school dazed

This is DAY 2 of Culinary School . Last fall I applied to the Integrated Learning Program: Culinary Management H116 at George Brown College. Conveniently 10 minutes from my house in downtown Toronto, and ironically next door to my former long time employer’s (Simon and Schuster) newest office digs. I must confess that I am carefully containing my excitement. I’m not really sure where this all leads me but it is the perfect time to stretch myself and I am trying to let the world unfold as it should.  

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I’ve been purchasing and organizing all my equipment for class and I just picked up the most beautiful Japanese knife this afternoon. I am practically overflowing with giddiness. I’m also scrounging around the kitchen for anything that I can pack up so I don’t overflow with duplicates in my already overstuffed house… but happily there are still some mandatory indulgences that I can add to my stockpile. Yesterday was Kitchen Management class and Hospitality Math. Today was English class and I got to hand in my first essay on HOW I AM TOTALLY UN-COOL. Each class is at least 3 hours long and it’s been fun to meet my new class mates and get the scoop on everyone’s raison d’etre. So far every instructor has been exceptionally pleasant and impressive. This is a 2 year diploma and with around 30 to 60 (?-bad with estimating numbers in crowds) people each class with a fairly diverse age range–although I think I may be the 2nd oldest. One dude talked about cooking in the 70’s. I guess technically I ( and Juli) did a stint with crazy Mrs Dean in the Kootenay‘s in 1977, but that’s a whole other story.

Tomorrow will be my first time in the baking kitchen lab and I am definitely psyched!! I hope we make something other than cookies. I’ve been living on a steady diet of them for 2 days. BTW- I will be avoiding full body shots of my chef outfit until the time is right. Tomorrow is my first day wearing this charming outfit. For now, you’ll just have to imagine it.

Turning over a new leaf I plan to cook at home as much as possible. I did not plan well but luckily I had roasted cauliflower , onions and tomatoes on the weekend.

easy dinner with leftovers in fridge- roasted cauliflower soup
easy dinner with leftovers in fridge- roasted cauliflower soup

5 minute ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

  • Throw a bunch of cauliflower and onions into a blender with some cold chicken stock (measure carefully hah!)
  • Season with salt, lemon zest, horseradish and rooster sauce to taste
  • Blend till smooth

Heat on stove and then serve with:

  • a spoon of thick yogurt
  • roasted tomatoes /lemon squeeze /capers  and FRESH CILANTRO!

Of course season to your liking– if you prefer to mix it up a bit….

Cauliflower is pretty accommodating. The rich colour is really just a result of the roasting and a wee squirt of Hot Sauce.

friends for dinner- Happy Easter

Sundays are always a good excuse to entertain and Easter makes it a MUST DO. I scrapped any traditional Easter feast in favour of upping our veggie count. The only traditional item on hand was a fresh batch of HOT CROSS BUNS brought by my wonderful friend Susan. Truth be told, it was expedient that I salvage all those soon to be dead veggies I had purchased a week ago (see first post) and save a fish from dying of frostbite. Yup!!! I actually made dinner for 8 without a fresh trip to the market. I get this peculiar satisfaction when I actually use anything that has been sitting in my pantry, fridge or freezer.

On a side note–Saturday evening was my 2nd attempt at yogurt. When I checked on my batch this morning, I discovered that my milk was very hot (eek!) with a brownish skin on top. Luckily I had been reading a fun blog the previous evening around  GREEK YOGURT and there was a section devoted to salvaging yogurt failures–so I took my immersion blender and mixed the stuff up into a caramel smoothy–cooled down to 110 F and plopped some more live yogurt into the batch. I covered it up and let it incubate all day. By the time dinner came around tonight I had a lovely batch of caramel coloured yogurt. Can’t wait for breakfast Monday!

Check out this link for more insight…http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/family-recipes/answers-to-your-questions-about-making-homemade-yogurt

…but I digress.

On to DINNER: I chopped tons of veggies, spread them across 3 baking sheets and roasted them . The rice cooker was filled with Black Thai Rice which I threw together with an assortment of raw broccoli, chopped apples, grated carrots and an apple cider vinaigrette | served with Nappa Cabbage Coleslaw – edamame, ginger, fresh pineapple  and lime | cucumber spiralled with sweet asian vinegar concoction | mahi mahi fish fillets from the freezer – lightly fried in olive oil | warmed  naan from the freezer |  coconut cream pie with cheater frozen pie shell.

The best part of course, was hanging out with fun friends and family (and Red the dog with an appearance made by Simba from the Lion king.) Wish all of you could have been there with us.

Pie recipe follows…

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coconut cream pie:

Any pie crust desired – baked and set aside to cool

filling:

2 c milk

1/2 c of coconut milk

3 egg yolks ( save the whites for meringue topping)

1/2 c sugar

1/3 c flour

1/2 c dry coconut

  • Heat up milk & coconut milk in deep pot
  • In food processor mix eggs & sugar well until thick yellow — then add in flour and mix some more
  • Add 1/2 c hot milk mixture into processor while running | mix well
  • Return to pot and stir with whisk until thick–which should happen quickly. Make sure the flour taste has been cooked out.
  • Add in dry coconut
  • Spread into pie shell to cool.
  • WHIP EGG WHITES and approx 1/3 c of sugar into a thick meringue.
  • Spread on pie and brown under broiler with a few sprinkles of coconut on top