Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Focaccia Bread at Home

The most deliciously wonderful bread, is the one that comes from your own oven.  We can all bake our own bread, but as I learned this evening there is a big difference between my home kitchen and the school kitchen.  It does help when you can bring home an arsenal of newly practiced skills from Intro to Baking Class.  Also- having a Chef Instructor who is highly committed to his students fully understanding the baking fundamentals and mastering the skills is valuable too~ its practically priceless.

I had a few obstacles to overcome this evening, for example:

-It was 55 degrees in my house when I got home- not a very warm atmosphere for bench resting and proofing breads- but I made it work the best I could.
-My oven is a piece of Junk basically- I had a very hard time keeping it at the 400 degrees required to bake the bread.  My new Martha Stewart oven thermometer has been quite a tattle-tale when it comes to the truth of my oven's real interior temps.  When the beeper goes off to signal the oven is preheated- ITS A LIE!!!  If I set the oven to 400 degrees, it tells me it is preheated at 210 degrees.  If I wait another 10 minutes then it is closer to temp.  Maybe I opened the oven door too often and that is why I couldn't maintain 400.  Either way I don't trust the oven, so my only for sure way of knowing my bread is cooked is to use my thermometer.  Internal temp of 190 is the goal, at least we made it to that tonight.  I was worried.

-I should have known better that my KitchenAid mixer was not set up for 4 lbs of dough.  She was working pretty hard to knead the flour, water, yeast and salt mixture that I dumped in it at the start.  She did it, but next time I may cut the batch in half to keep her happy.  I love that mixer and I need to make sure I am not asking too much.  I would be devastated if she collapsed!
-I forgot the rules about checking the dough after bench resting and the fermentation steps.  I think I guessed right about the desired elasticity of the dough, but apparently I will need to review these skills with Chef Fred at the next class.  That way I won't question what I am doing.

My Husband Tod said the resting dough looked like a pair of breasts- Nice :)

I am really glad I decided to make this bread at home.  It was a very insightful lesson about how important it is to know the basics so that you can cope with working in different atmospheres.  At school we feel protected and we have an instructor right by our side. Out on our own we have to rely a little bit more on our own instincts.  Making bread at home ends up being very tastefully rewarding, its a ton of fun, its super easy- especially with the KitchenAid I have found-  and it makes the entire house smell amazing!

Tonight I decided to make some bread
It would be a scrumptious way to keep my family fed
I put it in the oven with lots of love and care
Here is a fresh baked loaf I can't wait to share

Enjoy! ~With Love~ Chef Stef Shef

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday's Top Ten: The Line-Up

You better get it right the first time- Or they will send you packing!!!

Ok, its not really that dramatic- but it is important that you get it right the first time, and every time.   From our very first culinary class with kitchen lab we have been taught "first impressions are everything!"  At least these specific impressions are important to our chef instructors, since our daily class points exclusively rely on these ten major requirements- even before we start cooking in the kitchen.  

Its called the "Line-Up."  Each of us students stands in a line, shoulder to shoulder with our hands out in front of us like we are little kids in catholic school waiting to be smacked for being naughty.  The Chef Instructor walks up and down the line inspecting us all quite literally from head to toe, hats to shoes.  He is looking us carefully over to make sure we paid attention to all the crucial criteria and guidelines that have been set for us to follow.  If he catches something, he lets us know that we need to fix it right away.  All the while in this "line-up" we are standing in a hallway where other instructors and classmates from other classes can watch.  It doesn't feel too awkward after the first or second class.  I look at it as preparation for when I am a professional in the field someday.  Hopefully I can accomplish my own "line-up" in front of the mirror and pay attention to all the details that will be important for my own success.  Every morning I worry I will forget something, so far that concern has helped me come prepared every time.

Here is the Top Ten, in no particular order requirements to pass "Line Up" Successfully:

1.  HAT-  First of all you have to have your chef's hat.  Second it should be clean and white with no fuzzy things all over it.  Nobody likes our required hats, but since we all have to wear them we get over it.

