GBD Goodness!

Week 12 is here! I completed my final culinary assignment in my Culinary Foundations course. It was bittersweet. I can’t believe how quickly 12 weeks went. I’m grateful to my chef instructors for their valuable and constructive feedback. I’ve gained so much knowledge over the last three-and-a-half months. Next week, I begin a new culinary course on Culinary and Patisserie. I’m excited to keep learning! Thank you for joining me on this escapade.

I made deep-fried chicken legs and onion rings. I had a deep fryer that I used once many years ago. I was excited to utilize it again. However, that plan failed. Turns out, the deep fryer no longer worked. Bummer! Onto plan B- deep-frying in a pot. I monitored the temperature of the (canola) oil with a candy thermometer. The temperature needed to be between 325º and 350ºF.

350 on the nose!

I made the chicken first. Set up the breading station with seasoned flour, egg wash and milk, and coating flour- in this order.

After the chicken is coated, they’re ready to be submerged into the hot oil. After about 10-15 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot, drain excess oil on a paper towel, and check the temperature of the chicken to make sure it is mininum 165ºF (temperature doneness for poultry).

Look at this golden brown deliciousness [GBD (minus the “-ness”)]! Wow! Glorious! When I took a bite of this, it brought me back to when my late grand-aunt made her famous fried chicken. It tasted very similar to hers. Wonderful memories…

Ingredients for fried chicken:

  • Chicken legs (bone-in thighs are ok, too)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs
  • Milk (1 c. per egg)
  • Canola oil

Moving onto the onion rings. This involves making a batter before we dip them into the hot oil.

Ingredients for the batter:

  • Egg yolk (beaten)
  • Club soda or beer (I used beer)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg whites (whipped and folded into the batter)

After the batter is made, the onions are ready to be dredged in plain flour before they’re dipped in the batter. The temperature of the oil should be 350ºF. Slowly dip a few battered onions into the pot at a time to avoid overcrowding the pot.

Once they’re golden brown, remove them from the pot and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Note, the onion rings won’t be as golden brown as the chicken because of the whipped egg whites.

I loved that the batter on these onion rings were light, airy, and fluffy. You could taste equal parts of the beer batter and the onions.

Ingredients for onion rings:

  • Large white or yellow onions (cut into 1/4 or 1/2″ slices) (one large onion makes A LOT of rings!)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Egg yolk
  • Egg whites (whipped and folded into the batter)
  • Club soda or beer (4 fl. oz.)
  • Baking powder (1/2 tsp.)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Canola oil

Stay tuned next week as we continue this extraordinary culinary journey. Thanks for reading!

FS x

You’re Grillin’ Me!

I’m nearing the end of my first culinary foundations course. This is our final week. It’s bittersweet. It’s been a wonderful experience thus far. Twelve weeks surely flew by quickly. I can’t wait to learn more.

The technique we learned this week was grilling. I grilled chicken breasts and asparagus. I also made hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise sauce is the second of five mother sauces we learned to make in this course. The first was tomato sauce which I made seven weeks ago with fresh pasta.

I had many options to grill my dishes: a grill pan (made on the stove-top), charcoal grill, propane gas grill, or the broil feature in my oven. I decided to utilize an unused griddler that has been sitting in a box for years. It took a little longer than expected to cook/grill, but they turned out well in the end. Phew! I can’t wait to use the griddler again to make paninis.

I was so nervous to make the hollandaise sauce. This sauce is similar to the beurre blanc and pan sauce I made a few weeks ago. It’s another glorious sauce made with butter. Like the other two sauces, hollandaise needs to be tended to at all times, or else the sauce will break. Thank goodness, that didn’t happen. Hollandaise sauce is made with eggs, along with water, lemon juice, unsalted butter, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. It’s important that the eggs are not scrambled during the “ribbon-making” process (whisking vigorously), which is done over a double boiler. If this happens, the procedure needs to be restarted. The butter needs to be clarified, which will be added/whisked a little at a time after the eggs are whisked to a ribbon-like texture. Clarified butter means that butter is melted and the milk solids and water are removed, leaving only the butterfat, aka, “liquid gold.” Hollandaise sauce is famously paired with eggs benedict and asparagus. It can also be drizzled over meat. Yum!

