Last Monday, Lola (grandmother) and all went to a book signing on the eastside for Beginnings, a book by Chris Cosentino. Chef Chris operates a couple of restaurants in San Francisco and is the most recent winner of Top Chef Masters. His cuisine takes advantage of the pig from nose to tail and offal. He was very animated and passionate. As I was watching his demo for savoy cabbage, chanterelles and ricotta salata salad, my younglings come trampling in. They darted directly to the front. Ben, my youngest, naturally started to blurt his thoughts. Chef Chris racked up the cool points by engaging Ben. Even though my kids are well fed, they were so intrigued by the food and couldn’t help hovering over the plated samples. I was a very proud parent that evening. They were the only kids at the signing, well behaved, and they ate the salad!
My very first “Roman Fried Artichoke” experience was from Bar Del Corso in Beacon Hill about one year ago. This dish was a pleasant surprise because it uses fresh artichokes rather than ones from a jar I was used to. Eating fried artichokes is reminiscent of potato chips; crispy and salty, but lighter. Unlike the potato, a fabulous tuber don’t get me wrong, but the artichoke has much more to give. The crispy artichoke leaves surround the toothsome morsel known as the artichoke heart. Yes, a 2 for 1. Fried cynara cardunculus, I heart you. When preparing this dish, these baby chokes are treated in a similar fashion as frying potato chips. Tear the outer leaves until you get to the tender ones. Blanch them in oil at 325F,then fry at 375F, and season with Kosher salt. Expect a beautiful bronze color, enjoy!
Note: adding a creamy aioli and a twist of lemon will make this appetizer or side even more unforgettable.
Please check the Create My Tomorrow website out. Please click on the 4th picture titled
“Inspired Seafood Salad”.
The most fulfilling volunteer experience I have had is coaching the St. George elementary volleyball girls for the past three years. Regardless of whether we won the Championships this year, the girls have always been winners and a success in my eyes. They are my heroes, because they are always willing to try new volleyball techniques, and never give up whenever I push them. I’ve been fortunate to watch them grow maturity and game wise. We were very close to winning last year, but lost in the playoffs. We won the championships because our team has courage and bravery beyond their years. From experience, playing in high pressure situations, is not a very fun place to be, but they pushed on through. I’m very excited for these girls, because they have a bright future ahead of them. They were so tiny when I met them for the first time, and some girls could barely serve over the net. It makes me chuckle. I’m so proud to be able to have been called coach by the girls. Thank you for enriching my life in ways I can’t even explain.
Lastly, I can’t help but think about Jan Kirk, a volleyball legend in the Puget Sound. She was my coaching mentor, I was on her coaching staff at Fife High School many many moons ago. Jan won tons of championships, I was fortunate to partake in a win of one of the many. She ran a tight program, but the most valuable thing I learned from coaching with Jan, was teaching the team how to aim high and to go beyond their expectations. A virtue that can be applied in so many avenues of our life. Good luck girls and I wish you much success in high school!
Hello, friends. Much has transpired since my portfolio review at school. To bring you up to speed, my second culinary degree in Baking & Pastry are now in the bag. I’m also working at a very, very nice hotel in downtown Seattle on 1st Avenue.
My portfolio review was a success. Much thanks to my loyal classmates BB & Micuel for assisting me with prep and replenishment of food from my booth. The English concept went well, and I ended up interviewing with a couple of employers from the review. The Bacon Butty and Lamb & Beef Pasty were popular items. My bread for the butty was really fresh due to being baked the same day, and the crust for my pasty was deliciously crusty. If you haven’t made a pastry crust with beef suet, I highly recommend it. Your crust will be super crisp with a rich mouth feel.
The best thing I ever did at school was take advantage of all the volunteering opportunities at school. Yes, it’s free work, but it’a a great way to build confidence, network, and get noticed for your hard work. If you are starting your culinary education or are in the midst of one, the best piece of advice I can give you is to check your attitude and constantly humble yourself. This is needed in situations such as taking out the garbage (the vileness is incomparable to household garbage), getting on all fours to scrape a crappy paint job off the floor, and clearing out the walk-in refrigderator by sniffing out whether product is useable to name a few. All character builders, trust me.
