Gathering Around Green Granite

February 8, 2016

Today’s post is an essay and the photos are just some shots from food found in the dorms of a culinary school. Enjoy.

Gathering Around Green Granite

     In the center of my mom’s kitchen is an island. The island is eight feet by four feet and stands four and half feet off the ground and the surface, that I have grown so fond of, is a large slab of green granite. This island hosts many weights. The ever-growing stacks of mail at one end, the bags of perpetual groceries on the other, and in the middle there are laptops, cutting boards, knives, the occasional fat yellow tabby cat, but what stands out the most is not touchable, yet still more palpable than the tangible, constant and omnipresent in a kitchen whose walls harmonize with the towering oaks of my hometown—Community.

The green granite, vivid in my thoughts, is the cornerstone of my family. A single memory does not do it justice, for countless breakfasts, lunches, and dinners have been prepared on this stone that is more entertainer than prep table. Brioche cinnamon buns, chocolate pavlova, mom’s macaroni and cheese, all these foods, made once, twice, or a hundred times have engraved a memory into the granite, and each time food is prepared, we gather around it. I cannot think of an emotion that the granite has not bared witness to, however, I will choose one to center my focus around. Anticipation. The rolls have baked and the ricotta cardamom glaze is drizzled over, my mom smears vanilla bean whipped cream across the pavlova and it is strewn with fresh berries, and the macaroni and cheese bubbles and steams the aroma of comfort like a hearth made for the soul. I pace, back and forth, left and right, up and down, and the dog looks at me, like I am the seven-month-old puppy looking for nothing more than a nibble. I see the white plates, the gleam of the serving spoons, the hues of color projected from the food, but in the background sits that green granite, selflessly offering the items I can hardly wait to devour, solidifying its role as a pillar of support in our lives.

I will always remember my mom’s kitchen. When I feel homesick, I will remember the green walls, the hood fan that I always hit my forehead on, the tsunami of dishes that occurs when my mom and I embark on culinary adventures, but that wondrous green granite will forever be at the center of those memories. How a section of stone ever came to be a symbol of what I hold most dear is quite honestly beyond me. It goes beyond the memory of taste, or smell, and it brings about the overwhelming, chest-tightening feeling of what food is to me. It is my passion, it is a love that I share with my family, and it is how I communicate with people.




Shepherd’s Pie Made with Delicious Culinary ‘Failure’

January 16, 2016


Ok, I think it is officially cold enough that I can post this hearty dinner, and even then, it is 40 degrees out today. By Chicago standards, this is spring. Now, I will not complain about two springs, it is positively delightful to not have the wind cut through you even while wearing 5 layers.. but it is starting to weird me out.

Anyway, I mentioned in my last post that I failed my consommé during christmas dinner, and thanks to constantly being surrounded by chefs, I think I know why. The stock I used was probably too fatty and way to gelatinous. The gelatin is normally a good sign. When we make stock in class, if it looks like jello when it has cooled, we have done our job right. Unfortunately, when trying to clarify it for the consommé, it takes a turn for the worse. Luckily for me, in my moment of gloom, my mom was there to find the silver lining. “Maybe we can make beef stroganoff, or even shepherd’s pie with it.”
Brilliant! So I did exactly that, but if I am going to make shepherd’s pie, I am going to gild the lily a little bit, because what makes everything better… cheese.


Shepherd’s Pie:
Makes 4 shepherd’s pies

2 lbs. beef stew
1 cup beef stock (or if you happen to have consommé laying around, that works too)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon thyme, minced
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 150z. can roma tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Flour for coating meat
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated
3 cups mashed potatoes (use your favorite recipe)
4, 9 inch oven safe ramekins for baking and serving

Cut the the beef stew into 1 inch cubes and lay on paper towels to dry. Lightly season with salt and pepper and roll the cubes in flour until they are coated. In a large sauté pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of butter until hot. Once hot, turn down to medium heat and begin browning the cubes of beef in batches. The browning should be light but on all sides. Once the cubes are brown, reserve in a separate pan, and brown the rest of the meat, adding more butter as necessary.

