Saturday, August 9, 2008
On Saturday, B & I took the free ferry to Ikea from the Wall Street area, then walked over the Red Hook Ball Fields vendors, a collection of food carts serving all sorts of South American street food. The lines for the vendors were out of control, and the number of vendors (this year forced into trucks by the DOH) were easily split by half. While we established ourselves on the longest line for the huracha (sauteed meat or veg with veg, queso fresca, sauce) I wandered to another card and got a spectacular empinada stuffed with little cubes of beef, cheese, veggies, and spices. The corn on the cob had a perfect balance of mayo, lime, salt, grated cheese and grill flavor, something I wouldn't have appreciated before C-school.
BREAKFAST: 6am, smoothie, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Grapes, cherries, kiwi, blueberry, banana, good yogurt and milk, flax, dash of salt, dash of honey, dash of vanilla extract. DAMN!
AM SNACK: 10:15am, vegan snack bars, water, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Overly-sweet maple syrup bars after yoga in the park. B & the HVS were ga-ga over them, I guess because they were sugar bricks with some crunchy stuff thrown in, hrumph.
AM SNACK: 11:30pm, baby carrots and hummus, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Saving my appetite for the Red Hook vendors...
LUNCH: 1:30p, beef empinada, corn on the cob with dressing, pork huracha, 8oz lie drink, water, 2 bowls, hunger 4/5
PM SNACK: 2pm, chocolate ice cream cone, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
From a Mr. Softy in Red Hook. Not great, but hit the spot on a hot sunny day chasing spicy food.
DINNER SNACK: 8pm, handful of raw cashews
After napping for 3 hours, not that hungry but felt like eating something. Soon after, would be sleeping again.
BREAKFAST: 6:15am, good yogurt with cashews, honey, vanilla, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
AM SNACK: 7am, 2 donuts, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Donut Plant: some of the best damn donuts in the world, and they happen to be on my street. Got one big puffy chocolate, one small dense hazelnut. Good to get the legs started on a bike ride.
LUNCH: 10:30am, dry salami slices, carrots and celery, bad onion dip, watermelon, a few sesame pretzels, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Picked up some random groceries in Nyack and feasted at Rockland Lake. No, I didn't finish the dip, only about 1/4 of it. Pretzels are HVS-approved, and quite delicious.
PM SNACK: 12:30pm, 2 donuts, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
At a farm stand, freshly fried donuts, nice and crispy. Not as good as Donut Plant donuts, but they were fresh, free of preservative chemicals and the sugar kept me moving.
PM SNALACK: 3pm, large green salad with fresh tomato, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Might be going out to eat in a few hours, need to temper my potentially out-of-control appetite.
PM SNACK: 5pm, 5 sesame pretzels, water, .25 bowl, hunger 4/5
DINNER: 6:30pm, small green salad, cup of pea soup, meat stuffed derma, 1/2 a keilbasa, 3 perogies, 2 slices challah, water, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Dinner with Y at Veselka. I remember huge portions, but this was very normal, surprising for a 'deluxe meat combination'.
EVENING SNACK: 7:15, chocolate ice cream, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
EVENING SNACK: 8:15, hot dog with kraut, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Still hungry. We stopped in at Criffdog, surprised by how not very good it was.
EVENING WATERING: 9pm, quart of seltzer
This has nothing to do with food, but midway through my ride up into Rockland County, I came across this stop sign. Someone had taken the time to come up with the idea of painting "HAMMERTIME" on a stop sign? And made a stencil, bought spray paint, and chose this sign to paint on? As I was standing there, marveling and taking a picture, across the street (out of frame) ,a 100-car freight train went past at full speed. I waved to the conductor and he waved back. HAMMERTIME! It was a brilliant ride.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Today we met Chef G, who will be taking us through Module 4: pastry. Like Chef K, she sounds very Noo Yawk and has been with the school for well over a decade. She's in the process of opening up her own cooking school in Italy, so it's safe to assume she has something to teach us.
My nutritionist would be happy to know we were working with fruit today. However, my nutritionist would be horrified to see what we did to these poor, innocent fruits. Chef broke us into teams of three, and I lucked out and got to work with Dirty Kim and the Long Island Lolita. (Dirty Dave got stuck with a double whammy of the slightly passive Roundhead and the walking DOH violation known as Dora the Explorer.)
