Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

Harriet Van Horne

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pork Tenderloin Dinner

I was walking to my bus stop today when the bus I needed to be a passenger on to take me to my college whirled past me. After my initial damning of the whole Kingston Transit system I got over the fact that I would be missing class and I decided to make the best of a bad situation.

It was a particularly cold day and my boyfriend works out side. Since I had the whole afternoon I thought it was the perfect opportunity to surprise him with a nice warm meal for when he got home.

On my unexpectantly early walk back home I stopped at the grocery store and picked up somethings. As I scooted around the grocery store ideas bounced into my head: pork would be nice, and what would go well with our porcine meat? Seasonal flavors I decided. Apples and Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts, and Savory would take center stage.

When my boyfriend came home I had dinner waiting: Pork Tenderloin seasoned with a Savory rub, Roasted Potatoes, Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts, and a zesty Apple Chutney.

The Brussels sprout recipe came from My boyfriend and I both agree: delicious. We weren't huge fans of the chestnuts, but they aren't called for in the original recipe. Just be careful, when she says to be sure not to have the heat up too high, she means it. My Brussels sprouts ended up a little too 'caramelized' but they were still really tasty.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin
  • For the tenderloin, its pretty simple.
  • Season with a dry rub of salt, pepper, and dried savory. I let mine sit in the fridge for a hour or so, but this isn't necessary.
  • Put in a roasting pan, roast at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • At this point add in what is called a Mire Poix, which is just onions, celery and carrots diced with a ration of 2 parts onion to 1 part celery and carrots. For this recipe add an apple diced as well. Put this mixture into the roasting pan with the pork at the hour mark.
  • Continue to roast until the pork is done, which will be another 45 minutes to an hour. The internal temp should be 71 degree C.
  • When done, remove from heat and allow the roast to rest for 20-30 minutes, be sure to cover with some tinfoil and poke a few holes to let steam escape.
  • If you want you can make an easy gravy:
    • Continue to roast the Mire Poix (put the oven up to 400) until they are nicely browned
    • Take the pan out of the oven and set it on a burner set to medium heat
    • Using about 1 1/2 -2 cups stock (you can make it from a bullion cube) deglaze the pan (basically just pour the stock in and continue to cook until all the little brown bits come off the bottom of the pan)
    • Strain the whole thing, reserve the liquid.
    • In a frying pan melt 2 tablespoons butter, add in 2 tablespoons flour (this is called a Roux),
    • Cook, stirring constantly until it reaches the color of peanut butter
    • Add in the stock, and stir constantly until smooth and thick, and you've got homemade gravy.

Apple Chutney

1 medium onion- chopped
2 tart apples- diced (Granny Smith work)
1/4 cup apple cider viniger
1/4 cup brown sugar- packed
Zest of 1 Orange
1/2 teaspoon Ground Clove
1 Tablespoon Honey

  • Combine all in a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil
  • Reduce to a simmer
  • Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes
  • Uncover and if there is too much remaining liquid cook for a few minutes uncovered to evaporate it

Roasted Potatoes

This recipe is based on one from with some changes to better suit the rest of the flavors of the dish

6 large Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 Cup Honey
Juice from 1/2 Orange
Zest from 1/2 Orange
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ground Nutmeg
1 cup- 1 1/2 cups Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

  • In a food processor puree the garlic.
  • Add the honey, orange juice and zest, egg yolk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • As the mixer is running SLOWLY add in the oil (essentially you are making a flavored mayonnaise.
  • Only add in as much oil as needed to make the dressing thick enough to stick to the potatoes (about the same thickness as sour cream)
  • Wash and cut the potatoes, you can cut them however you want, just remember the small the cut, the quicker they will cook
  • Toss with the dressing
  • Put in a pan (highly recommend covering the pan with parchment paper), sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes
  • Take out of the oven and toss to redistribute the dressing and make sure the potatoes will be evenly browned
  • Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until potatoes can be easily penetrated with a fork
All in all the boyfriend (and myself) were happy and impressed with the meal. All of the flavors worked well together but we ESPECIALLY liked the apple chutney with the pork. The tartness of the chutney brought out the sweetness of the pork, while the orange and savory mingled together in an unique combination. It was an amazing pairing, especially when eaten together in the same bite, definitely made the meal.

