Knife Skills

Being a self taught cook, my techniques are a little rough around the edges. Especially in the knife skills department. Lets just say, I'm lucky to still have all my fingers. I've watched many YouTube videos that demonstrate proper knife techniques, but it wasn't enough. After my recent Pizza Workshop at the Saute Culinary Academy I was excited to learn that they also offered a Knife Skills class.

Having no formal training in the kitchen, I have always been slightly afraid of using large sharp knives. This is mostly because I'm a bit clumsy and can't be trusted with sharp objects. Also being a vegetarian, I didn't think it was important that I learn these fundamental skills. I want to be a great cook, and after taking this workshop I now realize how necessary it is to learn the basics.

In just a few hours we learned how to chop, slice, julienne and dice vegetables quickly and efficiently. We explored the more complicated Brunoise, Paysanne, Batonnet and Tourne knife cuts that can be used to create variety in my dishes.

During class we also cooked some of the vegetables that we cut. This was an unexpected treat. Each student learned how to make Pommes Anna, a simple classic French dish. It turned out perfectly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. It's a new favorite. I was so excited to eat my Pommes Anna that I forgot to take a picture of it when it came out of the oven. It was golden and beautiful. The ultra thin potato layers that we cut made this dish unbelievable.

I'm assuming it will take me years of practice before I can go ninja style on my vegetables, but I now have a strong foundation to build on. I've gained a lot of   confidence that I can safely bring into my own kitchen. Next step, practice, practice, practice.

The class ended with us carving a swan out of an apple! What? That was another unexpected surprise. I had a great time and learned so much. Here is a link to the Saute Culinary Academy website

"Be a fearless cook! Try out new ideas and new recipes, but always 
buy the freshest and finest ingredients, whatever they may be. Furnish 
your kitchen with the most solid and workmanlike equipment you can find.
Keep your knives ever sharp and -- toujours bon appetit!" 

-Julia Child

Pizza Workshop

After my recent trip to New York, I've been even more obsessed with Pizza. The slice I had on a cold afternoon in Greenwich Village, had a perfect thin, crispy  crust with charred air bubbles. Perfection. My previous attempts to make a thin crispy dough did not turned out, so I signed up for a Pizza Workshop at the Saute Culinary Academy in Los Angeles. Here is a link to their website

At the helm of the Saute Culinary Academy is Chef Alexander Reyes. As a graduate and lead instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Reyes offers classes that develop strong foundations in culinary techniques while exploring foods from around the world. 

The workshop was three hours. It was fast paced, entertaining, informative, and most importantly ended with me eating pizza. I learned some new techniques and had a great time.

Chef Alex Reyes and Chef Scott
"Cook with love and great flavors will shine though" - Chef Alex Reyes

Happy Pizza Making!

Kale Energizer

Kale Energizer

Serves 2

1 bunch kale

8 organic carrots
2 celery stalks
1 cucumber
2-3 green apples
1 lemon
fresh ginger 

Use organic produce whenever possible and wash thoroughly. I keep the skin on my produce, cut everything in half and press it through a juicer. Drink right away and enjoy a boost of vitamins and minerals.


Small Changes Required

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.

I believe I'm a positive person, so whether you're positive (or not) it's important to make sure your actions will bring about positive results. Small actions can make big changes in your life. Everything has a ripple effect. New Year's makes a good starting marker for change.

Here are 5 small actions I'm making to create positive changes for 2013.

1. Make a change in my environment. I purchased several new house plants and some fresh herbs. It's important to have plants inside your house to purify the air and balance the energy. Plus tending to plants is good for the soul and creates lessons in patience and attention. The herbs I purchased were basil and cilantro. I love basil, but in the past I cannot seem to grow it. Thyme, parsley and rosemary seem to be hardier herbs and are easier to grow. This year will be different! I have logged many hours of research since my last attempt and I feel confident that this time I will succeed. This year I will have home grown basil!

2. Make a change in my fitness routine. I ordered and received the DDP Yoga DVD's. My boyfriend suffers from a bad back and I've been trying to get him to do yoga for years. DDP Yoga was created by ex-wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and has a tag line "It ain't your mama's yoga". This attitude made it easier to sell yoga to him, so we got the DVD's and have started doing them together.

3. Make a change to improve my health. My juicer has been in the cupboard for too many months. Time to pull it out and start juicing again. I will share my favorite juice blends in the future. (Added bonus, the pulp I get from juicing will be used as mulch for my new herbs!)

4. Make a change that benefits my mind. I bought myself a couple of new books. One is instructional and the other is a satire. Recently I realized that I only read magazines and blogs. Reading is like jogging for the mind and my brain needs a cognitive workout. 

5. Make a change to reduce stress. Being unorganized creates stress. Time is wasted if you're constantly looking for things. This year I will finish organizing my house so that I know where everything is. I'm half way there. 

Look for me to elaborate further in upcoming posts. Hope this helps inspire you to toss your first stone to create your own ripple effect.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
- Vincent Van Gogh

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." 
- Edward Everett Hale

Happy New Year

Starting the New Year out at Santa Anita Park race track with friends. Hoping all your choices are winners in 2013!