Archive for the 'Appetizers' Category

Caprese Salad

October 6th, 2013

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, they do! It seems like our trajectory here is defying all laws of logic. Like Exhibit A. I just found out that our prices are going up. Which was shocking to me since we didn’t raise them. But apparently, market pressures are driving them up. I didn’t even think that happened, but here we are. Am I in a movie? This feels like a movie right now.

In other news, I just posted a new video to our video page. For a CAPRESE SALAD. I am totally hooked on these right now. And tomatoes are in peak season. This recipe takes 5 minutes to make too. So if you haven’t done so already, you should CHECK IT OUT. You won’t be sorry.

I have much more to tell you, but not enough hours in a day. More updates coming soon!


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…


Level One Graduation

November 27th, 2009

Well…it’s official now. I’m a raw food chef certified by 105 DEGREES ACADEMY. Here is a picture of the menu I created for our graduation on Tuesday.

We actually went through a series of tests on Monday and Tuesday before we graduated. This was part of our ID test.

knife skills
We were also tested on our knife skills…

…here were my julienned carrots.

Aside from the testing, we spent most of Monday and Tuesday prepping our meals…

…for the coup de grace which was the creation of our own three course menu. Mine was:

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with hint of pear and maca spiced pecans

plated mush
Truffle Portabella and Pignoli Polenta with organic spinach and porcini cream

Pistachio Flan with pecan crust and pomegranate reduction

My entire family came to our dinner. I was shocked that my NEPHEW ate his entire raw pizza.

meya and papa
My niece guzzled this raspberry smoothie. She came over to sit with papa for better access.

The only sad part of the evening was saying goodbye to my classmates, Brad and ANN. (Elizabeth graduated a few days EARLY). Hopefully I’ll be crossing paths with these folks again soon.

the line
Now that I’m graduated, I’ll be working on the line with these folks (Gonzalo, JET, AND DONNIE) through December until Level Two (the professional chef series) starts in January. We’re gearing up for a big menu change on December 14th (the start of the winter menu). I’ll keep you posted on developments…


Recipe Testing and Menu Planning

November 22nd, 2009

This week was all about planning our menus for our final. We were given a basic structure (first course, second course, and dessert). After that, it was the wild, wild west (I heard this phrase uttered a lot this week). This is probably the hardest time to be the teacher and the funnest time to be the student. Ladan and Chelsea seemed baffled at times by the issues that arose. Though admittedly, it was rather amusing to watch the whole thing play out.

corn and pom
At first, it’s a little overwhelming. No recipes? No parameters? What will I do? It’s interesting how when you just sit back and let things unfold, a natural order emerges. Chaos actually has a rather elegant structure. Things that are seemingly unrelated actually have a recurring theme. Mother nature actually went to great lengths to leave us some clues. Here’s one she left for me.

pom reduction
I spent a lot of time scraping seeds out of pomegranates to make this pomegranate reduction sauce.

marinated veggies
I’ll wait until tuesday to tell you what my menu is. But here is a sneak preview of some of my prep.

This was a first run of my entree. I think I’m on the right track, but I want to make a few improvements…

One of my classmates, Elizabeth, had to take her final early. So, we got a preview of the process.

She made the most amazing empanadas! She also made tostadas with ‘beans’ and ‘rice’.

mole ice cream
For dessert, she served cacao mole ice cream.

me and elizabeth
I was sad to see her go. We’ve had a wonderful experience together.


Appetizers and Special Guests

November 18th, 2009

This is an appetizer tray that we served to one of our special guests today. We have started menu planning for our final. So we did some examples of appetizers. Here we have some hummus with walnut toast, kale chips, and cream of celery soup. I gobbled the kale chips down. Though I have to say that I think I prefer my RECIPE. This one uses red bell pepper, and I think I prefer mine spicier.

shitake pagoda
The other appetizer we made turned into an entree. We had intended on making shitake dumplings. But after dehydrating overnight, the wrappers were too brittle. So we made a shitake pagoda.

Jackie Morton from OM GARDENS came to talk to us about mushrooms. She is a local grower who specializes in mushrooms. She brought several varieties to show us.

The beautiful maitake mushroom.

golden oyster
This is a golden oyster mushroom. Everyone kept commenting about how much they look like underwater coral.

lion's mane
This is lion’s mane. It looks like a little hedgehog.

