Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Sunday Supper: Alissa

February 23rd, 2010

Well, my Sunday Supper went off without a hitch. I was much more prepared than I anticipated (though part of that might have been that not many people came). The weather was bad, and business was slower than usual.  RUSSELL brought his camera though and took some really nice pictures (He took all of these except the one below).  I WANT one of those cameras.


photo by Helen Castillo

I did have two very important guests…my parents! This photo was taken by my classmate, HELEN, who sat with my parents at dinner and was apparently very charming. You can read all about her experience on her BLOG.

My parents have been a bit skeptical about raw food. So I was really looking at this dinner as an opportunity to bridge the gap. After all, food brings families together. My mother really appreciates traditional Japanese cuisine. Though for the most part, she hates Asian fusion or any kind of bastardization of what she considers ‘real’ Japanese food.  My father has not liked much of anything I’ve made so far.  So, I would have considered getting him to eat anything a success.

gyozaThe first course was gyoza. Traditionally, this is served as a fried or steamed dumpling filled with pork, cabbage, and garlic. The raw version featured applewood smoked tofu, cabbage, green onion, and bean sprouts. To my surprise, my mom LIKED them! My dad was a little reluctant. But once he saw that everyone else was eating them, he went for it. I was really surprised that they liked them! The flavor profile on this dish was probably the least traditional of the three.

The main course featured this green spider roll. The roll was filled with asparagus, avocado, red pepper, sprouts, cucumber, and a ‘tempura battered’ eggplant. It came with an arugula salad garnished with shiso, hijiki, crispy fennel, sprouts, and a sweet miso dressing. I thought I was really pushing boundaries with a sweet arugula salad but NO! When I saw that my dad cleaned his plate, my face started turning red! I was so excited.

The dessert was a ‘zen trio’. It featured a green tea mochi ice cream bite, bubble tea pudding with chia seeds, and a raspberry wasabi truffle. I made white chocolate garnishes with candied ginger and sesame seed accents that spelled my name in Japanese (or so I thought). This was especially for my mom. She was SO HAPPY when I brought it out to her (even though I spelled my name wrong – DOH!!). My parents enjoyed it so much that they even called an hour after they left to let me know how much they like it again. It was truly a wonderful success (for me). My dad said that this meal was much better than the LAST ONE they tried. To which I replied, ‘I guess I must have learned something then.’

The rest of the night went pretty well, I think. There weren’t a lot of orders, but I noticed that everyone who did order the feature cleaned all three plates. One table told their server to send me a message…’Domo Arigato’! So overall, I think it went well. I was happy with it, and I learned a lot from the process. HOORAY!


Menu Planning

February 20th, 2010

matthew and russell
This week has been BUSY. We started a new project with MATTHEW. But since he’s been out of town, RUSSELL has been meeting with us too. Basically, we were each assigned a menu item from the spring menu to develop. I was assigned the green spider roll which was kind of cosmic given that this week is also my SUNDAY SUPPER, and I had planned on doing a Japanese themed menu (my mom is coming and I’m trying to impress her).

arisa garnish
This was the garnish for the dessert dish. It’s white chocolate with candied ginger and sesame seeds. It says ‘Alissa’ in Japanese (It’s the only thing I can remember how to write). Russell gave me a hard time about it. He said that on his next dessert, he’s going to write Russell on the plate in English. Har Har. 🙂

filling chocs
The dessert plate also features these little chocolates. They’re raspberry wasabi flavored. Matthew said, ‘They’re really weird, but I can’t stop eating them.’ I’m really racking up the bonus points with my instructors this week. Maybe I should have figured out how to write ‘weird’ in Japanese instead. 🙂

If you’re in Oklahoma City, you should come to my Sunday Supper tomorrow. Here is a sneak preview. Russell took some really nice pictures of the practice meal I made for the class on Friday. He also gave the class a little demo on taking good food photos. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pics he took. This is my appetizer. It’s gyoza featuring SMOKED TOFU.

This is the green spider roll (my spring menu assignment). It features tempura battered eggplant and asparagus.

The dessert is a trio featuring a green tea mochi bite, bubble tea pudding, and a raspberry wasabi truffle. Wish me luck! I’ve been working way too hard on it. Kind of bordering on obsessive. EVERYONE kept telling me to go home today, but there’s always one more thing. I’ll let you know how it goes…


This Week's Specials

February 3rd, 2010

palm trees
This week is so full of special things that it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps, I will be narcissistic and start with myself. Today was special for me because I ran a special! It was dubbed the HERBES DE PROVENCE roll. I actually just learned what that was yesterday. So, don’t be fooled by my fancy culinary terminology. I hadn’t intended to make anything like that at all.

mac cheese
But I had spent all this time last week making the perfect wheel of macadamia nut cheese, and it didn’t really go with what I had intended initially.

