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, ├ęclairs, 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!