Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Growing Up From Scratch

When I grew up we had breakfast together every morning, Monday through Friday, on the weekends my brother and I were on our own for giant bowls of cereal filled with sugary milk (only because we added spoonfuls to the low sugar cereals my mother always bought). We ate dinner together every night at the table far away from any TV as long as there wasn’t a school sporting event or band or work. Every summer we shucked and froze corn, picked beans, made jams and jellies, canned cherries, pears, and peaches, and watched movies while we cracked walnuts to get ready for the winter. I grew up with homemade bread and dessert served with almost every dinner. The kitchen table was covered with bowls making batches and batches of cookies for the county fair. My mom cooked a lot, I mean a lot a lot. I didn’t find out until college that she really didn’t like to cook. It was a chore for her, something she felt was her job and luckily for me she felt that it was really important that her family had good food. Now does that mean that my mom was a whirlwind of Julia Child phenomenal meals? No not so much, love you mom, but we all know what disliking does to product. I was really lucky, I was given an excellent platform to launch from, I had all of the cooking basics down and I was driven to make better tasting meals. Once again, love you mom I’m glad you aren’t reading my blog. I had a childhood of unprocessed foods and family meals something many (unfortunately many) people didn’t and don’t have. I’m thrilled now that my mom calls for recipes and advice and is learning new things. Cooking is becoming more fun for her and I’m sure that comes from it being less of a “have to” activity. Bring your kids in for classes, teach them some valuable life skills, make cooking less of chore by learning how to do it well and simply, and sit down together once in awhile. I guarantee it will be something they will appreciate. And if we can help you make cooking fun, we are happy to do so.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Culinary Tip #8 Ten Thousand Hours of Mastery!

One of the theories that holds me enrapt is one that Malcolm Gladwell talks of in his book Outliers. It originated from Dr. K Anders Ericsson and it discusses the ten thousand hours of mastery. It fascinates me because it shows over and over that no matter economic status, gender, background or a slew of other variables, that if someone practices they will always catch up to someone with inherent ability. Anyone can achieve a level of mastery at ten thousand hours. Do you know what that means? That means my mother was right about practicing the piano, and seeing that now is really irritating. But it also means that if I decided today that I wanted to master the piano I still could if I practiced. It also means that I am invested even more so in teaching because I believe that if I can give people information and tools they need to learn to cook in a very clear way, that they will get better if they practice. That makes me happy, that means everyone can be successful in the kitchen! I have had culinary students who get discouraged because the person cutting next to them is so much better than they are even though they started school at the same time. Well everyone starts school with a different level of practice under their belts and trust me on this one, bad practice will set you back some when you learn the right way to do things, you have to relearn and that’s okay, start over, clean slate! I promised those students and I promise you, you’ll get better if you practice and that’s going to come with time. Guess what the handy thing is that you eat everyday, so if you have the inclination to learn you have three chances a day to practice. So no pressure, we’ll give you the tools, information, heck we’ll give you the space, but if you want to get better, you’re going to have to practice! But we believe in you and we think it’s important so we’ll help you along the way, and this one of the few places you’ll here it, pick up the knife and get started!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Culinary Tip #7 Lemongrass Lime Coconut Cream Pie with Lime Graham Crust

It was Susana’s birthday on Sunday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUSANA!!!!! Business partner extraordinaire and best friend.
Anyway for her birthday, which she reminded me about on a regular basis, she wanted a lemongrass lime coconut cream pie with lime graham crust. Guess what people, you don’t need a recipe to make something that your friend has completely pulled out of her... head... and has to have to make her birthday complete. All right you need one recipe pastry cream, but even then, you are changing it quite a bit.
Pastry cream, the lovely base for cream puffs, éclairs, cream pies, cake layers, and multitudes of other delights, is made of milk or half & half, sugar, cornstarch and eggs with a tad of butter and vanilla in the end. So instead of the dairy use coconut milk, scratch the vanilla and butter and you are ready to go.

2 C coconut milk
¼ C sugar
2 yolks
1 egg
¼ C cornstarch
1/3 C sugar
1 stalk lemongrass (crush with butt of the knife and cut into 2” lengths)
2 ea lime zested (1/2 for crust)
pinch of salt


1 C graham crumbs
½ cup sugar
¼ c melted butter

It’s against my better judgment to write this all down but here you go. Mix crumbs, sugar, zest from one lime, and melted butter together. Press into pie shell and bake at 350 for ten minutes.


Put the coconut milk, ¼ c sugar, lemongrass, and zest from one lime. Steep at low heat for at least 20 min.

In a bowl whisk remaining sugar, eggs, yolk and cornstarch

Strain coconut milk ad whisk hot liquid slowly into egg mixture put it back into saucepan and bring up to simmer to activate the cornstarch. Whisk at first and then switch to high temp spatula. Once it’s thick take off the heat.