Once all the meat is browned, using the same pan, add in the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook over medium heat, caramelizing the vegetables, and using a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift any fond off the bottom. 7-10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes along with their juices, and the tomato paste and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for another 3 minutes. The tomatoes should pull all the fond off the bottom of the pan at this point.

In a large dutch oven, combine the meat, and tomato mixture. Add in the rosemary, thyme, worcestershire sauce, and beef stock. Bring to a simmer, and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the stew is cooking, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Once the stew has finished, season with 2 teaspoons of salt, a 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, taste, and adjust. Remove from the heat. Fill each ramekin with about 1 1/2 cups of stew. Top the stew with warm mashed potatoes and using a rubber spatula, evenly spread around the ramekin until the meat is covered. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of gruyere over each ramekin. Place the ramekins into the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot in ramekins and enjoy!



Winter Spice Pork Tenderloin with ‘Insta’ Chutney

December 29, 2015


Not gonna lie, I think my chefs would have been gob smacked if they saw my mom’s kitchen after christmas dinner. It was a doozy. I went all in this year. I had 4 courses planned, a salad, soup, main, and dessert. The salad was real simple. Charred radicchio with walnuts, pear, and apple cider vinaigrette. Quick, pretty to look at it, and tasty. The soup, much to my dismay, did not turn out. I wanted to make beef consommé. I know, it sounds a tad bourgeois, a stock made clear with an alluring amber glow served with ‘royal custards’. I wanted to make it because we had created this delicate soup in class, and I found it to be rather elegant. Unfortunately, it was cloudy. My raft did not form, all the sediment remained, and although the straining process was making it slightly more clear, my pride was a tad bit injured.

Hi, I go to the CIA and my consommé is… CLOUDY! *lowers head and crawls into hole*
I am kidding.. mostly.. fear not though, a cloudy consommé is essentially a super rich broth, which will play a part in my next blog post.


The main course is this weeks recipe. My Mom had the idea of doing tenderloins. Now, I am not the biggest tenderloin fan, but this recipe plus the chutney, I could eat for days. The chutney is also special because you cook it with a Shrub. If you don’t know what a Shrub is, I highly encourage you to look them up and seek them out because they will open your eyes to lots of new possibilities. My explanation is probably a little elementary, but they are basically vinegar based cocktail additives that were very popular pre-prohibition, died out during prohibition, and have been making a recent resurgence. They are delectable in soda, cocktails, and when used for cooking can add some real character to a dish.

Winter Spice Pork Tenderloin:
4 lbs. pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cardamon
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Safflower oil for searing

Apple-Fennel Chutney:
1 large honey crisp apple, peeled
1 large fennel bulb
1 bottle Shrub & C0. – Blood Orange Shrub infused with Cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
Safflower oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Rub the pork tenderloin with a generous amount of salt. In a bowl, mix together all of the spices, brown sugar, and fennel seed. Rub the the spice mixture onto the tenderloin and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with just enough safflower oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is hot, place the tenderloin into the skillet and gently sear the outside of the entire tenderloin, about 2 minutes. Once seared, place the tenderloin into a baking dish and place in the oven on the middle rack. Cook until the internal temperature of the tenderloin is 145 degrees. The measurement should be taken from the thickest part of the meat. Once done, remove from the oven and let rest.

While the meat is cooking, roughly chop the honeycrisp apple and fennel. Heat a skillet with just enough safflower oil to coat the bottom of the pan. You will be caramelizing the fennel and apple, so the pan should be hot enough that when you add the produce, there should be a good sizzle. You can test the heat by throwing in one piece of fennel. Once the pan is hot enough, add the fennel and apple. Let the produce brown, stirring every now and then. Once brown particulates begin sticking to the bottom of the pan, poor about a tablespoon of shrub directly onto the particulates to deglaze and stir. Continue doing this until the mixture is a delightful orangey-gold color and a syrup begins to form in the pan, about 10 – 15 minutes. Season with a half teaspoon of salt, taste, and adjust as necessary.