2.  HAIR-  Your hair must be up inside your hat, especially if it is long, and I have seen my classmates fit a lot of hair into their hat so no excuses.  For the guys if you have any facial hair it must be trimmed to less than an inch, and no scruff!

3.  JEWELRY-  Heaven forbid you lose a piece of jewelry in the food!!  We are allowed a very minimal amount of jewelry.  Our earrings have to be small posts that do not hang off of the ear. Two piercings max on our ears- any other piercing is not permitted, no exceptions, no other visible places like your nose or eye brow, wherever.  And we are only allowed one wedding band preferably without a diamond.  A watch must be pinned to our coat, and no visible necklaces too.  

4.  MAKE-UP-  Become a minimalist and store the blue eye shadow for the weekends, k?  Basically do not go overboard in the category.   Also make sure to smell good, but not too good.  Nobody wants to pass out from excessive amounts of somebody's perfume.

5.  CHEF COAT and PANTS-  These are the basis of what keeps us all equal- our official Culinary Institute uniforms.  It is expected that our coats be pressed with an iron and glowing white.  We must only wear our checkered pants to class.  We have a pair of black pants too, but those are only for special events.

6.  UNDER SHIRT-  It better be white and don't even try to wear a white t-shirt with any kind of writing on it.  I own  a lot of white running race shirts, but they are useless for school.  It shows through the coat and Chef will see it- I promise!

7.  APRON-  White, clean, basic apron.  If you forget yours this is the only item that Chef will help and give a little mercy with by getting you one from the laundry store room for that class period.

8.  HANDS-  Hold them out, they better be clean, nails trimmed unbearably short, no nail polish if that is your thing,  any cuts better have a bandage on them and you better plan on wearing gloves if you do have open sores.  When it comes to food preparation our hands are the most important tool to keep clean.  Wash your digits first thing when you get to the kitchen, wash them as often as possible.

9.  TOOLS-  Our chef's coats have a side arm pocket.  In that pocket we must have our Thermometer, a Pen, a Sharpie marker and any extra writing utensils that we feel are important.  If we don't have these items, we better find one fast.  They are essential to our work and we can't proceed without them.

10.  SHOES and SOCKS-  Black shoes, this means no open heeled clogs, and no tennis shoes with Nike symbols.  As black as black can be- there are some great companies that make shoes for Chef's.  I was cheap and bought an ugly pair from Walmart to get me through until I am ready to splurge on good sturdy ones.  I just haven't found the right ones yet.  Oh and wear plain black or white socks.  Christmas socks and socks with multi color stripes are not permitted.  No room for individuality here, not even with the socks.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday's Plate- My Favorite Roasted Tomato Basil Soup- "Lava Soup"

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

I am going to share with you my recipe for my favorite soup. It is quick and easy and in my opinion "Super Tasty!" The inspiration or model for this soup came from a Tyler Florence recipe on Tyler's Ultimate/Food Network. I took the basics for Tyler's soup and then added my own spin to it, and maybe made it a little bit healthier too! If you get a chance to make it- let me know what you think. It is a great "pick me up" soup with a wedge of good crusty sour dough bread to dip.

Chef's Note- When I make this recipe I really don't pay attention to amounts- I just throw it together depending on what I have- but this is basically the way it goes- there are a few variables in amounts depending on how much you like garlic or basil. Also you can peel and seed the fresh tomatoes if you like- it may make the soup a little sweeter- I like the rustic feel and taste of keeping the whole tomato :)

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup- Lava Soup

4-6 cups whole Tomatoes quartered
(I have used my home canned tomatoes- But fresh is best- Summer's Best!)
1 Large Onion Ends trimmed, paper removed and Cut into Wedges
3-6 Cloves of Garlic left whole or slightly crushed
(depending on how much you like garlic use more or less)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
(enough to drizzle over the tomato/garlic/onion and toss to coat evenly)
Sea Salt and Ground Pepper to taste

