Archive for January, 2010


January 31st, 2010

rawLook what lovely package I got in the mail this week! I’ve been wanting this book for at least a couple years, but for whatever reason haven’t gotten it. Then, a couple weeks ago, one of my ex-boyfriends resurfaced. I had kind of lost track of him and haven’t seen him in 8-9 years. (Has it been that long? Geez. I’m getting old.)  Anyway, out of the blue, he decided that he was going to buy me THIS book for Christmas. How random is that?

Can I just tell you that I LOVE this book. It’s completely inspirational. It’s truly a work of art. I’ve learned a lot already just from looking at it. I can’t wait to try out some recipes ESP the chocolate cake rolls…


State of Emergency

January 30th, 2010

open for business
This weekend I am getting some much needed rest thanks to Mother Nature. She just KNEW how badly I needed it. Things are starting to improve today. The restaurant was open for business again.

But yesterday, this was about as close as I got to the outside. Oklahoma declared a state of emergency, and school was closed. This is actually the SECOND state of emergency declared since I’ve been here. They seem to declare states of emergency at the drop of a hat around here. In Minnesota, this would be more like a state of normalcy. But I’m not going to complain because I definitely needed some time to relax. I’ve been spending a lot of time sleeping the last few days. I definitely feel like I’m working through some things. I think I’m finally starting to get ahead of my CANDIDA infection. My symptoms are starting to change again. At first, I was having extreme headaches and mood swings and well…purulent drainage among other things. But those things have started to improve. Now I’m in a stage of extreme sleepiness. I’ve definitely gone through periods like this before esp when I was recovering from LIVER troubles. When one’s liver is under a lot of stress, a unique kind of sleepiness develops. It’s not the kind of thing you can fight through. It’s the kind of thing where you need to drop whatever you’re doing and go to bed. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200. Just got to bed. That’s where I’m at currently. So, I know I’m working out something big.

pecan bun
I went into school today because I was supposed to assist with a detox class, but nobody came because of the weather. So I ordered myself a kale caesar and a pecan bun. And then I went back to sleep. It doesn’t seem like much is happening on the surface. But just below that, something BIG is happening. I’ll keep you posted on my progress…


Miss Italiano

January 28th, 2010

Well, I’m coming up on my last days on the Italian station. The Italian station has been a thorn in my side, but I’ve learned a lot. I came into it thinking it was going to be a breeze (as this was the station I manned for my work study). But that is a longish story which distracts from the caption for this beautiful sandwich, the VLT. It’s a twist on the BLT. The ‘bacon’ is made from eggplants and I absolutely LOVE it.

This is another big seller in the Italian station…the burger. It’s a portobello burger on a rosemary bun dressed with a basil aioli and garnished with a pickled cucumber (developed by my classmate, Anjela). It’s served with ketchup, mayo, and a side of cheesy kale chips.

These are the wonderful red pepper raviolis. They are stuffed with a walnut pesto, served with a sage cream, and garnished with marjoram leaves.

pizza biano
The pizza bianco is a creamed spinach and pine nut pizza served warm(ish).

canneloniProbably our biggest seller is the CANNELONI. This is my favorite. The burger definitely gives it a run for it’s money though. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty in tune with the cannelonis during my tenure. They will undoubtedly be part of my repertoire in some fashion.  I think the canneloni might be the highlight of my Italian experience. The lowlight is probably the prep. OY! The prep. This station is a LOT more work than it was for the last menu.

Truth be told, I kind of crashed and burned on this station last Friday. It was ugly. It was a long and sordid tale involving the prep and typical restaurant drama. I think anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant can probably fill in the gaps. I can tell you that I haven’t played my guitar at all this week because I have cuts on three fingers. I didn’t think it was that obvious, but the other day MK laughed at me from across the restaurant. ‘Looks like you’ve been having some issues with your knife there.’ DOH! Anyway, this is a little tribute to J (Jason, but everyone calls him J) who saved my flaming butt last Friday. I think a lot of people would have lost their cool in that situation. Not J though. I’m still trying to figure out if he’s in a band or not. I’ve heard conflicting accounts.


Sunday Supper: Sonja

January 26th, 2010

This week’s Sunday Supper featured the lovely SONJA (who has made a COUPLE of APPEARANCES on my blog thus far). Sonja is originally from Switzerland (did I mention that we had a very international group?). Her first course was stupendous. She actually made bowls out of coconuts. She cut them with a hacksaw, literally. Then, she cleaned them out meticulously and dehydrated them. AMAZING PRESENTATION! The soup was delicous too!

This was the evening’s special menu insert. The Sunday Supper feature is served as a package for the lucky participants.

The entree was a Pineapple Curry Noodle dish featuring everyone’s favorite…kelp noodles! I have definitely developed an addiction to kelp noodles since I’ve arrived here. They do some amazing things with kelp noodles around here. My boyfriend came to visit me a few weeks ago and ordered a case of them when he got home.

mango cascade
This is the mango cascade. Look at the beautiful wafers she made. Sonja is the resident expert with coconut wraps and wafers. You should check out her BLOG and see what else she’s up to…


Catering Extravaganza

January 23rd, 2010

Well, this week has been exciting and drama filled. On Thursday, we did two catering events that were really well received (a four course lunch for seventy people and a five course dinner for three hundred people – that’s almost 1800 plates for anyone who’s counting). This was exciting for me because (I don’t know if I mentioned this previously but) this is what I do. I’m a caterer. So, it was right up my alley. AND incidentally, this is what I want to do when I graduate. The events came off without a hitch. But anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant would know that there is a lot of drama that goes into these kinds of things.

canneloniFor lunch, I was in charge of the canneloni. I actually developed a mantra that I kept repeating to myself to keep from getting too stressed out while drama swirled all around me. It started out as, ‘Whatever. I just make canneloni.’ I had this friend once who was in a band with this really narcissistic drama queen. And I would often wonder to myself how he managed to deal with the situation. Something really dramatic had happened at some point (which I don’t even remember now). But I remember that his response was, ‘Whatever. I play bass.’ So, I decided to adapt his technique. I think it worked. I actually got really in the zone with the cannelonis by the end. I’m definitely going to have to make these for my first catering function.