Early in Mod 1 we were introduced to herb, veg and fruit ID, so Chef K simply went over the methods of cooking we knew (fry, roast/broil, grill, poach, braise, saute) and threw in a couple of new ones that would be pastry-specific: dry, macerate and candy.
But first she showed us the proper way to peel and core apples and pears: With apples, one long turn around the belly of the fruit from top to bottom, with pears individual strokes from point to base. The purpose is to make the fruit as round as possible so when it's sliced and used in a dish, it's all purty-like. Coring was another revelation: cut in half, then take a mellon baller and take out the middle sides. With a paring knife cut thin wedges to get out the rest of the core. Up until this point, I've used a dumb round corer-device that took out a lot of fruit, this new way saves a lot of the usable flesh.
DK split up the tasks, but by the end I got my hands into most everything. Poached figs were straightforward. Destem the fresh figs, boil sugar in water to make a simple syrup, add a vanilla bean, some lemon pear, a mint sprig then turn out over the figs in a single layer. Let sit to room temp, then refrigerate. Poached figs, ick, old people food. My poppa would of gone gaga over them.
I also made roasted pears n' figs. Take 4 pears in peeled wedges, halved dried figgies, sugar, dark rum, fresh and ground ginger, salt, lemon zest and vanilla extract, toss in a pan to coat, and bake till fork tender. Again, old people food. Needs vanilla ice cream in a serious kind of way.
DK went about grilling pineapple. After cutting into the appropriate wedges, drizzle with olive oil, grill, then finish with a sprinkling of coriander, cinnamon and sugar. Shockingly delicious. LIL sliced some pears thinly on a mandolin in full rounds, boiled them gently in a simple syrup until they turned translucent, then cooled and dried them onto a silicone baking mat. In an over around 200 degrees for 45 minutes, they came out dry, crisp and sweet, like the sugary equivalent of potato chips.
DK also made some candied grapefruit rinds. Peel off the rinds, pith and all, cut into slices. Put in cold water, bring to a boil, drain -- repeat 4 more times. Once blanched off all bitterness, place in simple syrup and store till ready to use. All sorts of citrus rinds were candied today for use in upcoming lessons. LIL also made a retardedly simple strawberry salad, which was simply sliced strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar and some basil.
The purpose of today was to get us comfortable with some of the methods, so the food really wasn't finished dishes. Still, it looked nice and for the most part, tasted great. Freshly dried fruit is NOTHING like the funky smelling bags you get at hippy health food stores...
Come Monday, we are introduced to dough.
When B and I were at the supermarket picking up groceries, she said she wanted to get some "flash frozen chicken cutlets", so her mom could show her how to make them at some point. I said, ok, let's walk over to the meat section and then she flip flopped, changed her mind. Buying raw meat skeeved her out a little, but her diet requires her to eat 5 oz servings of lean meat, ideally chicken. Why flash frozen? Because that's what her mom uses. Cutlets? We can get a whole fresh chicken and I can make cutlets! Whatever! Why like your mom? I can saute a chicken boob, I can roast a chicken boob, I can deep/stir/pan fry a chicken boob, hell, I can braise the sh@t out of a chicken boob! As we walked over, I said fresh chicken will taste a lot better, and B insisted that chicken can't be frozen from fresh. But right there on the fresh chicken packaging, instructions how to refrigerate or freeze. He he he.
Thing is, up until school, I shared her fear of the raw (evil bacteria! will kill ya! fast!) meat -- it was ok to buy it cooked at the market or restaurant, but getting it raw was just a little beyond the pale. Maybe the lack of confidence around raw meat is why some of my generation go vegetarian at home but eat meat while out? At least when you buy it raw, you can select the organic, humanly-raised, non-drugged up kinds. My mom and dad would fill the freezer with chicken and beef whenever it would be on sale, and that stuff would go green and frost-bitten before we got around to eating it. I guess with all the discounts, it eventually evened out to the cost of just eating the non-discounted fresh meat quickly. I shall prep my wife's chicken boobies this weekend for her. I just hard-boiled some eggies for her this evening...
BREAKFAST: 6:30am, good granola with good milk, .75 bowl, hunger 3/5
AM TASTINGS: 10:30-11am, baked pears, dried pears and apples, grilled pineapple, whipped cream, a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
PM WATERING: 12:30pm, 1 quart still
LUNCH: 3pm, grilled shrimp and linguine, seltzer, 2 bowl, hunger 4/5
Take out from a grill restaurant, very cheap but a stupid large amount of pasta, didn't even finish it.