At least I can justify missing my class by saying I did some extra homework right? Honestly, there's nothing better than being in culinary school. I can actually justify spending the whole afternoon in the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Risotto Parmigiana with Poached Prawns

I love how fancy the name of this recipe is. It makes it sound like something you'd order in a restaurant you can't really afford to be in but one of your friends decided to have their birthday party there so you really had no choice.

The great truth about this recipe is that it's easy. It does take some time, and there are a few extra steps most people now a days aren't usually willing to take, but that's the difference between food you can eat and food you want with a fiery passion. It's true: extra steps= fiery passion.

On to the recipe:

Poached Prawns

Make a Court Boillion
  • Cut celery, carrots and onions into a small dice (you want about twice as much onion as you have of each carrot and celery)
  • Add that to a pot with a bay leaf, crushed black pepper corns, parsley stems and lemon juice or white wine.
  • Cover with cold water, put on the stove and bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Once finished simmering, strain out the liquid and reserve, throw away the vegetables
  • Put the liquid back into the pot and bring to a boil

Prepare the Prawns
Prawns are really just jumbo shrimp, for the best result buy them from the freshest source possible, and de-vien/shell them at home. This only takes a few moments and the flavor of the shrimp isn't lost with all of the salt of normal packaged shrimp. Throw the shells into the Court Boillion.

Have an ice bath ready (mix cold water with a hand full of ice cubes in a bowl).

Blanch the Prawns
  • When the Court Boillion has come to a boil once more, lower the shrimp into the liquid and poach for 3 minutes.
  • Be sure not to put too many shrimp in at once. You don't want them to be crowded and too many would cool the temperature of the Court Boillion.
  • Immediately once the 3 minutes is up plunge the shrimp into the ice bath and leave them there until they are fully cooled.
  • Once cooled dry and then season the shrimp with salt and pepper

  • 1 medium onion- Diced
  • 1/4 Parsley- Chopped
  • 4-5 Button Mushrooms-Diced
  • 2-3 Crimini Mushrooms-Diced
  • 1 oz Butter
  • 0.5 fl oz. Vegetable Oil
  • 0.5 lbs (2 1/8 cup) Italian Arbonio rice
  • 1 qt Stock (Chicken or Vegetable)
  • 2 oz Parmesan Cheese- Grated
  • Salt-to taste
  • Heat up the stock, if you don't have any you can always use a buillion cube dissolved into 1qt hot water.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a LARGE saute pan, add the onion and saute beginning to soften. Do not brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until they reduce by 1/2 in volume.
  • Add the rice and saute until well coated with fat
  • Using a small ladle or 1/4 measuring cup, add 1 ladle of stock to the rice. Stir the rice over medium heat until the stock is absorbed and the rice is almost dry.
  • Add another ladle of stock and repeat. Do not add more than one ladleful at a time.
  • Stop adding stock when the rice is tender but still firm. It will be very moist and cream, but not runny. This can take a while, but its worth it, just keep adding the stock a little at a time, but don't allow the rice to get dry. Add the chopped parsley when the rice is almost ready.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in 3 oz butter and the Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste.

  • Heat up the shrimp in a pan, just to warm them through.
  • Serve the Risotto in a bowl with the shrimp laid on top and a bit of parsley to make it look fancy, or you could just eat it out of the pan.

And then there is the rest of us

I wonder exactly how many new food blogs start up every day. There has to be at least a dozen.

On they have compiled almost 2000 food blog links. And they have only just started. Type in food blog into google and you could spend hours sorting through the sites. Why you would do that, I'm not actually sure, but the law of averages says someone out there has. And you really can't argue with the law of averages, that's the same law that tells us we can become millionaires playing Roulette right? Unless of course we're playing the Russian version.