2 cups Vegetable Broth
2-3 tablespoons or Fresh Basil Minced

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Place Tomatoes, onion wedges, and garlic into a roasting pan- drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and place in oven on top rack. Stir ingredients in pan after 15 minutes, the onions and tomatoes should be started to get a toasted look to them- Roast for an additional 15 minutes.
-While tomato mix is roasting, heat up the vegetable broth and keep warm in a medium to large stock pot.
-Remove the roasted tomato mix from the oven and add it to the warmed broth
- Bring to a boil- constantly stirring -for one-two minutes
-Remove from heat and use a stick blender to puree the ingredients until smooth. (A standard blender will work too- just work in batches and be careful with the hot liquid)
-Once the soup is pureed add the minced Basil and stir it in.
-Hold the soup on a low heat until ready to serve.

This soup reheats really nicely too- Stellar Eats, a Stephie Sheffer's Kitchen Treat!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Surviving The "Real" First Week of School:


French Onion Soup with French Baguette and Gruyere Cheese
-France Week-

What is your favorite Ethnic Cuisine? Is there a particular country's food that you typically choose over any other? French, Italian, Mexican, Cajun Creole, Indian, Chinese, Thai, German, and Carribbean cuisines are only a few examples of the categories in worldly cooking practices we will be focusing on this semester in World Cuisine Class. I am extremely excited about this opportunity, along with all of the extracurricular activities that will be required of our class if we expect to move on with a decent grade.

As a chef it is our pride and joy to create delicious and memorable food experiences for our family, friends, and guests. As a student in World Cuisine class we have two specific occasions to offer to the public where you can experience the cultures beyond our United States borders in an authentic, flavorful, and fun way!

Let me take this opportunity to share a little bit about these events with you:

1. TASTERS GUILD- My team will be representing India!
"This annual event features a strolling dinner of international cuisine served at more than a dozen tasting tables throughout NMC's Great Lakes Campus. Prepared by Great Lakes Culinary Institute students, and featuring local and select regional and international wines. Net proceeds of this benefit auction go toward academic scholarships, books and equipment for students."

I am currently setting out around town and also talking to family and friends about donations for the silent and live auctions. Anything that you can do will be helpful and appreciated. So far some examples of donations I have received are artwork, service and tune-up packages, and a weekend get-away package. If you think you might be able to donate please let me know and I will be happy to answer any questions and get you the information. All donations are tax deductible.

2. ITALY DINNER- This is a special dinner concentrated on the cuisines of Italy. We are still in the planning stages for the dinner so the menu has not been set yet. The Italy dinner is a chance to experience the foods that make this culture so special. With special attention being paid to fresh ingredients, authentic preparations and an organized approach to a country whose food culture varies greatly from the North to the South. If you are interested in making a reservation for this dinner- tickets go fast- please call 995-3120 which will connect you with someone who can reserve your spot!

Lobdell's in the evening

So now you have an idea of what I will be working towards this semester. We have already made it through the first week which was all about France. Very Rich, very special food. France has quite a culinary pedigree when you learn about how they have created many of the principles we adhere to, and they were the first to actually document their food preparations formally- CookBooks! This week we are diving into Italy- I already feel a kinship with this country so it should be good!

Chicken Cordon Bleu from france week

Surviving The "Real" First Week of School:


Our first try at Biscuits- something happened with our flour measurement we think. The one on the left is ours- the one on the right is what they were supposed to look like. This is how we learn. (smile)

