Tag Archives: cooking school

Cheating

Yes, I went to two cooking schools. I am a reader, scholar, educator, consultant, retiree¬† but I just cheated. I did not look at the entire recipe for Croquembouche, just for ingredients and timing. I skimmed it, handcuff me now. OK, I’m going to add a bit of melted 70% chocolate before the crowning glory. That might be a life sentence according to Careme, the inventor.

It should be not so if I feed our friends. I haven’t made this for years, since cooking school, and will let my husband wave the caramel atop the structure I create. He is a physicist and would like the science of the sugar. Yes, Father, I have sinned. I did not read the entire recipe.

If you build it…. now I know he has to design and build it, it may be a pyramid, who knows? I’ll help with that and do the chocolate. To my memory he has never made a caramel cage. Cheers! Dee

Advertisements

Inspiration

Before Christmas I found this fig jam and had a thought. I bought puff pastry (no, I have not made it since cooking school because when I even look at butter, it melts).

I paired it with Manouri cheese and made little circles, added the jam and cheese, folded over using an egg wash for “glue.” Then I used a fork to seal, brushed them with a milk and egg yolk wash I had on hand for something else, and baked.

They were gorgeous and tasted great. I was advised by the cheesemeister to use Manouri. Manouri is to Feta what Ricotta is to Mozzarella. A pale but useful cousin. With the sweetness of the fig I’d rather a saltier cheese like Feta.

It was just a brain thing I did to try and everyone liked them. I’d just rather do them better. Always trying to do something better. My sources of inspiration have been hard to come by. It should be that way.¬† Dee

 

When at First…

you don’t succeed try, try again. I find it amazing that I ever learned how to cook, went to cooking school, have the recipe collection I consult regularly and write a “foodie” blog and contribute to other sites.

Back in the day my parents gave me an EZ-Bake Oven, yes, the one that cooks with a 120 watt light bulb. There were probably three packets included (what a scam) and the first I chose was pretzels. I ended up with dough-encrusted hands and nothing to show for my efforts. Had I known to add more flour because it may have been humid that day or their measurements were off, I would have corrected the situation. But I was probably six years old.

I never made pretzels again, nor do I wish to do so. But I tried again and after two times with the infernal light bulb machine I graduated, well before age ten, to the real oven and stove.

In college my mother got her first Cuisinart and I looked at Jean Anderson’s recipe for pizza dough and have refined it over 30 years in regard to proportions of dry to wet ingredients, amounts of flour, type of flour (now I only use Italian 00) and judge the amount of water by atmosphere and altitude. Three feet above sea level is much different than 6,400 feet and one must roll with the punches.

These days, I would get a stool with rails and bring an interested child up to counter level and let them do what they were able to do. Stir a batter, taste a Bolognese sauce, measure for a roux, butter and flour a pan for his sister’s birthday cake.

A while ago a family came to visit and we had MYOP (make your own pizza) night where every family member got to roll out their own dough and top it with any of about 18 ingredients I’d also prepped beforehand. The older child wanted plain cheese pizza but the three year-old wanted olives, caramelized onions and garlic. And anchovies. There’s the kid who doesn’t need (sorry) the Fischer-Price toy kitchen, but needs to learn from the source or if her school has a program, use it. Her palate is very sophisticated for a now four year-old. Place her in a school garden program and she’ll go places.

Many things happened at age eight as I went to the library every weekend and learned the importance of reading, kept one book longer than I should have, costing $.31 of my $.50 allowance but my parents bought Betty Crocker’s Boys and Girls Cookbook a few weeks later for my 8th birthday.

I learned to leave unnecessary appliances off the counter (like E-Z Bake) and learn the real stuff, how to host parties – my younger brother had theme parties pre-Kindergarten I organized based on royalty (the Castle cake) and Pirates.

No matter how many culinary errors were made I kept at it and even quit the NYC rat race to spend my life savings on cooking school. Now I cook at home and my husband credits me for making him a “food snob.” When I met him he was living in a man cave with only a 72 oz. Dr. Pepper and individually wrapped string cheese in his frig, with cheese wrappers littering the carpet between the frig and his computer. Now he opines about the difference in mature cheddars.

I kept at it and never gave up. I don’t bake as my siblings are great at that. I cook with my heart and soul and make dishes to make people happy and enjoy good company. I made chicken skewers tonight (hubby grilled them) but the marinade is a mystery to me as I just tossed things in. It was really good, chicken with pineapple, tomato (I had a couple on hand), scallions. Indonesian soy sauce, mirin, a few drops of sesame oil, scallion tops, grated garlic and ginger. Served over Israeli couscous. Good stuff. If I try it a couple more times I might send a recipe along. Oh, you can get sweet soy sauce on Amazon. Amazonazingly,Dee

Pasta Dinner

Last night I sauteed a bit of bulk sweet Italian sausage, steamed some broccoli and added it in with some cooked pasta and goat cheese. Salt and not much pepper, chili flakes and a little parm and it was a great meal. We had enough to share… ’nuff said. Dee

ps when I perfect this recipe I’ll give it to you. Unfortunately you are not at my home, eating my meals, otherwise you’ll know I cook on the fly with good instructions from French and Italian cooking schools. Once you learn the basics, you can fly.

pps Yes, I graduated!

ppps This is why I do not bake. And my husband is a physicist. Opposites attract.