Meanwhile, we got kicked out of the kitchen temporarily as the news van was back this morning.

megan and lauren
This time, they were filming live segments on RAW CHOCOLATE with Megan and Lauren.

jugglin j
While we were waiting, J did a demo on how to juggle meyer lemons.

plate of trees
J also came up with this plating concept which I liked. I learned today that when you plate olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette like this it’s called a ‘broken vinaigrette’.

inside roll
Anyway, here are the goods. It was basically a cucumber roll stuffed with basil, swiss chard, macadamia cheese, rosemary, chives, marjoram, spiced fennel, and a little grapefruit. Not as pretty as my LAST SPECIAL, but I think it was tastier. One table requested that I come talk to them! And MK even asked for one!

tree plate
I like how they came out looking kind of tree-like. I was getting a lot of forest/jungle references. 🙂

flower special
That in itself would have been special enough, but look at this AMAZING dessert my classmate ANJELA came up with!! She made the flower out of coconut butter and bee pollen. The cake is a mango/avocado theme with a cheesecake filling.
This is what it looked like on the inside. Beautiful! And it was delicious. Anjela is continually astounding us with her creativity.

Bruce Edwards
Last but not least, we had a special visitor this week. Bruce Edwards of URBAN HARVEST. Essentially, they are a division of the Oklahoma Food Bank. They actually grow food for clients in need AND teach people about self-sufficiency/growing their own food. INCREDIBLE!! I am so impressed that there is an organization like this here. I hope I can do some volunteering there before I leave…


Internal Sunshine Tart

January 13th, 2010

Today I created my first special to run in the restaurant. I wanted to call it the ‘Internal Sunshine Tart’. I thought it was catchy, and it would be a great name for a song (what I’m more used to naming). But one of the things we are learning in school is that you want to give menu items descriptive names that give people an idea of what they’re eating. And so, my internal sunshine song became the ‘Butternut Citrus Tart’.

That was the official name anyway. But the servers were ringing it in as the ‘Striped Tart’. The tart itself was garnished with a stripe of cinnamon, a stripe of cranberry/maple sugar powder, and a stripe of orange zest/maple sugar powder. Isn’t that fancy?

squash juice
One of the other things we are learning in school is how to be efficient. When you create a menu, it’s really impossible to anticipate how to use every item of produce in it’s prime moment. That’s where the specials come in. It’s the chef’s job to figure out what we have that’s not being used and create something out of that that might appeal to the customers. This week, it was butternut squash and brazil nuts. So, I decided to juice the butternut squash to use in the filling.

Then I went about making a crust to go with it (using brazil nuts). I wanted to make one using buckwheat flour because many of the crusts in the restaurant use oat flour (which my boyfriend is allergic to). I added some bits of cranberry and orange zest to make it pretty.

naked balls
The first crust I made turned out too mushy. I learned that you can either make a chilled crust using coconut oil. Or you can make a dehydrated crust using maple syrup. But I made a mushy combo that didn’t really do either. It tasted good though. So I decided to roll it up into balls and make donut holes.

I coated the balls in maple syrup, and then I covered them with coconut flakes. They turned out pretty yummy.

Then, I made a nice chilled crust using coconut oil.

The filling was a creamy cashew filling with butternut squash and orange flavors, and it was topped with a quenelle of maple cream.

The plate was garnished with a blood orange syrup with chocolate ganache accents. Overall, I think it went pretty well. There are only a few left. James was really moving the ‘Striped Tarts’ today. Ladan said that whoever sold the most tarts could have whichever one they wanted. So I made him one to go at the end of the day. HOORAY!


Fancy Chocolates

January 11th, 2010

Today was my first try at making hard chocolate candies.

caramel filling
This particular batch had a caramel filling. Needless to say, I was making friends today.

These candies are quite a bit trickier to make than say your CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES in one major respect. Making hard chocolates requires using tempered chocolate. Essentially, when chocolate solidifies it has a certain molecular structure to it. It forms a lattice of sorts. When the chocolate adheres to this structure, it’s said to be ‘in temper’. If the the structure is disrupted (by melting it all the way), you have to go through this process of teaching it how to form the solid structure again (which can be really complicated). Our approach this time was to not let the chocolate lose it’s temper (keep it within a certain temperature range). Thus, we were able to avoid dealing with this issue. It’s my firm belief that avoiding complicated issues on the first go round is always a good strategy. 🙂

Here are some chocolate squares that we boxed up to sell in the SHOP.

I could definitely get used to this. I suspect that these little candies are going to make me a very popular girl.


Pastry Girl

January 7th, 2010

kelly and me
As I mentioned YESTERDAY, I’m going to be working on the pastry station for the next two weeks. Here I am with KELLY (the most amazing pastry chef) who has been training me. She has a blog too (It’s the link on her name). You should check it out.

banana cacao
Working in pastry is really fun. It’s amazing to have so many things prepped and at your disposal. So many more possibilities to imagine. This is the banana cacao tart from the winter menu. Kelly made some beautiful banana-cacao wafers to garnish them with.

