Search This Blog

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes and the "El Guapo"

Holy crap, the Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes, from the Robicelli cupcake book, turned out perfectly AND they were pretty delish.   I took the cupcakes to a fun party called "Crabtacular."

 Top view of Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes.

The Buffalo Cupcakes were good in an interesting/unique kind of way.  It's weird to have those flavors in a chewy cupcake form.  The blue cheese butter cream was pretty cool, but super greasy.  The cupcakes were a huge hit at the party but I don't think I'd make them again.  They weren't hard but I like my cupcakes more sweet.  I did take a little liberty with the cupcake and added some ground ghost pepper.  The pepper added a nice kick.

  Buffalo Chicken Cupcake! Carrot Celery-Root Cake, Blue Cheese Buttercream Frosting, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Buffalo Sauce!

The "El Guapo" Cupcake - Sweet Corn Cake, Cilantro Lime Buttercream, topped with Popcorn!

"El Guapo" is a delicious and refreshing bite of awesome.  It's light and fluffy and has a really nice finish.  It's easy to put away a few cupcakes before noticing you've had half a dozen.  Other than pureeing the corn it was a pretty easy recipe.  I made everything start to finish in about two and a half hours. I added a little bit of honey to the cupcakes because I wanted the batter to be sweeter.

That's 19 recipes I've done so far, if you're keeping track!  I'm running out of easy recipes so things are going to get intense soon!


Week 7 at San Francisco Cooking School or The Silence of The Lamb (singular)

I still have all my fingers and managed not to burn myself.  Hoorays!  We also did something pretty amazing this week.  We butchered a lamb!

This lamb is HUGE!

Dave the Butcher, of Marina Meats, came to our class with a ready to butcher lamb.  Just like with filleting fish last week I discovered that I enjoyed it much more than I ever thought I would.  We used a bone saw to cut through large bones to break down the lamb into more manageable pieces.  Dave had an awesome knife holster for all his knives, it was pretty badass.  We spent 3 hours taking apart the lamb, and every one had a chance to do a little something.


 Dave's awesome knife holster.

Here's a video of my classmate Jen using the bone saw to split the back end of the sheep.

I learned that working with sheep/lamb left my hands super soft.  Sheep fat is actually called lanolin, and it's a waxy substance that feels amazing on your skin.  It's gross, but I kinda wanted to roll around in it.  ("It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again." - Silence of the Lambs)

We also butchered rabbit, and squab.  This is going to sound psycho, but I honestly really love butchering.  The movements are precise and you have to be focused, it's very zen.  On Friday we ate the squab - grilled, and sautèd.  We also have rabbit legs browned with a dijon cream sauce, and rabbit loin wrapped around kidneys and hearts and browned.  Rabbit legs have the same texture as chicken, and rabbit loins seem to have the same texture as pork.  I still don't enjoy kidney.  We also ate a delicious lamb shank that my team made, slow cooked in veal stock with cilantro and garlic.  Everything was really delicious.  We finished off the day with profiteroles - ice cream filled dessert puffs covered in chocolate.  I borrowed most of the pictures on today's post from my classmate Mandy, so I can't take credit for how beautiful they are.



I was lucky enough to TA for Chef Nicole Plue this past week.  I was there for the 3rd night of her Pastry: Breakfast & Brunch recreational course.  It was a really great experience.  Nicole is so patient with her students and everything she had them bake was delicious.  We had popovers, egg stuffed brioche muffins, pancakes, olive oil muffins, orange julius, and so much more.  There was also a butter tasting!  Did you know there's such a thing as goat milk butter, because there is and it's amazing!
 Butter tasting and jams.

Overall it was a fast paced and fun-filled week.  Get ready for this next week because we're gonna be butchering Wilbur! (That's a piggy for those who haven't read "Charlotte's Web.") 

And lastly, I finished the Curiosity Crawl!  I believe that I am the first student to finish the crawl so I'm pretty pumped.  I'll let you know what I win.

See you next week!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Butternut Spice Cupcakes, Carrot Cake Cupcakes, and "The Blatt" Cupcakes!

Don't worry, despite class being a little crazy with exams I was still able to bake some delish cupcakes from the Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: With 50 Decidedly Grown-Up Recipes book.  If this is the first cupcake post from me you've read, you can read all about my personal challenge here.

So, the Butternut Spice were interestingly delicious.  They were a bit more savory than sweet.  They were really simple, the only component I had to buy online was the butternut squash seed oil.  The cupcakes were fluffy and the brown sugar from the candied seeds was heavenly.

Butternut Spice: butternut squash cupcake, vanilla buttercream frosting, brown sugar, roasted pumpkin seeds.

