My new loves

December is here!

We’ve made it to the final month of 2021. This year flew by too quickly. However your year has been, let’s finish strong and with a BANG!

There’s a lot happening during the month of December. At least for me. However, I often reflect on the year and orchestrate goals for the new year, while living through and experiencing my most favorite time of the year.

Culinary journey thus far…

My pâtisserie course is coming to a close in two weeks. I will have completed two courses by the end of the year. I’ve learned so much in the last five months of culinary school. Applying to Escoffier has made me get out of my comfort zone. I have cooked and baked so many different dishes I never thought of making prior to this program. Things like fresh bread and pasta, sauces/condiments, and purées. Some dishes have been challenging, but it’s been worth the frustration. It’s taught me to have a lot of patience. These culinary skills continues to fuel my passion every week. Furthermore, it’s reminded of why I started this journey. I love to cook! And, sharing my dishes with others is the absolute best!

Highlights this week

This week, I’m highlighting two of my newest favorite sauces and condiments that are simple to make: tomato raisin chutney and mostarda. Chutney originates from India and mostarda derives from Italy. Chutney can be used as a dipping sauce, a glaze, a spread; with cheese, gamey meats, in sandwiches… You name it! Mostarda is served with meats and cheese that make up a beautiful charcuterie board.

These sauces were so fun to make. And oh-so-yummy! I plan to make a variety of chutneys and mostardas, using different dried fruits this holiday season. I can’t wait! It’s going to be phenomenal!

Recipes:

Tomato raisin chutney:

  • 1 lb 4 oz fresh tomatoes
  • 1 oz garlic, chopped
  • ½ oz fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fl oz red wine vinegar (1st quantity)
  • 3 fl oz red wine vinegar (2nd quantity)
  • 4 oz sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped hot chiles
  • ¾ oz raisins
  • Mixing bowls/cups/spoons for mise en place ingredients
  • Food scale
  • Cutting board
  • Chef knife
  • Paring knife
  • Sauce pot
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Food processor (or blender)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Airtight container

Mostarda:

  • 4 oz dried fruit (i.e., raisins, cranberries)
  • ¼ of red onion, minced (or 1 shallot)
  • ¼ c dry white wine
  • ¼ c white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • Mixing bowls/cups/spoons for mise en place ingredients
  • Food scale
  • Sauce pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Food processor or blender (optional)
  • Airtight container

Production steps:

Tomato raisin chutney:

  1. With a paring knife, make an “x” on the bottom of the tomatoes.
  2. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 10-20 seconds to loosen skins.
  3. Peel and trim.
  4. Cut tomatoes into quarters.
  5. Combine garlic, ginger, and first quantity of vinegar into a food processor to purée.
  6. Combine tomatoes, purée mixture, second quantity of vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar.
  8. Cook at a slow simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thick. 
  9. Add the chiles and raisins. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and cool.
  11. Store in an airtight container, refrigerate for up to a week.

Mostarda:

  1. In a small sauce pot, combine dried fruit, red onion (or shallot), wine, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and cook until dried fruit is hydrated.
  3. Stir in mustard powder.
  4. Cook, uncovered until mostarda has a jam-like consistency.
  5. If desired, mostarda can be pulsed in a food processor for a smoother texture.
  6. Store in an airtight container, refrigerate for up to a week.

Holiday wishes and tips

Wishing you and yours a jolly holiday season. Remember to enjoy this time of year and not stress out. The holidays can be very busy and hectic with all the hustle and bustle. This weekend, I’ve been reminded to set small, reasonable goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Also, to accept what is and do what I can. One of the many things that’s important to me is being able to reminisce and create new memories during this special time.

Be safe, stay well, and take care of one another.

Cheers~

FS x

Too cool for Vichyssoise

Thanksgiving blessings

I hope you and yours had a marvelous Thanksgiving Day and weekend. Hope y’all are full-filled and stuffed with yummy, delicious food.

2021 #thankfulchallenge

We are coming to a close on this year’s #thankfulchallenge. It’s always fun sharing the things I’m grateful in November. Here’s the complete list.

  1. Peaceful and tranquil lake.
  2. You Are My Glory, Chinese drama series.
  3. Hugs.
  4. Love.
  5. Hawai’i’s KIKU TV (was a channel that aired multi-cultural shows).
  6. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle.
  7. The end of daylight savings time.
  8. Meditation apps.
  9. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  10. Bubble gum.
  11. Stars.
  12. Good nutrition.
  13. Iryu: Team Medical Dragon series.
  14. Adele.
  15. Prayers and miracles.
  16. To All The Boys I Loved Before trilogy books and movies.
  17. Sunsets.
  18. Empowerment.
  19. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
  20. Foodnista Soul’s supporters.
  21. Podcasts.
  22. Shows that showcase beautiful Hawai’i.
  23. Ambition.
  24. SJO Wellness.
  25. Instrumental music.
  26. The forest.
  27. Peaceful sleep.
  28. Laughter.
  29. CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult), an Apple TV+ original movie.
  30. Escoffier classmate friends.

This week’s featured dish

This week, we are highlighting a vichyssoise soup, which was simple to make. The soup was delicious hot and cold. The taste changes when drank hot compared to served cold. I prefer it cold. It was very refreshing and tasty.

Vichyssoise 411:

  • Pronounced (vee-chee-shawz).
  • Invented in 1917.
  • Named after a French town called Vichy.
  • Cold soup made with leeks, potatoes, and heavy cream.
  • Can be eaten hot as well.
  • November 18th is National Vichyssoise Day

Vichyssoise recipe (yield: 4 servings):

  • ½ lb leeks (white part only), sliced
  • ½ lb russet potatoes, peeled
  • ⅔ fl oz olive oil
  • 1.5 pt chicken stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 5 fl oz heavy whipping cream
  • Chopped chives, to taste
  • Mixing bowls/cups for mise en place ingredients
  • Food scale
  • Chef knife
  • Cutting board
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Bowl for potatoes to soak in water
  • Pot (two)
    • One for the soup
    • Another for the ice bath
  • Food mill (or an immersion blender, which is preferred)

Production steps:

  1. Sanitize kitchen (sink, countertops, stovetop/oven, cupboard handles, phone, computer).
  2. Scrub and peel the potatoes.
  3. Cut potatoes into cubes and soak in water to prevent oxidation (potatoes turning brown).
  4. Clean leeks.
  5. Cut leeks into half moon thin slices.
  6. Mise en place ingredients.
  7. Sweat the leeks in olive oil in a pot.
  8. Add the chicken stock and potatoes into the pot and bring to a boil.
  9. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
  10. Purée soup with an immersion blender, food mill, or mesh strainer.
  11. Add heavy cream to soup
  12. Chill the soup thoroughly (40ºF or below).
  13. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Garnish soup with chopped chives.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I’m excited that my favorite time of the year is here again! I’m looking forward to my traditional holiday baking and more cooking. My pâtisserie course for my online culinary program is coming to a close in three weeks. Twelve weeks surely flies by so fast! I’ll be starting my third course on world cuisines the week of Christmas. That will be very exciting! I love trying different cuisines from across the globe.

As we head into the final month of 2021, I wish you all a joyous and safe holiday season. Don’t stress and become frantic. Breathe and be patient with yourself and with others. Set small, reasonable goals. Create new memories and celebrate the old ones, too. Let’s finish the year strong! We got this!

Happy Holidays!

FS x

Glorious Caesar salad and all the works!

Thanksgiving already?!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I can’t believe we’re heading into the last full week of November. I love Thanksgiving. It’s an entire month dedicated to reflecting on what we’re thankful for and the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. I have a lot to be grateful for.

I look forward to the scrumptious food we eat during this holiday. Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, yam, gravy, mashed potatoes, fresh cranberry/blueberry sauce- you name it! They’re full of love and warmth.

Twenty one day #2021thankfulchallenge recap

  1. Peaceful and tranquil lake.
  2. You Are My Glory, Chinese drama series.
  3. Hugs.
  4. Love.
  5. Hawai’i’s KIKU TV (was a channel that aired multi-cultural shows).
  6. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle.
  7. The end of daylight savings time.
  8. Meditation apps.
  9. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  10. Bubble gum.
  11. Stars.
  12. Good nutrition.
  13. Iryu: Team Medical Dragon series.
  14. Adele.
  15. Prayers and miracles.
  16. To All The Boys I Loved Before trilogy books and movies.
  17. Sunsets.
  18. Empowerment.
  19. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
  20. Foodnista Soul’s supporters.
  21. Podcasts.

Visit my social media pages to view the detailed posts.

Making my own Caesar salad dressing

It was so much fun making my own salad dressing from scratch! I honestly had no idea how Caesar salad dressing was made. I’m not the biggest fan of Caesar salad. I don’t eat it often. I only found one restaurant that makes the best Caesar salad. That’s Ruscello at Nordstorm.

The recipe:

  • Handful of capers (I substituted it for anchovies)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ fl oz lemon juice (first quantity)
  • 1.25 c olive oil
  • 1 ½ fl oz lemon juice (second quantity)
  • 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Mixing bowls/spoons/cups for mise en place ingredients
  • Food scale
  • Electric mixer
  • Whisk
  • Grator
  • Cutting board
  • Chef knife
  • Bottle (for storing)

Production steps:

  1. Mash and mince garlic and capers.
  2. Add yolks into a bowl of a mixer and let the machine whip until well-beaten (use the whip attachment).
  3. Add the garlic and capers and first quantity of the lemon juice. Whip until well-mixed.
  4. With the mixer on high speed, slowly add the oil, one drop at a time.
  5. When the dressing becomes thick, add some lemon juice.
  6. Gradually beat in the remainder of the oil, as well as the second quantity of the lemon juice.
  7. Grate parmesan cheese and add salt.

Caesar salad recipe

  • 1 lb romaine lettuce
  • 2 oz white bread (for croutons)
  • ½ fl oz olive oil
  • Caesar dressing, as needed
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • Capers
  • Mixing bowls/cups for mise en place ingredients
  • Food scale
  • Frying or sauté pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Chef knife
  • Colander
  • Grater
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Plate

Production steps:

  1. Wash and drain lettuce, and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Cut the crusts from the bread and cut into small cubes (1 cm).
  3. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a sauté pan over moderately high heat.
  4. Add bread cubes and sauté in the oil until golden and crisp. Add more oil if needed.
  5. Remove croutons from the pan. Do not refrigerate.
  6. Toss greens with Caesar dressing.
  7. Plate and garnish with croutons, capers, cracked black pepper, and shaved parmesan cheese.

I was so proud of my croutons. They were so crunchy and way better than store-bought! I also had fun plating my salad. It looked so elegant and fancy!

Thanksgiving wishes!

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat lots of delicious food!

Thank you to all my supporters. I am immensely appreciative of everyone who visits and reads my blog. It means the world!

In thanksgiving,

FS x

No beg for eggs!

The meaning behind today’s blog title

A few years ago, a good friend and I talked about creating a unique community service project on feeding the homeless. He thought of the idea of serving eggs (egg sandwiches), and wanted to name the project “No Beg for Eggs!” Haha! This project is still in the making, even though we’re in different states now. We’ll make this happen one day…

Fourteen day recap of #2021thankfulchallenge

Here are the last 14 things I’ve been grateful for this month.

  1. Peaceful and tranquil lake.
  2. You Are My Glory, Chinese drama series.
  3. Hugs.
  4. Love.
  5. Hawai’i’s KIKU TV (was a channel that aired multi-cultural shows).
  6. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle.
  7. The end of daylight savings time.
  8. Meditation apps.
  9. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  10. Bubble gum.
  11. Stars.
  12. Good nutrition.
  13. Iryu: Team Medical Dragon series.
  14. Adele.

