Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I had a wonderful weekend lounging on the Asbury Park Beach and spending lots of time with family and friends.

I've mentioned before the amazing restaurants in Asbury.. my family went to some of our favorites this weekend. Unfortunately, I missed out on Moonstruck on Thursday (I had work) and Langosta on Saturday, but I did make it to Taka on Friday night (the best sushi & Japanese cuisine) and Siculiana's (a new pizza joint on the boardwalk) on Sunday night.

On Saturday night I ventured back to the Colts Neck house and made a little date-night dinner for the boy. I wasn't sure what to make, but knew that Giada's chicken marsala recipe has never failed me. I used to make this dish a lot even before I went to culinary school and it was always a crowd pleaser. The recipe can be found here. I didn't make any changes, except I used a combination of baby bella mushrooms and shitakes. In this picture you can't even see the chicken because it was soo much sauce! But I swear they're hiding under there somewhere!

Giada recommends serving this with linguine (probably to soak up all that sauce!) but I thought that was boring. Instead, I made some whole wheat Israeli cous cous (cooked in chicken stock and a touch of salt to add extra flavor) and topped it with roasted grape tomatoes:

I also roasted some broccoli for some green on our plates, but didn't take a picture! It was a great meal that we enjoyed outside with a bottle of Chateau St. Michele Riesling. Delightful.

Sunday Night Catch Up!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I've been super busy during the week and haven't had much time to update y'all on some of the latest things I've cooked! Well, I'm back on this Sunday evening to play a little "catch up" and fill you in on some good eats!

I made a couple of meals this week to send off to my grandparents. It's nice to know that they have some healthy home cooked meals that can last them through the week. I started off by making a Good Housekeeping recipe for "Crustless Tomato Ricotta Pie". I had to prep this recipe for a TV shoot earlier in the week and was dying to make it myself. It is so fresh and light--the perfect warm summer lunch.

I was at first unsure whether I could post this recipe-- I always have to be careful because some of the recipes I'm exposed to are not yet published and released to the public. However, I double-checked that this recipe was already posted on the Good Housekeeping website. This is a recipe you all have to try. It is great for entertaining--super easy and very beautiful & impressive to serve!
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta
4 large eggs
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 coarse ground pepper
1/4 cup 1% milk (I used skim--what I had on hand)
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 lb. ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom or the freshest available), thin sliced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a non-stick 9 inch skillet with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, pecorino, salt, and pepper.
3. Whisk together cornstarch and milk until combined. Add to the ricotta mixture.
4. Stir in basil and mint. Pour mixture into the skillet and scatter the top with tomato slices.
5. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until set.

As this would be a nice light lunch, I also wanted to make them a hearty dinner. My mom gave me a recipe out of a weightwatcher cook book to make, but I made several changes to make it a bit more tasty, but still healthy.

Pasta with chicken sausage, bell pepper, and swiss chard:

1/2 lb pasta
1 T. olive oil
3/4 lb Italian poultry sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, cut in bite-sized peices
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup vegetable stock
salt & pepper
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
pecorino romano cheese, for serving

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
2. Add the onions, peppers, and sausage, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add swiss chard slowly, adding more when it begins to wilt. Add the stock and tomatoes. Cover and simmer until the chard is fully cooked (about 10 minutes). Sesason with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
4. In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, SALTED water until al dente (I cooked it a bit longer because my grandpa likes pasta well-done). Add the cooked pasta to the sausage and swiss chard mixture.
5. Finish with torn basil leaves and freshly grated cheese. Mangia!

Off to another week at the externship! It's going to be another crazy week of T.V. shoots and final recipe testing for the October issue!

Millet Muffins

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My mom experimented with these muffins last week..and they were a success! She baked them on Mother's day so that we could all sample them. Well, even my picky grandparents and grain-hater father loved them. They are super moist, slightly sweet, and have a satisfying crunch to them from the millet. Not to mention, they are VERY healthy! My mom was so pleased that everyone liked them, that she went a little overboard and made many many more batches on Monday. I've been eating my way through my personal batch, enjoying them as an easy breakfast-to-go during the week.

