Friday, October 25, 2013

Learning about Puff Pastry- Palmiers & Croissants!

Have you ever made Puff Pastry? I hadn't until this week and I can now say I love it! Now let's just say though, it was not love at first sight! As you know, I am attending Le Cordon Bleu and have a brilliant Chef Instructor in the Baking & Pastry class- Holly Pugliese. She is an extremely accomplished baker and has the patience- and the humor
Chef Holly Pugliese
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to coach our group of non-baking culinary students. I get it. I can't be a Chef without knowing the funadamentals of making various doughs, breads, pastry etc. It is challenging but turns out it's fantastic. I have a new-found love for puff pastry. Now let's just say though, it was not love at first sight. You start with lumps of butter and a crumbling, falling apart mess of flour. And it's an enormous pile of flour. But then you start shaping and rolling it; folding and rolling some more. And you end up with this puffy masterpiece that you can turn into many different things. Magic. We concentrated this week on making Palmiers and a Galette. We also made apple turnovers and Croissant dough leading to Croissants! Making Palmiers was a revelation and it truly changed my view of what it means to bake and create sweet desserts. Here's the picture story- you'll see Chef Holly making the Croissant dough and incorporting the butter block above. The series of pictures above Chef Holly are of my palmier making process, as well as the final product- beautiful Palmiers. Altogether and very challenging but satisfying week!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cooking Pastry- Learning New Pastry Techniques!

Linzer Cookies, Profiteroles and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream!  Learning so much at Le Cordon Bleu and loving it.  The Linzer Cookies were made with Pate Sucre and home made jams from a close friend using seasonal fruits.  The Profiteroles are made from scratch with vanilla bean ice cream and a gorgeous chocolate sauce.  Decadent and delicious...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn Squash Blossoms

Fall is here and the Farmers Market has beautiful produce right now!  Found these squash blossoms and made an herb/cheese mixture to stuff them.  Ran them through a batter and fried them for a delicate, savory treat!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Diary of a Wannabe Chef- The beginning

So, I have wanted to go to cooking school for about 20 years. Some people want to be doctors, some people want to be lawyers, and some dream of being a chef. That was me. I worked in a completely unrelated field for 20 years and did quite well. But on the side in my free time, I was obsessively taking cooking classes and building a well-outfitted kitchen! Dreaming is a good way to get yourself going on the path you want to be on, but in my case, it took quite a bit of time. How do you take, "the plunge" and do a complete career change? Sometimes things work in your favor and also to get you moving- take a rambling path. So, let me explain. I have wanted to go to cooking school for years, have researched many locations and schools but knew for myself that Le Cordon Bleu was the right place for me. The caliber of the instructors, the Executive Chef and all the staff are fantastic. But there I was, working in my other career. How do I do it? How do I take the leap, take the plunge to a new profession? This is my Diary of a Wannabe Chef and how I did it. It all started in earnest a couple years ago without realizing it when I decided I wanted to write a cook book to commemorate my mother's 80th birthday. Giving myself a couple years to get it done before her big day was a good start with a deadline of 4/2013. My mother's family had a Pilgrim in our lineage so we have recipes going back a couple hundred years- what better way to preserve these and pass them on to other family members than to write them down? Well, that was the orginal plan but as I started writing the book, I realized there were many more recipes that needed to be included in the book as well; family favorites, recipes from friends, holiday favorites etc. Before I knew it my book had mushroomed to 100 pages with 100 photos! I finished it this year and it is now published. The deadline of April 2013 was fast approaching it somehow served as a catlyst to my finally making the plunge, and signing up for cooking school! What's funny, is the minute I made that decision, doors starting opening up and opportunities came in. A friend sent me an application for a cooking show on NBC in March. I sent in my photos and an essay and heard from them that same day! Wow, I realized I might be on to something. Nothing came of this after sending in more information but it showed me people were taking notice! I just sent in an application and essay to the The Food Network 2 weeks ago and they replied the same day as well! Again, very exciting. They have asked for photos of my cooking and I am waiting to see what happens with that. My book started selling through word of mouth and I began cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu at the end of May, yeah! I have had several parties, corporate and friends approach me about conducting cooking classes for them and hope to work as a personal chef as I progress. This Blog will relay my journey through cooking school and my path in creating a new career as a private chef, writer and cooking instructor.