Next week, we conclude with deep-drying. Eeeek! Frying anything with oil is not my favorite, but BRING IT ON!

Peace!

FS x

Braised chicken & risotto

Yesterday, marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. I remember that day… I was in high school. I remember being woken up by my family. I was informed about a terrorist attack New York. I didn’t know about the other attacks in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon yet. I got ready for school and joined my dad in the dining room, where he was finishing his breakfast and watching the news. Watching the clips of the attack felt surreal, as if I was watching a movie. I couldn’t believe what had happened. That morning, traffic was extra heavy going to school. What usually took 30 minutes with traffic, took almost three times as long that day. My first class was Japanese. Before class began, we had a moment of silence. That day changed our world. It changed the way we traveled. It changed a lot of things. Let’s take a moment to reflect…

This week, we learned to braise a protein. I braised chicken thighs. Braising is similar to slow-cooking, but without using the slow-cooker (i.e., Crock Pot). Speaking of Crock Pot really quickly… I love it! It’s so convenient and simple. My dad sometimes makes roast pork in my mom’s Crock Pot. It’s so delicious! The meat is tender and juicy. Ooh! Making my mouth water! Anyway, back to braising. Braising is done using wet and dry heat. First, the protein is seared in a pot on the stove-top. After it’s golden brown, it’s taken out. In that same pot, the sauce is made. Onions are sautéed with canola or vegetable oil. Next, a roux is created by adding all-purpose flour. This will thicken the sauce. Then, tomato purée or paste and chicken stock are added and mixed thoroughly. Finally, aromatics: bay leaves and thyme. Salt and pepper can be added at this point as well. Voilà! There’s the sauce! The chicken is put back into the pot with the sauce, covered with a lid, and put into a 325ºF oven until the meat is tender (approximately between 60-90 minutes).

While the chicken was baking in the oven, I made risotto. Ah! Another rice dish cooked on the stove. I mentioned in a previous blog post that I made rice pilaf in July. I made it on the stove-top and then finished it in the oven. I had to make that dish twice because the first attempt was very mushy. I’m so used to using the rice cooker to make rice. It’s so easy and convenient. But, before there were rice cookers, people made rice on the stove. My grandma and her children grew up cooking rice on the stove. While there are challenges making rice on the stove, I know there’s a purpose to why these particular dishes are made on the stove-top, compared to in a rice cooker.

I was nervous to make the risotto. Risotto may look like overcooked rice, but it isn’t. The short grains of the rice give it that starchy texture and look. Long grain rice is not recommended for risotto. One can overcook the dish if left on the stove for too long. I watched a recorded demo of the chef instructor while making my risotto at the same time. To my dismay, it came out mushy. Shucks! It tasted good, but it didn’t look entirely appetizing. In some ways, the first attempt’s risotto reminded me of grits. The second endeavor was a lot better. The grains were in-tact. Yay!

Making risotto is time-consuming. Each venture took between 45-60 minutes to make. Risotto is a dish that requires constant attention. A chef instructor called it “babysitting.” Once left unattended, even for a couple minutes, the rice will start sticking to the bottom of the pot and can burn. I don’t think it would be pleasant eating burnt risotto. Be prepared to constantly stir the pot of rice for a long amount of time. Also, the creaminess of the risotto comes from adding the hot chicken stock to cook the rice. NOT milk or cream! Another chef instructor called that “cheating!” Haha! Butter and fresh Parmesan cheese are added at the very end and make it more creamy.

Have a splendid week as we head into mid-September. Golly! Before we know it, Christmas will be here again. I’m starting to feel in that holiday mood again.

Take care,

FS x

Sauté safely & try not to get splattered with hot oil!

Happy Labor Day weekend! For those of you who have Monday off, I hope everyone is relaxing and enjoying the long weekend, while keeping safe from this nutty pandemic.