Pour over baked crust and chill.

Pipe on some chantilly, make a meringue or eat it just the way it is. Yum!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Culinary Tip Week 6 Pork the Magical Animal


Culinary Tip Week 6



Thank goodness for the pig and the magical animal that it is. I don’t really care which part you are serving me I will happily eat it. I am a total utilization food girl. And yes deep-frying is cheating; you can make it taste good in many other ways.

Even though the fat on the back of the shoulder is called the clear plate and the fat on the loin is called the fat back, it is used interchangeably. Pork fat is an awesome thing because of the flavor and the melting temp. It is the fat used mostly for sausages and many other tasty adventures. I think duck fat might be catching up a little, but it still has miles to go before it’s as popular as pork fat for cooking.

Let’s break it down

The Boston Butt you will see called a myriad of things, boston shoulder, shoulder, butt shoulder, butt roast, shoulder roast. Then to make things a little more complicated the Picnic Shoulder is right below it and that’s called a variety of things too and many times you will see them package together as one big piece of meat (ok maybe only at Costco).

Boston Butt: shoulder chops, country style ribs (anterior region of the loin ribs), shoulder roast, boston roast, ground

Don’t worry about trying to keep them separate they are so similar in make-up that it will make very little difference in how you cook them. I used to tell students that you can tell which one is the picnic because it can’t pick up the basket the arm is missing. That sounds a little disturbing but I bet you won’t forget it now. Look for the arm bone and you are good to go.

Other things coming from the Picnic Shoulder: arm roast, arm steak, picnic roast

Loin: full loin, loin chops, sirloin chops, tenderloin (different from the loin), rib chops, crown roast, sirloin cutlet, top loin chop, country style ribs, back ribs, Canadian bacon, loin roast, sirloin

The loin itself is very lean so brine it, marinate it, and don’t over cook it!! Thank goodness they just lowered the cooking temperature of pork to 145°. Please please pull it at 140° it’ll continue to cook and you won’t have tough dry meat. Blech.

Leg or Fresh Ham: it’s not a ham until it’s been cured and/or smoked. leg roasts

The picture isn’t great the belly is the entire section of the both the Fresh Bacon and the Spare Ribs. The ribs are lying on top of the fresh bacon, so once those have been peeled off you have the two individual pieces. Salt pork also comes from this area

The hocks are almost always cured and smoked and great for flavoring soups, stews and beans of course.

Pig’s feet or trotters are full of collagen a connective tissue that breaks down with most heat cooking and adds wonderful flavor and body to stocks. Besides the classic pickled pigs feet, many chefs will split the trotters lengthwise and use them in stock.

The same goes for pig as beef, the high motion areas of the animal are going to be tougher. Pig has a lot of collagen in the should region that makes it ideal for braising and slow low heat cooking because of all the tenderness and flavor it imparts, that’s where we get our beautiful pulled pork.

The last thing is the jowl and if you ever see bacon ends and pieces in a grocery store that’s what you are probably getting, it looks and tastes exactly like bacon especially if it’s been cured and smoked. In fact I just made some jowl bacon last week. Guanciale is something that is a fad right now at least in Portland. It’s the unsmoked and dry cured jowl that’s an Italian classic. Now you know. If you see it on a menu, order it!

Cooking Tip Week 5ish Taking the Mystery out of Meat Cuts!



Let’s talk about meat. As a teacher first and foremost I get really irritated by the packaging in grocery stores. It gets more and more confusing trying to figure out what’s what in the meat department with all of the marketing terms that they use. It seems like it’s meant more to fool you than to help you to make a decision about what you want to put on your table for your family.

Now that there are dozens of cuts that you can get you really have to know your stuff, or you just stick to the things you know really well and don’t venture into the land of strange names. Fair enough I don’t blame you one bit. There is a lot out there so I am going to tackle as much as I can and see if we can’t answer some of those burning questions I’m sure you’ve been dying to ask.

First let’s start with the cow. Anything that is in the high motion areas of the animal are going to be tough pieces of meat. Tough but flavorful! Tough, flavorful and CHEAP! So if you know how to cook them or prepare them properly, you are going to be able to have tastier and cheaper meat. Sounds like a win-win to me.

This is the first part, knowing where the cut comes from. If you know that the chuck, brisket, plate, round shanks and flank or tip come from the high motion areas you’ll know these cuts either need to:
1) Marinated or tenderized
2) Sliced very thinly (across the grain) or ground
3) Use a moist heat cooking method or long, slow cooking (roasting, smoking, BBQ)

For the rib or short loin, tenderloin, or parts of the sirloin you can use dry heat cooking methods. These are where your grilled steaks come from.