The carrot cake cupcakes were straight forward and super easy.  I picked this cupcake for Valentine's Day because I know I could easily make and assemble the cupcakes on a Thursday night after class.  I was going to spice them up, but decided not to because I wanted to try the recipe as written - it was quite delish.  Check out my half-assed hearts that I piped on the cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Cupcake: carrot cake cupcake, cream cheese buttercream, and roasted walnuts. 

The "Blatt" was chosen because it also features cream cheese buttercream.  I was able to just make a double batch of the frosting when I made the carrot cake cupcakes and freeze the extra frosting. (I like an easy cheat.)  The cardamom cookies were interesting, and I'm not sure I actually cooked them properly, but they were yummy.  I felt like they were going to be flatter and crispier, but that could be me.
 The Blatt! - Vanilla cupcake, cream cheese buttercream frosting, raspberry jam and topped w/ crumbled fried cardamom cookies.

As of this post I have made 17 different cupcakes from the Robicelli's cupcake book. I'm pumped! And I'm super excited to tell you that I'll be taking on the Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes this weekend, so stay tuned!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 6 of/at San Francisco Cooking School

I still have all my fingers, and I've managed not to burn myself.

OMG, this week has been amazing.  It's been the week of "FISH!"  I fileted, gutted, dismantled and pureed fish and other fishy sea creatures this week.  I loved every single minute.  I mostly think I enjoyed it because unlike other animals I don't really care about fish so I don't mind ripping them apart.  I fileted rock cod and petrale sole, and I was honestly pretty awesome at it.  Now when I tell people, "Imma gut you like a fish," I actually know how.

I was really pumped on Thursday when we had Thai Squid Salad.  I specifically request that my teammate, Jeff, and I get to make the squid salad because I really really wanted to dismantle the squid.  I was pleasantly surprise when I told Chef that I wanted that recipe and she gave it to us!  Did you know that squid have a spine piece called a quill?  It's amazing, it's like a piece of plastic in the squid.  Check out this video that shows you how to clean a squid, and imagine me doing it and loving it:

Then on Friday Jeff and I made Shrimp Quenelles, which are essentially shrimp balls.  We pureed shrimp and petrale sole with egg whites, cream, butter and some spices and then poached them in salty water to create these light fluffy shrimp ball things.  It was weird, but pretty delicious.

The sexy squid salad.

We cooked a whole octopus too!  My classmate, Harriet, and I asked Chef Catherine if it was "Paul" the World Cup octopus, and then we got to inform Chef about the famous Paul.  (If you don't know Paul, check him out here.)

My classmate, Mandy, found a stowaway in the mussels we made this week!

I really loved fish week.  While I'm not a big fish eater I really enjoyed learning about how to identify a "good" fish, as well as how to filet and cook fish and other sea creatures.  We also had a great field trip to Monterey Fish Company.  We met up at 5:30am to watch the fish being sorted so that they could be delivered or picked up.  

Me and some rock cod at Monterey Fish Market.

I had my first meeting with Chef Catherine to talk about how I was doing in class and it went great.  She told me she liked that I could be so loud/excited/energized but could focus as soon as I needed to.  I told Bob what Chef said and he asked," Did you tell her you don't have A.D.D.?" 

We finished off week 6 with a visit from Courtney from Bar Tartine.  We learned all about fermentation.  Jeff and I pickled Kimchi, preserved lemons, and beets.   We made kimchi with cucumbers, I can hardly wait to try it out!

Next week we're going to butcher a lamb!


Week 5 of San Francisco Cooking School

Good news, I still have all my fingers and haven't burned myself this week. 

Week 5 brought about my first exam!  EEEEEEK!  Chef Catherine took pitty on us and gave us our recipes for the practical exam in advance.  We had to make a salad with supremed oranges and an orange juice vinaigrette, a root vegetable soup, a velouté sauce and sauté a chicken breast and make a tarragon pan sauce.  Of course before we started making and plating all these things we had a vegetable dicing practical.  How fast, accurately could we dice carrots, celery and onions.  Good news folks, I don't suck at dicing.  :P

In other good news, I passed the practical exam and the written exam.  What I've taken away from this experience is that I almost have awesome time management, and I cannot blindly identify spices to save my life.  Seriously, go open up your cupboard and grab spices and smell them with out looking at them.  It's hard.  Whenever I can't identify a spice I immediately think, "this is probably cumin, or maybe cardamom."  It's usually neither.  I can, however; identify cinnamon like nobodies business - then again, so can pretty much everyone.  

Week 5 was also the week of the duck.  That's right, we disjointed and cooked duck like it was going out of style.  I discovered that I like my duck breast more medium done than rare, and that I still don't care for liver. 

