It’s been a while…….

15 Mar

but I’m back!

I started this blog back in 2011 for an E-Journalism class that I was taking at Dawson College and today as I was baking cinnamon rolls this website popped into my head. I decided that this would be a great place to show off the food I’ve made. As a recent graduate of Culinary school and soon to be student in Pastry Courses I thought this would be a great place to keep track of my kitchen endeavours!

Hope you enjoy!

(and try not to drool on yourself)

Working up the ladder

3 May

A lot of people enjoy cooking as a hobby, they consider it to be something they enjoy doing on their free time, but what would it be like as a profession? Being in a restaurant kitchen instead of your own kitchen? Is there any difference? Could you  make it in the food industry? I’m going to show you the path my dad took to make it in the food industry.

I interviewed my dad who is a professional chef and has worked many different types of jobs in the food industry, from cooking in a restaurant to catering events, and everything in between. He made his way into the restaurant industry at the young age of 18, at the time he lived in Michigan. He started off as a dishwasher, what exactly did he think of this job? Well to quote him, he said “It sucks big ‘ol donkey dick!  But really, it is the hardest job in the kitchen and the most important job.  If there are no clean pots and dishes, the kitchen is helpless and cooks usually will not do pots or dishes!”  The thing he hated the most about being a dishwasher was the fact that the dishwasher gets all the blame when things are behind and usually get a lousy pay unless in a unionized job.

At the age of 19 he moved to Vermont and also moved up in the industry, he became a bartender. Out of all the jobs he worked, he found bartending to be the most interesting, because you get to meet and socialize with new and old acquaintances while serving drinks and having to deal with all the drunks telling their life stories.  He loved hearing all the sad, some horrific and some great stories he was told nightly. He also said that “On a busy night don’t let anyone learn your name, because it can be dangerous when drunks get violent.” He worked as a bartender until he was 21, then he quit his job as a bartender and left Vermont to live in Montreal.  After he moved to Montreal he worked in numerous restaurants, eventually he got into the catering business where he made food for private functions, he specialized in food art and decorations. He said that catering can be a blast because you get to work all kinds of different events such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, cocktail parties, Christmas parties etc… When working parties a lot of times you are invited to stay and party afterwards.

Another change in career led him into the cafeteria business at Shankers Incorporated. He didn’t enjoy this job very much he referred to it as being “not much fun”.  Cafeteria cooking has a lot of deadlines, with tons of food to make in order to fill up all the spaces in the steam table a lot of bad Cooks will make all frozen or deep fried stuff to make their job easier. My dad doesn’t believe in going the easy way and making food which is unhealthy.  Not long after, he changed careers again and worked as a banquet chef at the Quality hotel. What the Banquet chef does is make the banquet meals under the guidance of both sous chef and the executive chef.

My dad believes that cooking should be fun and he believes that it is…most of the time, he says:

“the food industry can be a blast!  Joking and laughing all the time, except when personalities clash, which can be often amongst cooks, too many egos in the kitchen, but people get over things and fun will be had again until the next clash of the morons.”

He is currently working in a cafeteria of a well known University in Montreal and he doesn’t particularly like it.  He says “it’s no fun at all.  Everyone watches everyone else and laughter is rare.  The stress level is high and tensions can be cut with a knife!  It is produce, produce, produce.” Although there are downfalls to the job there are also plus sides as well, “It is unionized and pays very well with health benefits and an eventual pension if you can take the bull shit from staff and management.

Although he works at a school cafeteria, once the school semester is over he leaves for Maine to work at a summer camp, called “Camp Laurel.”  He said that Camp Laurel is by far his favorite place to work he says: “Work!  Hahahaha!  Working vacation is more like it!”  He also said that “Each job I had, other than dishwasher, I eventually disliked, but later in time I missed the work and the people.  Dishwashing just sucks big ‘ol….” Clearly he did not enjoy dishwashing, but you have to start somewhere!

I’ll leave you with this:

“Most cooks have had culinary training.  I did not.  I started at the bottom, for which I have great respect for dishwashers, and worked my way up. I have studied cook books, I have watched cooking shows and learned very quickly in the work place.  I changed jobs often for better pay and to learn more.  I have an international repertoire, which so many cooks do not.  I truly enjoy cooking.  Again so many just look at it as a job, but in reality food is art, food is life, share them both with a glass of your favorite wine!” – Michael VanZant

Panera Bread

28 Apr

On a recent trip to Plattsburgh I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Panera Bread.