Visit my social media pages to view the detailed posts.

Eggs, eggs, and more eggs!

I spent the entire weekend cooking eggs. I’m EGG’D OUT! I went through over two dozen eggs. I made six different types of eggs (poached, over easy, sunny side up, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, and scrambled). I’ll be eating my “lemon” eggs for days! It was a frustrating and trying weekend, but I succeeded in the end. Thanks to grace and patience. Eggs may seem simple and easy to cook, but they’re not at all, especially if it needs to be cooked “perfectly.”

An egg-cellent tray of different varieties of egg cookery

My fave kind of eggs: runny yolks

My most favorite type of eggs are soft-boiled and over easy. I grew up eating over easy eggs. Many people in Hawai’i love the runny yolk over hot rice, with shoyu (soy sauce) drizzled over. Mmm, mmm! We can eat this all day long!

Helpful tips:

Pictured below are: poached, sunny side up, over easy, and soft-boiled eggs. These yolk oozing pics were very satisfying.

The challenging eggs were poached and over easy. I had to make them several times before they were photo-worthy and acceptable to submit to my chef instructor. Practice, practice, practice!

Helpful tips on poaching eggs: straining the egg first to remove the outer albumen, the egg white, which contains several thick and thin layers and 40 different proteins, adding vinegar to the water, and creating that swirl before adding the egg into the water.

For over easy eggs, flip it in one go, without a spatula. That’s right; you read right. No spatula. I’m not expert at flipping things in a frying pan, but I was able to gently flip my egg pretty nicely. That was luck! Having a non-stick pan and spray helps tremendously.

Surprisingly, sunny side up was the easiest. I hardly had to do anything, except move the egg around the pan occasionally so that it wouldn’t brown underneath.

Until next time…

Peace,

FS x

This caramel sauce is ENTICING!

The holidays are here!

Happy month of THANKSGIVING! There’s SO MUCH to be grateful for. The holidays are back once again and I’m excited! It’s one of my most favorite times of the year.

2021 Thankful Challenge

The entire month of November, I participate in a #thankfulchallenge on my social media platforms. Each day, I list something I’m grateful for. It could be anything. There are no stringent rules. It’s something I started in 2018 and it’s been an annual tradition ever since. I always get excited about my thankful challenge postings.

Something that really touched my heart this year was that a high school classmate was inspired to join the challenge. They shared that they’re tired of the negativity and wanted to give this challenge a go. Awesome! I’ve enjoyed reading and being inspired by their daily posts. I love to inadvertently motivate and inspire others. We could use more of that in this world.

Quick recap of the last seven days of the #2021thankfulchallenge

Here are the things I’ve been grateful for this first week in November:

  1. Peaceful and tranquil lake.
  2. “You Are My Glory,” Chinese drama series.
  3. Hugs.
  4. Love.
  5. Hawai’i’s KIKU TV (was a channel that aired multi-cultural shows).
  6. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle
  7. The end of daylight savings time.

Visit my social media pages listed at the end of this post to view my detailed posts.

Highlighting homemade caramel sauce

This week, I’m highlighting caramel sauce. I was ecstatic to make this. I love caramel. I didn’t know how easy it was to make this glorious sauce. I was gleaming for joy after the outcome. I couldn’t believe how simple it was. Was I dreaming? I know what I’ll be making more often for desserts. Hehe…

The recipe and cooking equipment needed:

  • 8 oz. sugar
  • 2 fl.oz. water
  • ¾ tsp lemon juice (or corn syrup)- I chose lemon juice
  • 6 fl.oz. heavy cream (or water for clearer sauce)- I chose heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt (for salted caramel)- I decided to use the salt in my recipe
  • 4 fl.oz. milk (optional- to thin)- I opted not to add additional milk to thin out the sauce
  • Food scale
  • Measuring bowls/spoons for mise en place ingredients
  • Pastry brush
  • Whisk
  • Saucepan
  • Mason jar (for storing)

