Book Review: Soul of a Chef

My foodie colleague let me borrow her copy of “Soul of a Chef”- written by Michael Ruhlman. I really enjoyed this book. It kinda felt like a Food Channel Inside Edition but for bookworms (Especially when Ruhlman follow a CIA group). I like how Ruhlman took us inside the kitchens and worlds of the 3 chefs. They all go through very different pressures- but with the same type of elements. Ruhlman makes a memorable 10 course literary meal.

It’s one of those books that when you get hooked into- you forget where you really are. I, for one- missed my train stop one time as I was reading. Heh.
There is one page in the book where one of Chef Thomas Keller goes through the experience of killing rabbits. He talks about the first time he did it wrong and rabbit screamed. Couldn’t get that vision out of my head for days for some reason.

I think out of the three main stories, I liked reading Lola chef Michael Symon. Probably the best because I felt he was the least pretentious.  I liked how he made it a partnership business with his wife. And I like how his workers were almost like family.  If I ever went back to the restaurant business, I would want to work there.

I think why I love this book is it asks the question, “What makes a great chef?” Is it their family influence? Is their determination? Is it their trained knowledge? Is it their ability to work under pressure? All of these elements are combined to make 3 very complex characters.

For the Foodies out there- this is a must read.  I’ve honestly just dived into the foodie books- so if you have a good suggestion- I’d love to hear it!

Weekend Goodies

Made this on Friday night in celebration for the hubby’s good grades.
“Healthified” Angel Chicken Pasta found on my Betty Crocker iPhone Application.

My hubby's new love... :oP

My hubby's new love... :oP

Now, haven’t cooked with meat since April of last year. With that in mind- I never knew I could make my husband so happy by cooking with meat again. Ha, ha. He said, “I could eat this every week honey. Really.”

Yesterday my Aunt and I went to Ann Slathers for brunch.
She talked about these amazing rolls she had 20 plus years ago.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of Sticky Buns- but boy these were good!
When I was there I had the most interesting omelette. I almost didn’t order it because it sounded a little gross.

Mexican Omelette – $8.95 An Avocado Delight

When I asked the waitress what it was she said, “ Omelette with guacamole inside and salsa on top.”

Not your average brunch!

Not your average brunch!

Now, I’m a sucker for guacamole. So I went for it. Ahhhmazing! It was light! Not to crazy spicy and fun with the side of potatoes. I’ve never seen an omelette like that. I would have never paired guacamole with eggs. My aunt had something good but admitted my dish was even better.

Last night- stayed in and watched 10,000 B.C. and I made quick Greek Pizza with some Pillsbury crust (I think all the Pillsbury tubes were on sale this week-so I bought a few cans).

The Greek pizza just had diced spinach, diced tomatoes, and lots of feta cheese on it! Simple and delicious!

Greek Pizza Greatness!

Greek Pizza Greatness!

Tonight- Dinner at the Aunts! 😀 I think she is making some recipes out of the new Martha Stewart- Real Simple Magazine. Yay!

Cherry + Ginger = Tonight’s Dessert!

Our good friends came over last weekend (and spoiled us greatly with some of the best restaurants around town! ).
They both have unique health diets. One is lactose intolerant. Other is allergic to shellfish, bananas, and some types of mushroom.
And me in trying out my vegetarian ways… it’s somewhat challenging in the kitchen to cook for all of us.

I feel bad. I meant to cook or bake for them while they were here but I wasn’t finding the creative energy. I found it today though. Here is something I tried out.

I wanted to marry two of my favorite sweet flavors. Ginger and Maraschino Cherries.
I love how ginger refreshes everything it touches.  I love the color and texture and taste of a maraschino cherry.  True story… I once ate an entire bowl of Maraschino cherries when I was young. I just love them.

Ingredients I used:

½ cup of water
Handful of dried cherries
2 tablespoons: Crystallized Ginger
6 oz of Maraschino Cherries (drained and diced)
2 teaspoons: cinnamon
Pillsbury® Refrigerated Pie Crust
Blackberry Jam
Handful of pistachio nuts- (chopped in little bits)
Optional:
Whipping cream (1 cup)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of sugar

This is how I put it together:
Take one piecrust out. Add a little flour to your cutting board. Cut out two decent sized squares, or triangles.

Spray a muffin top pan and preheat the oven to 375.  Lay the shapes over the muffin top indentations. With left over dough, reroll into one piece and continue to cut pieces. I think 4 shapes = 1 piecrust.

Take Blackberry Jelly and put at least a tablespoon in the middle.
Take minced nuts at sprinkle on top of jelly.

In small saucepan add ½ cup of water and handful of dried cherries. Add crystallized ginger and bring to boil. Add cinnamon. Stir and watch. After a couple of minutes once it looks like cherries are soaking up juices- turn off.

On a cutting board take drained maraschino cherries and dice up. Drain ginger- cherry mix and chop and mix with the maraschino cherries. Put a whole scoopful on over the nuts and jam.

Bring corners of dough together and pinch closed (might need a little water to keep closed.

Put into oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Optional: While baking- take heavy cream and whip it up in the kitchen aid. Add a dash of vanilla and a couple teaspoons of sugar. With take a few minutes to turn into whipped cream. (Helpful if bowl is cold like cream).

little and cute and full of flavor! :D

little and cute and full of flavor! 😀

To Serve:
If you made the whipping cream- put a big spoonful in the middle of the plate. Place mini-pie on top.  Sprinkle with cherries and nuts.

Lot’s of fun! The ginger popped out just the way I wanted it to! The nuts prevented it from seeming too sweet. Probably could be turned into a big pie… but the small pies are fun for presentation.

Ginger + Cherry = Happy Me

Ginger + Cherry = Happy Me

The Reaction?
I thought this was lot’s of fun! The ginger popped out just the way I wanted it to! The nuts prevented it from seeming too sweet. Probably could be turned into a big pie… but the small pies are fun for presentation.

When the hubby ate it (w/o the whipped cream)- he said it was a unique hybrid of a cherry pie and an Arabic dessert that his grandmother used to make (sounds like coal lay cha). Pretty good for not having any recipes or cook books in front of me. ☺

I *heart* BOKA

Boka in Chicago = Ahhhhmazing.

Our dear friends took us here this weekend and treated the hubby and me. I’m still dreaming of the amazing pink grapefruit sorbet I had!

Hi- can I have 5 of these? :D

Pretty Plate!

The only minor issue was our table was uneven. I soon forgot after I started tasting the food though! I forgot to take a photo of my beet salad- but the colors were stunning! 🙂

Sure a bit pricey- but worth it. Can’t wait to go back!

What Is Love?

I thought these links were great and worth passing on to everyone so close to Valentine’s Day.

http://www.bettycrocker.com/whatislove/Default.aspx

I love the kid at the end that says, “My heart goes boom, boom because… it goes boom, boom.” Hehe.

This baking contest I thought was great too… I love the GI Joe’s in the first video and the strawberry topping in the second video.

http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=JgdHf3evSQs

I love you too Pillsbury!

I love you too Pillsbury!

I’ll give you a sneak peak at what I made for the hubby. This was dessert. Find out how to make it here

Happy Valentine’s Day Foodies… I hope to update this weekend.