Slice the pork tenderloin into desired portions and top with the chutney.Enjoy!



Santa’s Night Cap

December 23, 2015


The holidays are finally here and one of my favorite events is decorating the christmas tree. The tree is probably my favorite symbol of christmas. I will be honest, I don’t know much about the origin of the tree or the act of decorating it, but what I love about our tree is that it is filled with ornaments that cary memories, and are kind of symbolic of our family. Much like our house, and the place we live, we have lots of critters hanging on our tree. From squirrels, to birds, to cats, to the big white dove diving down from the top. We have developed quite the collection of ornaments and the tree is adorned with memories of family, friends, and tradition.


I cannot believe I have had my blog for this long because I can officially say I remember doing a blog post this time last year. I believe it was eggnog cream puffs and following that, I made cinnamon rolls with an eggnog glaze (drooling just thinking about it), so sticking with the theme of eggnog this year, I created a cocktail. I find it interesting how the initial image of my ideas change as I put the recipe into action. I designed it for my families Christmas Eve party, to be had all through the night. However, it sounds ‘oh so dreamy’ to snuggle up next to a fireplace, with your favorite blanket, with a good book, or maybe that special person that keeps you warmer than any fire, and sip on it, talking, remembering the happiest of times, and let your eye lids, heavy and velvety, close as you drift away.

Santa’s Night Cap:
1/2 cup your favorite eggnog
1 oz. Cana Brava Rum
1 oz. Godiva white chocolate liqueur
1 dash cranberry bitters (I used Sweetgrass Farm)
Candy canes, crushed, for the rim
Nutmeg to garnish
Serve in a martini glass

Crush your candy canes using a mortar and pestle until fine. Lightly wet the edge of a martini glass and coat the rim with the crushed candy cane. In a boston shaker, add a few ice cubes, the eggnog, rum, white chocolate liqueur, and bitters. Swirl gently for 5 – 10 seconds. Strain into the martini glass. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top to serve.


Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

December 13, 2015

Christmas decorations lighting up Roth Hall at the CIA in New York

Holy cats it has literally been a month since my last post. I do not know where the time goes anymore. One minute I am in Culinary Fundamentals, the next I am on a train to the city, oh, and christmas is less than 2 weeks aways… that’s not ridiculous. In spite of this time warp I am coursing through, I have been having an amazing last couple of months. In my last post I had only just finished a week of orientation. Now, being about 5 weeks into classes, the train has really started to move. My culinary fundamentals class(Fun-Days for short) has the best chef a student could ask for. We learn to cook, to understand what is happening when we cook, but arguably the most important part, is we learn how to work. Kitchens can be rough, things can go horribly awry in an instant, but as we have all come to see, when we show up with the proper attitude, come prepared, say “yes chef” and just do it (my chefs motto), the day runs accordingly.


A Chocolate Pop-tart and Cappuccino from Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, highly recommend!

On top of classes, I have made amazing friends and they make everyday easier and smiley-er. We help each other, we inspire one another, we laugh, and somedays we even cry… but we get through everything because there is always a shoulder on a rough day. During our orientation, we were told that the staff here wanted us to feel like the CIA was our home away from home, and personally, they more than succeeded . Of course I miss my family, the home cooked meals, my crazy puppy, but if I had to be away from all that, I would want to be here. Just yesterday I took a trip into NYC and spent a whole day walking around, trying coffee, cocktails, and food. By the time we got to the final bar, the location I had been waiting for all day, I had my self a “Mercy Mercy” and was ecstatic.

IMG_1043A “Mercy Mercy” from Attaboy, highly recommend!

IMG_1022Crepes with Salmon Caviar and Creme Fraiche from Anyway Cafe

Louie and Chan

Swine NYC

There will definitely be posts over the holidays, I am itching to start designing some new recipes!