The biggest shitake mushroom I’ve ever seen.

matthew kenney
Finally, Matthew Kenney came to speak to us about the new menu and the business aspects of raw food. They change the menu here once every three months to stay in sync with the seasons. The new menu sounds pretty fabulous. I’ll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, I need to try everything on the current menu. Because once it’s gone, it’s GONE.



November 13th, 2009

making kombucha
This week, we focused on fermentation. We discussed it’s health benefits, and we made lots of recipes using it…including my first batch of kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea which contains probiotics. You start by preparing a tea. Mine was made with oolong tea and honey.

scobyNext, you add the SCOBY and a little kombucha. The SCOBY is actually a mass of living organisms…a zooglea. It’s like a culture of probiotics growing in your tea. You can kind of see mine floating in the tea here. Once you have your culture set up, you need to let it ferment for about two weeks. Then you can flavor it however you like.  At this point, the SCOBY will have reproduced into a mother and a daughter SCOBY.  These can be separted into two new batches of kombucha.  I’ll check back with you about that when the time comes…

vanilla mango yogurt
We also made yogurt this week from coconut meat. We started out with a plain yogurt base which we allow to ferment in the dehydrator overnight. This is what it looks like when it comes out of the dehydrator.

vanilla mango
Then, you can flavor it however you like. I made vanilla mango yogurt. I LOVED it.

cheese to dry
We also made a couple different kinds of cheese. This is the initial formation of my cashew cheese which we made using probiotics.

We also made a cheese using miso as the fermenting agent. This one was much more herbalicious and used almonds for the base.

fig compote
This was the fig compote we made to garnish our cheeses.

Lavendar honey
We also made a delicious lavendar honey.

cheese plate
Here is a picture of my cheese plate. The cashew cheese was garnished with a black pepper crust. The herbalicious cheese crumbles were garnished with the lavendar honey. The green cheese is a pumpkin nut cheese (which we actually borrowed from the RESTAURANT), and it was garnished with the fig compote.

cheese platesOnce we were all done making our cheese plates, we had a little cheese tasting party with a glass of white wine. I couldn’t really drink mine, but it tasted wonderful. Ladan also invited Matthew Kenney to come check out our plates.  I might be having cheese plate for breakfast.  It was tasty, but I was already too full to eat it.  That’s the problem with culinary school.  You’ve got to pace yourself.  Though as far as problems go, it’s not a bad one to have.  🙂

class pic
Ok. Well, I’m off to school…


Herbs, Spices, and the Magical Coconut

November 8th, 2009
Another important building block we discussed this week was herbs and spices. First, Laidan gave us on overview of the properties of many of the most commonly used herbs and spices.

five spice blend
Next, we all went about making our own five spice blend. I used a little cumin, celery root, turmeric, cardamon, and coriander. Ladan showed us how to make a marinade using the spice blend.

marinating veggies
Next, we marinated some veggies and put them in the dehydrator.

coconut massacre
While that was going, we set about our next lesson for the day…the magical properties of the coconut. Part of this lesson involved opening a case of coconuts.

I lucked out and got a perfect case of coconuts. The coconut water was pristine.

coco meat
And the meat was beautiful!

red pepper wrappers
We used the coconut harvest to make red pepper wrappers to go with our marinated vegetables.

almond cheese
We made a delicious almond cheese using almonds, celery juice, and fresh nutmeg (among other things).

We used a microplane to grate our fresh nutmeg. It looks pretty interesting on the inside. I’ve never gotten so up close and personal with a nutmeg.

Once we had all our mise en place ready, we went about assembling our vegetable rolls.

Voila! Ladan said mine looked kind of like an enchanted forest. I thought it looked a little like the Starship Enterprise.



November 6th, 2009

sprouting jars
Yesterday, we started working with sprouts (something which I’ve done a fair amount of EXPERIMENTING with in the past). I was even getting my sprouts from the same SOURCE. So I’d actually tried most of the sprout blends already…EXCEPT this one.

Amber waves of grain. I haven’t done sprouted grains yet, AND my best friend’s name is Amber. So, this seemed like the ticket. We started these soaking overnight. I’ll check back with you in a few days on those.

Next, we got to work making a recipe using sprouts…some SPRING ROLLS. I’ve made a few recipes like this in the past, but today’s was probably my favorite. This is my mise en place which is the culinary term for having your prep ready.

basil chiffonade
No roll is complete without your basil chiffonade.

fiesta wraps
Viola! Mine was a little busy again, but you get the idea.