Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NARC Day Two ~ California

Richard was off today and one of my team members was out, so Dana joined our group. The actual cooking part was a blast.
We started with a salad of baby greens with warm goat cheese and a walnut vinaigrette. Decadent and very tasty.

Second course was gnocchi with asparagus and mushrooms. Martina had some issues with the first batch of gnocchi, so we had to try again. We just squeaked in under the wire, but it came out really well.

Finally, dessert. This was the most complicated part of the whole meal. We made a coconut rum mousse, chocolate almond stripey tuile, apricot brandy infused bean thread noodles and a blackberry cassis as well as some choclate art that I can't remember the name of. End result:
Isn't it beautiful!!?
After, I started washing dishes while others ate. I washed about a third of them until Martina joined me. Then WE washed a third of them on our own. This is not an easy task ~ it took well over an hour and this was us going all out, top speed. I spotted someone standing around doing nothing a completely lost it. I gave him grief, I gave a few others grief as well. By the time I was finished, I was hot, sweaty and nauseous with anger. Losing my grip on sanity here, I think I need to leave early tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Farmers Market Haul

So, I woke up early this morning and headed out the door to the East Vancouver Farmer's Market at Trout Lake. I had one thing on the brain ~ Milan's Tomatoes. Apparently, so did half of Vancouver. Trout Lake has a no-sales-before-nine policy and the line~up at Stoney Paradise was two dozen deep at 8:45 when I arrived. Well worth it though, I came away with a big bag of the stripey green tomatoes. Free to concentrate on the other vendors, I wandered from stall to stall, purchasing as I went. I staggered home with three bags full of veggies, some of which went into my breakfast frittata.

Weekend Cat Blogging

Every weekend, a small group of people put up pictures of their much adored cats. It is known as Weekend Cat Blogging and is hosted by Clare Eats. I have been enjoying it for a month or so ~ sucker for kitty pictures ~ and decided I would like to play along. So, here is our Agnes (Aggie) lying happily on my arm snoozing.

And here are some of the other players..

Bollywood cats at masak-masak
Tasha at A Few of My Favourite Things
Mathides at Skor i Skralden
Hamlet at Anne's Food
The Boss at Farmgirl Fare
Abe and Ike of Restaurant Widow
Grimalkin of Tigers and Strawberries
Jack and Miles from My Adventures in the Breadbox
The Cat at Belly Timber
Ms. Beiji at Pumpkin Pie Bungalow
Tsar at Cook and Eat
And of course, Kiri from Eatstuff

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday......Thank God!

That's right, the bolt cutters came out today. I was getting ready for baking, ranting about how I wished I could understand Chef Susie's marking criteria ( I really like her, I just don't get it sometimes). I got changed, threw everything in my locker, patted my pocket to make sure I had my keys (there was a reassuring jingle), then slammed and locked my locker. Halfway out, I stuck my hand in my pocket to discover that jingle was actually my measuring spoons (don't ask). So off I went to buy a new lock and cut the one I had. Sure enough, my keys were tucked safely in my purse....
Anyway, in baking itself, we had a fun day. Well I did at least. We made Streusel Kuchen, Banana Bread, Pretzels, Cheddar Chive Scones and worked on our Icebox Cookies. t the end, we got (i think) a 19!! Chef Susie never gave over 18... turns out someone complained about her marking. So now I can rant about the stupid school caving in to kids who think because they pay lots of money they should get good grades! (I use the term kids lightly ~ the woman who complained was well into her 40's). No pleasing me, eh?
Here is my stuff:

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Rob and I had a date today. We went to the PNE, held hands, ate junkfood, gambled on the silly games, watched crazy people on the rides, checked out the livestock and the people trying to sell you things like Miracle Shammy and generally had a fun time. There were so many photos ~ I made a collage out of them.

NARC Day Two ~ Still in the southwest

I hate my group...or I should say I hate one person in my group.... everything he touches turns to ...well, you know. Today's menu had so much potential. the soup turned out pretty good, Andrew made it. Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Sundried Tomato Relish.

