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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The "Bea Arthur" Robicellis Cupcake

So, the awesome Robicelli's cupcake book, part of my personal challenge, has a whole section dedicated to the "Golden Girls" and this last week I made the "Bea Arthur."  It's a chocolate espresso cupcake with cream cheese butter cream frosting and an espresso chocolate ganache.  So, I of course, as usual, took liberties with this recipe.  I made everything as directed except the topping.  I ended up throwing some chocolate covered espresso beans in the food processor and sprinkling it on the cupcakes.  I also wanted an extra coffee flavor so I upped the instant espresso in the cupcakes to about a tablespoon.

I took the cupcakes to class and they were a total success.  Everyone agreed that the cupcakes were perfect because they weren't too sweet, just the right amount.  This is one of the easier recipes in the cook book.  This next week I'll be making two different recipes, one for class and one for a party so stay tuned!

For those of you counting...that's the 10th recipe!

The Bea Arthur, super delish!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Week 3 at San Francisco Cooking School!

As many of you know this was the week that I finally got burned.  So, I still have all my fingers, but I can no longer say I didn't get burnt.  The good news is it was the tiniest of tiny, miniscule some might say, burn.  I burnt myself on a gigantic roasting pan while browning chicken bones for stock.  I was a super trooper and didn't even make a noise when it happened.  I kicked that pans ass by remaining calm and collected.

So, what did we do this week you ask?  EGGS!  We played with eggs.  I feel like I excelled awesomely this week with all our great recipes, mostly because I bake so much at home.  We kicked off the week by poaching eggs.  I'm pleased to say I can poach a mean egg.  And of course we whipped up hollandaise sauce because as everyone knows you can't eat a poached egg with out a sexy egg sauce on top.
 Our amazing lunch on Friday. (Grilled veggies, tempura shrimp, fried scallops, garlic custard, goat cheese souffle, spinach souffle, and salmon souffle.)

We also made custards, and souffles!  I'd never made a souffle before, but it was easier than I had anticipated.  We made a salmon souffle, a spinach souffle, and a goat cheese souffle.  We made spinach custard, mushroom custard and garlic custard - garlic was obviously my favorite.

On Thursday Barb Stuckey came in and taught us about taste.  That's right, I said taste.  The whole presentation blew my mind!  For instance, did you know that butter doesn't have a taste?  It has a a smell that leads us to believe it's a taste.  If you plug your nose and eat unsalted butter all you get is the texture of butter in your mouth, there's no actual taste!  It's crazy!  You can read all about the awesome things I learned in Barb's book: Taste What You're Missing: The Passionate Eater's Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good  I highly recommend it.

I've also made excellent headway with the Curiosity Crawl by visiting:

 Saigon Sandwich with Sam, Tracy and Mandy! (Thanks Jen for taking the picture!)

 Craftsman & Wolves - Eating "The Rebel Within."

Four Barrel Coffee - Eating a "laminated" pastry. (aka chocolate croissant)

You'll all also be happy to know that my awesome nurse friend, Hazel, gave me great tips on keeping my hands from turning into little husks and keeping them hydrated.  I now own a pair of white cotton gloves that I wear to bed.  But wait, the fun doesn't end there!  First I slather on really thick awesome hand cream.  Next think you know I'll be wearing curlers and cold cream.  
 My sexy gloves.

It was a great week, as you can tell, but man am I happy it's the weekend!



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 2 of SFCooking School!

Good news, week two is over and I still have all my fingers!  (I also managed not to burn my face off.)

Week two saw my classmates and me delirious and forgetful.  We've been cooking so much we can barely remember what we're cooking.  We made vegetarian onion soup (made with vegetable stock, in place of chicken stock) on Monday, and when we completed it on Wednesday no one could remember when we'd made it - thank goodness we label everything.

On Tuesday Galen Garretson who owns TownCutler came to class for a knife sharpening demo.  We learned about wet stones and how to properly sharpen our knives so we can take better care of them.  A sharp knife is a good knife!  I ended up buying a stone so I can sharpen all my knives at home and take care of my knife kit for school.

 My awesome new sharpening and polishing stones from TownCutler.

My class also got an awesome surprise on Thursday.  There's a friendly little competition going on with our class, the part-time culinary class, and the pastry class.  The instructors are calling it the Curiosity Crawl.  It's a list of restaurants in the Bay Area with specific dishes to try, as well as a list of places to visit, and a little recipe scavenger hunt.  So if you see pictures on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram tagged #CuriosityCrawl you'll know I'm taking names and kicking ass!  Check out the list:

LocandaFried Artichoke
Zuni CafeBloody Mary
Saigon SandwichBahn Mi
Roli RotiPorchetta Sandwich
Mission BowlBurger
Spices IIFried Fish in Chile Pepper
Old Mandarin IslamicOnion Pancake
MarloweBrussel sprout chips
La CicciaOctopus Stew
b. patisserieKougin Amann
Craftsman & WolvesRebel Within
Z & YChicken w/ Explosive Chili Pepper
Bi-RiteIce cream
Turtle TowerPho
4505 MeatsBurger
PlowBreakfast Potatoes
TacoliciousTuna Tostadas
Golden BoyPizza slice
Swan Oyster DepotOysters
Fatted CalfCharcuterie
Insalata'sFattoush Salad
Liguria BakeryFocaccia
Shanghai Dumpling KingLion's Head
Acme at the Ferry BuildingBaguette
Four Barrel CoffeeLaminated pastry
20th Century CafeHoney Cake
MandalayTea Salad
Bake Sale Betty'sFried Chicken Sandwich

We finished up the week with a plated and coursed meal.  Everyone in the class made braised artichokes, sautéd chicken with a velouté sauce served with glazed carrots and chateau potatoes, and we ended with a blood orange, date, and pistachios in an orange flower, and honey syrup.  My team was also tasked with putting together a veal stock.  It was a hectic but fun end to the week.

