Posts filed under ‘Side Dishes’

Mashed Parsnips w/ Cucumber Oolong Tea

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Everyone who knows me, knows that I love to explore New York one bite at a time.  Today after a vigorous work out at the gym, I was able to resist a donut from The Doughnut Plant located in the Lower East Side.  Their donuts are truly amazing.  Still nothing beats Krispy Kreme’s glazed donuts coming fresh off the conveyor belt, but these do come in second best.  I opted for the iced organic coffee.  There was a hint of chickory flavor in the coffee, which made it have a nice depth of flavor.  Being a competitor amongst co-workers on a 2 month long fitness challenge, I have so far lost a couple of pounds.  I was surprised only because honestly, I haven’t been really been trying.  The winner who loses the most weight will receive a cash prize.  My ideal weight is to drop down one pant size.  The last time I was a size 8 was in high school.  My only concern with the weight loss challenge is that I have more muscle than some of my competitors, which means even though I might be down one pant size, I don’t think the number in pounds will be as dramatic for me.  The last time we weighed in, my female cometitors were either 10 pounds heavier than I was or they were 20 pounds lighter, but they were also 2 or 3 pant sizes bigger.  Crazy how measurements work.  We’ll see how this competition pans out.

On another note, I wanted to write about my recent revelation in regards to going to cooking school.  For years, I’ve always told everyone my main fear about being a chef.  It was that I didn’t want to get tired of doing what I love.  The fear was that if I didn’t want to cook at home because I cooked as a profession, would be the end of the world.  And although, I overcame this fear not too long ago, David Chang confirmed that it was okay to not have the urge to cook at home because it was a profession.   In the New York Times article, he talked about not wanting do anything on his days off, which means ordering take out and catching up on sports.  I realized David and I are a lot alike.  I don’t know what I would say if I ever ran into him except, “Hey, I think you’re the male version of me”.

This week’s recipes come from a blog that I subscribed to awhile back and unfortunately, can’t seem to find it among 50 other food blogs I read on a weekly basis.  If I find it at some point, I’ll be sure to link it to this entry.  I’ve always wondered what parsnips tasted like, so I figured this recipe was a great way to celebrate all its flavors and to incorporate into the the fitness challenge.  There are some recipes that combine potatos which I’m sure is a great addition.  The cucumber oolong tea came from being inspired at various spas that serve chilled cucumber water.  By far, this has got to be the most light and refreshing drinks for the summer.

Mashed Parsnips

Ingredients:

6 parsnips

pot of water

salt

1 tbs butter

Peel and dice parsnips into 1 inch chunks.  Boil in water for at least minutes or until tender.  Drain well.  Mash parsnips with butter and salt to taste.

Cucumber Oolong Tea

Cut hot house cucumbers into thin slices.  Brew oolong tea and wait until cooled.  Add ice and a couple slices of cucumber into chilled drink.

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August 9, 2009 at 6:10 PM 3 comments