My college career has been bittersweet with many sacrifices along the way. It’s been like a volleyball game with a long rally, but ignoring the fatigue and fear of losing… just to get that final, glorious point. Out of the four years of higher education, the captain was away for two years. At one point, correction a couple of points, I was working full-time along with rearing the younglings. There were times when I questioned whether going to school was best for my family, and I can honestly say I’m glad I pushed forward and carried on. Everything worked out. Thank goodness! There were so many people who supported and believed in me. Much thanks to my friends, family, faculty at The Art Institute of Seattle, co-workers and chefs that have guided and inspired me. A special thanks to Harrison & Ben for making me smile and appreciating the simple things in life. Now on to the next adventure…
February and March offer great holidays such as Valentine’s, President’s, and St. Patrick’s Day. However, these months are special because it is when my children entered my life. Ben was born in February and Harrison in March. My thoughts on motherhood, prior to having children were completely blown away. Sorry to announce, it was much tougher than I expected and the sleep deprivation is unexplainable. However, the rewards of being a mother outweigh everything else. A friend asked me, “What made you want to have kids?” Before kids I wouldn’t have been able to explain it. Today, I would say, it’s the deep connection I have with them. The love I feel between my children is unlike anything I have shared with anyone else before. Who cares, Jan. What does motherhood have to do with your food blog? Well, my blog is heavily impacted by my kids. The meals I cook at home are driven by their requests. They drive me to do better and inspire me on a daily basis. I learn from them everyday and they make me smile.
Ben is my tiny dancer. He will spontaneously dance even when there is no music and loves to make silly noises. Harrison is my perfectionist and is silently trying to be the best at everything. A slight over achiever, just like his mom. Even at a young age children give great advice. It may be simple, but oh so true. My favorite is, “just be nice.” If I could, I would spend every second with the boys and watch them interact. Harrison and Ben remind me of two old men sometimes, because of the way they bicker, but eventually get along.
My favorite part of school was being able to bring in goodies for my class during my birthdays, so I really get into it when their special day comes around. Benny brought mini chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. Harrison brought chocolate covered strawberries. Their personalities are very different. Ben chose to stay in for his day and eat pasta. Harrison requested Red Lobster, and ordered two items off the kids menu and put everything away. We had to drive all the way to Lynwood for his request. Darn TV commercials. Here’s to February & March.
I spoke with Danielle today, she heads the promotion of this search. Good luck!
So, I have put a big dent into my business plan and have finalized the logistics of my big portfolio day. I am excited to share with you a rough draft of my tasting menu:
Supposedly, I am only allowed to invite a total of ten people. Minus my family, that means I only have two tickets left. If you would like to taste my food and check out my booth just leave me a comment. The Portfolio Review takes place on March 22, 2012 @12PM. Hope to see you there!
March is a big month. School will be completely out of my sight. Unless, I decide to purse my MBA. That’s a crazy thought! A whole hearted job search will begin. Volleyball games and practices will be in full swing. We are 1-0, and are only 4 games away from being in the playoffs. I’m throwing a dual birthday party for the boys in two weeks. Their birthdays are four days apart. Phew! My children are growing way too fast. After six months of rehabilitating my 2nd ACL, I will be able to play volleyball & go back to dancing at the end of the month. Lastly, my younger brother will be arriving today from Hawaii, and we will be able to do some considerable catching up. March will be just like any other month. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. If you can guess this reference you are the lucky winner of being my taste tester for my portfolio menu. End of rant.
Goodbye February, welcome March. I’m already fantisizing about the great spring ingredients to come my way.
Jan Z. Parker
Hello, readers. This month has been a doozy. It’s like the fast forward button on the VHS got stuck. Slow down, I want to relish this month of love. Most of my time has been filled with scholarly activity for my last and final quarter. My final project is creating a restaurant from start to finish. What does this entail? Well I have to create a business plan, budget, menu, create the space, make sure there is sufficient staff, equipment, and so on and so on. Things a kitchen professional would have to deal with in a real restaurant. My concept is inspired by England and the name of my restaurant is The Abbey. A booth and scrumptious appetizers are required for prospective employers to decide whether or not one is worthy. No pressure at all. I’m still attending my artisanal bread class and advance baking and pastry class as well. In addition to my major project, I have to create a fabulous three tiered cake for my final in pastry class. My cake is going to have lace made from sugar and double as a receptacle for my scones for The Abbey booth. The focal point will be an abbey made of nougatine. Nougatine is caramel mixed with almonds. It’s no fun to work with when it cools.
Mid-February, another season of volleyball started for the 8th grade girls I’ve been coaching for two years. Sadly, they will be moving on to high school after this season. Aside from what I’ve mentioned, it’s business as usual with the younglings and volunteering at their school. I’ve decided to wait until March to pursue my new career, so I can have more breathing room.
If this sounds very busy, it is, but I feel lucky to be able to do what I do. This is a great segue into my latest.
Make something great out of a piece of fruit that has gone south. A great example is this asian pear. This pear has over ripened, but is so perfect for my rendition of the Korean staple bulgogi.
Woks are supposed to look dirty, don’t wash your wok, it will take the seasoning away. It would be like giving a human a lobotomy and wiping their memory away. If you start with a new wok, you will notice how the age of the wok will affect the flavor of your food.