Thursday, March 19, 2015

Crispy, Waffle Hashbrowns

screaming hot hash browns

Anxiously Waiting on Waffle Hashbrowns

By: Natalia Boutelle

We scrape the potatoes down to shreds and fry them in the waffle iron. The sound of butter on the potato sizzling on the waffle presser. We wait ten minutes, then we take the hashbrowns out. Who knew that a lopsided potato would turn into a brown crisp delight?

We all wait.

I get a hashbrown on my plate first. I anxiously stare and smell the ideal mouthwatering aroma of it. I patiently wait. Eventually everyone has a hashbrown on their plate. Finally we eat. I choose the ketchup to put on my hashbrown. I drizzle the ketchup all over my Waffle Hashbrown. I bite slowly into the screaming taste of salt, then the crunch of the savory potato jumps right out at me, and the ketchup ties all the flavors together,

from salty to crispy to creamy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pies with no Pan

Apple Cherry Hand PIes

Pies without a Pan

by Valerie Belt

After washing up on our second day of class, we rolled out dough to make these apple pies. They weren’t made in a traditional pan, but they tasted and looked even better than a regular pie. Instead of using a pan, we cut out (using the circular shape of a bowl) circle shaped pieces of dough, then placed our chosen mixture in the middle, with the dough now folded over, it cooked to make a delicious little pocket.

We made the pie filling with cinnamon apples and cherry preserves which left the insides with a deep purplish look.With everything prepared the actual making part was simple, all we had to do is roll it out, fill it, and fold the dough in half over the insides. With the sweet apple filling piled on top the circle of dough, we almost couldn’t fold over all the way, but it stretched and it turned out to fold over like a glove.

Before we placed it carefully in the oven, we cut holes in the top of the dough to let the air circulate while it cooked, otherwise it could explode! In the end  the crescent shaped dough bloomed with a crispy golden brown color which crumbled into layers like a sweeter pillsbury biscuit, as for the now warm filling, the taste was perfect:  it was sweet and savory and basically to die for. From that moment I knew this was going to be a great class. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cheese Tasting Party

Today we got all fancy and had a cheese tasting party, focusing our taste buds on French cheeses.
First the students looked at our cheese selection.  The cheese monger at Harmon's helped us select an assortment and some bread, honey, nut, and fruit pairings to go with.  Here the students are strategizing how to group the foods and lay them out attractively.

Brie Fromage was controversial!  Very complex, surprising, intense and strong, with a mushroom finish.  Here are the words to accompany it: 
Calm with a gush of bitterness

Sage making the honey look pretty.

Port Salut:  the cheese monger suggested we pair it with sour dough to bring out it's citrusy notes.  This was the most unsurprising, some said "dull" cheese.  Here are the list of descriptions the students came up with for Port Salut:FamiliarMildSmoothNon-descriptCitrusyCasualRelatable

This Domaine de Vallage triple cream brie had a sweet finish.  This was  a popular cheese that was interesting, had some complexity to it, but not too crazy.  Here are our words for this cheese:
Calm with a little zing
Hundreds of baby bunnies
Silk lingerie

Bleu D'auvergne:  
Sweet aftertaste

Teacher Josh doing his cheese board thing.

Teacher Eric's favorite.  The Goat Buche had a soft, runny rind and a dry, crumbly center.  Here's how we described it: 
Strong but soft

I loved how the decimated cheese board looked, and all the descriptive words scribbled around each cheese.  So beautiful!

Good times.

Gjetost:  the kids' fav, the teachers' least fave.  Unsurprising, as it tastes like caramel cheese.  Here's what everyone said:
Peanut butter
Caramel apple

The feasting.

The spread.

Cheese Awards

People's Choice:
Gold Medal--Gjetost
Silver Medal--Domaine de Vallage

Judges Awards:
Gold Medal--Brie Fromage
Silver Medal--Bleu d'Auvergne

word cloud

Lula adds to the word bank.

It's always a challenge to describe food with fresh and unexpected vocabulary.  Today we created a word bank on the board, and the students came up with some of the best words of any food writing class yet.

Enjoy the list, and look for these words in upcoming posts!

Word Bank:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Slade Family Vineyard

I didn't know until my student Tiana wrote this blog post that bottling grape juice is a Utah tradition. I had my first experience harvesting and bottling grape juice from my garden this fall, and it was luscious. The beautiful and talented Slade sisters each wrote a post about their long-standing family tradition of making grape juice--these are some of my favorite student writings about family food traditions.

Here's Tiana's:

One of my family’s biggest traditions is making grape juice every fall. We enjoy growing, tending and juicing the grapes together, and the outcome is delicious.

The grape vines are almost magical: the way they look so dead during the winter, then in the spring, the way the small pink buds emerge and shoot out furry red leaves, that over the following days turn green and fan out. And watching the grapes start out as little green specks, and turning into juicy purple Concord grapes is really is fun.