Friday, January 9, 2009

City Youth Now- Elegant Annual Dinner 2009

Yes, I've been on a break for a few months from writing but I'm back! Happy New Year everybody! Here's to a great 2009!

Would you like to attend a very elegant dinner at the St. Francis hotel with beautiful wine and food- an inspirational evening of revelry, silent auction, extraordinary speakers and a great mix & mingle opportunity? Look no further!

On March 20th, 2009, City Youth Now will be holding the Annual Celebration and Silent Auction Gala! Some of you know that I serve on the Board of City Youth Now in San Francisco; a very special organization dedicated to supporting youth under the jurisdiction of San Francisco's Juvenile Court—including youth in the foster care and/or delinquency systems. City Youth Now, located in San Francisco's Youth Guidance Center, was the first non-profit organization of its kind in the history of the United States Juvenile Court System.

City Youth Now's 59th Annual Celebration and Silent Auction will be held at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, CA on Friday, March 20th 2009 at six o'clock in the evening. We are pleased to announce that City Youth Now will be honoring an outstanding member of the community who has been committed to improving the welfare of youth in the San Francisco Juvenile Court System. City Youth Now will also be bestowing The Jesse E. Williams III Memorial Scholarship to an outstanding youth in the Juvenile Probation System and The Emancipating to Real Freedom Scholarship to an outstanding youth in the Foster Care System. Applications for both scholarships can be picked up at our office. Tickets for this event start at $150 and sponsorship opportunities are available as well.

For more information, to purchase tickets for,or to underwrite this event, please contact Brittany Heinrich, Executive Director at or 415-753-7576.

Hope to see you all there!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Zest For Lemons

A Zest for Lemons

As a native New Yorker, I never thought I’d be in a situation where I’d be harvesting Myer Lemons and figuring out what on earth to do with them. But, I’m in California now, with a good friend who has 2 magnificent trees resplendent with Myer Lemons in her backyard in sunny Oakland.

This friend does not have a culinary bone in her body but what she lacks in interest, she makes up for in enthusiasm; I wanted to come up with some easy and fun ideas for my friend so she could take advantage of her harvest and create a new dimension to gift giving and entertaining.

Here are some simple ideas for a delicious twist on lemons-

Vodka Lemonaide- No explanation required, this is the best summer cocktail around, served in a martini glass with a lemon twist.and a sugar rim on the glass.
Lemonade- Kind of obvious I know but for many, an afterthought! Squeeze the juice of about 12 lemons in a pitcher. Fill the pitcher with water to take the liquid up to the top of the vessel. Add about ¼ cup to ½ cup of sugar depending on your taste and you’re set!
Lemon Pasta- This satiny lemon sauce is beyond it and does not require advanced cooking. Mix together the juice of 1 meyer lemon with a couple egg yolks and about ½ cup cream and toss into ½ lb. egg pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Sumptuous.
Preserved Lemons- The perfect complement to roast chicken or pasta and a great hostess gift. Take your lemons, cut in half. Squeeze their juice into a beautiful jar, and put the lemons in with skin side facing out after coating inside of lemon with kosher salt.. Throw in spices if you want but I prefer pure lemons. Let the jars sit for 1+ months and you’re good to go. If you’re giving as a gift, tie some ribbon or raffia around the neck of the jar and you have a beautiful kitchen gift for a friend.
Deep Fried Vegetable basket with Myer Lemons- decadent spin on tempura veggies. Deep fry coated lemons, asaparagus, artichokes, green beans and you have a fun tempura basket.
Lemon Bars- The summer classic with buttery, shortbread crust
Limoncello- This is so simple to make and delicious. Pour a bottle of vodka or grain alcohol into a bowl. Peel about 7 or 8 lemons and put the lemon skins in the bowl of alcohol. (you can save the actual lemons in the fridge for some future cooking project). After a week or 2, strain the alcohol and discard the lemon skins. You will now have a yellow liquid! Mix with simple syrup and bottle and you have created Limoncello.
Meyer Lemon Marmalade- This is one of the first projects I did with my friend and it yields a very sweet jam.
Lemon Wreath- Okay, this is not a food, but if you have an over abundance of lemons, try buying a round, wire wreath form at a craft store. Get some wire and work boughs of lemons on the branches with green leaves around the wreath form to create a stunning lemon wreath. These are beautiful but don’t have a long life. Still if you’re looking for something new to do, they are lovely while they last.