Now not to throw a wrench into the situation but there are a few exceptions to the rule and that comes with knowing that if a piece of meat is tucked up next to a bone sometimes it’s going to be tender without coming from the sedentary parts of the animal. That’s a whole other chapter I promise to cover later.

Here are some of the cuts you’ll see in the grocery store and where they come from

Chuck: chuck short ribs, chuck roast, chuck steak, stew meat, ground beef.

Rib: rib roast, rib steak, rib eye steaks, prime rib

Short Loin: loin steaks, T-bone steak, porterhouse, top loin steak, NY steak tenderloin

Sirloin: sirloin steak, wedge-bone steak, boneless sirloin, sirloin roast

Round: round steak, top round steak, bottom round steak, eye of round, heel, ground beef, rump roast

Shanks: cross cut, stew meat

Brisket: typically fresh or corned

Short Plate: short ribs, skirt steak, stew meat, ground beef

Flank: flank steak

Tip: tip steak tip roast (the tip is at the bottom of the sirloin into the round it’s not on the above picture)


If you are looking for the best tasting steak you are going to have to go to a butcher who actually cuts things up instead of pulling fabricated cuts from a box.

Ask for the chuck end of the rib you are getting closest to that high motion area and still having a tender piece of meat.

This is going to rub some of you wrong that really love that cross hatch on your steak, but if you really want a juice steak, flip it often, ever minute or so. I know I know it’s not going to be aesthetically pleasing. Put a pat of blue cheese butter on it and get over it. If you flip it often the meat doesn’t have a chance to dry out and overcook on the outside. If we had our way we’d have the same color all the way through rather than a brown ring all the way around.

All right that’s all for now, next time we’ll cover pork and a little more about the cooking of meat in general. Enjoy meat and please if you have any questions we’re happy to answer them!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

PCW Cooking Tip Week 4 Burnt Pan Be Gone!

Sorry I’m a couple days late, it took a couple days to recover from Teen Week, but we had a total blast and so did they. It’s nice to know that we helped a few kids learn some valuable life skills. If you missed it, it was so popular we scheduled another for Aug. 22-26th Sign up now before it fills up!

So this is a quick tip though highly valuable. If you are anything like me, the more I multitask the worse the individual results. I have to rely more and more on timers and reminders and the really messed up part is I even need one to remind me that I’m filling the wash sink. What??! It’s full of bubbles people, it doesn’t make any noise! I don’t remember until I hear the water pattering on the floor.

It wouldn’t be a surprise then that I have burned a pan or two in my lifetime. On of the best things I ever found out about is that if you put water in your burnt pan with a healthy shot of baking soda and put in on the stove to boil for a few minutes it takes most of the black off the pan like magic. Sometimes I run a scratch pad over it and then boil it so it has a few scratches in the carbon to gain a foothold. It really is a fabulous trick.

We hope you don’t have to use it but just in case you do, we hope this makes the job a little easier. See you next week for your next tip!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PCW Cooking Tip Week 3 Chicken Liver Mousse

My whole chicken comes with a little bag in it. When you buy whole chickens in the restaurant world you usually buy WOGs, or WithOut Guts, when you buy whole chickens at the regular grocery store most of the time they come with a little papery bag inside that contains the liver, kidney, heart and neck. I’m 100% sure that the pieces in that bag did not come from that same chicken, but you’ve got ‘em so you might as well use them!
Today we are concentrating on the livers. Save them! Put them all into a little baggy and throw them into the freezer until you get enough to make a cup or a pint depending on how many people you are feeding or how much you like Chicken Liver Mousse.
Once you have enough pull them out of the freezer and soak them overnight in milk. That pulls out the impurities. Strain them when you are ready to use.
Sauté up in a pan a little shallots/onions/garlic, add your livers and cook a little so they are brown on all sides. Deglaze the pan with a little white wine/marsala/madiera/sherry/brandy or juice. You can add orange zest if you like. Cook all of the liquid out of the pan.
Put everything in a food processor and puree, as it cools add whole cold butter. Season with salt!
You can eat it warm or you can refrigerate it and serve it later. Because of the butter it is going to get thicker as it cools. If you want it to have a very smooth consistency you can press the mouse through a wire sieve or tamis.
Are you annoyed that there are no amounts? You’ll live I promise. You are not going to screw this up if you put in more or less garlic. It depends on what you like.


Garlic
Shallots
Onions
Livers
Zest
Fortified Wine
Cold Butter
Salt


You’ll have to forgive us, we don’t have any fancy schmancy video equipment or editing program, so the video is too big for Blogger. Check out our Facebook page and we'll post the videos there!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grating Ginger PCW Tip Week 2

So did you dig last week’s tip? Well consider this part two! But before we get to that a quickie update on what’s new at PCW. Our fundraiser for the Sauvie Island Center went smashingly and we were happy to be helping out such a great cause by teaching people how to make good food. It was a win win for us. Check them out because they have a barn dance happening on the 30th of July complete with BBQ that sounds like the bees’ knees.
Our Teen Camp for next week is sold out! We promise that next year we’ll run it for two weeks and add advanced classes for those participating this year!