Black Lentil Gratin and Orientation Week

November 15, 2015


Last Sunday was move in day. I took a plane from Chicago to NYC, a bus to Grand Central Terminal, a train to Poughkeepsie, and a taxi to Angel Hall at the Culinary Institute of America. Having flown, I was only able to bring so much, which made the move in quick and easy. I made the bed, put the clothes away, plugged in a few chargers, met my roommate, and everything was chill. The week of orientation then began monday morning. My entrance date spent about 5 days getting to know classmates, picking up our uniforms, listening to lots of presentations from the array of departments here to help you succeed, and we got a taste of our kitchens (no pun intended). I went from overwhelmed, to completely comfortable in just a matter of days.


I cannot wait to start my classes. Having been out of school for a couple years, I was unsure how it would be to get back into the swing of things. It happened in the blink of an eye. I actually had a rush of excitement taking notes the other day, i’m not kidding, taking notes, the most mundane thing ever and I was sitting in the Student Learning Commons getting all jittery. The faculty and students are all great as well. The upperclassmen are helpful and understanding, the RAs in my hall are solid, and I have not seen a faculty more concerned with the success of its students in my life. Granted this is only the first week, but if this is what I am picking up already, I am more than hopeful for the rest of my time here.


Black Lentil Gratin:
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb. butternut squash
3 sprigs of curly kale
2 cups black lentils
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup grated fontina
1/3 cup grated gruyere
1/3 cup grated cheddar
Olive oil
*optional – eggs for poaching

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel your butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Cut the fingerling potatoes in 1/2, and if the are long, cut into thirds. In a mixing bowl, combine the potatoes and squash and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add in the cumin, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, pour the squash and potatoes on the baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

While the squash and potatoes are roasting, fill a medium size sauce pan with water, and begin heating over medium-high heat. Rinse the two cups of lentils well, and once the water is hot, but not simmering, add the lentils, along with 1 tablespoon of salt, to the water. Bring the water to a boil, turn heat down to medium – low, and simmer the lentils for about 18 minutes. The lentils should be al dente when they are finished. Strain the lentils and place them into a large, heat proof mixing bowl, and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, chop your onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Remove the thyme leaves from their stems, and grate your cheeses together into a separate mixing bowl and mix well. In a large cast iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. If they begin to brown, that is fine. Then, add in the garlic, cooking for another 2 minutes, and then add in your carrot, celery, and thyme leaves. Cook until the carrots and celery are soft, about 3 more minutes. At this point, if the squash in not finished cooking, turn off heat, cover, and set aside.

Once the squash has finished roasting, remove it from the oven. with the heat on low and using a spatula, add the squash and potatoes to the onion mixture and mix well. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Add them into the cast iron skillet and mix. Cook the mixture until the kale turns a dark green but is not wilting. Remove from heat and add the contents of the cast iron skillet into the large mixing bowl with the lentils and mix well. Add half of your cheese mixture to the lentils and mix. Pour the lentil mixture into a large casserole dish, flatten out the top, and cover with the rest of the cheese mixture. Place into the oven still at 425 degrees, and bake for 10 minutes. Serve this dish by itself or with a poached egg on top and enjoy!


Sweet Potato Bourbon Pancakes with Apple-Ginger Butter

November 4, 2015


With less than a week left before heading to NY, I am trying to see all my friends, make the most of Chicago, and fit as much blogging in as I can. I sincerely hope that I can continue blogging while away at school. From what I have read, and what I am planning to be involved in, I will be quite busy. On the flip side, with all I am going to learn, I am welling up with excitement to incorporate it into my recipes and continue sharing them. For today’s post, I want to continue with last weeks theme of inspirations, but on a more personal level. I want to talk about my friends this week and how much they all mean to me and how grateful I am that they are in my life.