(Recipe adapted from
2 cups sprouted flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup applesauce
wheat germ for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 16 muffin cups. (Or 8 extra-large muffin cups-- I like my muffins larger so they hold me over until lunch!!)
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, flax, millet, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, egg, coconut oil, agave, apple sauce, and vanilla. Stir the liquid mix into the flour mix just until incorporated. Pour the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with wheat germ.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sour-Cream Pear Coffee Cake

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's about time I give an update on my internship, right?!! Well, it's AWESOME! Totally my dream job. I walked into the Hearst building on Monday completely in awe that I would be working in such a beautiful building for the next 6 weeks. I really didn't know what to expect on my first day, so I was a little bit nervous.

Everyone in the test kitchen is SO nice and my job is everything and more than I expected. Every morning we start out with some coffee and breakfast. Throughout the day I do various things, such as making sure the test kitchen is clean at all times, running various errands, testing recipes, baking for events, attending photo shoots/TV shoots, and grocery shopping. I LOVE that I get to go to Whole Foods every day. I hate shopping, EXCEPT food shopping..and Whole Foods happens to be my favorite store ever! I'm such a foodie ;)

I didn't get to test any recipes this week, but I definitely will get the chance to next week. I have my own kitchen set-up and desk & computer station. On Wednesday, I helped out with a promotional TV shoot for a new Good Housekeeping brownie cookbook. Yesterday I was able to attend a photo shoot for the recipes in the September issue.

Today there were public tours going around the institute so I had to make a Good Housekeeping recipe for coffee cake. This was an AMAZING coffee cake!! I ate a ton of scraps (since I had to trim the edges when I cut it into squares). Since this recipe is available online, I see no issue in sharing the recipe with all of you. I am definitely making this cake again soon.. maybe even tomorrow?! As soon as I do, I'll post a picture!
2/3 cup packed light
brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons margarine or
butter, softened
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons margarine or
butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sour cream
3 firm but ripe Bosc pears
(about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled,
cored, and cut into
1-inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 [degrees] F. Grease 13" by 9" metal baking pan; dust with flour. **(A cool trick is to grease the pan, line with foil, and then grease and flour the foil.. that way you can lift the cake right out of the pan and slice!)

2. Prepare Streusel: In medium bowl, with fork, mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until well blended. With fingertips, work in margarine or butter until evenly distributed. Add walnuts and toss to mix; set aside.

3. Prepare Cake: In another medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar with margarine or butter until blended, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat until creamy, about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Reduce speed to low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

5. With mixer at low speed, alternately add flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl. With rubber spatula, fold in pears.

6. Spoon batter into pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle top with streusel mixture. Bake coffee cake 40 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool …

My mom also made an incredible millet muffin last week, so I'll be posting that recipe tomorrow!

Savory Biscotti

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I've decided I can't say goodbye to this blog quite yet! Even if I won't be blogging about my day-to-day experiences at my internship, I can still offer some great recipes and restaurant spots. So, you may have noticed a change in the header of this website. It is not longer "diaries of a culinary student", but rather "of a culinary graduate". I look forward to sharing some good eats throughout the summer and experimenting with new recipes!

Before I share a new recipe with y'all, here are some more pictures of graduation (that I stole from Miss Huggins):

Team 3.. I miss you guys!
Me with Miss Huggins herself:
For Mother's day, I decided to make this new recipe for biscotti. I saw Giada make it on Food Network yesterday and was dying to try it out! My family loves biscotti, but this is a different kind of cookie. It is savory, rather than sweet, and contains goat cheese and dried herbs. Interesting, huh? Well, it was a hit and had everybody going back for seconds! There is no better complement to a chef than for everybody to go back for seconds.. I was very pleased :)

To go along with my biscotti, I prepared a beautiful Italian lunch spread with fresh mozzerella, basil, tomatoes, roasted peppers, Italian meats, and toasted Italian bread. The perfect lunch for my little Italian family!