The next course was partially good... I made the Pepita Crusted Trout, but unfortunately, the one who shall remain nameless decided he wanted to do the Zucchini and Jicama Chiffonade. Overcooked, underseasoned and with no colour ~ he thought it would be a good idea to peel the zucchini....

Finally to dessert. I made the mistake of letting Him do the ice cream yesterday ~ hence the pool of noxious liquid on our plates. Everyone elses Lime and Cilantro ice cream tasted wonderful. The ice cream was served with vanilla churros (I made those) and Mexican Chocolate foam, courtesy of Andrew. Oh, and I brought in the MExican Chocolate as the school "can't get it"... I am so sick of having to sub ingredients because the school is unwilling to lay out the extra time and resources to get us good ingredients.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A new Era...

Those of you who do read this are probably wondering what the heck I have been doing. I apologise for not updating this past week and I will be remedying that asap. I had a crazy week, dear friend visiting from out of town, last day of work, etc. Yes. I am now unemployed (hopefully not for long). I will admit to shedding a few tears ~ I will miss so many of the people who have crossed my path these six years. And I will miss the Stock Market ~ the owners have done so much for me. Yes, there were days where I was ready to pull my hair out, I suffered from chronic stress-related heartburn and my blood pressure dropped 20 points when I decided to leave. But when I started there so many years ago, I was an angry, confused, fresh out of my teens, lost little girl. And the owners put up with my temper tantrums, my erratic behaviour until I calmed down about a year into it. I discovered my passion for food working there. And I made some very good friends while doing it. Thank you to Julien for the cookbook, the guide to NO and the words in your card. Thank you to Katie for the food giude to San Francisco and the beautiful card. Here's to the end of an era and the beginning of the next stage of my life...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

It was a week late, but Rob and I celebrated our fifth anniversary today. We toyed with the idea of going out to a fancy restaurant, but with me being unemployed and paying for school, that was ruled out. Our actualk anniversary was the 15th, but we had guests in town, so we opted to postpone the celebration. I got this crazy idea in my head to do a seafood tasting menu! Thanks to my education, I have mastered the art of MEP (mise en place), which means that I had to spend very little time at dinner in the kitchen. So here goes the meal. I missed taking a photo of our starter, the everpresent oyster, but we had them raw and naked on ice.
I followed that with a portion of yellow tomato gazpacho and lime and chili cured prawns. The gazpacho blew me out of the water and I foresee making that in the future.

Of course, we had "champagne" with the oysters and shrimp ~ a half bottle of Stellar's Jay.

About a quarter cup of that went into the next course, Gallo (local) mussels with a saffron and champagne broth. We sopped up the juice with a fresh baked mini baguette.

Now we are 3 courses in. The fourth and final seafood course was a salmon confit with Pemberton potatoes and swiss chard. By this point, my plating was getting a little erratic.. (champagne anyone??). We enjoyed a Jackson Triggs 2004 Viogner with this.

Dessert was a vanilla and yoghurt pannacotta with a greengage plum and brandy compote. Thank you to Rachel for the recipe!

I really enjoyed doing this, way more than I might have going to a mediocre (all we could afford) restaurant.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I am getting so depressed with this course. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to pull off a decent mark! Anyway, today we made Birds Nest cookies, Sourdough Light Rye and Pecan pie. I forgot to take a pic of the cookies, but here are the other two...

A close up of the rye bread

Purchasing, I got my midterm back, 40/40. That was the highlight of the class. I dozed off twice, my seatmates and I were making those old fortune tellers you fold out of squares of paper, we giggled, we drew pictures... it was all that made the class bearable...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

International ~ Mediterranee

Class was a little bizarre this week. Chef Soren fell ill about 40 minutes into his lecture and had to run out of the room. Chef Chris took over, didn't have a clue what we were doing, so let us go to it. We had a blast, playing with our recipes, going as fast as we could, finishing about an hour ahead of schedule.
First course, spanakopita ~

Second course, bouillabaise with a chickpea cracker (in our case ~ other people made chick pea pancakes and chick pea crepes)

And finally, moussaka. We went for an individual serving as well as a big baking dish of it. Another group made a vegetarian version with barley... They were all good.