DINNER: 7:30pm, small salad with fresh tomato, 3 pieces shortbread with peanut butter, water, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Tired, gonna go to bed early on this light meal and have a (hopefully) physical weekend.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Fellow student Natasha gave me a card for a free smoothie from Jamba Juice, where he worked until recently. Having joined the smoothie-band wagon myself, thought I'd give it a try, especially with the green-tea "smoosie" I had at the Japanese demo the other day.
I got a "small" 16 ounce green tea smoothie. It had frozen yogurt, sorbet and soy milk in. When confronted with the 'free boost' conundrum, I randomly chose 'immunity'. The actual drink was mild, very sweet, and relatively tasty. The first sip was the tastiest, but as I got through 1/3 of it, it got sweeter and sweeter, and it tasted less and less of green tea and more and more of vanilla and a boring sweetness. It tasted more like an ice cream shake than a smoothie.
They had a book binder tied to the wall with all the nutritional info of every product, it took me a minute to find the green tea thing. My drink was 340 calories and SIXTY SEVEN grams of sugar....but no fat. They did not list the ingredients of the yogurt and sorbet, which is where all the sugar came in. My 'boost' was mostly ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and inulin - 500% of the daily recommended vitamin C.
BREAKFAST: 6:30am, smoothie, hunger 3/5, 1 bowl
PM SNACK/MEAL: 4pm, Jamba Juice green tea smoothie thing, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Ugg. At least it was free. It would of been an insult to pay for that crap.
PM SNACK: 6:15pm, 3 pieces shortbread, water, .25 bowl, hunger 4/5
I guess this will be my last homemade sweets for a while.
DINNER: 8pm, school-made pasta with wild boar ragu, water, 3 pieces of shortbread with good peanut butter, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
After a 15 minute lecture that covered the entire breadth and history of Japanese cooking, we took a quiz made up of true/false and multiple choice (-sigh-). Before class, rice was set up to drain a few times before it ran clear, then left in colanders to dry.
Sushi is not so much about cooking than preparation, and every group prepped the mise for a couple of different rolls -- maki, not actual sushi which is simply pieces of fish over tiny pillows of rice. Rolls involve the nori, pressed sheets of seaweed, and sliced into rounds.
Rice is the foundation. We cooked the rice in rice cookers. Ours started smoking, smelling like burned rubber, then started sparking and flaming out the bottom -- that was kinda cool, actually. Once the rice came out, it was put into big untreated cedar wood bowls, which I wiped down with a rice vinegar solution. As I poured a mixture of vinegar, sugar and salt over the rice and folded it an, Roundhead fanned the rice to cool it down and prevent it from steaming.
The group who were cutting up tuna gave us the unsquare scraps to make spicy tuna. The marinade's recipe was a list of ingredients, all to taste instead of measures: sesame oil, sesame seeds, mirin, tabasco, lemon juice, soy sauce. Mixed in with the finely diced tuna, it tasted nice after adjusting some of the flavors.
Assembling the rolls using all the ingredients teams made felt a bit unsatisfying, like we were all just playing at sushi instead of really making something special. Limited by what was around me to make something interesting, I made an inside-out roll and coated the surface with black sesame seeds, hence my specialty, the "Up Yer Butt" Roll -- it really looked like a mouse pooed all over it! Fneh!
Tomorrow, our end of module practical exam.
Was just not feeling it today -- the sushi chef who demoed yesterday took 10 years just to finish her training, and what she produced was intensely fine. What we produced, was almost as good as a cheap Japanese delivery in NYC. On top of that, I enjoy raw fish but really have to be in the mood for it -- seeing people like Dora handle the food just doesn't make for an appetite.
Made good of my afternoon, made salad and baked shortbread, prepped for tomorrow's practical, which gives the student more rope to hang themselves with. My friend C called on a whim with some hours to burn so she came over, had dinner together, vegged in front of the TV, then I tossed her on the back of the tandem to get to her next appointment. Glad I chilled out today.
BREAKFAST: 6:30am, good granola, good milk, .5 bowl, hunger 3/5
AM TASTINGS: 10-11am, marinated tuna, sushi rice, a few bites of rolls here and there, .5 bowl, hunger 3/5
PM SNACK: 1:30pm, 5 or 6 pieces of homemade shortbread, quarter of a pint of vanilla cashew-cream vegan gelato, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
To relax, I made shortbread: wholewheat pastry flour, organic powdered sugar, expensive and intense Irish butter, a dash of vanilla, a dash of sea salt. YUMMM! Was intending to eat the whole container of cashew gelato and a few bites of shortbread, but it was just too good.