We learned about sautéing this week. First, heat the pan with a thin film of oil. Recommended oils to use to create that “smoke point” in the pan before sautéing your ingredient to the pan are vegetable, canola, grapeseed, and avocado. It is not recommended to use olive oil because it has a low smoke point. The goal of sautéing is to get the food you are cooking to become golden brown. Our chef instructors spoke about an acronym called “GBD,” which equates to “golden brown delicious.” I love that! Our assignment was to sauté chicken breast and zucchini.

I have to admit, sautéing is not my favorite style of cooking. I tried to avoid getting splattered with hot oil once I added my chicken and zucchini (cut bâtonette style) into the oiled pan. Nope! I still got hit- ouch! Splat splat! Perhaps I should’ve worn gloves, haha. Luckily, my arms were protected, as my chef’s coat uniform has long sleeves. Phew!

On the flip side, even though this wasn’t my preferred cooking method, the chicken and zucchini were fabulously ‘onolicious! Holy cow! It was so amazing! The best chicken and zucchini I’ve ever tasted! It’s remarkable how canola oil, salt, and pepper makes a dish so incredibly tasty. Those simple ingredients are so significant.

I made a pan sauce with the remnants of the chicken. It was a bit similar to the beurre blanc sauce I made last week. The three common ingredients for the pan sauce were shallots (cut brunoise style), white wine, and cold butter. This sauce needed chicken stock, instead of white wine vinegar (buerre blanc). This made the pan sauce a lot less acidic compared to the buerre blanc. It paired very well with the chicken.

Before sautéing the chicken, I tenderized it to about 1/2-inch. The purpose of tenderizing is so the protein cooks evenly, is easier to chew, and is more juicy when eaten. Check, check, check! I dredged the tenderized meat in all-purpose flour before putting it in the hot oiled pan. I love that sizzling sound as it enters the pan. It’s so satisfying! Sautéing the chicken took way less time to cook, compared to poaching it last week. It was GDB perfection!

Have a great holiday and new week ahead. Stay safe!

FS x

Poached chicken/salmon with a buttery goodness

Happy last Sunday of August! This week, we learned to poach a protein. Poaching involves simmering something in liquid. I poached not one, but two proteins. Whoop whoop! I loved this technique. It was so simple and clean. Before poaching, I made a court bouillon to poach the chicken and salmon in. It was a very acidic broth. Wowsers!

The court bouillon includes the following ingredients:

  • water
  • white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • yellow onion (coarsely chopped)
  • celery (coarsely chopped)
  • leeks (coarsely chopped)
  • bay leaves
  • crushed peppercorn
  • dried thyme
  • parsley stems
  • whole cloves
  • salt

The liquid with all its ingredients are brought to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes. The contents are then strained and discarded. The clean broth is ready for use.

Before submerging the protein in the bouillon, the temperature of the liquid needs to be brought to 160ºF (for the chicken) and 140ºF (for the salmon). The protein is then submerged in the low-heat liquid until it reaches its well-done temperatures (165ºF for chicken and 145ºF for salmon).

Both proteins were paired with a beurre blanc (aka white buttery) sauce. Here are the ingredients used to make this glorious sauce:

  • dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • white wine vinegar
  • shallots (chopped brunoise style (1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 cut)
  • cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • salt

This sauce requires a lot of attention and focus to maintain its consistency. My chef instructors spoke about this sauce “breaking” if left unattended or overheated. The sauce will lose its thick texture and become runny, similar to melted butter. That would be a mess.

First, the wine, vinegar, and shallots are reduced to about an ounce or two tablespoons in the saucepan. Next, add one or two cubes of butter at a time, while whisking vigorously. This creates an emulsion, which is a mixture of two or more liquids that are typically immiscible, like oil and water. Continue slowly adding the butter and whisk. Lift the pot on-and-off the heat (“pot dancing”) while adding the butter and whisking persistently to control the temperature. Once the emulsion takes hold, more amounts of butter can be added a time, while still continuing to whisk. Shallots can be taken out or left in the pan. Season before serving.