Here is the recipe for Giada's Savory Biscotti:
-2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
-3 T herbes de provence (I didn't have any so I used an Italian blend)
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp sea salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
-1/4 cup (2 oz) goat cheese (room temp)
-3 T sugar
-2 eggs, beaten

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, herbes de Provence, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and goat cheese together until smooth. Beat in the sugar and eggs. In batches, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. With damp hands, form the dough into a 13-inch-long, 3 1/2-inch-wide loaf. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Transfer the loaf to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

*This would be a great Happy Hour snack! It would go wonderfully with a glass of wine!

Happy mother's day to my beautiful mommy and grandma!!!

Tomorrow I start my externship... here:

Lessons 109-110: Graduation

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yesterday my day began at 5:00 am... Well, actually 3:30 am! I woke up with a million things running through my head. Before I knew it, the clock said 4:59 and I rushed to turn off my alarm before it chirped annoyingly (yes, chirped-- my alarm clock is the sound of birds.. it's awful). I took the 6 am train out of Matawan and entered kitchen 1401 for my very last time at 7:30 armed with sharp knives and COFFEE.

Kim and I were lucky to get some of our hardest components of our menu out of the way on Monday and Tuesday-- our shellfish cream sauce and fruit "caviar" (a difficult process using molecular gastronomy to form tiny fruit gel balls). We also got some other mis en place together on Tuesday, including roasting and small-dicing red peppers, cooking the corn, and mincing a ton of shallots and mushrooms. However, I was still nervous about getting everything done in time!

Thankfully, we worked extremely well together and were on top of our game on Wednesday. We communicated effectively and were very efficient with all of our tasks. When I'm stressed out, I make we carefully made sure we went through everything on the list and ended up being ahead of schedule.

Unfortunately, only one thing did not go our way--the "fruit caviar" for our dessert blinis. The gel was not rinsing off and they completely fell apart. I felt bad because Kim worked really hard and stayed after class a couple of days to perfect this component to our dessert. We couldn't dwell on the moment, as we had to have something to get on the table. So, we went to our back-up plan: minced fruit. The ideal fruit would probably have been mango, but we had to work with what we had, and the only fruit available were oranges. It worked out fine and we were just pleased that that was the only big obstacle we had to face during the day.

If you haven't guessed already, our theme was for our savory items to look like desserts and our desserts to look savory. The first dish we prepared was the "Crab Creme Brulee":We made a wonderful sauce for these brulees on Monday, which consisted of browned shrimp shells, mirepoix, ginger, thyme, vermouth, shrimp stock, lobster cream, heavy cream, and a touch of lemon juice. This sauce was DEE-licioius! We filled up about 90-100 little dishes with crab meat mixed with dried out tomatoes. Next we tempered eggs into the sauce to form the custard base. We poured this custard on top of the dishes and CAREFULLY placed them in the oven. I wasn't sure how long it would take and had visions of overcooking them, so we kept an eye on these babies and sure enough, they came out PERFECT. We topped each brulee with a parmesan frico to act as the crunchy shell on top.

Our next dish was "Mushroom Risotto Ice Cream". We made a rich and creamy mushroom risotto and used a mini ice cream scooper for serving. We topped each scoop with "chive sprinkles", a drizzle of aged balsamic as "chocolate sauce" and a tiny red pepper "cherry" on top.

We had a little trouble thinking of a vegetable dish that could look like a dessert. We decided on vegetable "candy". We made a colorful corn and roasted red pepper saute and plated it in tiny dishes with a few arugula leaves. It was light, fresh, and beautiful:

The picture of the blinis (along with MANY other pictures from the night) are on my mom's camera, so I'll post them as soon as they're available. For the blinis, we made a sweet buckwheat pancake batter. We made tiny pancakes that we served with grand manier spiked whipped cream, minced orange, and mint. (For any of you who don't know what a blini is, it is traditionally a savory buckwheat pancake served with sour cream, caviar, and chives).