Since graduating, I have grown in ways that I was afraid I never would. In high school, I always felt nervous, awkward, and I kept myself guarded. Only my closest friends got to see the person I felt like, and even then, not until about a month ago was I ready to be me. Studying abroad at the age of eighteen, I met people from around this beautiful blue planet who impressed their experiences and lives upon me. It was the most important thing I took away from that trip and when I returned home, I felt ready to confront issues that would have otherwise lead me down a very different path. The path I did take allowed me to meet amazing people, who are kind, accepting, and they bring a smile to my face every time I see them. The group I found my self a part of while working at the restaurant in Chicago became a significant part of my life. I look up to all of them for more reasons than I can count.


I would be remiss if I did not make mention of my friends from high school. I do not even know where to begin. They have been by my side through all the times I messed up, the times I was in a dark place, but more importantly, for all the moments where we smiled and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. I am not sure how to sum this all up. Saying ‘thank you’ does not do it justice. If it were not for my friends, I do not think I would be as happy as I am right now, and quite frankly, I have never been happier.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Pancakes:  
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups buttermilk
1 lb. sweet potato
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
Coconut oil for frying
Pomegranate seeds for garnish
Warm maple syrup (duh.)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Once heated, place the sweet potato in the center of the middle rack, place a small square of tin foil on the rack below it, and roast for 55 minutes. Once the sweet potato is done roasting, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack while you prepare the pancake batter.

In one large mixing bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients. Mix well. In another bowl, combine the egg, butter, and buttermilk. Stir well. Then add in the bourbon and mix one more time. Make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and then using a whisk, mix well. Once the batter has been made, cut your sweet potato in half, spooning out the flesh into a small bowl. Discard the skin, and using the back of the spoon, gently mash the sweet potato. Add the mashed sweet potato into the batter and incorporate.

Place a griddle over medium heat and coat with coconut oil. Using a 1/4 cup of batter, make a test pancake. Once bubbles start to form on the edges and the batter begins to look glossy, 2-3 minutes, flip, and cook for another minute. Remove from the griddle onto a plate and continue this way until you have finished the batter, reapplying coconut oil as needed. Serve with a small scoop of apple -ginger butter, garnish with pomegranate seeds, and enjoy with maple syrup.

Apple-Ginger Butter: 
2 honeycrisp apples, cored and quartered
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Once the butter has completely melted, add in the red onion, sage, ginger, and apples. bring the butter to a simmer over medium heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes to cool. Add everything from the pan into a food processor, using a rubber spatula to get every last bit. Add in the salt and blend until smooth. Place the apple-ginger butter into a container, cover, and refrigerate until solid. ENJOY!


Chilled Apple Cider Gone Boozy!

October 23, 2015


As I write this post, I find myself feeling that this past week has been about inspirations. I have been thinking a lot about it lately, the people that inspire me, the work they do, and the feelings they evoke. There are so many factors that go into an inspirational moment. A lot of times its the words the person uses, the inflections of their voice and body, and sometimes it is a silent intensity where they let their work do all the talking.  In the proper setting, it conjures a swell of emotion that makes me want to put down the laptop, grab a pen and paper, and create something new.


The list of people that inspire me is lengthy. From my mom, to so many of my friends, all the way to big names and celebrities who I only dream of meeting someday. The inspiration for today came from a few specific people.  I have mentioned her before, when I started my blog I even used a few of her recipes, and her name is Beth from the blog Local Milk. Her photography and writing are beautiful. I think we are quite different people, but I applaud her for sharing so much of her story in paragraphs that have had me looking for tissues, and there are not words to describe what I think of her photography because it is beyond stunning. Inspirations 2 and 3 come from another blogger and a friend of mine. The blogger Prairie Rose from Bit By a Fox and the Head Bartender at Ombra in Andersonville, Chicago. These two ladies are not only fantastic, but their talent for cocktails and all things boozy are wondrous. I have made Prairie’s cocktails (as best I could) and had the pleasure of drinking original creations from Meredith herself. I have mentioned it before, but the world of spirits fascinates me and these stellar gals just intensify that attraction.