Asian Greek Pasta

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In continuation of my last entry, and careful consideration after touring each culinary facility, I have decided to apply to the French Culinary Institute.  It’s a 9 month evening program consisting of M/W/F classes starting in mid-November.  It’s official in a sense that I’ve already received the nod of approval from my manager at the office.  I’ll have to leave the office early those three days at 5pm.  Everyone seems to be really supportive, which makes me appreciate the team I work with on a daily basis.
FCI seem to be extremely organized in the adminission process and have an amazing support system.  Once you become a student, you have access to their resources for life.  The career services center has been really helpful and available for me whenever I needed them.  The tour lasted approximately 2 hours strolling along between their portait filled walls of celebrity chef alumni such as Momofuku’s David Chang, WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason, Food Network’s Bobby Flay, and program directors Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres (just to name a few). I had a chance to sample some of the best morsal of chocolate/carmel/nut goodness I’ve ever had in my life.  And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than the loads of baguettes I’ve smuggled home from LA (long story).  We peaked into the bakery where some of the students who came in at 2am would start creating one of the best baguettes I’ve ever bit into.  It was moist and airy inside with a nice crackly crust on the outside.  That said, I was thorougly impressed.  The resources that FCI has to offer are astonishing.  The fact that they offer an online account for students to contact the above mentioned chefs (and then some) directly via personal email, is priceless.
And although I was sold at FCI, I still did not want to sell myself short of other possibilities.  FCI’s immediate competitor would have to be The Institute of Culinary Education, who recently won an IACP award for best culinary program in 2008.  Both schools have had plenty of recognition and awards so I’m not worried about FCI’s credentials in the least.  To sum up the brief tour (all of 15 minutes) for all four floors, I was not impressed.  Yes, their tuition is approximately $12,000 less, but I’ve decided to not go the less expensive approach in life this time.  I’ve learned in the past – “you get what you pay for”.  The tour guide was quick and unapproachable, which meant, he just wanted to get it over with and not have to answer any redundant questions.  There was no free baguette nor chocolate sample in hand, but a folder packed with tuition/loan information.  He was not thorough in explaining the programs and opportunities the school had to offer.  I was also not comfortable with a couple of questions in their application.  It asked, “How long have you been thinking about a culinary career?”, and “How serious are you about attending culinary school?”.  Is the latter question used for gauging how serious they should take their potential students or how much of an effort they should put into a tour?
What is it that I want to achieve after culinary school you ask?  Well, I would love to get my hands on food styling for various forms of media (movies, TV, periodicals, etc.) or work in a test kitchen for Cook’s Illustrated.  I would prefer not to work in a restaurant, but it may become a possibility if the experience is needed in order build my portfolio for a private chef  career.  I also wouldn’t mind being a chef instructor either.  Oh the possibilities are endless!  Perhaps in a couple of years, I’d also like to take a few courses at the International Center of Photography to perfect my passion for food photography. Here’s another success story of an FCI alumni I just happen to run into online while browsing the Yelp website [http://www.yelp.com/biz/yum-yum-chefs-brooklyn]:   http://www.yumyumchefs.com/chefs/vanessa_cantave.html.  For now though, I’m going to see where my interests lie as the classes progress.
When it comes to establishing a reputation in the culinary world, there seems to be a sense of comraderie amongst food lovers/chefs that I just absolutely love.  Yes, it is a competitive field, but what isn’t competitive in New York?  Just the lifestyle in New York is competitive.  I think I just might have this one in the bag, folks.  All of this is starting to sound all too familiar.  :)[http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/julieandjulia/].
My recipe for this week calls for a quick-fix after a long day at work and wanting to put a few ingredients together from the fridge/pantry in about half an hour.
Ingredients:
1 pkg of whole wheat penne pasta (boiled/drained)
1 broccoli spear (blanched 1/2 inch chunks of flowers/stems)
1/2 feta cheese
1/2 sliced yellow onion
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbs  soy sauce
1 tbs vegetable oil
Directions:
Cook onion until translucent.  Add cooked pasta and broccoli.  Then pour in all seasonings while stiring on high heat.  Let pasta brown a bit until a bit crispy.  Remove from heat and stir in feta cheese crumbles.

In continuation of my last entry, and careful consideration after touring each culinary facility, I have decided to apply to the French Culinary Institute.  It’s a 9 month evening program consisting of M/W/F classes starting in mid-November.  It’s official in a sense that I’ve already received the nod of approval from my manager at the office.  I’ll have to leave the office early those three days at 5pm.  Everyone seems to be really supportive, which makes me appreciate the team I work with on a daily basis.

FCI seems to be extremely organized in the adminission process and has an amazing support system.  Once you become a student, you have access to their resources for life.  The career services center has been really helpful and available to me whenever I need them.  The tour lasted approximately 2 hours strolling along between their portait filled walls of celebrity chef alumni such as Momofuku’s David Chang, WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason, Food Network’s Bobby Flay, and culinary/pastry program directors Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres (just to name a few). I had a chance to sample some of the best morsals of chocolate/carmel/nut goodness I’ve ever had in my life.  And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than the loads of baguettes I’ve smuggled home from LA (long story), we peaked into the bakery where some of the students who came in at 2am would start creating one of the best baguettes I’ve ever bit into.  It was moist and airy inside with a nice crackly crust.  That said, I was thorougly impressed.  The resources that FCI has to offer are astonishing.  The fact that they offer an online account for students to contact the above mentioned chefs (and then some) directly via personal email, is priceless.

And although I was sold at FCI, I still did not want to sell myself short of other possibilities.  FCI’s immediate competitor would have to be The Institute of Culinary Education, who recently won an IACP award for best culinary program in 2008.  Both schools have had plenty of recognition and awards so I’m not worried about FCI’s credentials in the least.  To sum up the brief tour (all of 15 minutes) for all four floors, I was not impressed.  Yes, their tuition is approximately $12,000 less, but I’ve decided to not go the less expensive approach in life this time.  I’ve learned in the past – “you get what you pay for”.  The tour guide was quick and unapproachable, which meant, he just wanted to get it over with and not have to answer any redundant questions.  There was no free baguette nor chocolate sample in hand, but a folder packed with tuition/loan information.  He was not thorough in explaining the programs and opportunities the school had to offer.  I was also not comfortable with a couple of questions in their application.  It asked, “How long have you been thinking about a culinary career?”, and “How serious are you about attending culinary school?”.  Is the latter question used for gauging how serious they should take their potential students or how much of an effort they should put into a tour?