ETA (And yes, chef Soren is okay ~ I saw him in the market Saturday, alive and well)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

NARC Day Two ~ Still in the Central Plains

Fun day today ~ I got to make sausage!!

Also noticing that these Central Plains people like their meat...
Anyway, first course ~ a salad made with pickled daikon and cucumber, pea shoots and saskatoon berry vinaigrette with sunflower seeds. We even got to garnish the plate with sunflower petals.

The next course was a chicken dumpling soup. We made a chicken consomme, blanched the little confetti of vegetables and made dumplings from bread.. interesting...

The main course was roast pork stuffed with apricots and prunes, a pork sausage with fennel, apricots and prunes, potato pancakes and braised cabbage (with ham and bacon in it). Again with the meat...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

NARC Day One ~ Central Plains

Moving on to prairie country, todays menu features meat on meat with some mushrooms thrown in there.
The first course was delicious. A wild mushroom and goat cheese tart, I could see myself making this as an appetizer in little mini tart shells.

The second course was... entertaining. It actually ended up tasting ok and would have been better if our resident beef stuffer hadn't bowed to peer pressure and gone overboard on the dill pickle. We pounded out pieces of top round, stuffed them with ground bison and dill pickle spears, rolled them up and braised them in the mushroom broth leftover from marinating the mushrooms. We then made a sauce from the braising liquid and served it alongside with glazed veggies and roasted nugget potatoes.

Recipes will follow ~ I am still playing catchup and have recipes to type, corn projects to finish and timelines to plan.... (added Aug 22)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Oh Summer....

The weather has been incredible here for the last little while, but I haven't been able to enjoy it ~ what with work and school. I finished work today at 3:30, so Rob and I decided to head out for a picnic. This was the view from our spot. Sometimes I am so very grateful for where I live. It truly can be beautiful...

We started off slow, sipping viognier and eating a brie that defies description.

I'll try ~ it was creamy, almost like softened butter with a little kick of flavour you don't always find in mainstream brie. I have no idea where it was from, only that Rob purchased it at Les Amis De Fromage (less than a block from my house...right next to the Patisserie Lebeau and next to the soon to be Barbara Jo's), We followed that with classic picnic fair, fried chicken and potato salad (homemade of course) with some cribbage.

Finally, we wrapped things up with some prosciutto di parma and intensely sweet Okanagan melons

Friday, August 12, 2005

Baking and Midterms

Can you believe that it is Friday already!! Once again, baking day was here. We got to make Profiteroles! But they were for a function, so we had to leave them behind (all 450 of them) and I don't have any pictures. It was really neat learning how to make the choux pastry though, and I plan to try again sometime soon..
We also made poundcake and shortbread cookies..

In the afternoon, we had our purchasing midterm and I think I did a lot better than my last test!

Fleur De Sel

There were a couple of questions about my Fleur De Sel, so I will see if I can answer them.
First of all, what is it?
Here is a blurb I copied from a salt website:
Fleur de Sel is an all natural sea salt from Brittany France. Unprocessed, unrefined, unadulterated. This salt is unlike any you've ever tasted, more like a condiment than a spice, it highlights food flavors and is never too salty, in fact it is almost impossible to overdo it. That is the simple and delicious truth. How it is made is much more difficult.

In Brittany near the town of Guerande are marshes and low lying areas suitable for salt fields. There is a mini climate that is much milder that the rest of Brittany. The currents of the Atlantic run cleaner there than many salt harvesting locations. This confluence of nature makes for an ideal area for a salt farm region. Guerande has no peer in Europe for the quality of salt produced.