Cooking Tip Week 2# Beautiful Ginger Paste no work


We have a video of this too because it’s hard to believe this works as well as it does. Take an ordinary box grater and wrap it in plastic wrap on the small grate. Grate your ginger over the plastic wrap and you’ll get a wonderful paste no fiber and no plastic bits. Don’t ask me why this works, I even took physics in college and I can’t really figure it out but I don’t spend a lot of time trying to either. I do know that all plastic wrap is not created equal and if you have cheap flimsy stuff at home things are not going to go well for you. Don’t avoid your ginger because of the time you normally spend dicing it to bits! Hopefully this little trick will allow you to add more ginger to your food without the hassle.
Just wait until next week when we show you what to do with that little bag you find inside the cavity of the chicken. Don’t make that face! It’s going to be awesome!
video

Monday, July 11, 2011

PCW Tip Week 1 Peeling Ginger

My in-laws were in town this week. That may not be a surprise to some of you who follow us on Facebook and saw dinner being made for them. One of the many activities we did was head over to the coast and spent a few hours in Cannon Beach. There is a cute little wine bar called Lush on the south side of downtown. We sat on the plant filled patio in the sunshine (yes really there was sun) and drank wine and beer and had snacks.
One of the little appetizers was a balsamic reduction with olive oil and a plate of bread. Now for my husband and I who have been in the culinary industry and in Portland for that matter, balsamic reduction is not new, in fact it’s really old news. For my in laws it was an atomic bomb of awesomeness. And they were more than a little upset that we had never shared this amazing food that is also easy to make, with them.
So my father-in-law suggested (demanded) that I share a culinary trick with him once a week. I thought that would be an excellent idea for the biz and for the blog. So from now on, PCW will be giving you a cooking tip once a week. We hope it’ll be useful and fun for you. Without further ado here it is:


PCW Tip Week 1

Sometime I forget that things that I’ve been doing for years other people have no idea, and one of the things that I find that constantly surprises people is that, you can peel ginger with a spoon.
Just use the edge of the spoon and you’ll be able to scrape the “paper” off the ginger very easily. It gets in the curves easier and you will get a better yield than you’ll even get when you use a peeler or a knife. We’ve even attached a video for you and we hope that you’ll incorporate more ginger into your cooking now that it’s easier to peel. Wait till next week and we’ll show you an easy way to make a ginger paste!


video

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Team Buildings Reclaimed!!

Have you ever been part of a company that does “Forced Family Fun”? That’s what we heard Team Buildings called today and maybe Team Building has become a four letter word these days. I know that I’ve been dragged (literally) to mandatory bonding events where I had to bowl or play laser tag or do a trust fall with my colleagues when I’d rather be getting work done or actually be engaged in a fun activity (though laser tag was a cathartic slaughter of my boss). How about we take back Team Buildings and make them a good time where you can take something that is essential, almost primal, and simple, and break bread with each other.

PCW invites you and your team into our space to learn a new skill, work together in a new dynamic way to build morale and develop lasting relationships that end with sitting down together and eating an amazing meal. Seriously how cool is that? What a great way to get your managers or employees to engage and work in cooperation.

Anyone who is in business knows that turnover is one of the number one labor expenses. How about cultivating a work place environment where your employees look forward to a quarterly gathering because they know it’s going to be something useful to their business relationships and to their own personal growth.

Keep Portland’s Culinary Workshop in mind next time you have a company gathering, we can cater it directly to fit your needs and budget. Reclaim Team Buildings!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Delicious Diabetic Meals

Today, one in twenty people are diabetic in the United States, and if the trend continues the way that it has, one in three children born after the year 2000 are going to develop Type II diabetes in their lifetime. That’s huge. Even typing it, it seems overwhelming and unbelievable.

If you are someone who is living with diabetes or has a loved one with diabetes you know that foods can seem like an area filled with landmines. You have to know which things are going to spike your blood sugar and learn how to avoid all those hidden sugars and carbs.

PCW is having a Delicious Diabetic Meals class on Wednesday at 6pm that will steer you away from all of the fake foods and artificial sweeteners that are marketed to the public, and help you learn about natural alternatives that are easy to use. Come and learn amazing tasty recipes and develop the techniques to make things at home for a healthier life where you are missing out on decadent food.

Sign up at http://www.portlandsculinaryworkshop.com/store


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sunshine Berry Tart


On this rainy Portland day, the sun has left us once again and while I am search for one little bright ray I don’t think it’s going to happen. Most of us in the culinary field will tell you that at some point we chose this profession because we love to please people with food. I am taking it upon myself to bring all of you a little sunshine from my kitchen to yours.