DINNER: 6:30pm, large green salad simply dressed, 1.5 ears of boiled corn dressed with butter, Parmesan, lime, salt, pepper, 3.5 pieces of shortbread, small amount of vegan gelato, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Dinner with C at my house, very fun, inspired me to dress the corn cobs like the South Americans, not nearly as good, but I kinda understand what they're doing with balancing the acid, the sweet, the salty. I need to boil a bunch and go to town with different dressings.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
First, make the mousse. In the robo coupe goes chopped peeled and deveined shrimp, minced ginger, minced scallion, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg white and cornstarch. Blend it so it's a bit chunky. Fold in some minced minced water chestnuts. (Fresh water chestnuts are wonderfully mildly sweet and juicy, nothing like the canned junk you find in cheap Chinese food.)
Unfortunately, most of the dumplings used pre-made wrappers. Looking at the ingredients, there was some questionable ingredients -- yellow dye #6, sodium sulfate, etc.
The technique of making the dumpling was a bit tricky, but I imagine if I worked in a dumpling factory, I'd be able to do it fast in my sleep. Wet the wrapper, plop a spoonful of the mousse in the middle, fold pleats around to make into a little cup, open topped.
Before wacking them in a steamer, dipping sauce: cilantro, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soysauce, rice wine and roasted green chili (burnt on a burner just like in mod 1) all blended together in the robo coup.The metal steamer is lined with cabbag leaves to prevent the shumai from sticking, and covered with a bamboo cover. Once the mouse turns completely solid and slightly orange, they're done. They came out pretty damn good, and they disappeared before anyone could think of packing them up to take home.
Tomorrow, an end-of-mod quiz and a day of sushi.
Went to a demo of Japanese ingredients after class, there sure is a lot I don't know or even experienced. Learned a cool recipe for a (vegan) green-tea smoothie, though the Japanese chef referred to it as a "smoosie". (Based on the method, it would be pretty easy to make green tea ice cream and green tea soy ice cream....) Afterwards, went to yoga, watched people do all sorts of poses I couldn't dream of attempting. Made me hungry.
DINNER: 6:30pm, large green salad, school-made wild boar ragu with fresh pasta, a few scrapings of mint chip ice cream, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
EVENING SNACK: 7pm, slice of streetza, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Feeling hungry, from my local
EVENING DRINK: 8:30pm, 1 cup beer
On the concrete of Maclarren park in Greenpoint, or as my grand dad called it, "Greenpurnt". Alcohol is so overrated.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I was disappointed to find that we were only using pre-made noodles, mostly dried. I've read a bit about the intensity that goes into making this staple of the Asian diet, and though there are few and simple ingredients, the method and detail is anything but. Dirty Dave and I assembled the large mise for Pad Thai, then I went and did a Cold Soba Noodle with Dipping Sauce dish.
Pad Thai, when broken down, is a simple dish...until you taste it. It's basically broad nice noodles in sauce, garnished with a protein or two and a handful of vegetables and egg. First, soak the rice noodles in water for 20 minutes to soften to flexible. Mix the sauce: fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice and tamarind past. This, I found, is the key to the dish -- depending on your ratios here will determine the flavor and balance of the dish. All four of these components balance each other out: sweet, acid, salty, sour. Next, heat wok, drop in whisked egg with a little water, keep moving it to cook it all, remove and break up into little pieces. Add curry paste and oil to the wok, heat it, then saute proteins (in this case chopped chicken breast and whole shrimp), until just cooked then remove. Stir fry cabbage and carrots to tender, add noodles and the sauce you made. If more liquid is required, add stock. Fold in proteins, taste.
Our first try was way-limey. DD added a dash of fish sauce, and it came back into balance. However, now everything just tasted....strong. Weirdly overly sauced but still relatively dry. I guess we could of added more noodles to cut it, but we wanted to have enough to start again. Plated, sprinkled with ground up roasted peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges. On the second go around, DD used chili sauce instead of curry paste and while the heat was a little higher, the over all flavor was definitely more balanced.