It is official. I am no longer able to eat dinner on Tuesday and Thursday nights with my family. This is a new development in my continuing endeavors as a culinary student that has completely proven I have no will power, especially now that I am in Intro to Baking Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. You see, the reason I have no appetite for dinner is because of the excessive taste testing I submit myself to once we have completed our baking tasks for the class period. With eight groups of two students each, our kitchen lab production yields tray upon tray of various oven baked delights. The breaking down of my willpower truly starts from the moment the recipe is handed to me. After I am familiar with the components of the formula I will be using, it is time to go and seek out each item on the ingredients list, which is not that easy when starting out in a new kitchen. (I'm still trying to get my bearings in the Bakery Classroom since this is my first semester to work in it) So I start out by collecting my room temperature butter that is just begging to be creamed, along with the scoop of pure white sugar I discovered in the large bins called Cambros under our work benches. Oh and today we are grating an entire orange for it zest, we have to fold into our batter the fresh blueberries, these I found in the walk in cooler, and then we will fill the muffin cups up to 2/3rds. No more- no less, which is not as easy as it sounds.

Dried Cherry Scones with a course sugar glaze

In the classroom I find it very hard not to lick the batter from my hands. I am sorry if that sounds gross, but I think we all can admit to dipping a finger into the bowl to taste the batter. I don't do it of course, there are too many other people here that might catch me. Besides, Chef Fred has made numerous little jokes about the fact that the beauty of baking is with such high temperatures in the ovens there isn't much chance a bacteria has of surviving, but nonetheless it is still important to practice safety and sanitation. It would just be plain rude to not play it safe any how, I am not at home.

All this being said, once the final product of our kitchen labors comes out of the oven.....

I just can't help myself!

The funny part is that I do all my little taste tests in the class as Chef goes over what went right and what needs some work. I am OK for all of that. It is once I get in my car that I am in trouble. You see we are able to take home all of our goodies and there is so much that even taking three or four bags, there is still oven baked goodness that is left in the classroom at the end of the day. So I noticed this car eating problem on Tuesday and I thought on Thursday if I double knotted the bags and told myself how much of a mess the crumbs would make in my car that I would then leave the muffins alone. Uh- huh. Sure. That line of thinking did not work, since by the time I got to the kids daycare to pick them up I had eaten half a loaf of bread, one morning glory muffin, a lemon poppy seed muffin and a bite of a cranberry oatmeal muffin. By the time I got to the cranberry I had come out of my trance and realized what i had done. So now you see why I did not eat dinner on Tuesday or Thursday this past week. There was no room for it!


Here is my game plan for this week- a few ideas to possibly keep me from going overboard with the baked goods:

1. Brush my teeth right after class! Nobody likes the taste of food right after a good teeth brushing, right?

2. We can't chew gum in class, but immediately following- if I don't have time to brush then a nice minty fresh piece of gum may work.

3. Put the baked goods in the trunk of my car- Not the front seat!

4. Tell my friends and family ahead of time I am bringing them goodies- and then drop them off on my way home. Any one want me to add you to the rotation?

5. And lastly, I will think about how expensive it will be to have to buy all new chef's clothing- especially the pants- "Everything in Moderation" I will tell myself. I would much rather buy a new pair of heels than a new pair of checkered pants, especially if the ones I have fit me in the beginning of the school year.

I am already learning so much from all of my classes. This is truly going to be a great semester- I can already tell! Oh and to my baking class partner Rye.... It is so on buddy, I'll show you how the "Real" baking gets done. Lets have some fun! Lets be the best team in class!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday's Top Ten: Favorite Kitchen Tools

I have to admit it is quite difficult for me to ONLY choose ten items for this list since I totally adore many of the kitchen tools that I now own. It is important for you to know that these ten are in no particular ranking or order, just my ten most favorite right now. What I felt was the best criteria for this display of affections came down to the items overall amount of times that I use it and how it has changed my ability to create my food faster, healthier, even smarter! You will see a trend on the brand that i typically go for- this is on purpose. I do have a favorite! Fortunately I have discovered the best because of an amazingly detailed husband when it comes to picking out the best of the best. His philosophy is that you shouldn't waste your time or money on "second best." Needless to say I have never argued this point and have benefited nicely from his choices since many of these tools have been Birthday, Mother's day and Christmas gifts. Or should I say my family has enjoyed the delicious results from what these tools help me deliver to the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.