The salt fields of Guerande are long and narrow so that an artisan paludier (craftsman salt harvester) can sweep the top of the evaporating sea water to harvest the precious sel gris de Guerande (hand harvested salt with a grey cast). On warm breezy afternoons when there is no rain, that single days evaporation of salt crust on top of the salt pond is harvested as the Fleur de Sel. It is the least salty, purest part of the saline. The harvest is usually May to September. For every 80 pounds of sel gris produced, there is one pound of Fleur de Sel that is harvested.

The taste of Fleur de Sel is the complex balance of the sea and her minerals with small flaky crystals, a moist texture and slightly grey/pink cast. It is used to finish a dish. It is a natural compliment to fresh raw vegetables and salads.

Yes, I am nuts, but I truly believe that it makes a difference to the flavour when you finish dishes with it.
Second, What is my beloved brand that I can't seem to find in Vancouver?

There you have it, my salt! Anymore questions? Anyone want to debate the merits of Maldon Salt over Fleur de Sel...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ode to the Tomato

Google "stoney Paradise" and "Tomato" and you will find pages of rants and raves about Milan's amazing crop. I have been counting down the days till his appearance and I heard through the eGullet grapevine that he would be at Granville Island today. There is just one small problem with that ~ the whole of Foodie Vancouver heard he would be there and these people are insatiable AND earlybirds. As I trudged off to school at the crack of dawn, people were already lining up at the market to take a shot at convincing him as to why THEY deserve more than one basket of sungold tomatoes. By the time I made it to the market, around 1:30. he had packed up and left ~ sold out before 9am. This would end tragically if it weren't for foresight and a very sweet wonderful friend. Last night, I called Katie and told her about the tomato guy and asked her if she would mind terribly going in early and picking up some tomatoes for me. Despite the fact that she didn't actually have to be there till 11:30, she went down at 7:30 or 8:00 this morning and stood in line with all those ravenous tomatophiles. thanks to her, I can share this with you....

These tomatoes taste like tomatoes ought to. And the Sungolds are like candy, each little golden yellow ball bursting with sugary acidity. . I keep wandering past the bowl to pop another one in my mouth...
Dinner tonight was tomato heavy: Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad (the onion smuggled across the border in a parcel...) and Tomato and Bacon sandwhiches.. This is Rob's plate in the photo:

An essential ingredient of this meal was my Fleur de Sel... Tragedy struck.

That's right, no more Fleur De Sel!!! ANd I can't find that brand anywhere in the city............


We moved on to Spain today in International and I did remember my camera. However, Picasa is being stubborn and doesn't want to post all my photos so I get to do this a little bit at a time. To start, we made a citrus salad with crispy fried capers. This was so good, the sour sweet fruit pairing beautifully with the salty tang.

We served it with a very bruschetta-esque Tomato bread. Essentially baguette rubbed with garlic, sliced, toasted, drizzled with the caper oil rubbed with ripe tomato. I love this sort of food...

Those who know me well, know that I have a real weak spot for gazpacho. So I was very happy when I saw it in today's menu. It ended up not being my favourite version of gazpacho ever, but it was ok. Ours was very elegant and I like the peasanty, chunky soups.

The final course was also one of my favourite dishes ever (maybe I need to move to Spain...) PAELLA!! I got to make it in our group, and it turned out really well. i should have salted it a touch more and it would have been nice with some chorizo, but we didn't have that option...

After all the eating was done, I headed off to the common dish area to wash the plates. It kind of stinks in there and it is really disorganised. I finished running the dishes through the machine and went to empty the pre-rinse water-recycling sink. I lifted out the strainer basket and looked in. And promptly choked back a gag. There was a layer of mouldy scunge a quarter inch thick on the sides. And two inches of pinkish tinned sludge on the bottom. I can't even describe to you what it smelled like ~ everyone else had to leave, the smell was so intense. A smart person would have put everything back and pretended they saw nothing... No, I had to scrape and scrub the damn thing out, choking as I did. I felt sick for about an hour after leaving school today....