Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bon Jour!

I am back from Tunisia and Paris!! I had an AMAZING time and can't wait to share my experience with you!

I am hoping to get a post ready for the weekend, but if not, at least you know I am thinking about it. ;)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What do you want me to do with this and what IS it?

Yet another week of working in an awesome kitchen. Last night was a great learning night for me. After making ginger brownies, filling the caramel squeeze bottle, getting garnishes ready, and chopping potatoes, my next job was to deal with this:

I know you are saying to yourself, "What the heck is that?" because that is what MY question was! Actually, what I said was...

Me: "What would you like me to do with this? And what IS it?"

Lady Chef smiled and said, "Celeriac."

Me: "Cele-what?"

Lady Chef: "Celeriac. It's a root vegetable similar to celery."

She was so excited to show me about it and tell me that "you are going to be so ahead of your class" knowing about this. I actually felt like I was on an episode of Chopped for a minute, working with a mystery ingredient! Anyway, she told me how to cut the celeriac and had me taste one of the leaves. Blech! It tasted aweful and I spit it out. The weird part is, my mouth felt like I tasted a piece of celery! So, you don't actually use the greens, but the root itself. It almost has a potato consistancy to it, but takes slighty longer to cook. But, let me tell you the best part about it...the wonderful aroma that came from chopping up the root! Wow! It is so refreshing and addicting, I kept picking it up and smelling it while I was chopping it up.

I found a recipe for celeriac mash on that I would love to try with this "new found" veggie. You can also serve it raw and grate it, and add it to a salad or make into a slaw.

Another one of my new favorite ingredients are beets. Most people see them only as "pickled" on a Greek salad, but you need to open your mind when it comes to the way things are prepped and served. My first experience with a roasted beet was at my friend Liz's house. She made us a snack of sliced beets and cheese. YUM! They were fantastic! I asked her how she cooked them and what she added. Nothing! "You mean beets actually taste great alone?" YES, they do! No seasoning, additives, just roast your beets, slice, and eat!

We use beets at the restaurant, including pink beets, which are pink with thin white stripes when sliced. Not only do roasted beets taste yummy, they are great for plate presentation!

Onto desserts for the night.... we had a dessert called Figs on Fire. That was pretty fun because it is served with my favorite ice cream, Red Fire by Vosges. Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon cinnamon + dark chocolate ice cream=YUMMY GOODNESS!! I even had a few bites of it after lunch today....

Ok, back to figs. I found an interesting fig recipe in an Italian cookbook that my Aunt Coco has. Once I get back from vacation, I am going to borrow her book and try some of these quick, easy recipes, including the figs. In the mean time, I found a wonderful recipe for Figs and Toasted Almond Brie that I would love to try. I think this would make a great appetizer for a dinner party that would stand out in a crowd.

It's all about opening your mind and your palette to discover new tastes and combinations. My lesson learned this week is this: Do not let one ingredient stand out in your dish. All the ingredients should complement each other, and not overpower each other.

Here's to yet another successful week at the restaurant..... See you when I get back from Tunisia!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Only 6 days away!!

I am getting SO pumped up for my vacation on Saturday! Today I did a little shopping to prep for my trip to Tunisia. I am going to wrap it up tomorrow and then the rest is packing, research, excursion booking and learning some key phrases in Tunisian Arabic such as: "More wine, please."

This is going to be an amazing experience, and I cannot wait to share photos when I get back! My mom was gracious enough to let me borrow her camera for the trip. My camera broke on my birthday last month, and I just can't afford to be spending money on a new one just yet. My BF has a camera, but every time I take a picture with it - they just don't look right. The lighting is off, or it's blurry, etc. I think it is because I am not used to using his brand of camera, it's just not a Canon.

I am slightly nervous that we don't have our itinerary all setup for the week yet. When I travel with my HLP, Jen, she always is so organized and the only thing I need to do is show up! So, this is totally awkward for me not having any plan yet and I am feeling slightly uneasy and borderline panicked. I tried explaining this to BF, but I am pretty sure he thinks I am crazy and uptight. *sigh* Well, I guess I will have to throw something together in the next couple of days, because it doesn't matter if we actually STICK to the schedule...but I feel much more comfortable having one to carry with me. It's like a paper security blanket.

There was a slight change in our flight schedule, so we now have 22 hours in Paris!! We are going to try and hit some of the famous spots, have a picnic dinner, and stay in town for the night. In the morning we can have cafe' au lait and a croissant, stroll around for a few hours, then head to the 'port. It's going to be a whirlwind romantic day (crossing fingers) and a great wrap up to our vacation.

With that being said....

Here's to vacations, may we enjoy many more in the future....