Since we are in the middle of Oregon strawberry season I can’t stress how important it is to gobble us as many of these luscious berries while you can. Mine rarely make it to the car from the Farmer’s Market, strawberries out of season really just don’t compare. So in celebration of the berries that are popping up, here is my berry tart recipe that will be a guaranteed winner at any dinner or BBQ.

SHORT DOUGH

1# powdered sugar

2# butter

3# AP flour

3 eggs

1 T vanilla

This is often called 1-2-3 dough and if you look at the ingredients you can see why. While this makes a gi-normous amount I figured I’d leave the original amounts so that you can see the ratios, it makes it easy to remember in a pinch without a recipe. Yes you can cut this down by a third no prob AND this freezes really really well. Make leftover dough into a 1” disc and wrap well in plastic wrap.

Okay for the procedure.

Throw it all in your mixer with a paddle attachment and mix. It’s that easy. Make sure your butter is room temp.

Now the dough needs to be COLD, butter shrinks when you cook it so if you want your beautiful tart to hold it’s shape you need to:

1) Roll the dough out while it’s cold- which is near impossible since butter is solid out of the frig-this is therapy and cathartic, beat it with your rolling pin- I mean it, beat it hard!

2) After you roll out your dough to about 1/8” thick lay it into a tart shell-preferably with a removable bottom, make sure you press it into the corners and refrigerate till it’s COLD before you bake it.

3)Put pie weights in the bottom, or dried beans- I recommend putting the beans in heat proof plastic wrap or tinfoil so you can get them out easily-

Bake at 375 for 10 min and then remove the weights and finish cooking all the way through.

PASTRY CREAM

16 oz. half and half

2 oz. sugar

2 ea. Eggs

1 ¼ oz. cornstarch

2 oz. sugar

1 oz. butter

1 t vanilla

Use stainless steel pan. Scald half and half with first 2 oz. sugar. Combine eggs, cornstarch, and sugar and mix until smooth. Temper liquid into egg mixture, return to heat until mix thickens. Pull off heat and add butter and vanilla.

Pastry cream will form a skin on top so if you aren’t going to use it right away wrap it will plastic wrap pressing it directly on top of the cream. Once it’s cold you can spoon it into the cooled tart shell and spread out so that it’s even.

Decorate and completely cover the top of your tart with fresh berries, kiwi, or favorite stone fruit. In order for your berries to retain their color and to look shiny and beautiful dilute a little jelly (apricot is classically used because it’s almost clear) with water and heat up till it’s a little runny and brush on your tart. This will seal it.

Refrigerate or serve!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Butchery and Utilization

Let’s be honest. Americans have become a chicken breast nation. We will happily fork over (sorry for the pun) $8+ for 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts rather than the same amount of money for a whole chicken. And why would we not want two legs, two thighs, 2 breasts, 2 wings and bones for the same price as 2 breasts, because we like the convenience, which of course has gotten us in to a whole mess of trouble in other areas of our diet. It takes effort to separate a chicken into its individual parts, or package those for the freezer, or use the bones to make a stock.

It’s estimated that Americans throw away almost 50% of their food. Fifty percent!!! I don’t know about you but I can’t afford that. Not as a business or as an individual!

I took out my recycling the other day with a moment of glowing pride that my household recycles so much, that we have a compost for the chickens, and a worm bin, and then I took another look and saw that the recycling had paper bags in it from when we forgot the cloth ones, bottles that could have been reused or turned in for deposits, paper that could have been used for scratch, junk mail that we should have called to get removed off the lists, stuff in the garbage that could have been recycled, compost that could have been utilized instead of being thrown out or product that went bad because we didn’t use it when we should have. I still have a long way to go to consume less in general instead of being proud about the items I manage to recycle. I could have saved myself money too.

One of the ways that I try to incorporate utilizing in my life and business is to teach the Snout to Tail classes. What better way to pack your freezer on the cheap than to learn how to break down and utilize an entire animal?? More people are buying whole animals for home or going in with friends, it’s another way you can also find out where your product is coming from.

Our Snout to Tail: Pork! class is coming up Sunday June 26th from 9am-noon. It’s $95 which includes a lecture about meat make up and help you learn that knowing where it comes from will help you know how to cook it. You’ll be the one that breaks down the animal and you’ll take pork home with you. You really can’t beat that deal.

Take another step with me in making our dollars count, using the whole thing, and finding out where all that magical pork comes from.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cooking Classes for Kids

Are you staying in town this summer, trying to save money on gas and travel? Do you know how you are going to continue your kids learning through the months? Why not send them to Portland’s Culinary Workshop to learn vital life skills!