The lovely KELLY was trying to adapt this technique too, but alas. It didn’t work as well for her. Because her mantra would inevitably get too long…’Whatever. I just make pastries. And iron shirts for people. And wash dishes.’ And my favorite was…’I can’t be bothered to find my pants.’ She’s never going to live that down.

tuber plate
The first lunch plate was the beautiful tuber roll.

action shot
Here is an action shot of Kelly and Ladan plating for this course.

Next, we had canneloni. Hey, that’s me!

bbq much
Barbequed Mushroom, Parsnip Mash, and Vegetable Slaw.

And finally the beautiful pear frangipane tart.

celebrity chefAs soon as we breathed a sigh of relief, it was time to start getting ready for the evening event…a celebrity chef dinner featuring demos by MATTHEW KENNEY (he talked about the event HERE).  HELEN was assisting with this.  We were so busy in the kitchen that we didn’t get to see any of it.  But I got really good feedback from people as I was walking out to my car in my chef coat.


The evening event was actually crazy enough that I don’t have many pictures. I did take the time to take this picture of Anjela’s plating technique for the desserts. It came out beautifully, but poor Kelly almost had a nervous breakdown for a second.

Well, as they say in show business, the show must go on. With all the drama that goes on, it’s easy to get discouraged sometimes. Plus, being artistically inclined, I’m a sensitive soul. I’ve worked in restaurants a LONG time. And in that time, I’ve developed a number of defense techniques that are mostly fullproof. But sometimes, everyone gets pulled into the fray. I was definitely on the downbeat yesterday. I was exhausted and ready to quit. But a person finds inspiration sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. And for me yesterday, it was CONAN O’BRIAN. I’ve always loved Conan, but today I love him even more.


Keeping Up With the Joneses

January 18th, 2010

Can I just tell you that keeping up with MATTHEW KENNEY is hard work? It seems like every week he’s jetting off to one or two exotic locations. Last week, it was Peru and San Fransisco. But in between trips, he sat down with our class to talk to us about our business plans. We have a number of special projects planned to prepare us for when we graduate. One of them is writing a business plan. There is actually going to be a ‘Top Chef’-like business plan contest where our plans will be evaluated by Matthew Kenney and Dara Prentice (the owners of 105 DEGREES). They will choose which business they would hypothetically invest in. I actually never changed out of my pajamas last weekend. I was glued in front of my computer working on this (and maybe watching the VIKINGS game).

news van
Business has been picking up a lot since the first of the year. It probably didn’t hurt that the news van was here a bunch last week HIGHLIGHTING the detox workshop.

ok today
OKLAHOMA TODAY has also been doing a feature on the restaurant this week. Here I am getting busted by the photographer. I’m not supposed to take HIS picture. It’s the other way around. I turned out alright though. He got over it as soon as I started bribing him with chocolate.


Rawkstar Dinner featuring Matt Burch

January 16th, 2010

Things are starting to move pretty fast schoolwise. This week, the restaurant hosted a ‘Rawkstar Dinner’. This is a series of special dinners which feature someone in the local community.

matt burchThis dinner featured Matt Burch, owner of URBAN AGRARIAN. He’s a local food purveyor who specializes in local and organic ingredients. He provided several items that he wanted to feature on the evening’s menu, AND he actually got down and dirty with us in the kitchen too. I was pretty impressed with his knife skills.

I love this picture of the servers going over the menu with us. Don’t they look like Christmas carolers? I’m just waiting for them to break out in song.

This was the actual menu. It’s a little difficult to read though. So, let me break it down for you…

fennel tart
The first course was this beautiful fennel tart made by HELEN. It’s garnished with a blood orange reduction as well as the fennel frond, leaf, and pollen. The filling is a cashew based fennel cream, and the crust featured local Oklahoma pecans.

cheese plate
The next course was a beautiful cheese plate served with a crostini made from sprouted wheatberries, some local honey, and a tossed arugula salad.

This course was made by Anjela who is plating the dish with Ladan (our instructor).

The third course was a wild mushroom and kale ravioli served with a locally grown tomato fondue. Look at the beautiful patterns in the ravioli!

sonya and kellyThe raviolis were made by the lovely SONJA shown here with our charming pastry chef, Kelly. As you might have guessed, she has a background in graphic design. She even went to art school with one of my ex-boyfriends. Cosmic! We have a lot of strange things in common (always a good sign!).
I was working in the pastry department with Kelly. We served two courses. The first course was a kumquat cheesecake. Matt Burch has a weak spot for kumquats and so do I. I LOVE kumquats. I’m not sure what it is about them. But these were REALLY GOOD kumquats. The cheesecake was garnished with candied pistachio pieces, a kumquat syrup, and a blood orange syrup. I love how they mingled on the plate and looked like a flame.

Finally, we finished with a syrah infused chocolate truffle. YUM! The dinner was a smashing success! HOORAY!


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: