Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Controversy Over Foie Gras: California loopholes?

Foie Gras is a luxury dish that is served all over, but there is much controversy to this dish. Foie Gras is the liver of a duck or a goose that has been force fed  with a technique called gavage. This dish has a rich flavor and a smooth texture which can be served in pâtés or in hot main entrees. 

Foie Gras has been banned in California since July 1, 2012 making it illegal to serve or produce this dish in the state of California. However, some businesses are finding the loopholes and still serving this dish. From clever wordplay to customers providing their own product for chefs to prepare the foie gras, this ban can not completely get rid of the product.

Places such as the Presido Social Club in San Francisco are still serving their foie gras being that the "law doesn't apply to them because the restaurant is on land administered by a federal agency". Experts in the legal field state that this club is safe from any lawsuits being that this ban doesn't effect federal property. 

No matter what this dish is loved by many people from California to France and will not be banned completely anywhere. Even though this is banned in California, foie gras is not banned from places such as Europe or Canada.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Haiku to Cooking

Steaming, Sizzling Rice
The bubbling, hot, rich soup
What is next to come?

My Passion for Cooking

My love of cooking was enforced by both of my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother is a amazing cook and has made our Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter dinners ever since I can first remember. We bake together and she teaches me her techniques. Her cooking influences come from upstate New York. She has a classical outlook on food but she loves to mix it up and produce new and exciting treats. She has traveled to China, Egypt, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy. Her cooking is heavily influenced by the foods she tried overseas. Our family is mostly Irish and Scottish, so almost every meal we have with her has some sort of potato dish in it.  

My paternal grandmother is also a amazing cook. However this side of the family is mostly influenced by Southern and Cajun cuisine. I have heard stories about my great grandmothers "Southern Potatoes" and how you had to tilt the pan to only be able to get the potatoes and not the butter that pooled at the bottom of the pan. We have deep fried turkey and traditional mashed potatoes and milk gravy every year at my aunts Thanksgiving feast. 

This is my favorite part of cooking, the bond that is formed when you learn new recipes from your elders. It is a blessing to be able to cook with my grandparents and to learn from their mistakes. I'm passionate about cooking and this has come from my opportunity to cook with my family.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Risotto with Parmesan Cheese

One of my favorite recipes that I have made and one of my go to comfort foods is Risotto. Risotto can be made in many different forms and can have various different flavor profiles (lobster, mushroom, etc), all you need to know is the basic white risotto. The dish originates from Milan, Italy where rice was a essential diet staple. Even now to this day the base have the same core ingredients Arborio rice, white wine, and a stock of any kind.

What you need:
1 medium onion diced.
2 cups Arborio Rice
3/4 cup of Good Quality Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup of White Wine
5 Cups of Chicken Stock
4 Tablespoons of Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Heat a large deep bottomed skillet on medium high heat with the pat of butter. Add in the diced onion and sauté until translucent (Do not let the onion caramelize or brown). Warm the broth on a back burner and keep the broth at a low simmer ( The key is to keep the broth warm)

2. Add the Arborio rice and mix with the butter and onions until the rice has a nutty fragrance or the rice starts to look a little translucent among the edges with solid white in the center. 

3. Add the white wine constantly stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed into the rice.  DO NOT LET ALL OF THE LIQUID ABSORB.

4. Add a ladle full of the broth into the rice/wine/onion mixture and let that absorb also. Its a process that requires a ladle full, absorb while stirring, and repeat until the rice is soft and no longer crunchy.

The method behind the each ladle full getting absorbed at a time will lead to the end product being a creamy dish however there was no cream used in the dish.

5. Once the rice is softened and done add a good amount of parmesan cheese to your taste. Garnish with a sprig of fresh Italian parsley and your done. Easy and Simple! 

The Way to Cook!

Julia Child is a inspiration to every hopeful chef out there. "She takes you into her kitchen and tells you- and shows you- everything she knows about the essentials of good cooking today." says the cover of her cookbook The Way to Cook. In this book she takes you into her kitchen and includes colorful step by step pictures to enforce her healthful recipes and her basic cooking techniques that every inspiring chef should use to base their menus on. Its a great book to thumb through or to dive in and read thoroughly. I highly recommend it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Minestrone Soup

Around the time when I was crowned as Dairy Princess, I went out to dinner with a good friend of mine.We went to the Hotel Ivanhoe and had our choice of soup or salad. We both chose soup and then had a even more difficult decision, to choose the Butternut Squash or the Minestrone Soup. We both chose different soups and fell in love with both. After a while of experimenting with different combinations of ingredients, I found a mix that tasted just as delicious as the first time I had it. This is my rendition of the delicious classic. 

You will need:
1 medium onion chopped roughly
2 stalks of celery, chopped
A handful of baby carrots, chopped or 1 large carrot diced roughly
2 cloves of garlic, peeled crushed and chopped 
6 cups of chicken stock
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 can of kidney beans rinsed and drained thoroughly  
A pinch of red pepper flakes (depending on how much of a kick you want)
2 tsp. dried basil 
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 of a cup of white wine 

1. Make sure all produce are thoroughly washed and dried. Then begin to prepare the produce. Cut off both tips of the onion and then cut it in half. Proceed to peel and chop the onion. ( Simple Tip: Chew a strong mint gum while cutting up the onion, it'll prevent you from crying) Wash and chop the rest of the produce. 

2. Pour the drizzle of olive oil into the bottom of a large skillet on Medium High heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots (aromatic veggies) and a pinch of salt to draw out the moisture. Saute the aromatic vegetables for around 5 minutes on medium high and then turn the heat down to medium low and let the veggies sweat until translucent.

3. Once the vegetables are translucent add the chopped garlic and the pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant ( DO NOT LET THE GARLIC BROWN) Then remove the pan from the heat and set aside. 

4. Place the large stockpot on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Add the precooked vegetables and the white wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half and then add the chicken stock.

5. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then add the can of tomato sauce and parsley and basil. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste. Add the rinsed can of kidney beans and then bring the soup to a boil.

6. At this point in the recipe you can choose to add whatever small pasta you would like to the boiling soup. Each pasta is different and so you need to check the label on the box of pasta to see how long you cook it for. Add the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente.

This soup is best served hot. I personally enjoy it with a side of toasted sourdough bread to dip in the soup!