Posts tagged gourmet tastes
I’m sure many of my readers are people who just love to cook. They love to tinker in the kitchen, concoct some new and amazing dish, dress it up just perfectly and place it before an appreciative audience. But wait, can you really do that with screaming kids, tired spouses, and other responsibilities looming large? How often have you dreamed of being able to create and cook amazing meals that no-one has ever tasted before. If the answer is often, maybe you need to turn your dreams into reality.
One way you can do that is to change your hobby into a career by becoming a chef. How do you do that? By attending one of the best culinary schools in America of course. I can see you laughing. Who has time to go off to a culinary school? Well, you may not actually have to go anywhere. There are now online culinary schools that might meet your needs. Also, you might be surprised to find a culinary school nearby. With the right program you could be on your way to making a dream a reality.
One thing you might want to look at is if you really want to do the cooking, or stage the event? Maybe you like cooking the meal, but you love all the beforehand preparations even more. You like making sure the table is set just so, that the menu is pleasing, that you have the right drinks on hand, etc. Then maybe instead of becoming a chef you would be more interested in the management aspect of dining.
Another possibility is if you’re concerned about the meals children are receiving in school or the elderly in care facilities, or even hospital food getting such a bad rap, then consider foodservice management.
What you really need is a passion and dedication to whatever aspect of food service you find the most intriguing and then you’ll be set to take on the task of getting a degree. You could start out with a certificate or associates program, to make sure you really want to do this as a career change. Once you know that this is the dream you want, then you can go all the way to a Master’s Degree if you so desire.
At any rate, there’s really no reason to pine away thinking you can never have the career you dreamed of. So, get out there and create some more healthy gourmet restaurants, so I’ll have someplace to eat when I travel!
It happens to everyone. You’re on a roll. Everything you cook is better than the last. You come up with a new culinary invention every day. Then one day you walk into the kitchen and the inspiration is gone. Your muse has gone on vacation.
Suddenly frozen dinners look good, just because they’re easy. But gourmet they’re not. When you are in culinary “hell” restaurants like Portland, Oregon Italian restaurant, Pastini, are there to save the day.
With authentic, yet affordable Italian food, those desert (not dessert) days of lackluster dishes can come to an end. Lucky for you they have locations in the surrounding areas of Bend, and Corvallis, too.
What wanton gourmet wouldn’t enjoy seasonal specials, such as Ziti with Winter Squash and Gorgonzola Sauce, especially if the ingredients come from local sources? The fresher the better is my motto.
If you have special dietary needs, Pastini has a gluten free Italian restaurant menu to ease your concerns about whether dishes are safe to eat.
Should you ever find your muse has left you when a big shindig is about to happen you can always look into Portland Italian catering. Of course if you’re not in Portland or one Pastini’s other locations, you’ll just have to do the best you can with your local catering. However, make sure you make up a list of things that are important to you, such as, local ingredients, affordable prices, gluten free options, or anything else that is important to your particular affair.
Every time I take a green salad to a potluck gathering it gets rave reviews. I’m going to reveal the secret for a salad that keeps them coming back for more and more. Most green salads are made from head lettuce, some tomato, carrots, maybe celery, and then smothered in a heavy ranch style dressing.
To me that isn’t even a salad. The first thing is that you don’t use head lettuce. It is almost flavorless, and if it does have a flavor it is bitter. It’s also low on the nutritional scale. Leaf lettuce has a lot more nutrition for the same amount, and it has flavor! So the basis for a really fantastic salad is leaf lettuce. I usually try to include several varieties of lettuce in my salads; some red and green; loose leaf and romaine; buttercrunch or butterhead, etc.
Now that you’ve got the base of your salad figured out this is when the creativity starts. First of all I rarely make a salad that only has lettuce in it. Other greens that are excellent in a salad are kale, chard, spinach, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, cabbage (both green and red), baby bok choy, mustard, or any of the early chinese greens. The key is to only use a little of the stronger leaves like arugula, kale, and mustard.
Still in the realm of green things I then choose fresh herbs to put in the salad, and if possible use in the salad dressing. All of the Italian herbs work well: basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, and rosemary. Here almost all of them grow fresh in the garden year round. I’ll also include parsley, shiso, tong ho, cilantro, or any other herbs that happen to be in abundance at the time.
Then come the extras. I don’t stop at just tomato, carrot and celery. Actually I don’t even put celery in, because I don’t like it. I’ll throw in cucumbers, zucchini, jicama, avocado, sunchokes, bell peppers, sugar or snow peas, yard long beans (cut up of course), pineapple tomatillo, or anything else that looks good at the moment. Just pick whatever vegetables you have in your garden, or that are on sale that week at the market and include them. Except those that really don’t taste good raw like potatoes. I’ve even shredded raw sweet potatoes on top.
Last come the desserts of the salad. I throw in some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whatever nuts we have on hand, as well as a handful of raisins, maybe some date pieces, or any crunchies I can lay my hands on.
To top it off you have to have a wonderful homemade salad dressing, which is a snap to make. I’ll share my most favorite dressing recipe next time.
The final piece de resistance is to decorate the salad with edible flowers. I’ll share my list of around 40 flowers you can decorate your dishes with and also eat!
Do you have a favorite salad ingredient that’s not mentioned here? It would be great to hear what tasty treats you’ve found.
When I first became a vegetarian I didn’t miss any meat, except turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had it every single holiday that I could remember and the first without was interesting. What was I going to fix? At that time there was no Tofurky available. For a number of years we just ate butternut or acorn squash to replace the turkey. Then I found this recipe from Ann Gentry. I first used it about 15 years ago. I was amazed to find her sharing it in a recent blog post.
I’ll tell you, if you want the taste of turkey without having to kill one to eat it, this is the recipe for you. I love this recipe. It does take a little bit of prep time, but it’s delicious. The recipe also makes a huge amount, so I usually halve it, because there’s only two of us. Even then we can have “turkey” leftovers for several days afterward, just like we did in the “olden days.”
I serve it with my own herbed gravy, which I’m sharing below. So, here’s a great base for holiday meals without the meat. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Prep Time: 20 min
Servings: 1.5- 2 cups
- ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup rice milk, unsweetened
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp safflower or sunflower oil
- 1 tsp dried, crushed sage
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ¼ tsp dry marjoram
- pinch black pepper
In 2 qt. saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add flour and stir often for 2 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk together with the flour/oil, half at a time to avoid lumping. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally. If gravy seems too thick, whisk in additional water, 1 Tbs. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
You can substitute soy or almond milk for the rice milk.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Well I experienced it the first time I bit into a Pink Lady apple. I grew up in the time of Delicious, Delicious and more Delicious apples. I always thought they tasted so bland. Every once in awhile we’d get some Winesaps. Oh, were they delicious compared to the Delicious.
So, what’s in a name? When it comes to fruit, everything. Over the decades, as demand for fruits and vegetables have grown, farmers have chosen to grow varieties that have a long self life. It didn’t matter how they tasted. As time went on many of the traditional varieties fell into disuse, because they couldn’t travel across country or stay in cold storage for months.
Today, though, there’s a resurgence in different varieties showing back up on the shelves. First it was Fuji, MacIntosh, Jonagold and Gala. These were all a vast improvement over Delicious, but the day I tasted a Pink Lady I knew I’d found my apple. Tangy, juicy and very crisp, just the way I like them.
Now other fruits are following suit. You find all different kinds of pears. The Comice pear, which has been my favorite since childhood, is only available at one store where I live and only for about 1 month, but for that month I revel in the sweetest, juiciest, most aromatic pear ever grown. The juice will run down your arms and face. It is eaten soft and would be a delectable dessert pear.
Even oranges are going “gourmet” with blood oranges and Cara Cara showing up in mainstream grocery stores these days.
People are voting with their money. They’re driving us back to the small farmer who can deliver tasty produce to our local markets. That way they don’t have to hold in cold storage for 6 months or more. We can take them home and eat them right after they’ve been picked. Just think, not only supreme taste, but much more nutrition, too.
As children we often had tea parties with our friends and toys. We’d set out a little table and covered it with a cloth, or put down a picnic blanket. Then we’d place out tiny little tea cups for each guest. We’d entertain our friends with “tea,” which was usually water, and desserts, which were sometimes fresh baked cookies that Mom had made for our special gathering, and sometimes flowers or other interesting things from the garden.
For many of us, as we got older, we began thinking of tea as something to drink in the winter to stay warm. But a delicious glass of iced gourmet tea is one of the best thirst quenchers there is on a hot summer day.
So, why not set out the table, cover it with a bright summer table cloth, bring out your best china tea cups and saucers, prepare some tasty cool summer treats, and invite your friends over to enjoy an afternoon tea party. You could even “play dress-up” and request that everyone where a festive hat, or white gloves, or both. Allow the child in you to come out and play for the afternoon. Indulge in lots of yummy treats, lots of cooling tea, and lots of lighthearted talk.
If it too hot in the afternoon, in your area, then have a morning or evening tryst in the garden. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than an evening in the screened in porch, with just candlelight, the lightening bugs as entertainment, some fresh fruit to munch on, and a tall ice-cold glass of tea to keep the humidity at bay.
Or do we? In the “olden days” there really wasn’t anything else to choose from. Oh, there was sherbet (no it’s not sherbert), but that wasn’t really considered “cool.”
Today there are a number of frozen summer treats to choose from.
- Ice Cream – the old standby. There’s egg based, custard or French style, and Philadelphia-style without eggs. Ice cream has to contain at least 10% milkfat.
- Popsicle – not really ice cream, but a summer favorite. Any type of frozen flavored water is considered a popsicle.
- Sherbet – Contains some dairy, but only 1-2%, no more or less.
- Soft-serve – Continuously churned so it doesn’t harden and contains less milkfat than ice cream.
- Frozen Yogurt – Just like it sounds frozen yogurt. Usually a soft serve variety.
- Now on to the more eclectic treats:
- Sorbet – Still pretty well known. Typically fruit flavored with no dairy. Sometimes herb or vegetable flavors during a main course.
- Gelato – Another that has become well know recently. From Italy, it is made with milk, minus the cream. It has less fat than ice cream because of this. Slow churned so it is dense with a rich, more concentrated taste.
- Shaved Ice – Differs from snow cone in that the ice is very fine, snow-like texture. Flavored with a syrup.
- Paleta – Coming from Mexico these are fancy popsicles. Made with either water and fruit or cream and fruit. They often have chunks of fruit in them, as well.
- Granita – Sounds like an alcoholic beverage, which can be part of it. It is made with water, sugar and either fruit juice, alcohol, espresso or some beverage. They go through a slushing process, then stirring, which creates a crystalline texture.
- Concrete – I thought this was what you walked on! It is a milk shake made with frozen custard. There is no milk added to it to thin it out and can contain extras like candy pieces. It is so thick when finished that it can be handed to customers upside down and won’t spill, thus the name.
So, what will you be enjoying this Fourth of July? Traditional ice cream or one of the new hybrids?