Also from the winter menu is the pear frangipane tart garnished with maple cream, candied almonds, and a chocolate ganache.

raspberry special
This is a special that we have right now. We just happened to have an abundance of the most beautiful raspberries. So Kelly used the tart dough from the banana-cacao tart and filled them with a white chocolate cream. Then she topped them with raspberries and used the glaze from the pear frangipane tarts to add the beautiful sheen. The pastry operation is a tight ship, I tell ya.

This is David, one of the guides at 105. He sold a lot of tarts today. In fact, we sold out of them already.
We’re going to have to make more tomorrow. Because I’m going to bring one home to my folks this weekend. They’re not really sold on raw food yet. I’m thinking this tart might change their minds…

OH PS…The news van has been parked at 105 the last couple of mornings filming stuff. Here is a CLIP:


New Life: Part Deux

January 6th, 2010

first day
For those of you keeping track (following up from NEW YEAR’S), chef school started up again this week in full force. Here I am on the first day with a couple of my new classmates, HELEN and SONJA. Everyone in my class is really interesting and our backgrounds are really varied. We are broken up in two groups (A and B). I’m in group A which is the morning shift, and I’m still recovering from the time change (which is why I haven’t posted). Morning shifts are NOT very punk rock. 🙂

mexican chop
This week has been pretty climactic at 105 DEGREES. Not only did school start Monday, but the restaurant went live with the new menu on that day as well. Lots of changes afoot. This is one of the new menu items, the Mexican Chop Salad (made by Sonja).

Anjela, one of my classmates, came up with the beautiful garnish for this dish. It’s the coconut curry, and it’s fantastic.

This is one of the trickier items to make on the new menu but also one of the most delicious…the Canneloni (made by Helen).

Each of us is assigned to a particular station for the next two weeks. Sonja is on the Mediterranean and Latin station. Anjela is the Asian station. Helen is Ms. Italiano, and I am the Pastry Girl. I will fill you in on my station tomorrow. Way to ring in the new decade, huh?


Happy Holidays

December 25th, 2009

Happy Holidays, everyone! This has definitely been a holiday to remember. Oklahoma City is shutdown today from a record breaking BLIZZARD. So, my boyfriend and I spent Christmas in our hotel hanging out with stranded travelers and making holiday truffles. It was like a hallmark Christmas movie. Everyone was milling about in the lobby of the hotel. One family brought a tree, and everyone helped decorate. Nobody could get to where they were going. So, everyone just spent Christmas wherever they were.

origami treeHere is our holiday origami tree. We never even left the building. The news was urging everyone to stay indoors. So, we stayed in and filmed the holiday truffle episode of the soon to be launched Punk Rawk Labs video podcast. This was the second episode we’ve filmed. I think it’s going to be a good one.




xmas dinner
Since we couldn’t leave the hotel, our Christmas dinner consisted of whatever we could make in our state of the art KITCHENETTE.

This is where culinary school is coming in handy. My boyfriend said it was so good that he wants to make it tomorrow too.

blizzard salad
It’s the ‘blizzard salad’. Kind of an asian spinach salad with chopped nuts (leftover from truffle prep).

dehydratorI’ve got my dehydrator going now too. So we’re rocking the KALE CHIPS (which incidentally was the first episode of the upcoming video podcast). It’s funny. We didn’t even exchange presents this year because of the economy. But this is a definitely a Christmas to remember! Hope you’re having a magical Christmas.


Kitchenette Salad

December 22nd, 2009

revived kale
Well, as I mentioned in the last post, I’m SANS KITCHEN at the moment. So, I’m trying to keep things simple. Today I made a kale salad. I’ve had trouble lately finding kale that isn’t all wilted. This kale was looking pretty limp when I picked it up. So, I cut the tips off and dunked them in a bowl full of water. They livened up quite nicely. Works much better than the fridge.

kale bits
To make my salad, I started by ripping the kale into bite size pieces and rinsing them.

Next, I massaged the kale with a little olive oil and sea salt…

…followed by a little squeeze of lemon over the top.

kitch salad
And since I’ve taken to the THING lately, I garnished with a little nori and VOILA…a quick and healthy meal that even a transient could love!


Asian Fusion

December 15th, 2009

asian fusion
Look what I ate for dinner last night. It’s some kind of asian-latin fusion salad. I had a roomate in college who was an asian-latin fusion. Really smart guy. But still a smooth operator. Anyway…

This is Gonzalo. He works in the station next to me. I work the lasagna station, and Gonzalo works the sushi station. It was kind of slow last night. So, Gonzalo was creating masterpieces for people for dinner.

w nori
It’s like a spinach guacamole salad with like a sesame/almond butter dressing and kelp noodles on top. There an avocado in a bell pepper on the side with chili flakes and sesame seeds.

I asked for some extra nori on top. MATTHEW KENNEY started this thing at the restaurant where everybody’s been putting nori in their salads. He started doing it, and now EVERYBODY is doing it. I have to admit though. It IS pretty good.

Sucks to be me. Doesn’t, it? 🙂