Monday, June 30, 2014

Neglected landmark to get new life as a mini-Starbucks

I don't think I've been back to Hollywood since I moved away two years ago (amazing to think it's already been two years) so I had no idea how badly the old Gilmore Gas Station on Highland had deteriorated.  The good news is that it's about to get fixed up to become a shiny new drive-thru Starbucks, according to Curbed LA.  And I agree with the Curbed article, the idea of a walk-up window really is brilliant.  I'm happy that the old station is going to get restored and see some new action.  You can bitch about big evil corporations all you want.  I just love Starbucks for doing this.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back to the real world

It felt so weird to make my own lunch on a weekday. ‪#‎cookingschool‬ ‪#‎graduated‬

Monday, June 23, 2014's over

Friday I graduated from culinary school along with twelve of the neatest people I've ever met, thanks to the stellar staff at New School of Cooking in Culver City.

The past six months were a lot harder and more exhausting than I had expected. The school moves fast and things are covered quickly. The amount of knowledge acquired in this period of time is boggling to think about. A lot more practice is going to be needed to get me really up to speed, but I have a fantastic foundation to work with and a lot of ideas for new dishes to play around with.

I was surprised how fried I was after a day in the kitchen. As a result, a lot of things fell by the wayside. I have a post-school to-do list that's two pages long and tons of writing notes to wrangle into coherency.

In six months it's going to start all over again because I'm going back for the full-time Advance Baking and Pastry program. A whole month just on cakes. It's going to be awesome.

Seriously, it's like an addiction.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week - Week 23 (The End)

Monday's review was a bit different than the previous ones. Instead of having to make specific dishes, we were given trays with various types of produce, plus a protein to work with. We got different ingredients to work with and had to come up with our own dishes.

For my protein I got Italian Bronzino, which I love. It's small enough to work with easily and I was happy with my results.

Such a pretty fish.

Grilled Bronzino with Salsa Verde.


Tuesday we covered Jam and Canning with Jessica Koslow of Sqirl. A few things I learned:

The lids of canning jars should not be reused due to a loss of suction that could allow mold into subsequent jars of jam. Jars last fifteen months in the pantry and a year in the fridge once opened. If you're using spices in your jam toast them first to get the essential oils. And use a satchel - herbs and dried spices can turn brown when cooked.

I'm not really a jam person, partly again because I don't need to can my produce, but it was an interesting procedure. It was a lot of work, especially if you're doing it on your own. Loved Jessica's big copper jam pot, which reminds me - for canning you don't really use the usual kitchen tools, so if you're getting into this there's going to be a certain investment needed up front.

We got Sqirl jars.

Wednesday Chef did something really different. She had brought in a bunch of packages of varying size, all wrapped in brown paper, none of which we could even begin to guess at what they were. Once we started opening them, we really got a surprise. Unlike the uniformly high quality ingredients we're used to using, these "ingredients" ran the gamut from junk food (a package of hot dogs, a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos) to just plain bizarre - a pack of gum, a package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix and a small packet of red pepper flakes like you get with pizza deliveries...and that last one is the one I ended up with. Then we were turned loose with the same idea as Monday, except we had to incorporate our "mystery ingredients" into our three courses of dishes. Some of the results were absolutely amazing. Here's what I managed with my red pepper flakes:

My tray.

Greens with Red Pepper Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette.

Red Pepper and Pineapple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
with Roasted Radishes.

Hot Chocolate Pudding.

Thursday we were rewarded with a mystery field trip. We didn't know where we were going, we were just told to dress comfortably and bring cash. This is where we ended up:

This place is in San Gabriel at the corner of Valley Boulevard and Del Mar. And at the risk of sounding culturally insensitive, it was freaking insane.

Actually, at first it was pretty cool. The cleavers in a box at a child's eye-level should have been a red flag. I just thought some of the signs were hilarious.

And who wouldn't want a good swordfish drink to wash down the sherded coconut?

Chef was leading us around and finally announced we were headed for the seafood section. I was stoked. It started well enough.

Then we got to the tanks. Which were crowded and filthy. And the turtles. Yes, turtles. Live ones, in a box.

We have a big pond at my apartment complex, with koi and turtles. The turtles at my apartment have no idea how good they have it. I wanted to grab these guys and run away with them and turn them loose at home with our resident turtles. Not sure how the management company would feel about that.

After shopping Chef took us to lunch at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. We had fun, the food was great, and I had a Tiger Beer. Hadn't had one before and I'm not much of a beer person, but I liked it and would have it again.

Friday we graduated and that's for another post. We didn't really want to leave, and I've enjoyed having the weekly schedule/ structure after being off work for so long.

Even though we were assured that

it sure felt like the end of an amazing and wonderfully exhausting journey. But hey, we got another cake out of the deal, so win. And in the words of the master, "Bon Appetit!"

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week - Weeks 21-22


This has been exhausting, especially since I don't like having things sprung on me. I like to be able to study and be prepared for tests, but that's not how it's done around here. But I survived. Here are pictures of various dishes I made during these two weeks of reviews.

What our assignments look like:

Get to work!

Herb Veloute with Biscuits.

Filet in a Red Wine Reduction Sauce. At this point
I can do reduction sauces in my sleep.


More marching orders!

Braised Beef with Risotto.

Ricotta Ravioli. This was unbelievably good.
The ricotta was sooo creamy.

Seafood Stew.

Airplane Chicken.

Chicken Pot Pie.

Coq Au Vin with Gratin Potatoes.

Meatballs with Polenta.

Overhead shot! It was really a pretty dish.

Pork with Black Beans, Rice and Slaw.

Get on it, people!

Arugula Salad.

I was out sick when we did Pizza, so I needed some
help. It turned out okay, I guess.

Grilled Salmon with Salsa Verde.

We celebrated Friday the 13th with a course in the basics of fermentation, presented by Ernest Miller of Rancho La Merced Provisions. Not my area of interest, but the instructor was great and it was fun. Living in L.A., I don't need to grow or preserve my own food (we have farmer's markets on practically every corner) but if you lived in a rural area and did grow your own, this would be an invaluable skill.

We made Sauerkraut and Giardiniera.

Supplies. Many, many supplies.

Next week, sadly, is our last week. More reviews, jam and canning, a field trip and then graduation day! Hard to believe. It went so fast.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Salmon Cake

I'm going to post what we learned the past two weeks (lots of reviews) over the weekend, but I thought this deserved its own post.

Toward the end of the day today we were called into the other kitchen (the one we don't usually use) so the owner of the school could address us. Then we were presented with this cake:

The funny thing is that after yesterday's class, we were watching the school's pastry chef (who is amazing and will be the instructor for my upcoming Baking & Pastry Program) work on decorating this cake. We were told she was doing it for someone's birthday and of course we fell for it. We got a kick out of it when we found out it was actually for us!

The detail was boggling. The "scales" were made with a plastic straw cut in half:

Then we cut into it:

Just like a real salmon!

I'm really looking forward to Baking & Pastry now. Not that I wasn't before, but that is just so damn cool.