Laurence Jossel, of Nopa, came to visit and talk about restaurant life.  He was really awesome.  He was an engaging speaker and he gave us a good idea of what restaurant life is like.  While talking to us he also assembled a lovely fritatta with potatoes, it was delicious. 

I also had an opportunity to go to a demo from Kindred Table.  Nicole Paizis, was a student in the first class at SF Cooking, and started Kindred Table.  I joined some wonderful Junior League members, courtesy of a friend of mine, for a small get-together and cooking demo and had a chance to talk with Nicole.  It was really great to see what she took away from school and how well she's doing on her own venture.  Nicole made me feel like I was actually cooking in her class even though I didn't touch a single thing.  She did such a great job of describing her process and how all the flavors work together that I felt like I had helped make our meal.  If you're in San Francisco and you're looking for a wonderful dinner event I really encourage you to contact Nicole.  The food and the demo are just amazing. 

Week 5 was a little crazy and hectic.  Everyone was happy when the weekend finally came about.  Whew.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week 4 at San Francisco Cooking School

Week 4 went pretty smoothly.  I still have all my fingers and I didn't burn myself.  My poor teammate Tracy, unfortunately burnt herself on that same scary convection oven - it's a beast.  She currently has about a 3 inch long scab on her right wrist.  It's nasty and looks horribly painful.  Hopefully it healed up nicely over the weekend.

This week brought about the revelation that I loath making stock.  Yes, I know it's straight forward, but something about it makes me fume with rage.  I can't put my finger on why, I just know that every day that involves my team making stock I go home disgruntled.  I'm working on making stock be less unpleasant for myself.

We had a couple of awesome visitors this week.  First we had Gonzalo Guzman, of Nopa/Nopalito, come to class and tell us about how he chose the food for the menus, and how certain items are made.  We help grind up corn for masa which was then turned into sopas, and corn tortillas.  He made a couple of really awesome hot sauces and showed us how to pickle onions just using lime juice.  It was a really awesome demo, and we all enjoyed awesome food at the end.

And to finish up the week, on Friday Eugenio Jardim taught us about wine tasting.  We learned about how every wine tells a story before you even taste it.  Soon I'll be able to sound like I know what I'm talking about.  I will of course have to drink more wine. 

We made a lot of vinaigrettes and mayo/aioli this week.  Infused our own oil with herbs, and just generally emulsified our food. 

And of course, we had a lovely plated meal day, here is my sauteed chicken with a mushroom pan sauce and veggies. 

We have a practical exam, and a written exam this week so wish me luck!


The "Apple Maple Crisp," "Maltz," and "Coquito" cupcakes.

I was a really busy girl this last week.  As of today I've made three more cupcakes from the Robicelli's cupcake book.  I'm gaining headway with my personal cooking challenge.  I started the week off with the:

Apple Maple Crisp Cupcake

OMG, this cupcake was amazingly moist and delicious.  Even though it's one of the easier recipes it was a bit time consuming because of all the components.  I made my own apple butter and oatmeal crumble this cupcake.  I bought 5 pounds of Pink Lady apples to make my apple butter, and to shred to put in the cupcakes.  (Pink Ladies are my go-to baking apples.)  I had to plan in advance on this recipe because the apple butter takes 9-12 hours.  I threw in a little extra cinnamon because nobody hates that.  The cupcakes turned out great, sweet but not too sweet and the apple butter was absolutely amazing.  The best part is that the cupcake is "finished" with Maple syrup.  Soooo delicious.

 The Maltz

Then I made "The Maltz" for our friend's "House Concert."  (It's a really San Francisco thing to do.  They opened up their home to a couple of musicians and had a little potluck and concert in the living room.)  One of these friends really likes bourbon and bacon so The Maltz was the obvious choice as it's a chocolate coffee bourbon cupcakes with chocolate bourbon buttercream and topped with candied bacon.  I added about a shot worth of extra bourbon to the frosting and instead of brown sugar I used maple syrup to candy the bacon.  It was heavenly.  I have noticed that all the chocolate cupcakes seem to be more dense and dry than the other cupcakes - I'll have to compare the recipes side by side to figure this out.

The Coquito

And lastly, today I made "The Coquito."  It's a coconut rum cupcake with coconut lime buttercream and topped with toasted coconut.  There's also a coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk "bath," for the cupcakes.  After the cupcakes came out of the oven I stabbed them a couple of times with a fork and then poured the "bath" over the top of them and let it soak in - it's the perfect amount of sweet.  I think I'd consider adding more rum in the future, and maybe some actual lime juice in the buttercream, but they're really good.

Overall it has been a successful cupcake week.