This sauce is kept in a warm place or thermos until it’s ready to be served. Once this sauce is made, it cannot be reheated, as the sauce will break. I was so nervous about breaking the sauce, but thankfully, I didn’t. I was intently focused on making sure I kept the consistency of the thickness of the sauce. I was so attentive that I forgot to take required pictures of the steps leading to the final production of this sauce for my class assignment. Therefore, I had to remake it. It was great practice to make it again. I’m glad I had the opportunity. Because I knew what to expect, I felt more confident making the sauce the second time around. I was so amazed that whisking butter in an ounce of liquid could create a rich, acidic, and thick buttery sauce. The color reminded me of cream of chicken. It was so delightful and paired so well with the chicken and salmon. Yum!

Have a lovely week as we head into September. There’s a lot happening in the world. The pandemic. The situation in Afghanistan…. People in Louisiana, you’re in my thoughts and prayers as y’all encounter Hurricane Ida. Let’s not let the negative events of the world consume our mind. Take time to reflect on the positive and always exercise gratitude. That’s what I was reminded of this past week. Being thankful for what I have and keeping that close to my heart.

Take care,

FS x

A Grand Turkish Meal

This post was mysteriously deleted. I restored and reposted it. This was dated 07/04/21.

Happy Fourth of July! Wishing you all a safe celebration.

I have a few days until I begin culinary school. I’m super excited to start this new journey. From next week, I’ll be highlighting my weekly posts on dishes I’ll be making in my classes. If time permits, I’ll post additional blogs about new restaurants I’ve dined at.

This week, I’d like to share about Turkish cuisine- one of my top five faves. I’m so happy to say that Istanbul Hawai’i has finally opened their restaurant! I remember ordering gyro from their food trucks at events like “Night Market” years ago. This is a long time coming and I’m so ecstatic to have finally dined at their restaurant.

My friend and I were so excited. The restaurant was packed! We had a late reservation. All the earlier slots were already reserved. Throughout the time we were there, it was busy the entire time, even near closing, the place was filled. I was so happy to see how busy it was. It shows that the food is awesome. And that it was!

The menu was pretty overwhelming. A lot of dishes seemed very foreign to both my friend and I. I’ve been to Turkey twice; had authentic Turkish food there, and in Japan, as well. But those were nothing like what I experienced at Istanbul Hawai’i.

A break this week…

There was no cooking assignment for culinary school this week. We just had to fabricate a whole chicken and freeze all the parts. We’ll be using them for the next six weeks. Exciting! I can now say I’ve deconstructed a whole chicken. Yay!

I have to say, I didn’t enjoy the process. Working with raw meat, especially poultry grosses me out. I usually buy already cooked chicken or specific chicken parts (i.e., thighs and drumsticks). It’s much easier and cleaner to work with. As I was fabricating the raw chicken, all I could think about the entire time working was wanting to sanitize everything. Wash my entire kitchen with soap and hot water. I usually wear gloves when handling raw poultry, but I was advised not to wear gloves because it’s actually more dangerous. People are more prone to cutting themselves more easily when wearing gloves. Shucks! So, I had to use my bare hands. I washed them like I had OCD! Seriously! My fingers were pruned by the time I was done. I washed all my equipment and tools several times, as well as cleaned the counter and sink area multiple times. I had to make sure everything was sanitized. Salmonella, food poisoning, bacteria spread is NO JOKE! It’s important to practice safety and good hygiene, especially when working with raw poultry.

August is birthday month. I spent my birthday weekend in the kitchen and with family and friends. My loves! The perfect trio!