PCW offers kids classes on Thursday morning for children 5 yrs and up and starting in July a teen camp for an entire week. Kids will learn how to make their own Smoothies, Tacos, Crackers, Fruit Leather, Pita Pockets from scratch and more, as well as working in a team environment and developing skills that will last a lifetime. Make sure your kids are prepared with kitchen know-how so they can make healthy choices all while having a great time.

For Teens, July 25th-29th from 9am-noon students will start off learning Knife Techniques, and Cooking 101 and add to their learning throughout the week. Classes can be purchased individually or the whole week for the price of four days.

Register soon on our website though our online store or at 503-512-0447. There are only 7 spots left for the Teen Camp in July.

Kids Classes $45

June 16th Tacos!

June 23rd Smoothies and Snack Bars

June 30th Fruit Leather and Crackers

July 7th Pizza

July 14th Awesome Pita Pockets

July 21st Tacos!

Aug. 4th Sushi

Aug. 11th Pasta from Scratch

Aug. 18th Dips and Salsa, Chips and Crackers

Aug. 25th Muffins and Biscuits

Teen Camp $45 a day or $190 for the week

July 25th Knife Techniques

July 26th Sauces Make it Better

July 27th Cooking 101: Principles of Cooking

July 28th Food from Around the World

July 29th Baking and Desserts


www.portlandsculinaryworkshop.com

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Making Lemonade from Lemons, or a Smoker from a Lousy Freezer

We’ve been gearing up for a very busy spring, so many events happening! It’s exciting to be busy, don’t get me wrong though I’d like to be even busier, that’s a problem I could happily live with. We’re excited to be offering pastry and baking classes taught by the amazingly talented duo Andrea and Bruce Bowers. Susana and I can make tamales, breakdown a pig, lamb, cow, cook Brazilian, Thai, Indian, French, Spanish, American cuisines of all kind, create cheese from milk, and make a rose out of a radish, to name a few things. I can make a fine rose out of butter cream and some tasty gluten free treats, but we prefer to leave the baking and pastry to the real professionals.
Like everyone here in the Willamette Valley we are waiting anxiously for the sun to stop teasing us with these gorgeous days and then hiding again. There might be a mass migration out of the Valley if we didn’t have these high sun days that keep us going for a few more weeks until summer finally arrives. Our beautiful urban garden is going to be planted this weekend and our grilling classes are filling up quickly. We scored a smoker that makes me quiver with excitement just thinking about it. Did we mention the POS freezer we bought from a lousy vender? That freezer is going to get made into a cold smoker!!! HOORAY!!! What? That doesn’t excite you? You’re nuts, think of the bacon, the vegetables, the salmon the Complete AND UTTER YUMMINESSS!! Okay well I’ll be excited for the lot of you until you come down and see how I McGyvered a useless piece of equipment into a work of art. Don’t worry I’ll document the process.
We’ve had a lot of people ask us about our age limit for kids. Well right now it’s a 5yrs old. We do have those kid specific classes coming up in June where you can drop off your kids and let them learn amazing life skills but if at any time you have a young one that wants to take any of our classes you are welcome to sign them up. We’ve had kids of all ages take our Knife Techniques, Sushi and other classes and we welcome all. That should also give you some indication that people with any level of skill will be successful in our classes. Don’t worry if you can’t hold a knife, it’s our job to show you how.
Be sure and check out our Facebook and Twitter to stay up on what we are doing and if you really want to be in the loop, sign up for our newsletter on our webpage!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So Awesome I Almost Shed a Tear

Blog, what? We have a blog? I ‘m not going to apologize every time I slack off, so bare with me. I work two jobs (only for another month and then it’s PCW full time baby!) and sometimes after a long day I just want to sit on the couch and play Donkey Kong and drink a beer. Come on, you know that sounds better than blogging.
But we have so many freakin’ amazing things coming up that I think that this might be one of the best ways to get it out there! We are full speed ahead on classes since our hood has been finished approved and running for a couple weeks now, so our list of offering for May and June is, ok I am a little biased, AMAZING! We are really excited to be offering Baby Food Bonanza, Cuisine of Latin America, Vegetarian Vegan Delight, Pie Oh My, Cake Decorating, Dumplings, Grilling, Brunch, Tamales, Asian Flavors and more than I want to list here!!!!! So exciting.

On top of that we are pairing up with some experts in the field to bring to you Wine 101, Tequila Tasting and Bread & Beer for Dudes. You really can’t miss these classes.

One of the things that is really important to us is to be involved in the community and charity events. So we are thrilled to be able to tell you about a few events we are hosting and participating in:

May 17th Amazing Grange Fundraiser –We lecture and break down and pig, prep it for bacon and ham and raise money to save a piece of Americana and community.