Sorting through some of the food blogs out there might give you a hankering for some Russian Roulette, and maybe a little beet borscht while your at it. It'd be a suiting last meal.

For every decent food blog there's 3-5 that are a waste of time. So many people start up 'food blogs' and fail to actually put anything about food in them. They talk about everything in their life, sometimes they might mention a meal they ate, but you won't find any recipes or any culinary tricks. These must be the people who figured food blogs were popular, and like every other loving parent they wanted their blog to be able to hang out with the other cool blogs.

Then there are the 5% of food blogs that have won award after award after award. These authors are amazingly talented cooks, very communicative and capturing, and most of these lucky buggers have published books, are on their way to publishing books, or have accumulated other forms of fame because of their blogs. The most perfect example of this would have to be The Amateur Gourmet .

If you haven't checked out this guys blog, than you are obviously a food blog virgin. You can't go anywhere in the food blog world without reading something about Adam Roberts, this guy is the Ryan Gosling of our world. Started off a little nerdy, but still adorable, and look at him now. (May I add that I was a fan of Mr. Gosling during his nerd years.)

Next in line for the food blog celebrity status is Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate & Zucchini .

Ms. Dusoulier fills the roll of Kiera Knightly. She's imported (Clotilde is from Paris) she's sweet, her words come across as earnest and open, and she doesn't skimp on the eye candy. In the food blogging world that means saliva stimulating close ups of all things edible.

To round out our little trio of food blog celebrities. I just now decided to stick to three, although I could keep making up comparisons that'd be almost as sad as going through all the goggled food blogs. Without further ado I give you number three: Miss. Molly from the U.S of A. Known to us as Orangette. And who will I draw a parallel to for our final entry? If Angelina Jolie cooked and sat down in front of a computer to write about it, I fancy this is what her blog would be like.

Orangette's quirky voice and sultry undertones convinces me that she'd be the type to carry a vial of red plasma around her neck. That would of course be the juices from a blood orange (lame culinary joke I know).

But now to the actual point of my blog (it's always best to leave that for last, no matter what all those professional writer say). There's the bottom 15-20?% of food blogs, there's the top 5%, and then there's the rest of us: The 75-80% of us (let me check to make sure I did that math correctly) that are neither horrible or destined for stardom.

We are the folks who love to cook, love to blog, and might not have the master culinary intuition, or the picture perfect photography skills, or even a timeless way with words. But god damn it we've got something too! The ability to ignore all of that.

I just thought about something. Having only just started this blog, I probably shouldn't assume that I fall into that category. Maybe I have actually got one all of my own: the .003% who no one will ever actually read, not even that one person who goes through all of the results on google.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Minted Walnut Double Chocolate Cookies

My boyfriend had a Remembrance parade to partake in today (he's in the reserves) and I had promised him yesterday that I would make him some Chocolate Chip cookies.

Although I love to bake, I get pretty bored with making the same thing (especially something as basic as Choc. Chip Cookie). But I had some inspiration from a Cold Lab from the week before where we made spiced nuts.

I wanted to combine a nice rich chocolate batter with mint in some way but I find that mint extract overwhelms in something like this. So I decided that I would coat walnuts with a light oil and some dried mint and then roast them off.

I added the walnut's to the (slightly) modified chocolate chip cookie recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and I had a decadent double chocolate cookie with a walnut crunch and just a hint of mint.


1/4 Pound Butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup Cream

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Cocoa
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
3/4 Cup Chocolate Chip

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Toss the Walnuts to coat with canola oil, sugar, and mint
  • Put on baking sheet and roast until nicely toasted and browned
  • Cream the butter, add the sugars, beat until light and smooth
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla, stir in the cream
  • Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa
  • Add to the creamed butter/sugar, mix until incorporated
  • Add more cream if needed to make a batter
  • Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips
  • Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, bake 8-10 minutes