Last week, we celebrated my aunt’s birthday. We had the whole chicken with gravy, and carrots vichy and brussel sprouts for her bday dinner. My sister made Oreo-stuffed chocolate cupcakes for dessert. Yummmmm! In my featured image, I created a collage of all the yummy food I ate this weekend. My dad and sis made a feast for dinner. We had tossed salad, steak, chicken, Portuguese sausage, mashed potatoes with boiled eggs and olives, and shrimp and oyster tempura. Wow! We celebrated with strawberry, chocolate, lemon, and coconut cupcakes for dessert from Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club makes some pretty yummy cakes. My dear girlfriend took me out for brunch at the La Hiki at the Four Seasons at Ko ‘Olina. We went there two years ago and had a fulfilled delicious, out-of-this-world buffet brunch experience. However, since COVID, buffets have not reopened, and restaurants that once offered buffets, had to get creative. This restaurant created a pre-fixed brunch menu. The food was yummy, but you can’t beat that buffet. I can’t wait till the buffet reopens again. It was one of the best brunch buffets I’ve ever eaten at. I would love to take my family there to experience all that superlativeness.

Have a great week, All! Please stay safe. This pandemic is getting outrageous!

FS x

Bawk Bawk!

As the Olympics come to a close, it’s always a bittersweet feeling. What an incredible experience, every time! I love how the world comes together to compete in these terrific sports. It truly brings us together. I couldn’t believe how many sports there were this year. Astounding! Congrats to everyone who participated; those who took home medals and those who didn’t. Everyone’s a winner! They’re the best in the world, no matter what! I certainly admired the awesome sportsmanship throughout the games. It was so touching and beautiful to see. Those were the most memorable moments to me. It meant more to me than ever. 2020 gave us a lot to reflect upon and appreciate. Cherish one another; love each other, and be kind.

It was a busy weekend in the kitchen, cooking and roasting up a storm! This coming week is my aunt’s birthday. In celebration of her birthday and for my culinary assignment this week, I’ve roasted a young whole chicken and made gravy from scratch. Good ol’ comfort food. Yum!

I was so nervous because I’ve never roasted a whole piece of poultry before. I usually buy a whole chicken that’s already cooked. It’s so much easier to work with!

In my readings this past week, I learned that roasting and baking are one-in-the-same. Though, I’ve never heard someone say they’re going to roast a cake. I found it very interesting that both terms mean the same.

Before roasting the chicken, I had to truss it. Trussing entails tying the chicken legs and wings snugly together with butcher’s twine so that they are close with the body. Trussing is important for the chicken to cook evenly in the oven. It also prevents the legs and wings from burning. I lathered my chick with butter (olive oil is fine, too) and seasoned with good ol’ salt and pepper. I also seasoned the inside cavity as well. I cut onions, carrots, and celery to create a mirepoix bedding to lay the seasoned chicken on. The mirepoix, a French term, is cooked slowly with the liquid and fat from the chicken. This will be used to make the gravy afterwards. The end goal is for the chicken to be golden brown and for the skin to be crispy. It took nearly two hours for the chickie to cook. The thermometer finally read 165℉; she was cooked thoroughly. Hallelujah! The chicken was juicy, tender, and oh-so-flavorful. I was stoked!

Onto the gravy… I used the mirepoix and the juices from the chicken to first make a roux. I added flour to create a thickening agent. Then added chicken broth to create the gravy. I poured the contents into a mesh strainer, and voilà! Homemade gravy! It was pretty simple and oh-so-good!

For my aunt’s birthday I made a mocha jelly dessert dish. I initially saw a video on Emmymade’s Facebook page on chocolate jelly. I, of course, altered the recipe and made it my own. It turned out to be more of a pudding texture, but it tasted fabulous. It was very rich. Next time, I’ll add more gelatin.

Emmy loves to make unique dishes. This link has some pretty wacky stuff: https://www.emmymade.com/7-wacky-retro-recipes-for-you-to-try/. Not sure if I’m totally game to trying them. Some of them are quite strange. The 7-Up mayo jello salad and the rainbow sherbet snowball cake look interesting. She’s got some interesting stuff on her Facebook. It’s quite entertaining.

Have a marvelous new week! Cases are rising everywhere. Stay safe and healthy!