What is it that I want to achieve after culinary school you ask?  Well, I would love to get my hands on food styling for various forms of media (movies, TV, periodicals, etc.) or work in a test kitchen for Cook’s Illustrated.  I would prefer not to work in a restaurant, but it may become a possibility if the experience is needed in order build my portfolio for a private chef  career.  I also wouldn’t mind being a chef instructor.  Oh the possibilities are endless!  Perhaps in a couple of years, I’d also like to take a few courses at the International Center of Photography to perfect my passion for food photography. Here’s another success story of an FCI alumni I just happen to run into online while browsing the Yelp website:   YumYumChefs.  For now though, I’m going to see where my interests lie as the classes progress.

When it comes to establishing a reputation in the culinary world, there seems to be a sense of comraderie amongst food lovers/chefs that I just absolutely love.  Yes, it is a competitive field, but what isn’t competitive in New York?  Just the lifestyle in New York is competitive.  I think I just might have this one in the bag, folks.  All of this is starting to sound all too familiar.  🙂

My recipe for this week calls for a quick-fix after a long day at work and wanting to put a few ingredients together from the fridge/pantry in about half an hour.

Ingredients:

1 pkg of whole wheat penne pasta (boiled/drained)

1 broccoli spear (blanched 1/2 inch chunks of flowers/stems)

1/2 feta cheese

1/2 sliced yellow onion

1 tbs garlic powder

1 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tbs  soy sauce

1 tbs vegetable oil

Directions:

Cook onion until translucent.  Add cooked pasta and broccoli.  Then pour in all seasonings while stiring on high heat.  Let pasta brown a bit until a bit crispy.  Remove from heat and stir in feta cheese crumbles.

July 23, 2009 at 6:27 PM 3 comments

Spring Salad Mix

 

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My best friend was having brunch at her place in Brooklyn  Saturday morning and I agreed to bring something healthy to balance out the meat and carbs (Ashley’s succulent baked chicken wings, Kristen’s “crack” mashed potatoes, and Cresha’s flaky, yet moist biscuits, nicely browned sausage links, and bad ass mimosas) we were about to inhale before hitting the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.    

I was at my favorite grocery destination in the Lower East Side (The Essex Street Market) the night before and discovered ricotta salata in the dairy case.  In addition to this mysterious block of cheese, I also bought endive and bibb lettuce.  I already had a bag of baby spinach in the fridge at home so I thought how refreshing it would be to create my own “mixed greens”.  I also had an heirloom tomato and a bottle of ready-made dressing at home in order to create the perfect salad.  

The Food Network peaked my interest after watching a couple of shows that incorporated ricotta salata, but I hesitated at first since there was a presumption of having a sharp cheese flavor.  It turned out to be pleasantly mild however, with a feta-like texture.  

Candied walnuts or pecans are a great addition to the recipe below.  Any mild flavored ingredient such as beets would work great with a salad that contains ricotta salata.  Anything pungent such as sliced red onions or green olives may overpower the subtleties of the dish.  

Ingredients:

1 head bibb lettuce

1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata

1 medium ripe vine or heirloom tomato (4 wedges)

Handful baby spinach

1/2 head endive (sliced)

Freshly ground black pepper

Favorite dressing – mine happens to be Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar

 

Directions:  

Toss various salad greens with dressing and add tomato wedges and ricotta salata.  Grind fresh black pepper to taste.

May 3, 2009 at 5:23 PM Leave a comment

Asian Pasta Salad

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Just like everyone, I’m always looking for new and inspiring ways to jazz up my lunch for the work week.  There are so many salads and sandwiches one can eat until you are blue in the face.  There are two things I look forward to in an overall satifying lunch: flavor and texture.  I wanted something fresh and crispy, yet full of life that encapsulates aromatic flavors seeped into every bite.  I wanted to make something different…something McDonald’s, the cafeteria, nor the deli can offer.  Then, all of a sudden, I was sparked with the idea of making an Asian themed salad!  I started to jot down the key components for what would be an ideal Asian pasta salad.  It turned out to be incredibly easy and the best part?  It does not need re-heating.

This recipe, would in turn, make a great dish for a picnic outing with friends or perhaps a day at the beach.  

Dressing ingredients: 

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

 

Other ingredients:

1/2 box any veriety of spaghetti pasta

1/4 lb snow peas

1 cup shredded carrots

 

Directions:

Bring pasta to a boil with salted water.  In the meantime, cut snow peas length wise into strips and shred carrots.  Set aside in a bowl.  Whisk all dressing ingredients together.  Once the pasta is al dente, drain with cold running water.  This helps the noodles to cool down quickly and not stick to one another after drained.  After the dressing has been well incorporated, add to pasta along with carrots, and snow peas into a large mixing bowl.  Toss together by using tongs.  Ready to eat immediately and best at room temperature.  

Options:

Can be topped with crushed toasted peanuts or sesame seeds. Also, great when coupled with grilled chicken or salmon. 

Other veggie substitutes can be: asparagus spears, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, sprouts, or shredded napa cabbage. Chopped cilantro or basil would be a great garnishment as well.

April 4, 2009 at 11:29 PM 5 comments


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