Archive for November, 2009

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…



November 25th, 2009

Here are the three flavors of kombucha I made for my first batch. I actually INOCULATED my tea a couple weeks ago and have been allowing it to sit in at room temperature (away from direct sunlight) to ferment.

Here you can see my little SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) growing tentacles. It kind of looks like a jellyfish.

pouring kombuchasOnce it’s fermented, all there is left to do is to pour your kombucha and add flavoring. You can flavor it however you like. In my case, I used grapefruit and blood orange juice. You can leave it out at room temp a little longer if you want it to be fizzier. Or you can refrigerate it. Just be sure to drink it within a week or so. My boyfriend is hopelessly addicted to these. He drinks one to three a DAY. I am going to save so much money! HOORAY!


Salad Bar

November 24th, 2009

curry salad
For our last regular day of class, we made a salad bar. Everyone made one salad, and we had a potluck. This was Elizabeth’s delicious coconut and green curry salad.

Brad’s wasn’t exactly a salad, but it was yummy. He made a beautiful marinara dish.

seaweed salad
Ann made a seaweed salad with golden beets. Very good for your liver!

Mine was an arugula salad with grapefruit and blood orange. What a nice buffet we had. Very diverse. I wish I could eat like this every day!



November 23rd, 2009

tres leches
Well, things are winding down, and we’re nearing the end. Today we had our written final. Tomorrow we present our menus for graduation. Everything comes full circle. This is the mango tres leches cake that I tried on my FIRST DAY of class.

We worked with partners for this one. I worked with the lovely Elizabeth.

making cake
We used the mixer to aerate the cake layer and make it fluffier. I actually don’t have one of these. But as luck would have it, my sisters does! So I’ll have to be experimenting with that while I’m here.

The cake turned out good, but I think I liked the restaurants version a little better. Our cake layer was a little too thick, I think. The cake layer had an interesting accent. It had a little sesame oil. It adds a nice depth in a thinner layer, but in a thick layer it’s a little overpowering. Still, I like the fluffy layer cake concept. I’ll be coming back to it.

biscottisWe also made biscottis. The recipe was for an espresso anise flavored biscotti. I substituted cacao for the espresso. Coffee wreaks all kinds of havoc on my digestive system. My boyfriend actually suggested to me recently that I should start carrying tea bags in my purse. TEA BAGS IN MY PURSE?! I haven’t fallen to the dark side yet. Carrying tea bags in your purse is like a gateway drug. Once you’re okay with that, it’s a downhill slide to carrying kleenex packs and wearing reinforced toe pantyhose under your sandals. I may not be the healthiest girl on the block, but I’m not THERE yet.

chocolate biscotti
Once we had a nice firm cookie, we made a chocolate ganache for dipping. This would be lovely with the CHAI we made last week. Well, wish me luck tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted…


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.


Chocolate Truffles

November 19th, 2009

I finally made something my nephew will eat! I was starting to get a bad reputation. Everything was so healthy looking that he wouldn’t even try it. So, it was time to bring out the big guns…chocolate truffles!

truffle miseThis is my mise en place for truffles: mesquite, almond, lavender, himalayan pink salt, goji, and maca. I laid them all out on parchment paper for easy cleanup. Ladan said it looked like a palette. The mesquite, almond, and maca powders were rolled all the way around. But the goji, lavendar, and salt truffles were sprinkled more sparingly on top.

This is the almond truffle, my nephew’s favorite.

salt truffle
Himalayan pink salt truffle.

truffle rows
Maybe I shouldn’t have written this post in the morning. Now I think I’m gonna have one for breakfast…


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.


Ayurvedic Dishes

November 17th, 2009

Saturday, we did an overview of the intention behind Ayurveda and how that applies to food. Ayurveda is a tradition that personalizes one’s diet based on their own specific body type. There are three types: vata, pitta, and kapha. You can be predominantly one type or a combination of two or even three types. I’m predominantly a vata. Sweet, sour, and salty foods are naturally balancing foods for a vata. This is interesting since those are the flavors I crave the most. Pictured above are my dosas (our ayurvedic meal).

marinating veggies
We started by marinating some veggies in a green curry sauce and dehydrating them slightly.

cucumber raita
We also made cucumber raita – a cooling element.

apricot chutney
Everyone in class made their own chutney to serve as the sweet element. Mine was a turkish apricot and coconut chutney with a little mint and cilantro. I really like how it turned out.

We also learned how to make an infusion for chai (one of my favorite drinks). First, we infused a black tea with herbs (clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, vanilla). Then we added a little almond milk.

You may have noticed that I’m a couple days behind on my posts. I actually had thought I lost my camera. But yesterday, I came in and found it was neatly tucked away in Ladan’s station. Someone had found it and put it back. When I turned it on, i was greeted with this lovely picture. This is Jet. He works in the kitchen. He also plays guitar. As you can see, he’s a freak!

There was also a new picture of Donnie, the sous chef. He looks like he’s working hard planning the smoothie class. I guess they must have found my camera. HOORAY!


Tostadas and Tamales

November 14th, 2009

tostadas and tamales
Yesterday, we worked on latin flavors. We had been prepping a couple recipes that culminated a HUGE meal. I had big ambitions to finish them both. But alas, for I could not.

jicama salsa
We started the day prepping sides. This was the jicama mango salsa.

mango guacamole
We also made one of my favorites…MANGO GUACAMOLE.

dehydrated masa
The night before we had dehydrated our masa which was our tamale filling.

making masa
This was made by combining a corn and squash mixture with a sundried tomato and pine nut mixture. This was spread on teflex and dehydrated overnight.

working the masa
The next morning, we reconstituted the masa by working a little oil in with our hands. We wrapped the reconstituted masa in dried corn husks.

Now we have tamales! These were put back in the dehydrator to stay warm utnil we were ready for plating.

making tostadas
We also made blue corn tostada shells from scratch…

…to go with our blue corn tostada. This featured a red pepper cream sauce, marinated portobello mushrooms, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a pine nut sour cream.

The tamales were garnished with the most delicious mole sauce.

class plates
Here are all our plates lined up for review. Gotta run. I’m working in the restaurant tonight. Last night was my first night working my own station. So, I guess you can call me a chef now…or at least a line cook. 🙂



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…