Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper, Mozzarella & Basil Stuffed Steaks with Steamed Asparagus

This was a recipe I made once before but wanted to try it again to see if the kids would enjoy it and I wanted to try on the grill.  It's an easy recipe requiring only 4 ingredients: thin flat steaks, roasted red pepers (in a jar), mozarella cheese and fresh basil.  You put the ingredients on the steak, roll it up and thread on skewers.  You can grill them or pan fry them or I guess even bake them (without the skewers).  Grilling tastes best but is most challenging to keep the ingredients sealed in the steaks. 
The only fresh mozarella I could find were little balls and they made this even more challenging. I recommend slices if you can find it fresh or even grated in a package would've been better and easier.  But I managed and they turned out very nice.  When cooking stuffed meats remember it takes longer to cook and you can easily overcook the outside with the interior still being raw so sear them and then keep them on low heat on the grill to finish cooking the inside.  The asparagus was from a steamer bag which I think was a perfect compliment to the steaks.  Of course being frozen they'll be mushier then fresh and a nice balsamic glaze would've been perfect with them. I'll try that next time. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm back - New Class, New Direction

Hello everyone! 
It's been a while since my last post which is largely due to my "day job".  It's hard when what you have to do takes precedence over what you want to do.  With that said, I took last semester off but have just enrolled in a class for the summer: "Introduction to Hospitality".  Now I won't be cooking in this class but it will be a class full of information on the hotel & restaurant industry.  And anything that has to do with food or the restaurant industry just gets me excited.  So, I will do my best to keep you updated on what I learn in this class.
     I know by taking culinary classes a lot of people have been assuming I would like to be a chef.  That is not necessarily the case.  I am just enjoying learning everything about what i love - FOOD.  I love to eat it of course, learn about it, improve it, and mostly talk about it. That's what I hope to do with this blog - share with you all things food.
     Something I am also trying to do is to make more meals from scratch at home.  Being a full-time working mother of 2 and wife to 1 :) I have resorted to more than my fair share of "processed" foods for a quick fix of dinner after a long day.  The toaster oven has become my best friend and when I recently identified with a mom who said she fed her kids frozen appetizers for most of their youth, I knew it was time to make some improvements.
     It's not an every day thing and the meals are not gourmet by any means but they are not prepared by microwave and for me that's a huge improvement. 
     I recently discovered a Pampered Chef cookbook: 29 minute meals. I have made a few meals from it already: turkey gyros, lasagna casserole, Asian steak stir fry, and last nights hit - chicken sun chip bites.  My kids ate them up and have enjoyed all my meals so far - a sign that I may be on the right path. Now I just need to take pictures of these meals and share with you what I've learned.  I hope to do that soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh by the way...I got an A

Our final assignment was a written project that had to consist of a complete menu with prices of a cuisine we chose, 15 facts on the cuisine, one recipe with serving conversions and a full ingredient list.  I chose Italian as my cuisine and created a very nice menu from my own restaurant called "Vengalli's" (my maiden name). I recieved my full 50 points on this project and ended this class with a 98%.  Indeed an A.

It was a great class and a great experience.  The only area I seemed to lack in was keeping up with this blog.  This Spring I have decided to take the semester off as this is my busiest time of the year at my current job.  I hope to take more classes this summer and hopefully find an opportunity to share those experiences with you on this blog.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this experience with me. Many more food adventures to come.

Bon App├ętit!

The Final Class

In our last class we would have our cooking final.  The format for this final was to receive a basket of ingredients and to use them all in our dish.  We could make anything we wanted but had to use all the ingredients. We also were given a specific time that our plate had to be done and presented to the Chef.  We were all given the same protein and starch - pork and risotto rice.  I was happy to see both - they're so versatile.  What scared me in my basket was fresh whole cranberrries. I have never cooked a cranberry from it's raw state.  Luckily the CI gave me some suggestions and when he said sauce I knew that would compliment the pork so well and I was on my way.  I had one of the last times to present to the CI and that was probably the hardest part - the timing.  I had to wait to start most steps in fear I would end early and have dry or cold food to present.  I worked and worked my sauce starting with apple juice and watched as my cranberry burst open and then added vinegar and sugar and more vinegar and more sugar until I had a very sweet tart rich sauce.  I pan fried my pork, sauteed my veggies and made my risotto with mushrooms and onions.  It all turned out just as I wanted although I wish I was more creative with my sauce presentation.  I received a 95% (5 points were taken off for leaving my pork sitting out so long).  I should've put it in the fridge until I was ready to cook it.  Dang that sanitation stuff!  We all have our finished dishes out for display - I just had to take some pictures of everyone's final dish.  What a great way to end this class. 

SIFE Lunch

When word got around that I was taking culinary classes, those who also liked to cook came up with the idea of cooking up a meal for the SIFE Staff (where I work).  We decided on Mexican and planned the menu to feed about 40 people.  We made everything from chicken tortilla soup, a taco bar with chicken and beef, baked chimichangas, cheese enchiladas and all the fixins including guacamole, mango salsa, sour cream and lots of cheese.  Oh and there was dessert too - flourless chocolate lime cake with Margarita whipped cream and Liz made her famous carrot cake.There were 3 of us who primarily did the cooking - me, Bruce & Kirk.  Then we had help from a few sous chefs and lots of people to help clean up afterward.  Between all the planning, many trips to the food store, the prep and cleaning it was a lot of work but well worth it as it turned out to be a great experience for all - those who cooked and of course those who ate.  We were asked to do this again with another cuisine and I'm sure in due time we probably will. 
Here's some pics of our buffet line with all our homemade food.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Class #12: Fish

In this class we would be preparing fish.  We received a whole talapia filet and learned how to filet it into servable portions. As I wanted to try all different cuisines, this time I went with an Asian/Thai flair and prepared my fish by pan frying it and serving it with orzo pasta cooked in coconut milk with ginger.  I sauteed carrots and threw those in and added basil for extra thai flavor.  The flavor turned out very well.  The only thing I wish I had done better was presentation. I started with the orzo on the side but wish I had stacked the dish a little more putting the orzo in the center, fish criss-crossed on top, the veggies on top and the sauces drizzled over all of it. Luckily my Chef Instructor was pleased with the flavor as well and gave me an A and I ended up with a great dinner that night.