June 7th and 28th Hamburger Iron Mary Burger competition- Melinda will be one of the judges for this contest over several weeks to decide whose meat is biggest and tastiest (burgers people that means burgers) and if that isn’t awesome enough it’s a fundraiser for the Cascade AIDS Project.

July 14th –Sauvie Island Center- Fundraiser- This program takes hundreds of kids out to Sauvie Island, shows them composting, planting, harvesting, pollinating and most importantly where their food comes from. American’s waste more than 50% of their food, we are going to show you how to get the most out of your groceries, use the whole thing!

Did I mention our Kids Cooking classes and Teen Camp? We even have a kid’s size table. Have your kids learn skills they’ll use for life: teamwork, social skills and cooking!

I know there are a lot of exclamation points in there, but truth is we get more excited every class we teach, every person who learns something new and every opportunity we have to pair up with people in the community. Come be a part of our workshop and make it your workshop.

Here's the links to all our cool stuff.

Iron Mary
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=190045287699266

Sauvie Island Center
http://www.facebook.com/sauvieislandcenter?ref=ts

Amazing Grange
ttp://amazinggrange.wordpress.com/

Experience Tequila
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Experience-Tequila/121089806368?ref=ts


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Love Affair With Food

You know what I love? I love that after busting my butt all week at my paying job and then at my love child job (Portland’s Culinary Workshop, if there was any question) I can get excited about having a rare swath of time in my schedule to go home and cook.
My handsome wonderful amazing husband has been ridiculously supportive of my new venture by taking on all of the meals at home, and this sentence is dedicated to letting him know how very much I appreciate that (someday baby, you’ll get a whole paragraph). But the other day I found myself at home while it was still light outside and I had seafood extravaganza on my mind. Clams, shrimp and sole, I could have gone crazy but I was only cooking for three and leftover seafood is not one of my favorites unless it’s smoked or raw.
A fantastic broth of ginger, galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro, and onions that I steeped for 2 hours, was intended to steam the clams in it last minute and finished with fresh cilantro. Despite its Asian components I made sure I had loads of crispy garlic bread to soak up the extra broth.
The shrimp were cut in half lengthwise and tossed quickly in garlic that had been sweated in oil. Then the shrimp were finished with a pat of butter and toasted coconut. Sweet and garlicky! Yummy!
Served on a bed of simply cooked broccolini and fennel, the sole was sautéed quickly and finished with fresh fennel fronds, capers and lemon juice.
I pulled out the platters and the plates, the cloth napkins and shell bowls and settled down with an amazing spread that pleased everyone. It’s nice after all these years that I still love cooking for myself and my family after I get done with a day of cooking and teaching for others. Instead of writing about all the continuing details of pulling together a business and getting it off the ground I thought I’d take a break and write about my continuing love affair with food. I hope that I get to share it with you.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Early Morning Eel

It's 7am Sunday morning and I'm sitting in the shop listening to Peter Gabriel and eating a salad made of leftovers from Friday and Saturday's classes, Sushi and Mayos and Vinaigrettes. So an unagi, avocado, cucumber green salad with daikon sprouts and a sambal aioli. Some may say it's too early in the morning for unagi but I say, Never!

In a couple of short hours the place is going to fill up with people taking the Knife Techniques class. For me it's such a simple class to teach and yet it's one of my favorite. I love the way that people light up when they learn something that is going to make cooking more enjoyable for them. We both live to take the work out of cooking for others. People might learn a new way to cut garlic, peel ginger, or tackle a vegetable they've been avoiding at the grocery store, and everyone and I mean everyone, is better with a knife then when they came in. It's a very satisfying class.

This afternoon Susana is teaching her Nutrition 101: Feed Your Body. Sitting next to me on the desk are some of her props. People you are in for a treat. Our LCD projector arrived on Friday so Susana is really excited to be able to use her PowerPoint prowess on our presentation wall.

Next weekend amoung other things I get to breakdown half a hog and walk people through the process explaining about meat breakdown in general, pork in particular and how you get from a whole pig to a pork chop, blade roast, piece of bacon or a spare rib. I can't wait! And people taking the class are going to get to leave with armloads of pork. Really compared to other classes in town, this is half the price, you can't beat the deal.

I'm off to finish the class set up, steal another piece of eel and make a pot of coffee.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snout to Tail on the Horizon!