1. The KitchenAid Blender

With 5 speeds, and lots of POWER- this blender has made some amazing smoothies in its 4 years that we have owned it. I am sure there are even stronger models out there now but this baby has never let me down yet!

2. My Julienne Peeler from Pampered Chef-

Who has time for those fine cuts with a knife when the family is starving! I just love this little tool for when I want to make a nice carrot and cucumber shred for my salads. It is so quick and simple to use- my kids even like to use it.


Just look at this Bad Boy- My Juicer makes me Carrot Apple Ginger Cocktails, Orange Pineapple Cranberry Coolers, and Green Lemonades made with Kale. Maybe juicing isn't your thing, but I love it and this model makes the process so easy because it collects the juice on one side and the pulp on the other. I use the pulp in soups and smoothies and get a two for one deal out of the whole thing- its amazing!

4. Who likes Hummus, Who likes Pesto? This is your Dream Machine- Introducing The KitchenAid Food Processor

This model has two different bowl sizes to choose from depending on the size of ingredients you are using and two separate blades. It also has a slicer, and grater option that is pretty cool too. I have saved so much time with tis processor and it makes really great almond butter by the way too!

5. It keeps you Rolling- A Bamboo Sushi Mat that is!

I took a sushi rolling class a year ago and now I can't stop rolling- its so much fun and I love the creativity involved in choosing your ingredients for your rolls. I taught my first sushi rolling class a few weeks ago and I am ready to start offering more classes- if you are interested, lets set a date!!!!

6. Every Veggie Girl Loves her Boos Butcher Block Cutting Board

Owning a Solid Wood Butcher Block is easy and carefree when you don't ever cook with Meat. I oil this beautiful block with Walnut Oil to keep her youthful and make sure to clean her carefully after use, but I never worry about the dreaded bacteria that you have to beware with meats. I love the beauty of a butcher block and the Boos company is the Chef's top choice on the market.

7. Having Good Pots and Pans really does Matter-Calphalon is doing the
Job for Me :)

So they aren't AllClad- So what- I love them! My whole set of them, and they haven't failed me yet!

8. A Chef's Knife - The Hardest Working Hand Tool with My Guidance

It wasn't until I enrolled in a Knife skills class last spring and then went on to start culinary school that I realized how truly important it is to have a reliable and SHARP chef's knife. Granted you can easily lose digits this way if you are not practiced and careful, but I have seen my onion cutting abilities go from non-existent to well established in the past year and all of this was completely possible due to having a great knife that I trust!

9. Creating Cookie Batter is a Breeze, My KitchenAid Mixer never lets me down.

I have owned this mixer for almost 6 years and its just a work horse. The attachments that work with it are great too! We recently added the ice cream maker bowl to the options and it is great! Now that we can make our own ice cream we have really done some exploring or flavors and ways to make it unique and milk-free too!

10. The Hand Blender- If you don't have one already, you are definitely missing out on all the fun!

How in the world did I ever make blended soups before I owned this Baby! I even heard they make great smoothies too. I have only used this for soups so far, but I am excited to learn what else it can do. The power in this thing is UNREAL, so be careful- but I whipped up a Roasted Tomato Basil Soup in 20 minutes tonight that was super tasty and wonderfully easy with this hand blender.

So there they are- my top ten Kitchen Tools- so far....... I am so thankful for all of these modern wonders- They surely aid in one Stellar of an experience in my kitchen and I know they would provide the same help for you too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday's Plate- A tour of France and classic Ratatouille

This is truly a beautiful vegetable preparation if I do say so myself- not necessarily this exact one that I prepared in class today but the actual concept. This dish is meant to be made in the peak of a summer garden's bounty- not mid January when the veggies have all traveled thousands of miles from far away lands, trucked to Northern Michigan's wintery landscape. I guess for the sake of Culinary school this will have to do for now.

