager to sample our food, never discriminating, always appreciative and forever loved.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pasta Yumminess

My friend J and I frequently visit Macaroni Grill for lunch. They have an amazing pasta dish called Carmela’s Chicken Rigatoni and we both order it every time. The dish has grilled chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions tossed in a creamy marsala wine sauce finished with fresh basil. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I have been wanting to recreate this recipe for awhile now. After a quick trip to Whole Foods, tossing some ingredients together and several tastings, I think I have it figured out.

Creamy Marsala Wine Sauce with Grilled Chicken and Rigatoni
serves 2

6 tablespoons butter (divided)
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup Marsala wine
1 cup cream
Fresh thyme, chopped
½ cup parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, chiffonade
1 grilled chicken breast
2 cups cooked rigatoni pasta
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. In a small sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add onions. Cook over low heat until onions have developed a light brown color.
2. In a sauté pan, melt remaining butter and add sliced mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms are tender.
3. Add marsala wine and reduce by half.
4. Add cream and thyme and let simmer until sauce slightly thickens.
5. Stir in parmesan cheese, caramelized onions, basil and grilled chicken.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Pour sauce over pasta.

As Rachael Ray would say – YUMMO!

Panini du Fat

I’ve compiled a list of Austin restaurants that I’m trying to hit over the next few months. My mom is always open to trying new places, so I drug her along to Asti last week. I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for awhile now, especially since fellow schoolmates and graduates work in the kitchen.

Asti was much smaller than I anticipated, but was nicely decorated, with an open kitchen and a menu primarily consisting of French fare. The waiter arrived to take our drink order while we pondered the menu. After much debate, because everything sounded delish, we decided on two different entrees so that we could share and compare. My mom opted for the Penne with Grilled Chicken and Spinach and I went for the Prime Rib Panini.

Our food arrived swiftly and looked great! My mom sunk her teeth into a bite of the creamy pasta and immediately said, “Mmmmm!” On the other hand, I bit through the crunchy bread of the Panini and got a mouth full of fat. I opened the sandwich and was shocked to see that each bite size piece of meat that covered the bread was nothing but fat. The sandwich was completely inedible, so I munched on the bread and accompanying veggies.

Normally I would have brought this to the attention of the waiter so that the manager and kitchen would be aware of the problem, and could correct it if they so desired. That was problem number two. The waiter came to our table twice – once to take our order and once to drop off, I mean throw, the check. He was either having a BAD day or should find a new job that better utilizes his people skills.

Despite the yummy pasta, the service and Panini incident was enough to deter us from ever visiting this restaurant again!