Our vineyard was planted when my mother was about 12 years old. She was born and raised in the same house that I live in now, and you can tell that she loves keeping the family tradition that she spent a lot of her time growing up with. We even have bottles of grape juice from when my mother's family first started bottling it, but it's all pink now, and nobody dares to drink it.

This tradition brings our family closer together. Picking grapes in the cold nips at any bare skin. Helping each other and keeping each other company and taking everything you got that day into the warm house where the stove is turned on. De-stemming the grapes while sipping the fresh hot grape juice just out of the steamer. It is a great thing to look forward to in the fall, and I love being able to enjoy our hard work all year round when we open up a bottle months later.

Anyway, I think that traditions are an important part of growing up and bonding with your family. It is never too late to start traditions.
Have fun!

Here's Ella's:

Wool gloves, stained from last year's session, in an effort to keep your hands warm in the frost.
Boots muddy from the soft ground
covered with light ice crystal sprinkled over the brown.
Dry leaves and luscious, plump, drooping grapes, ready for what they were planted for.
Cold bitter wind biting at your ears and nose, quickly snapping vines, work steadily.
The smell of Kool-aid fills the room, steam mingling with overflow from the crack of the lid. Moist and sweaty.
Plucking the delicate fruit from their stem, rinsing in the sink, the dust and spider webs come clean from their skin, ready to be loved by a new sort.
Sweating contently, liquefaction.
Time and effort, love and passion.
Dreaded and impatient, awed and amazed.
Mixed feelings tingle through our blood, unsure of how the experience will turn out with the season.
Mason jars, patterned perfectly,
translucent circles cover the floor, being filled with the joys of the year,
overlapping attention,
opaque with thick royal purple,
dense with pure lovin’.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Puerto Rican Day

Today Jasmine's grandma, Madeline Ramos, came to demonstrate Arroz con Habichuelas to the students. She also made some pollo (on the side to accomodate vegetarians). We learned about sofrito, and that, surprise!, there's a Puerto Rican restaurant in Sandy, Utah.

The rice was steamy and savory with little green piquant olive gems studded throughout. Puerto Rican food is not spicy, but has a lot of layered flavors with onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro, pimiento, olive oil and tomatoes. Madeline Ramos' arroz was made with red beans, green olives, and corn. She shredded a whole roasted chicken and sauteed the chicken with sofrito, olives, and carrots.

The food was quite a hit with the students and teachers. Ramos talked about mofongo, arroz con pollo, and pernil. It made me homesick for my days in New York, with its Puerto Rican Independence Day Parade, and its fantastic Puerto Rican restaurants on every corner of the upper west side, where I lived during most of my tenure in the city.

Madeline talked about how she doesn't use measuring cups or spoons, just her eyeballs. This is something I hear a lot from cooks who grew up outside of the U.S. It seems like when we learn cooking in the kitchen with our parents, we grow up doing it by smell, look, and feel. It makes me sad when people can't cook without a recipe. It seems like an indication of a diminishing food culture. So, students, get your grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends into the kitchen. I promise you'll have a fantastic time.

Thank you for coming, Ms. Ramos!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mastering the Omlette

Today we watched the master himself, Jacques Pepin, make a classic French omlette on You Tube. At first we thought it would be simple, and his technique was breathtakingly elegant, but once we got in front of the stove, we began to sweat.

We each took a turn, and went through a couple dozen eggs. Our omlettes weren't as beautiful as Jacques', but they weren't super far away either. We've all vowed to practice more at home.

A couple of the students remarked that they had never really liked omlettes before, and I think the taste of an egg that is perfectly cooked is radically different from an overcooked egg (personally, I despise browned eggs, but maybe it's just me.) Sage and Casey noted that the chives, with their baby onion subtlety, gave the mellow flavor of the egg just enough kick to make the simple omlette surprisingly flavorful. Shelbi, who runs our lunch program, donated a beautiful avacado to the dish, and Sage really liked how its perfect silky ripeness complemented the omlette. Lula loved the eggs' tenderness and suppleness, and found the dish comforting and soothing. Jasmine thought it would make the perfect midnight snack.

Here's a photo of Lula's country omlette:

Timing the omlette was a little stressful. I started sweating the minute I poured the eggs into the pan, but it was really satisfying, and a little magical, to see the eggs actually hold together in their beautiful pale yellowness, the color of the winter sun, flecked with little bits of bright green chive, reminiscent of the pine needles on my Christmas tree, which is now languishing in the gutter of Locust Circle, waiting for the composter to pick it up.

Watch this video of Jacques, and tell me how much you love him:

I'm so happy to be back in my apron, teaching my favorite class again!