Next up was the cold soba, which was a bit simple but healthy and delicious. The soba noodles are made out of buckwheat, and came in cute little round bands. Boiled for a few minutes to soft, then plunged into an ice bath to halt cooking. The dipping sauce was made up mostly of dashi, the stock base that we made on Friday for miso soup, but today was made from instant dashi -- just add water. A dash of mirin and soy sauce was added, and that was the sauce. Some wasabi paste was made from powder (again, just add water) and served on the side too. Nori (dried pressed sea weed) was cut up and used as a garnish. No salt was used in the boiling water, the dipping sauce delivered all you needed.
Tomorrow, we visit Dumplingville.
I listened to an interview with Michael Pollan on an NPR podcast today, promoting his "In Defense of Food" book. I kind of found his previous books annoying and overly personal (not unlike an, ahem, blog), but I have to admit, I want to read his new one anyway -- he addresses how the U.S.'s lack of established food culture has allowed scientists to drive us crazy with nutritional info -- how nutrition can be regarded as separate from foods by putting it in pill form, and how it never quite works. The whole drive to demonize fat in the 70s and 80s made people fatter -- in fact, how in our food culture there is always an urge to make some element good and able to cure everything, and another element wholly bad and causes all evil. I wonder, how will it all end? Will it ever shake out with established, proven facts about nutrition that fits most people?
Felt heavy from a crappy eating weekend. It was fun to eat slovenly and revisit some habits of old, but don't want to live there. Thank goodness ice cream and cookies aren't heroin! Scale surprisingly said 224 this morning, I was sure I was gaining...
BREAKFAST: 6:30am, 1 banana, hunger 4/5
AM TASTINGS: 10:30am, small plate of pad thai, bite of sesame noodles, bite of beef and broccoli with fried noodles, bite of cold soba noodles, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
PM SNACK: 12:30pm, small amount of organic sports drink chasing a pint of water, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Thirsty when I got home, sport drink looked appealing, but cut the desire with swigging water first.
DINNER: 5pm, large green salad with vinegar and oil, school beef & broc, school pad thai, small amount of almond ice cream, water, 1.75 bowl, hunger 4/5
Betsy left an empty bowl in the freezer, with some smudges of ice cream on the edges.
EVENING TASTINGS: 7-9pm, equivalent of 1 glass of wine, one bread roll, a little bit of cheese, water, .25 bowl, hunger 3/5
First of 6 sessions of wine tasting with B. Laid out 7 glasses with about 1/3 of a glass each, only had a couple of snorts from each, except the final port, which was surprisingly mildly sweet and musky, like raisins and leather. He he he. I said raisins and leather.
EVENING SNACK: 10pm, peanut butter and wholegrain crackers, water, .25 bowl, hunger 4/5
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Went to the movies on Sunday afternoon with D & Cousin I. Waiting on line for a cherry slurpy, and while I waited noticed they had posted in a tiny font the calorie values of every item on the menu. I was intending to get a medium slurpee: 700 calories!!! A small, 550!! 700 is like 1/3 of what I need a day, and I wasn't planning to skip a meal to fit this crap in....and I wasn't even that hungry anyway, just thirsty....
BREAKFAST: 8am, 1 banana, 2 ramekins of almond ice cream, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Remembering how much I hate wedding food, gorged on ice cream to damp my appetite -- just too tired & lazy to cook or prepare anything. No left over pizza from last night, which sucks but in the scheme of things is a good thing, right?
AM SNACK: 9:45am, chocolate chip cookie, .75 bowl, hunger 4/5
On a sugar kick, feeling a bit on edge about spending the day at a wedding.
LUNCH: 12pm, Italian antipasto, weird industrial Chinese food, seltzer, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Wedding reception food, funny how weddings serve an all-you-can-eat buffet BEFORE you sit down for a meal.
LUNCH 2: 2pm, filet mignon with brown sauce, potatoes and cooked veg, vegetarian ravioli, small amount of chocolate, bite of wedding cake, water, 1 bowl, hunger 3/5
Filet mignon sounds fancy, and it is tender, but it just doesn't taste like much. Funny how I noticed when B's chicken came out, the presentation was upside down, with the sauce away from her and the bone pointing towards her.
DINNER: 8pm, sausage and polenta, .5 bowl, hunger 3/5
School-made outta the freezer -- freezer fishing is a lot more fun since going to c-school.
BREAKFAST: 8:30am, good granola with good milk, .75 bowl, hunger 4/5
AM SNACK: 10:30am, almond ice cream, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5
BRUNCH: 12:30pm, dim sum, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
DINNER: 7:30pm, homemade pizza, seltzer, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5