Friday, August 8, 2008


The Worst Meal Ever-
I know you’re wondering what restaurant I’m going to mention here- right? Nope, have to say I am responsible for what amounts to the Worst Meal EVER…this week…2 nights ago…yuck. I always wonder how that can happen. I mean you’re humming along in the kitchen, pretty experienced, confident, at ease, fearless. You follow the recipe- one that has worked just fine in the past mind you. And everything goes south.

It all started innocently enough when I was at Trader Joes and bought a packet of Rice Noodles to make Pad Thai. I knew I had chicken, egg, green onion & fish sauce at home so all I really needed were a couple limes, peanuts & bean sprouts and I was pretty well set. I was so pleased with myself- thinking outside the box and all, trying an atypical meal for dinner for once! Usually I’m lucky if I can whip up some sliced tomatoes and soup with bread or something equally boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I am passionate about cooking- but cooking as in the entertaining type of cooking. I know this about myself so recently I’ve been trying to get out of the rut and try new recipes for everyday living. And I have. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve made the Barefoot Contessa’s Orzo with vegetables and goat cheese (but I used blue). It was outstanding. I’ve made my sister in-law Marci’s bread recipe and her orange, ginger pork tenderloin (see my blog “Phenomenal Cooking” for the recipe). Her recipes are phenomenal, can’t get enough good… I’ve made chicken baked with prosciutto and parmesan, a roasted pear salad with mixed greens with a honey/shallot vinaigrette dressing and gorgonzola blue cheese. You see, I’ve really been trying with pretty good results! Which is why, it was quite a shock to make the WORST MEAL EVER. I mean, I was on a winning streak with one good recipe, one good meal after the other. Surely I thought, the Pad Thai is a slam dunk, I’ve made it before several times and it was great, authentic, better than restaurants good.

That was then; this is now…it started with over-cooking the noodles. Not only did I over-cook them, the bigger mistake was also cooking the noodles a good hour before I was actually ready for them. They hardened and stuck in the colander while I prepped the vegetables, cooked the chicken, scrambled and cooked the eggs. When I turned around to get the noodles I found the problematic lump of starch; but being resourceful, I forged ahead! Knowing or I should say assuming I’m a good cook I decided to improvise to fix the problem. I dumped the lump into the sauté pan, warmed it up with some garlic and olive oil… then because I’m so clever I thought it would be smart to pour in a little white wine to give it some liquid and nuanced flavor. Well, let’s just say that was not enough liquid to solve the problem. So then I added chicken broth while I tossed the rest of the ingredients into the pan. It seemed to go from bad to worse because by the time the bean sprouts got in, the green onions were a faint yellow, a vague memory of their crisp, greenness gone. Desperately I continued- adding the sugar and fish sauce. I think this is the first time in all my years of cooking Thai that I couldn’t get enough fish sauce in there to make things taste right. In all, by the time I was done, I was committed. I tried it, yes. AND IT WAS THE WORST MEAL EVER! Not quite clear on what happened here but let’s just say the rest went into the trash and I ate bologna for lunch the next day.