Production steps:

  1. Mise en place ingredients.
  2. Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Do not stir.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. 
  4. Wash sides with a pastry brush as needed to avoid crystallization.
  5. Cook the syrup to the caramel stage, where it will turn a honey amber color.
  6. Towards the end of the cooking stage, turn heat to low to avoid burning the sugar or letting it get too dark.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Slowly whisk in the cool cream. If some sugar solidifies, then return to a low heat and stir until all the caramel is dissolved.
  9. Add 1 tsp of salt or more to taste for salted caramel.
  10. Cool completely.
  11. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Da pixs!

Before I close, I want to give a BIG shout-out and say THANK YOU, MAHALO, to all my supporters here as well as on my social media platforms. It means a lot to me to have lovely support who views, reads, likes, and comments on my blog and social media. Thank YOU VERY MUCH! Wishing all of you a fabulous new week! Until next time!

In thanksgiving,

FS x

, ,

FooDNisTaSouL

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Honoring Hispanic culture

Hola! Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th-October 15th. In honor of this celebration, we’re featuring salsa verde and empanadas this week. Ironically, these are the dishes I made for my first week of my new course on culinary and pâtisserie. Whoo hoo!

Salsa verde recipe:

Let’s start with salsa verde- ‘coz it was simple and pretty quick- hehe!

Ingredients (yields two cups):

  • 1 oz Canola oil
  • Bunch of cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 Garlic
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 oz Onion
  • Salt- to taste
  • 1/2 of Jalapeño or serrano peppers
  • Tomatillos (canned or fresh)
    • 1 canned 13oz
    • 5 fresh (I guestimated since I couldn’t find canned tomatillos at my grocery stores)

Production steps:

When using fresh tomatillos, be sure to remove the husk. Also, before blending, fresh tomatillos, they should be blanched or broiled. I did both.

  • Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor to desired consistency.
  • Heat canola oil over medium high heat.
  • Season with salt.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Salsa will keep fresh up to five-to-seven days.

Reactions to making salsa

I’ve never made my own salsa before. I couldn’t believe how simple and quick it was. I would love to experiment in making other salsas like pico de gallo and salsa roja (red salsa). Ooh, I can’t wait! I’m on a salsa kick! (I’m doing my quick salsa dance right now 🤪💃🏻). My university had a ballroom dancing course that I took. It was pretty cool, but definitely had its challenges. Salsa was a bit difficult to learn. My favorite dance was the foxtrot. It was the first dance we learned and was the easiest.

Empanada recipe:

Onto empanadas… Empanadas are basically Spanish turnovers. They can be filled with either a savory or sweet filling. We’re filling them with savory ingredients.

Ingredients (yields eight servings)

  • 2 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cake flour
    • *NOTE: can substitute both flours for all-purpose flour (3 oz total)
  • Canola oil (optional for deep-frying)
  • 1/2 oz lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz monterrey jack cheese or mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 poblano pepper (roasted, seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 oz warm water

Production steps:

  • Sift flours into a mixing bowl.
  • Add lard or vegetable shortening and blend into flour (I used vegetable shortening).
  • Dissolve salt in warm water before pouring into the flour mixture.
  • Knead dough until smooth.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile…

  • Scrape the filmed skin off the poblano pepper, using the back of the knife.
  • Remove seeds and cut into dices. (The seeds will make the flavor more acidic)
  • Combine cheese and pepper into bowl.

30 minutes later…

  • Weigh the dough on a food scale and divide into eight equal pieces.
  • Sprinkle flour on surface and rolling pin.
  • Roll dough into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin, creating a circle.
  • Place cheese/pepper mixture on one side of the circle.
  • Fold the other side to create a turnover.
  • Press dough around the filling and crimp edges with a fork.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a 375ºF oven until golden brown.

Closing

Happy October! Wishing you a great week ahead. Until next week…

Peace and wellness,

FS x

Connect on social media

Please check out my social media platforms for more posts throughout the week!

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