Creamy tomato soup in a bread bowl

Coffee and Cobblestone

Check out their website http://www.panerabread.com/ and try not to crave everything on the menu!

Sunday cookin’

12 Apr

Every sunday my family gets together for dinner, here are some pictures of the cooking process!

Recipe

Lemon and basil chicken

‘Vegetable Tian’ ingredients

Chopped vegetables for ‘Vegetable Tian’

Ready for the oven!

Good enough to eat!

14 Mar

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Parfaits   Serves 6

For the chocolate base:
1 cup milk, 2% or higher
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the peanut butter base:
1 cups milk, 2% or higher
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoons butter

For the whipped cream:
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preparations:

Chocolate: In a medium sauce pan combine the milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and egg yolk.

Whisk until very well incorporated then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer and thicken.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, butter and chopped chocolate and stir until melted.

Pour through a strainer into a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Peanut Butter:In a medium sauce pan combine the milk, sugar, peanut butter, cornstarch, and egg yolk.

Whisk until very well incorporated then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer and thicken.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and butter, and stir until melted.

Pour through a strainer into a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

*When I made this recipe I skipped the step of pouring through a strainer, it turned out fine.

Next, prepare the whipped cream.

Pour the gelatin into the cold water and allow to stand for five minutes, or until completely bloomed.

Heat for five seconds in the microwave, making sure it is melted, and cool to room temperature.

Pour the cold cream into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.

Whisk on medium low speed until the sugar is blended then increase the speed to medium high.

When the cream is softly whipped pour in the cooled gelatin.

Whip until the cream forms medium peaks.  Chill for thirty minutes, covered, in the refrigerator.

*to make things easier, I just used whipping cream, and added a splash of vanilla.

Gently whisk both the chocolate and peanut butter bases until smooth.  Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to each base and fold until the mixtures are uniform in color

Fill three piping bags with the peanut butter mousse, the chocolate mousse, and the whipped cream.

Pipe the mousse into your serving dishes/glasses in alternating layers, starting with chocolate and ending with whipped cream.

*Piping bags are optional, I just used a spoon to pour it in, it was a bit messy so you might want to use piping bags. If you don’t own a piping bag use a ziplock bag and cut off one corner.

Chill the parfaits for at least two hours before serving.

*It says its serves 6, but I suggest adding a little bit more of everything to the mix.

Recipe Via EvilShenanigans http://www.evilshenanigans.com/2010/10/short-rib-sandwiches-sweet-potato-chips-chocolate-peanut-butter-parfaits-and-blood-orange-and-ginger-sparkler/ found on FoodGawker http://foodgawker.com/

Baby Cakes

9 Mar

On a snowy winters day, I sat in the waiting room at Hair world waiting to meet with Alex, customers and employees frantically moving around the busy salon. I sat and watched her busy at work, chatting up her client and quickly working the scissors.  Once she was done we went to the backroom, where it was quieter, and got to talking. So why is it I interviewed a hairdresser when this is a food blog? Well hairdressing isn’t Alex’s only occupation, but she’s also an excellent baker on the side, cupcakes being her specialty!

Just like her favorite cupcake: classic vanilla, with chocolate icing, Alex is fun, simple, easy going and not to mention sweet. When I asked her if her cupcakes were made from scratch, her eyes lit up, “I pride myself in making the best cupcakes possible and store bought mix just doesn’t work for me, all my cupcakes are made from scratch, the taste of homemade cupcakes is so much better by far!” Surprisingly, when Alex was a little girl she wasn’t much of a baker, she was actually more into cooking than anything.  “I always used to help my parents cook dinner, I was never really interested in baking” she paused and said laughing “funny how things change, now it’s the opposite.. I always make my husband cook.”

While starting off with catering from home, she needed a name for her business, and the name she went with was ‘babycakes’. She told me a cute story of how she came up with the name, “The name babycakes came from when I was sending a text message to my sister inlaw and I called her babycakes, and it just hit me at that moment that it would be a great company name!” When I asked her what type of environment she likes to bake in, she was quick to answer, “I don’t like to bake in silence, I like to have music blaring from the speakers.” I asked her what her favorite music was to listen to; she said she loves listening to music from her teenage years, such as Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, mostly music from the 80’s.