By 4:00 all of our food was on the carts, labeled, and ready to be sent to the 12th floor for set-up. We cleaned the kitchen like we never cleaned before and left it spotless! Finally it was time to clean up and get ready for our family to arrive.

At 5, we all headed downstairs to help set up our tables. There were two wonderful volunteer students serving our food, so Kim and I explained our dishes to them and how to serve it.

5:30 was nearly arriving and I could not wait for my family and boyfriend to get there. We all worked so hard and were running on very little sleep. It was time to celebrate and show the ones we care about what we've spent these past 6 months doing.

After a congratulatory cheers of champagne, we sampled all of my classmates' food.. it was all spectacular! It is amazing how far we've come. I could only get a few pictures of my other classmates' food before the guests arrived and dug in!

Matt and Allison's Asian Noodles with Jicama, Snow Peas, and Carrots:

Jessica and Vadim's Apple Strudel:
Emily and Mi's Pecan Tarts:
Al and Henry's Mascarpone Cheesecake:
The night flew by.. before I knew it, we were all sporting our new really fancy paper chef toques and wishing each other luck with our externships and future careers in the food industry.

This is the end of another chapter of my life-- and the beginning of a whole new one as I start my externship at the Good Housekeeping Institute on Monday morning.

Congratulations to the class of kitchen 1401! I wish you all luck and hope to hear about all of your experiences as chefs in the real world!

Best Day Of My Life

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Re-cap soon to come!

I Made It!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Not much to report on Friday’s class.. not even any pictures. I figured y’all were getting tired of seeing ground up meat and seafood. Allison and I made the Mediterranean Seafood Terrine, which consisted of ground up shrimp, scallops, saffron infused cream, egg whites, and seasonings. The rest of the group worked on the Chicken Galantine, which was another chicken pate that we wrapped in the skin of the chicken. The rest of class was spent helping Chef Chris prep for his recreational class followed by a quick culinary review of everything we learned in the past 6 months. And so ends my very last lesson at culinary school..

I only had the realization late last week that not only is culinary school coming to an end, but so is this blog. Starting this blog was the best thing I could have done, since now I have my own electronic diary/portfolio. I was the class “paparazzi” as I made sure to photograph almost everything we prepared. It became a comforting and therapeutic routine for me to talk about each and every day and share my thoughts and feelings throughout the way. I definitely had my fair share of struggles--there are always going to be bad days where things just don’t turn out the way you want. I also enjoyed sharing the successes-- my own and my classmates’. We all worked really hard these past six months so as to become great chefs, whether it’s at a top dining establishment in NYC, a bakery, a catering company, or a media publication.

I would like to take this moment to thank the people who made this all possible. Thanks, mom and dad for supporting me in everything that I do. Thank you for making my dream come true. I am so blessed to have such loving, supportive, caring parents.

I would also like to thank the Chef instructors that have taught me so many culinary skills: Chef Allan, Chef Karen, Chef Ana, Chef Erica, Chef Chad, and Chef Chris. It is truly amazing how I went from learning how to properly mince my first clove of garlic to filleting my first fish in module one. In module two we learned every cooking technique from braising, sautéing, and poaching to learning how to make the perfect French omelet. In module 3 we explored the cuisines of the world and prepared the classic Boeuf Bourguignon, fresh pasta, and sushi. Module 4 was a bit of a change as we baked bread, decorated cakes, and even churned our own ice cream. Finally, we ended module 5 with recipes from Daniel Boulud, Rick Bayless, and creating our own original dishes.

What an adventure this has been! I can’t forget to thank my classmates for providing a fun, light-hearted cooking environment. I am so lucky that our class got along so well. It makes a difference in your cooking experience when you can work well with the people around you. I know that I will be keeping in touch with many of my classmates and can only hope to cook with them again soon!

I’ll leave you all with my theme song of the week:

Stay tuned for a graduation re-cap later this week!

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