Before the recipe, I have to say that inspirations 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 came wednesday morning, from a crew of 5 amazing people who kept talking about pursuing your dreams, making every moment, be it failure or success, a driving force to get to where you want to be. Those 5 people are from the FABLife show. Tyra Banks and her crew of Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee, Lauren Makk & Leah Ashley had my wheels turning with the snap of a finger. I mentioned earlier that inspiration is communicated through so many subtleties, and their resonating personalities, cheerful smiles, and passion for their individual interests was truly inspiring.

Apple Cider
10 Jazz apples (or any variety that is tangy and sweet)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
1/3 cup honey
10 cups of water

Begin by rinsing off all of the apples and then quartering them. Do not worry about removing the peels or seeds. Place the quartered apples in a large stock pot. Then, using a mortar and pestle, crack open the cardamom pods, removing the seeds and discarding the husks. Using cheesecloth, create a sachet containing the cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel seeds, and cardamom seeds. Place the sachet, along with the 1/3 cup of honey into the pot with the apples. Fill the pot with 10 cups of water, place on the stove and cover the pot. Over medium-high heat, bring the pot to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, reduce flame to low, and let simmer for 2 hours.

Once the 2 hours has past, remove the pot from heat. Using a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, strain the liquid into a large, heat proof bowl, leaving the apples in the pot. Remove and discard the sachet of spices. Using the back of a large spoon, mash the apples in the pot. Once mashed, using the same mesh strainer and cheesecloth, place over another bowl, and spoon the mashed apples into the strainer. Let sit for 15 minutes, applying pressure to the mash using the back of the spoon once every couple of minutes. Depending on the size of your strainer, you may have to do this in batches. After the 15 minutes, you may discard the apple mash, and add the strained contents into the original bowl of cider. Once you are finished straining all the liquid, let the cider rest for 30 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and chilling in the refrigerator.

Serve this cider chilled, or try out some of these fun cocktails below, ENJOY!

5 oz. chilled apple cider
1 oz. Godiva chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz. egg white
mint leaf for garnish

Combined the cider, chocolate liqueur, and egg white in a Boston Shaker. Cover, and shake well for about 45 seconds. After the egg white has foamed, add in a few ice cubes, cover again and shake for another 5 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.

2 oz. rum (I used Cockspur Fine Rum)
3 1/2 oz. chilled apple cider
garnish with a floating mint leave

Add some ice to a Boston Shaker, followed by the rum and the cider. Cover and shake well for about 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass, and gently place a few mint leaves on the surface to garnish.


Delicata and Butternut Squash Soup

October 9, 2015


In my last post I mentioned that I got accepted to the CIA in New York. The level of excitement was at a high then, and it is still there, but the stress is also building. Initially, I had intended on starting in January, giving myself ample time to prepare, but the more I read up and geeked out over classes, the more I wanted to start ASAP. My start date now is November 9th, and there is a lot to do before then. I have to find a sub-letter for my apartment, move all my stuff out of the apartment back to my parents, only to move most of it to New York a week later, buy school materials, get tuition in order.. ok, I have to stop listing my life, I am starting to sweat.


There is stress for every big change in life, that goes without saying, but I cannot wait to start classes. Being back in school is going to be nice. It is actually going to be funny, going through the whole “making new friends” process, learning where a classroom is, putting myself back on a homework schedule. I keep laughing because I am going have to pull up high school from the depths of my brain to remember how this works. The classes do not sound real either. I am probably in for a rude awakening in some areas, I tend to romanticize, but having professionals teaching you through demonstrations and giving you hands on experience.. it reminds me of the time I was in the amazon on a boat float watching for birds with two doctors and my AP biology teacher, it was educational heaven. I did not see myself going this route 2 years ago, or even 1 year ago, but now that I am here, I have this overwhelming sense of motivation and happiness to be embarking on this new path.

Delicata and Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe serves 5-6
1 Butternut squash (between 1 – 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 Delicata squash (between 1 – 1 1/2 lbs.)
2 large shallots
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric
1 14 0z. can coconut milk
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon red thai curry paste
2 cups water
Olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher salt
Fresh Dill and Walnut Oil for garnish

Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees. Peel the delicata and butternut squash. After peeling, cut lengthwise and remove the seeds and pith with a spoon as best you can. Slice the squash into 1 inch cubes and place into mixing bowl. After all the squash has been sliced, coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then place the squash on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for 40 minutes. The squash is done when it is fork tender.

While the squash is roasting, begin chopping the shallots, carrots, and garlic. Once the vegetables have been chopped, place them in a mixing bowl and set aside. Chop the ginger and grate the turmeric, placing both into a bowl and setting aside. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot, place on the stove, and begin heating over medium heat. Once the olive oil is hot, add the carrot, shallot, garlic, and another teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 7 minutes over medium – low heat. After the shallots are translucent and the garlic looks ready to brown, add the ginger and turmeric, cooking for another minute. Add the coconut milk, along with the cumin, curry powder, and curry paste. Mix well, and bring the coconut milk to a simmer. If the coconut comes to a simmer and your squash is not finished roasting, cover and remove from heat until the squash is finished.

Once the coconut is at a simmer and the squash is done roasting, add the squash to the coconut milk and mix well. Add the 2 cups of water to the pot, as well as another teaspoon of salt, and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Taste and adjust salt. Garnish with a little walnut oil and fresh dill. ENJOY!

*Note:This soup is very thick, if you prefer a thinner soup, thin it out with more coconut milk


Celebratory Hash Browns

September 24, 2015

Put some left over pork belly on the side. YUM!

I was on the other line, and I was getting a call from Poughkeepsie, NY. Honestly, I had never heard of Poughkeepsie before and passed it off as a telemarketer, so I decided it prudent to hang up. I finish my business and notice that I have a voicemail and a text message. Both were asking me to call back the Culinary Institute of America as soon as possible… my initial response.. OH SH*T! Following a quick conversation with an admissions counselor, I was offered a spot at the CIA in New York. Leave it to me to hang up on the person accepting me into the premier culinary school in the world. First off, just because the name of a town is Poughkeepsie, do not assume that the person on the other end wants to offer you a trip to Italy in exchange for your eternal servitude. Second of all, I GOT IN!! I think I was a little light on the whole, “I am insanely excited” part, so just bare with me for one more line.. AHHHHHHHHHH! I GOT IN!

More on being accepted next week, here is just a little bit on today’s recipe. I wanted to do something with pork belly, which I did, but it became a little too experimental. I settled on this easy, but mouthwatering breakfast. I like to let other people try my food and have their input before I say anything, but this was spot on. Quick shout out to the movie “Chef” for the inspiration, one of my favorite movies and a must see for foodies.

Cheddar Cheese Hash Browns:
(This makes one plate)
1 cup grated yukon gold potato
1 tablespoon finely chopped yellow onion
2 pinches of kosher salt
A few cracks freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (use your favorite)
1 egg
*Optional: Tomatillo Salsa for serving, click this link for a tomatillo salsa recipe 

Grate the yukon gold potato onto a cutting board. Using paper towels, squeeze water out of the potato. Place the potato into a dry mixing bowl, along with the finely chopped yellow onion, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Over medium heat, begin heating a skillet with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is nice and hot, mold the potato mixture into a nice looking patty, then place into the oil, and flatten with a spatula. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip over and continue to cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Both sides should have nice color and be crispy on the outside.

While the hash browns are cooking, quickly heat up another pan with olive oil and make a nice sunny side up egg. Once the hash browns are done, move onto a plate, sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese onto the hash browns, and then lay the freshly fried egg on top of the cheese. ENJOY!