I've cut so many carrots, and my hands are so dry from constantly washing them that the carrot juice has soaked into my hands.  I constantly look like my hands are filthy and my nail beds are atrocious.  Oh well, I wasn't going to be a hand model anyway.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chocolate Chestnut and Banana Nutella Cupcakes!

I managed to carve out some time this weekend to continue with my personal cooking challenge.  A couple of weeks back I made:

Chocolate cupcakes with chestnut buttercream frosting and candied chestnuts on top.

So, the cupcakes for the chocolate cupcakes was amazing, but I wasn't very excited about the candied chestnuts.  I'm not a huge fan of chestnuts anyway.  But the cupcakes themselves were awesome - chocolate coffee!

Then just today I baked:

 Banana cupcakes with nutella buttercream frosting, topped with homemade hazelnut and banana chip praline.

Banana Nutella cupcakes!

OMG, sooooooo good and soooooo easy!  My house smells fantastic!  My lovely neighbor gave me some home made nutella just this week so I knew it was a sign that this was the next recipe to follow.  Make this, make it now!

I'm taking my extra cupcakes to class with me tomorrow!


I Survived My First Week of Culinary School!

Good news everyone, I still have all my fingers and I didn't burn off any appendages!  Hoorays!

 This is my class! Our amazing instructor, Chef Catherine is in the middle. I borrowed the picture from the SF Cooking School FaceBook.

So, this was my first week of school at the San Francisco Cooking School, and I loved every minute of it.  It was an exhausting and exciting whirlwind of awesome.  I'm happy to report that I have an amazing group of classmates and I'm pumped to get a chance to work with each and every one of them.

On the first day of school I was given my sexy kitchen uniform, my knife kit and my handy-dandy 3-ring binder for keeping all my tips, tricks, and recipes.  I have two kitchen uniforms that include a checkered pair of pants, a double breasted white chef jacket, an apron, and a cute little hat to keep my hair out of your food.  The knife kit is ridiculously awesome, it's a Wusthof kit with 4 beautiful knives, a steel for straitening my blades, and a nice carrying case.  My binder is gigantic which leads me to believe I'm going to have a ton of recipes!

On our very first day everyone made omlettes, which I had never made before.  Omlettes are more complex than I ever would have thought.  There's a lot of wrist work involved that I'd never noticed.  We are to practice getting a "colorless" omlette - no brown spots - because if you can make a colorless omlette you can prepare an omlette anyway someone might want.  I've been practicing at home with my enameled cast iron skillet which is heavy!  I'm going to have arms of steel!

Our class works on projects in teams of 3/4.  So each team makes pretty much the same recipe, and you're working with people to complete your recipe.  My team this week was amazing.  I worked with Jen and Tracy and we worked so well together.  As soon as we received a recipe we delegated and got shit done!

I helped make stock for the first time in my life.  We made chicken stock and vegetable stock.  It's easy!  It just takes forever!  We made soooo much stock, but it's the base for practically everything!  We used our stock to make different root vegetable soups.  Each team made a different root vegetable soup, then we sampled them and combined them to try the various flavors.  We learned about Velouté soups which are pureed or "velvety" soups/sauces.

We clarified a gallon of butter, and went through the various stages of browning and then burning butter so we could watch how the butter changes.

We took a field trip to a restaurant grocery distribute, GreenLeaf.  It was pretty amazing to see their warehouse.  We had a tour with Dennis, who showed us how the produce is delivered and categorized, stored and then packaged to be sent out to restaurants.  It's a huge operation!

 Here's Dennis telling us all about the food storage.

There were just so many wonderful things that we learned this week.

To finish off our week Craig Stoll, of the restaurant Delfina, came in and spoke to our class about how he got started.

I put my new-found knowledge and skills to use this weekend.  I made my own vegetable stock and then used it to make a sweet potato, carrot and ginger soup.  I also made my own béchamel sauce, and made a broccoli, cauliflower and sunchoke gratin.  We're eating like kings at my house!  I also managed to make a batch of the Robicellis cupcakes this weekend to continue on with my personal cooking challenge.

 My awesome sweet potato, carrot and ginger soup, along with an apple, walnut and goat cheese salad.

I'm so excited to see what this next week has in store!


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Swedish Chef Has Nothin' On Me!

Today was my first day of culinary school at the San Francisco Cooking School!
It was an amazing day! My classmates are great, my instructor is great and I can't wait to go back again tomorrow! (But right now I'm exhausted.)

I'll make sure to write all about my first week this weekend, so stay tuned!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

San Francisco Cooking School

Eeeeeek!  On Monday, January 6th, I start culinary school with the San Francisco Cooking School!  I'm ridiculously excited about it and have been waiting for months for my program to start.  I was accepted back in July but opted not to start until now because Bob and I had so many plans already set up for the Autumn of 2013.  But now the time has come!

My hope is that I will be able to bring you all along on my culinary adventure. 

I will continue to work on my personal cooking challenge, but I'll also be intermittently letting you know what I'm up to at school.

Let the journey begin!!!