Some tips to remember with this recipe:
  • make sure you cream the butter and sugars well, this adds air which helps give some rise to the cookies.
  • be sure to sift together the dry ingredients, especially the cocoa powder which is prone to lumps
  • when working with baking soda you must get the product into the oven ASAP, once baking soda is mixed with anything moist it activates, if you don't get it into the oven all of your rising power will be out of the product before the heat can trap it
  • When making any type of baked product like cookies or pastries or cakes, anything that you want to be tender, be very careful about only mixing enough to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients, and be gently fold in anything else like the chocolate chips and nuts. The reason behind this is that once wheat flour is moistened it begins to form gluten which toughens a product, the more you work it the more gluten forms, the tougher and less tender your end result will be

I was quite happy with the result of this recipe, I accidentally under baked my cookies a little. Next time I'll leave them in for the full 10 minutes. Always remember, the time will vary depending on your oven. They are as individual as cats.

Happy Cookin'

Choux Paste Mishap

I had my second Baking Exam last week. My first one (Bread and rolls) went well. My second one is a whole different story.

The subject on this exam was Choux Paste and Pies. The week before we had been told that Danish Dough, and Pastry Cream would also be on the schedule. And of course these were the things I concentrated on and practiced. In hind site... I wish I had worked on Choux Paste.


As Defined By Wikipedia:

Chou(x) pastry, paste, or dough (French pâte à choux, German Brandteig) is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, eclairs, French crullers, beignets, and gougères. It contains only butter, milk, flour, and eggs. Its raising agent is the high moisture content, which creates steam during cooking, puffing out the pastry.

As Defined By

Choux paste (as experienced initially) is a bastardly difficult, temperamental, and technical form of baking that is so simple it relies completely on the Chef's ability to predict unpredictable circumstances or else face utter failure.

Needless to say, the exam did not go so well.

I had actually never made Choux Paste before (in our school you work in partners for most labs and my partner had made the Choux paste when we first created eclairs) and wasn't really feeling up to snuff as it was, then confusion occured when other students did the 'last minute oven shuffle' and in the end I was left with one that was set at a very incorrect temperature. If you will refer to my definition above you will know that Choux paste is not forgiving.

The recipe as follows is easy enough to follow:


8 fl. oz water (you can use half milk half water)
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Sugar
3.5 oz Unsalted Butter
4 oz All Purpose Flour
3 or 4 Eggs

  • Bring water, salt, sugar and butter to the boil
  • Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until flour is fully absorbed. Stir until a ball is formed and the dough is dry
  • Cool slightly
  • Stir in eggs one at a time until proper consistency is reached. The dough should pull away from the sides of the pot in thick threads.
  • Place into a piping bag.
  • Bake at 400 degrees until a golden brown color is achieved

You just have to be careful to cook them off in a 400 degree oven. It is the heat that provides the lift, there are no other leaveners. My éclairs turned out flat as a pancake because they were put into a 325 degree oven and the outside formed a crust before the the moisture in the recipe could form steam and lift up the little buggers.

The beauty of properly done choux paste is the hallow cavity surrounded by the rich, crisp shell.

I wish I could say other wise, but honestly choux paste is amazingly delicious, and judging from the success of the other student's I have to admit it's not all that hard to make, and well worth the effort.

You can use the paste to make eclairs by piping out little logs and filling them with pastry cream and then topping them with melted chocolate, or sweet profiteroles by dropping them out by the spoon full or pipping them into rounds and then filling them with cream or ice cream, or puff pastries, or savory profiteroles (just mix in a little grated cheese into the paste before baking off).

Here is a good recipe to fill your éclairs or sweet profiteroles with. You can make a chocolate version by adding in 2oz or so of grated chocolate at the end with the vanilla. Or you could go for an orange, mint, or almond flavor by using a few drop of extract.


2 1/4 Cups Milk
4 Large Egg Yolks

2/3 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cups Corn Starch
1/4 Cups Flour

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Heat 2 cups of the milk to boiling.
  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and the rest of the milk (1/4 cup)
  • Add the cornstarch and flour into the egg mixture, whisk until smooth.
  • Temper the egg mixture with the heated milk until you have added all of it.
  • Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, make sure you stir constantly. It will thicken as it heats up.
  • Once it has boiled, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 2 minutes, until you can't taste raw flour anymore.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Pour into a bowl, press plastic wrap onto the surface (prevents a skin from forming) and cool to room temp before chilling.
Once I get the time I'll be attacking Choux paste again. When I do something wrong in the lab I have this insatiable itch to do it at home to see if I'm incompetent or if it was just the circumstances.