The french preparation of Ratatouille is really quite involved but it yields a deliciously wonderful marriage of all its ingredients. Onion, bell peppers and tomatoes make up the saucy foundation with the addition of zucchini and eggplant, each of which is separately sauteed before being added to the tomato mixture. Everything is cooked over low heat and then seasoned with a light pinch of salt and fresh thyme. For class we shaped the finished product with a circular mold and it made for a nice appearance.

I can't wait for late August and the harvest that will bear Aubergine's (eggplant) tomato, zucchini, onion and peppers. It is a special dish that will be worth waiting for!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday's Top Ten

Today I was thinking about all the wonderful new foods that I discovered just over the past year. As my passion has grown deeper for foods on every level, my adventurous spirit has helped me to find and try some new taste sensations. A few of these items were completely unknown to me at first but have now become a very familiar friend in my fridge and pantry. A couple I have been aware of my whole life but never truly had any appreciation for them. Actually I just thought I didn't like them, but come to find out they really aren't that bad after all. To round out the list are a couple of recipe based qualifiers, actual dishes that are composed of a variety of ingredients, that together created a flavor profile I had never been acquainted with until now.

Here is my Top Ten List of Newly Discovered Tastes from 2009

1. Celeriac- It is a the vegetable world's "Ugly Duckling" for underneath its root like appearance is the most flavorful and wonderful treat. A cousin to carrots and turnips this is very tasty roasted, pureed and even in sautes or soups. Don't let its appearance intimidate you. I got my very first introduction to this tasty wonder from my CSA share his summer. We will be culinary friends for a long time! "picture courtesy of

Celeriac is also known as celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery

2. Tempeh- This is a product that is made from cooked ad slightly fermented soybeans but don't let that scare you. Normally known for being apart of a vegetarian's diet it is great in sandwiches, salads, stirfry's and more. I had it for the first time on a sandwich from our local Natural Foods store- Oryana- It is a great alternative to processed meats and the tempeh bacon that I made at home for the family was a huge hit! (pic courtesy of

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3. Risotto- A dish made with arborio rice and broth that is added only a half a cup at a time- usually there is a wine component and then whatever flavors you want to add in. Saffron is traditionally a beautiful addition to what I now refer to as a culinary masterpiece! So one evening I went to my friend Kristin's house for a girls get together evening. Kristin decided to make a risotto and even took the time to show me how it was made. Up until that point I had no idea what went into making this rice dish. Though it takes some time and attention, all the stirring and stirring- the payoff is definitely there when you deliver the finished product- OM GOODNESS. I am hooked on this stuff and find it very hard to even share when I make it for my family. I would be content to sit on my couch with the whole pot and eat it up into an oblivion of satiety.

4. Cumin- This seed that is typically found as a ground spice in your local market has become a mainstay in my cooking artillery. It takes Hummus to a whole new level. It adds layers of flavor in my chili and tastes amazing in just about any thing I use it in. I believe everyone should have Cumin in their spice rack- its simply an amazing spice!

5. Mango- I have been aware of the mangoes existence for some time now but never really paid attention to buying it ever. That is until my son Riley asked me if we could buy some one day while we were out shopping at Sams. Now we all know there is no buying "one" thing at Sams club so we ended up with an entire box of these fruits. I got online, did my research on how to slice a mango and dice it- easy to do once you try it on a few. Now we have learned Mangoes only seem to be good during certain times of year- mid to late spring is best, but they freeze really well so we have bought up many when they are at their best, freeze them up and they make the best smoothies! Trust me on this one!