We have a busy weekend ahead of us. Sushi making on Friday which I am really excited about since I adore sushi and can happily eat it all day. On Saturday we have a Mayo and vinaigrettes class, which is a great way to understand how to balance taste. Sunday with have another Knife Techniques class as well as a Nutrition 101: Feed Your Body lecture which I’m looking forward to sitting in on since I love watching Susana teach.
The details are filling up our space, we have another peg board for our “We Support Local Businesses” and small retail equipment. Our induction burners are arriving on Valentine’s Day. The best V-day present two knife wielders could ever want. Our copier should be arriving about that time and our compost bin is in time for this weekend’s classes! We might even have the coat rack finished, though our carpenter and tool man extraordinaire had to leave town to get away from all the work we were having him do. Thanks Pop!
Next weekend we have the premier Snout to Tail: Pork! We are getting in a half a hog and showing the breakdown of the whole animal and discussing all the ways of utilizing the entire things from head to trotters. There are a few slots left so sign up soon!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Class and Our Doors Are Open!

Yesterday was our first class! Unbelievable! Our Knife Techniques class ran yesterday from 9am-12pm and the great thing for us was that we didn’t know anyone in the class. That was very satisfying. I took the lead on that class and Susana is teaching the Raw Foods class as I write this.

People kept asking me if I was nervous, and no, not at all, it was just great to be doing what we love in our own space. It went incredibly smoothly and everyone had a great time as well as promising they would be back for more. We had several new suggestions for other classes they would like to see and the great thing about owning your own school is we don’t have to ask anyone else if it would be ok, we can run with it or dump it to our liking.

One of the couples that took our class purchase a whole pig and lamb every year and would like us to have a class where they get to break down their own purchase instead of paying to have it done. And wanted to know if I would be interested in hosting that. Hell yeah I would, bring it on.

Our space is filling up and we are completing all the little details that make a house a home. We have pegboards up displaying various implements and we will have another one this week for coats and our tiny retail section. We had two wine barrels delivered yesterday afternoon from our friend at Le Bete Winery. We are getting more tract lighting, induction burners have been ordered, our copier and LCD projector will be arriving this week, it’s all coming together Mwwaahahaha.

Next week we have a “Sushi!” class on Friday, “Mind Your Meat Mistress” on Saturday, another “Knife Techniques” class on Sunday as well as a “Feed Your Body: Nutrition 101 Lecture”. Whew we are rolling along.

We had another blog post from Kathleen Bauer and we shot a video for Thrillist, which should be out in the next week or two.

We hope to see you soon!

http://www.goodstuffnw.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We went from hoping the lease was going to be signed to a tornado of activity. It’s hard to believe that only a month ago we were waiting to sign a lease! Seriously?!! We can’t believe it. In less than two weeks we signed the lease, were allowed into the space early, painted, hooked up utilities, and brought in beautiful tables that Susana’s dad made for us.

Though we are always sad when other small businesses have to close, we were lucky to be able to purchase a bunch of goods from Blue Gardenia on Mississippi and from Alu on MLK, thank you to both of them for their contribution to a new endeavor. And between Susana and me we realized we had been collecting culinary toys for years and cleaned out our respective houses to outfit our new space.

We’ve been meeting with contractors, electricians, sign people and compost companies and that’s my excuse for not having written. My sincere apologies and I realize that trying to keep up with a blog while working doubles and trying to open a business has been a little overwhelming.
On 01/01/11 we had a “Woohoo, Our New Space” party for Facebook, family and friends. Don’t worry if you missed it, we will be having a Grand Opening as soon as our kitchen is completed! Any excuse is a good excuse for a party!

Since the first, we have purchased a freezer, reach-in, stove, stainless table and our hood system was put in yesterday sans the fan. Oh right, the fan. Turns out our building is on the historical registry so instead of taking the city a day to approve the permit, it’s going to take 8 weeks and we have to show design plans that the area with the fan will blend into the building. Even though this is a hiccup, and not a cheap hiccup, considering how fast this process has been going and how fortunate we have been I have to say that I’m just glad we can still get a hood system and well… it could be a lot worse. We are rolling with the changes.

We decided there were a huge variety of classes that we could offer without the hood (Raw Foods, Mind Your Meat Mistress, Snout to Tail! Pork and Lamb, Turducken 101: The Chicken, Knife Techniques) and amazing lectures that we want to offer, so we open the doors in February!
The press has been great and we are looking forward to more. We had a blog and then an article in the FoodDay, an article on Thrillist and a video being filmed tomorrow and another request for an interview this weekend. So I was serious about the Tornado.

Monday the 17th we did an Olive Oil tasting and lecture for Lattice Semiconductor in Beaverton. It was exciting to be in front of a whole room doing what we do best and everyone including us had a great time.

We are hoping to finish our purchasing of small wares soon, and the last kitchen piece, a three compartment sink, by the end of next week so we are completely set up. Our signs are in the window, the welcome mat is in front of the door and we are ready to have you in our shop!

http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2011/01/new_cooking_school_to_open_in.html

http://www.thrillist.com/food/portland/or/97227/north/northeast-portland/portlands-culinary-workshop_services#axzz1Bc2AHuld

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/album.php?aid=21126&id=112042322190463