In this case I'm not really sure which I would prefer. It'll be a hard pill to swallow if I realize that I actually can make éclairs at home, just not when it comes to an exam.

Rouxbe Thanksgiving

I have spent hours scouring the internet for good cooking websites. With all that time spent I only ever found one website that really was what I was looking for. I'm sure the millions of people who are trying to teach themselves to cook know what I'm talking about.

You want a site that has great instructions, good visuals, gives you confidence in the quality of their recipes, explains unknown culinary terms, and while their at it, they might as well give it all to you in a easy to use attractive interface.

That website Rouxbe is so good that even now that I am enrolled in a culinary program I still get excited every time I receive an email telling me there is a new recipe posted.

The site was created by Chefs from the western part of the country (that would be Canada) and for every recipe they have a video with audio step by step instructions as well as text recipes. Some of the extras that make this site so great include opt in video's of special techniques or culinary terms that the user might or might not be familiar with, as well as funky music that somehow always matches the feel of the meal being prepared.

This week they came out with a very adventurous project: they have created videos and recipes guidelines for creating a multiple course thanksgiving dinner. They have everything from the turkey to the pumpkin pie. They allow you to customize what recipes your interested in, provide you with a planning checklist and even break down each step from what you should do 2-3 days before, right up to plating and carving the turkey.

I'm a little disappointed that they didn't have this out for the Canadian thanksgiving (not that I would have been able to justify creating such a feast) but at least it's out with plenty of time for Christmas. Everything looks so amazing, and it looks like so much fun to coordinate all of the dishes that I'm considering doing a scaled down version for two.

The recipes they've compiled include:

Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Cassis Cranberry Sauce

Maple-Roasted Yams

Garlic-Proscuitto Baked Brussels Sprouts

Traditional Stuffing

Buttery Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Turkey with Gravy

Signing up initially is free, to continue after a certain period you have to hook yourself up with a sponser, but this is pretty stress free (it pretty much involves clicking a few links and having a small banner at the top of the page when you visit) , and its well worth it.

And another exciting thing about Rouxbe, they are actually opening up the first ever online cooking school in 2008. It looks like its going to be really great. I wish I had had that type of resource before I paid the money to attend a brick and morter version.

Chapter One

So here I am, finally starting a blog. I resisted the urge for a long time, sometimes I cracked and started up a profile on a blogging site, but I never actually got around to blogging. But now my writing impulse and growing boredom has brought me here.

Earlier today I wrote an article for my college's newspaper. The deadline was approaching and I had a sudden inspiration for the topic the other night while watching the news.

A restaurant in New York; Serendipity 3 created the world's most expensive sundae. It costs $25 000 and comes with a 19-karate gold bracelet's that has 1 karate of white diamonds encrusted on it.
Although like most other females I love jewelry my real interest was in the sundae itself.

The chocolate ice cream that serves as the base made of 23 varieties of cocoa, 14 of which are the world's most expensive. Also blended into the ice cream is 5 grams of 23-karat edible gold. The goblet it comes served in is lined with edible gold, and the whip cream its topped with is sprinkled with more gold. It's served with a La Madeline au Truffle (from Knipschildt Chocolatier).

Along with the bracelet there's a golden spoon with white and chocolate coloured diamonds that you get to take home as a party favor.

So I decided to do a little research and came up with information on some other expensive menu items including a sandwich for almost $200, an omelette for $1000, and a bagel for $1000. Most of these have truffles, gold, or caviar as main money ingredients.

My pride would like me to claim that I would never be so stupid as to pay that much money on something like a bagel. But I've got to admit it would be neat to say that I've eaten the most expensive bagel in the world. Not to mention, white truffle cream cheese? That's got to be amazing.