6. Persimmons- Ok so I got sucked in to buying a few at Meijers one day because they were on sale and I thought how I had never really ever had one. I brought them home and cut them up to try and fell in LOVE! I made the best salad dressing with persimmons- they really are a unique fruit to play with. Here is a link to that recipe if you want to try:

See full size image

7. Baklava- This is a dessert that is very traditional to my cultural heritage as an Armenian and I have always heard my Grandma and Mom talk about it but never really cared to try it. Then I stopped at a local Mediterranean themed deli one summer afternoon and my whole life changed. They had Pistachio Baklava in their bakery case and I thought "Well lets just see what the big deal really is with this stuff" WOW was I instantly amazed. If you haven't tried this stuff in your life, get over to The Silver Swan this instant and buy a piece or find a local pastry chef who has the patience to make it in the traditional style- I hope you receive the same experience too! The layers and layers, sweet crispiness, rich honey dipping goodness is sometimes more than I can handle! (Picture courtesy of


8. Olives- Never liked olives EVER in my life and then I had an olive plate set in front of me at a very nice Italian restaurant in Manhattan so I said "What the Heck, might as well give them another try." That "try" was a very pleasant surprise, a flavor I have found hard to duplicate, but when I do it is very delicious. Kalamata olives are apparently the variety that I like. (photo courtesy of

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9. Tomatillas- These green tomato-like fruits are truly lovely. You might recognize them in the green sauce you see at your local mexican restaurant. What is so great about my new experience with them is that I decided to grow tomatillas this year in my garden and the variety I ended up with produced a purple fruit!! It made the most wonderful salsa ever. I made two different kinds- one was a very special recipe from my friend Matt who shared it with me after seeing my pictures of roasted Tomatillas during the summer. I can't share that recipe because it is very special but I will share another one I tried that was equally as nice.

10. Ginger- Ginger tea, Ginger snaps, Ginger, Ginger, Ginger!!!! I love this root that has so much zest and zing. It has been one of the most flavorful additions to my cooking repertoire in the past year and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my dishes. My friend Rachael recently showed me how you can just slice it up fresh and put it into hot water and steep in a tea pot. It is great to help with digestion and over all adds a real zip to anything you decide to use it within. I LOVE IT!!! Especially in cookies too. I have decided that it may not be wise for me to learn how to make gingerbread cookies since I would probably eat the whole batch right out of the oven. We made gingerbread pancakes one morning that were out of this world- if you get a chance check this recipe out! (Photo courtesy of

The Ginger at its best!!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Something to be Passionate About

I love Grissini!!!!

And specifically I love the Grissini from Pleasanton Bakery- a local brick oven bakery near my home that makes the most amazing breads. I try to find all different reasons to reward myself with these yummy creations from my bakery friends. I will even drive by on Sundays when I know they aren't really open with the hope that maybe I will be able to have a grissini anyways. My friends at Pleasanton know by now that this is my favorite treat from them since they will usually greet me- one hand waving, the other reaching into the baked goods display to grab one of each flavor that they offer. It has really become a favorite food of mine more recently and I am well aware of when the Grissini will be at its finest- especially since they only make Grissini on their baking days which are now Monday- Wednesday and Fridays- it is even still warm if I show up to the bakery around noon! My kids love when I have a Grissini craving, especially Lauren since she likes Grissini too. Riley always gets one of their delicious Chocolate Chippers cookies instead.

Pleasanton Bakery offers two flavors currently of their Grissini- Cranberry pecan and an Herb Parmesan flavor. I can't decide which one I like more since each one represents a different flavor profile. One is sweet, the other savory. Both are so wonderful! My passion for this Grissini is much like my passion for Culinary Arts. I think about it all the time. I think about when I will have Grissini all the time, in the case of cooking its always "When will I get to be in my kitchen next and what will I make?" It is a good feeling to know what I like and to be able to go for it. In the case of Grissini I know when it is available and I can make that work into my cravings. With Culinary School I finally feel like I have arrived into a focus that will give me the ability to help other people as I have always felt I was born to do. Starting the new semester today has given me a new excitement, new challenges and an assurance that I am stepping closer and closer to my goals. I can accomplish everything I have set out to do! Oh to have passion, to have love in my heart- feeling so fulfilled- its wonderful!

Here are some links about Pleasanton, and Grissini too if you want to learn more! Enjoy!