On November 22nd an event called ‘Cupcake Camp’ was hosted at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, they raised over $34,500 and shared 20,000 cupcakes with 2500 Montrealers for La Tablée des Chefs and Kids Help Phone.  Among the 20,000 cupcakes were Alex’s Tiffany &Co cupcakes. Her inspiration for the design came from her love of the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, the jewelry itself, and the blue color of the tiffany box, she thought the well known design and color of the cupcake design would attract people, especially girls because what girl doesn’t love that tiny blue box… or more so what’s inside of the box! When I asked her about her experience at ‘Cupcake Camp’ you could tell it was a good one, here’s what she had to say “Cupcake camp was an amazing experience for me. I love the fact that I put myself out and used my skill to help the kids help phone. The energy reminded me of when I used to do hair shows.”

Alex has made all sorts of different cupcake styles, she has creepy Halloween designs, festive Christmas cupcakes, flowery ones, bright colors, and of course her tiffany &Co design that was featured at ‘Cupcake Camp.’ So does she have a favorite design? She certainly does, the tiffany &Co ones are the cupcakes shes most proud of, and therefore are her favorite! Everything on her Tiffany &Co cupcakes are edible, the blue boxes to the key locket on top!

I shot a hard question her way, if she had to choose one career option would she choose baking, or hairdressing?  I had a feeling this would be her response, although she paused for a few moments to think about it, she couldn’t make up her mind “I can’t choose between baking and hairdressing. They’re both fun and I have passion and patience for both.” Not to mention she has loyal customers for both! She said that with hairdressing and baking there are a lot of similarities, yet they are still very different from each other. Both hairdressing, and baking are artistic and have basic rules, once you have the basics down you can be as creative as you want.

Her inspiration to start baking came from watching the food network during the last few years. She is easily inspired and saw a few things on the food network that made her want to try out baking, ever since then she hasn’t been able to put down the whisk and stop baking! She finds herself baking quite often, especially when there are orders to complete. At least once a week Alex tests out a new recipe, she uses her husband and other friends and family members to try them out. I asked her if there’s anyone in particular that she looks up to, does she have a cupcake icon, this is what she had to say: “Its 2 hard to choose an icon, because there are so many out there. I’m big on cupcake girls, and DC cupcakes.” It’s very true, cupcakes seem to be a big trend lately!

Hairdressing, and baking are both looked upon as a woman’s job, so I asked her if she sees a lot of men in either line of work, she said that she doesn’t know of any man bakers personally, but she pointed out Buddy from Carlos Bakery which plays on TLC and that a lot of men on the food network bake on their shows. She thinks that hairdressing and baking is open and anyone’s game and no career should be looked at as a man or woman’s job. She also jokingly said her husband makes a mean batch of brownies.

So far on her journey of baking she hasn’t had any struggles, it’s been smooth sailing so far, hairdressing on the other hand hasn’t been so easy. Coming from Toronto her French isn’t the greatest, so there is sometimes a language factor, which can be difficult. In the end it always works out but it does take a lot more effort.

When the interview was over, we were about to part ways before Alex remembered something, she told me to follow her to her locker. She opened the door and pulled out a tray of cupcakes, she told me to try them and tell her what I thought, so here you go Alex… your cupcakes DO NOT disappoint!

Do you love french fries?

16 Feb

Want a healthy alternative to greasy french fries? Try out sweet potato fries, not only are they healthy, they’re actually really delicious!

Fresh Benefits

Sweet Potatoes are a wonderful high-energy food choice to add in your meal plan.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Loads of vitamins and minerals, especially high in vitamins A & C.
  • Lots of antioxidants to help fight those free radicals.
  • Sweet potatoes are a complex carb with low glycemic index.  Fuel food, not crash food.

 

They aren’t hard to make, and all you really need is a sweet potato and some seasoning!

This is my favorite seasoning to use, makes them spicy.

http://www.worldpantry.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/ProductDisplay?prmenbr=130425&prrfnbr=2793610

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat 2-3 sheet trays with cooking spray.

Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss with olive oil, adding enough to evenly coat all the fries.  Combine the spices and toss them into the bowl and mix to coat.

Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes.