Friday, May 30, 2008

I know I’ve been away from my favorite blog in a while, but it hasn’t been because of me. I have been busy and sad arranging my grandma’s departure. It seems yesterday she arrived at LAX and last Tuesday she left for the land of Aztecs, Mexico City.
As a goodbye affair our family ate at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton, CA. It is a good place to go eat something typical and fast. The prices are very economical, $10 to $15 for a meal (soup or salad, bread, entrée and ice cream), the food is decent (typical chain food) and the service seemed friendly (at least this time). However, one thing called my attention a small trivia in every place setting. I though it was very cute and entertaining given that the vast majority of the US population is in the dark about wine.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

White Brownies and Final Grades

So, I am finally and officially done with school. True finals are hectic times; studying, final projects, computer, all-nighters and all the things usually associated to college go for culinary school. Yet, one of the different things is the “lab” finals. Last week I posted about my banquet operations final, and the themed table I set up.
I didn’t write about the basic cooking final on Monday. That made me very nervous, but it was super fun! I made grilled pork chops with red pepper –tomato Coulis, Parmesan Fennel, and corn bread. The chef gave us 3 hours to do our presentation; the ingredients were bought by us, supposedly a $10 budget (mine seemed to border on the $40 budget.) I got everything done in record time, the chef loved my written presentation, and on the actual lab I got a 97! I was very proud!!
For my hospitality final I did a Power Point and to top it off I baked luscious brownies, based on bean paste and honey. After all natural is better!!

Here is the recipe, which by the way got lots of good comments, from my culinary friends!!

White Bean Brownies
Source: 101 Cookbooks
Modified: Aracely Cardona

4 ounces bitter chocolate
8oz unsalted butter
16oz canned white beans
8oz walnuts, chopped
.5fl oz vanilla extract
2 fl oz instant coffee
¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs
12oz honey

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
4. In another bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the honey and beat well. Set aside.
5. Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well. Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect.
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

Yield: 12-14 Servings

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lately I have been living and breathing culinary school. I could not sleep last night because I had my first kitchen final today! I not only passed, I almost aced it. 97 out or 100!! So today’s entry I needed to take a break, only after recommending the book where I got all my recipes for today’s final..

I loved the book; it gives great techniques, and beautiful pictures, pictures yeah!! Sorry, I am a very visual person as you can tell! So, back to the book, It is beautifully described, and gives in-depth information on each day of the 5 day intensive workshops offered by the Culinary Institute of America.

Also, as for me being a visual person, today I decided to post some of my drawing projects. I love to draw… I sometimes do them on tracing paper, scan, fix on Photoshop and add effect; my second choice career would be fashion designer… Maybe I’ll be both!!

Hope you like them!!@!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Oven Happy!

Recently I have been baking a lot. So much so my mothers joked that I’m getting her fat!
Taking advantage of all the fruits that are coming up, this springtime, and my oven has been busy! I made beautiful raspberry cupcakes from scratch!

Springtime muffins

2.75 cups all-purpose flour
1tbsp baking powder
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
½ cup powder milk (liquid)
2 oz melted butter
4tbsp oil
1 cup raspberries

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
2. Sift flour and powder into bowl, add sugar.
3. Mix egg, milk, butter, and oil into a bowl and mix quickly until combined.
4. Add the raspberries and fold into mixture with spoon.
5. Spoon into prepared muffin cases and fill 2/3.
6. Six 2-25 minutes until center is firm. Let cool serve warm.
10-12 Servings

Then I made a box cake (box cake?)
Yet they are good for those days when things get hectic, like school in the morning, internship meeting at 2:30 and catering event at 4:00!
Get home at 8:30 super tired, and oddly enough wanting to bake.
So I took out my handy dandy box cake add a few touches and voila!
No one in my family knew it was from a box!
Judge for yourself!!

Simply a Box Cake

1 package (18.25 oz) white cake mix
1.5 oz Splenda
2.5 oz unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
4 eggs
8 oz plain yogurt
8 oz apple sauce
12 oz bitter chocolate chips
4-6 oz fresh strawberries (for garnish)
4oz fresh blueberries

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
2. In a large mixer bowl, combine cake mix, Splenda, cocoa, eggs, yogurt, and sauce.
3. Beat on low for 1 minute to blend, then on medium speed to 2 minutes. Stir chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
5. Cool then decorate with sliced strawberries and blueberries
12-14 Servings
So everyone is aware that mother’s day is on Sunday!! The big question is do you and mom go out to dine, or do you make a fancy dinner and surprise her!!
Both are great options, I am opting to do both! Tomorrow that is Mothers Day in Mexico (my mothers and grandmother’s home country), I am cooking a 4 –course meal complete with wine parings, and chocolate tasting!
I am exited; it’s going to be a surprise!! Shhhh!
Since I just “learned” to decorate a table and utilize the fine dinning table setting. Here is my final presentation for Restaurant Banquet Operations!

So anyway I am setting an elegant table, cooking,
and then at 7:00 PM surprising mommy!
The menu:

Phyllo squares with goat cheese topping
Japanese sake
Tomato Cilantro Soup
Mushroom Risotto with grilled zucchinis

Dessert sampler: Maria chocolate biscuit/ apple tart squares/ white chocolate
covered grapes
Rosse Champagne