FS x

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Papa’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father-figures! Hope you had a chillaxing day, doing absolutely NOTHING! We appreciate all that y’all do for us. Thank you, thank you!

My family and I are celebrating with my dad. My sister and I cooked steaks, seasoned with garlic pepper, and rack of lamb, marinated with teriyaki sauce. We’re using the Instant Pot air fryer combo we got my dad for Father’s Day last year. It has all kinds of cool features: air fry, bake, broil, and roast. We’re using ALL the features. So exciting!

I made a Greek yogurt sauce to complement the meats. Yum! That’s my favorite part about eating red meat, which I’m so excited to eat because I don’t have very often anymore. Red meat is a delightful treat. I was introduced to this delicious pairing when I went to Turkey in the summer of 2010 for a world conference.

The yogurt sauce is similar to the Greek tzatziki sauce. It’s very simple to make. I add my own simple touches to it to make it my own. I used plain Greek yogurt and seasoned it with garlic pepper, minced dried garlic, and dried dill. Voilà! All done! The sauce is so good, I can eat it by itself. Uh huh! You heard right!

Now, gotta have them veggies! We made green beans and brussel sprouts, cooked with garlic balsamic olive oil, onions,and garlic. Scrumptious! Now, that’s how you get people to eat their vegetables, haha!

We also had Portuguese sausage, the best sausage there is, in my opinion (I’m not a huge sausage fan) and shrimp tempura. The tempura was already pre-made, thanks to Costco. My dad cooked oysters in a buttery garlic sauce. Oh my! I was in heaven! I love oysters. We don’t eat it all the time. Whenever we do, I savor every bite! It’s a wonderful treat!

For dessert, my dad requested a haupia pie, which my sister bought. Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut dessert.

Time to grind all the delicious foods! Ciao!

Have a great week. Happy belated Juneteenth, now a federal holiday (yay!), and Happy Summer!

FS x

An Adventure in Fargo

Happy June and soon-to-be summer! The days are getting longer, which is the best part about summer. Though, I wish the sun would go down later in Hawai’i. It goes down a little past 7pm here, which I was used to until I started traveling. I remember being so amazed when the sun went down past 8pm whenever my family and I would travel to Las Vegas in the summer. When I traveled overseas, it was so cool to see the sun go down close to 10pm. It boggled my mind!

In the fall of 2019, I visited my dear friend in the Midwest. We went to a lovely district in Fargo (North Dakota) of restaurants and bars, and came across a Liberian restaurant, called A&E. We both had not eaten Liberian food before and decided to try it. We were both excited and had no idea what to expect.

The owner of the restaurant was a gem. She was friendly and kind to suggest dishes for us to try. We ordered: cassava leaf with rice, roasted meat, and plantains. It was a nice, quiet, and quaint place. Perfect for catching up.

The cassava leaf, which is not pictured, reminded me of both canned spinach and lu’au leaves, Hawaiian leaves, that is used to wrap the chicken, pork, or fish in lau lau. The cassava leaves had a similar texture and taste to the lu’au leaves- my favorite part of the lau lau . I also tried plantain for the first time (featured image). It was very yummy and sweet. It reminded me of banana lumpia, which is a Filipino dessert. The roasted meat was very tasty. I can’t wait to go back to try more food the next time I’m in town again.

I remember our evening together so vividly. It was a chilly fall night, one of my fave seasons. (The other being summer). Snow flurries fell from the clear evening sky. The stars were shining so brightly. Two great friends- a night on the town. It was beautiful.

I found this link: https://www.tasteatlas.com/most-popular-food-in-liberia. It has some interesting dishes I would like to try making. One of them is the Liberian peanut soup. It has peanut butter- my fave! I’m always game to make anything with PB!

It’s always an exciting adventure to explore different ethnic foods during my travels. That is the best part! I love being spontaneous, trying amazing and exotic foods, and then sharing about them with everyone. It’s a treat; a joy! And then, doing some research to find some dishes to make at home. It’s fun to experiment cooking various cuisines. It makes cooking very interesting and entertaining for me.

Have a great week!

FS x