In My Kitchen, November 2013

Gearing up for the holidays! I love this time of year, preparing for big family meals, making clever little gifts from the kitchen, cookies and treats galore, is always so much fun!

I was late with the October In My Kitchen so I vowed to be on time with this one. Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts this great gathering of people all over the world sharing what’s “In My Kitchen”. Link back to Celia’s site to join in!

Tonight we are getting our first freeze of the season. The tomato plant that was planted back in April has turned out to be one monster of a plant, producing tomatoes the size of soft balls weighing between 9.5 and 16.4 ounces each! The plant has a basket full that should get harvested before the freeze. I’ll have to pull out my dad’s Green Tomato Chow Chow recipe, after we slice, bread and fry a couple first.

Final Harvest!

Final Harvest!

I enjoy a good fried green now and then, after I’ll try a pie.

I have fresh turmeric in my kitchen this month!

Fresh Turmeric

Fresh Turmeric

I felt so lucky to find it. We’ve been using it for sautes, potatoes rice and all kinds of dishes. You do have to be careful though in that is notoriously famous for staining everything it comes in contact with, bright yellow. Fingers, boards, clothing, so use caution if you  don’t want anything stained by the intense color of fresh turmeric. I put a paper towel down on my cutting board before using fresh turmeric to protect it from stains.

Turmeric is a great healing spice so it is good to find ways to work some into your diet. One of my favorite dished to make with it is an Indian dish called “Aloo Gobi“. This is a dish made from cauliflower and potatoes and is very aromatic and delicious.

I started taking an online course from Rosalee de la Foret in Canada on “The Taste of Herbs.” This course takes 5 months and breaks herbs and spices into 5 categories. You learn about the healing properties and how to use the herbs and spices.

She approaches Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda concepts with an ease that makes it so understandable.

So far, I find it very informative. I’m glad I signed up.

Rosalee may offer the course again in the Spring so if you are interested, visit the Taste of Herbs website here: http://www.tasteofherbs.com/standby_pages/25720

Below is the blueprint that is the foundation of the course.

Isn’t that interesting?!

I found these adorable little dishes in a shop. I couldn’t resist them. Robert is wondering what I’ll use them for so I’ll have to put on the creative cap to show him how essential they are to have in my kitchen.

Irresistible small dishes

Irresistible small dishes

I have a big bowl of apples!

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

We gave some out for trick or treats last night along with mandarin oranges and organic lollipops. I drew pumpkin faces on the mandarins. When the kids got to choose, It was surprising how many chose fruit over the candy!

Trick or Treat Goodie Basket: Mandarin Oranges, Crisp Apples and Organic lollies

Trick or Treat Goodie Basket: Mandarin Oranges, Crisp Apples and Organic lollies

We made sure everyone got an orange, even the parents.

And then there was the time this month, I walked into the kitchen and saw a delicious plate set up and I ate it. Only later to realize I ate the photo shoot.

I’ll be cooking and hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year! I am so excited. I’ll have to plan on taking lots of photos and writing lots of posts with ideas for the upcoming holidays.

In the meantime, What’s in your kitchen this month?

I ate the photo shoot

I ate the photo shoot

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An Easy “Grill Pan” Dinner

Looking for a quick and easy meal the other night, I came up with this meal that was cooked all in my grill pan.

Chicken was marinated in Mojo Criollo, a Latin marinade of sour orange, herbs and spices.

There were a couple of leeks which I split in two and placed them cut side down to grill.

When the chicken was done, it was pushed to the side of the pan and I added fresh trimmed asparagus and grilled that until it was done too. Asparagus only takes a few minutes.

Sweet potatoes baked in the oven, a salad made by ‘shaving’ radishes, cucumbers, yellow pepper, and fennel, drizzled with rice vinegar and olive oil, salt and fresh pepper rounded out the meal.

Voila! Dinner is ready.

During this wonderful season of abundant fruits and vegetables, make sure you add more to your diet. The vitamins, minerals and fiber contribute to a healthy diet and contribute to manageable weight maintenance.

Indulge and explore white the season is right!

Garde Manger Finals

Garde Manger Finals means this is the last of the class posts for a few weeks.

Our final full week of Garde Manger had students exploring some aspects of molecular gastronomy and perfecting carving skills.

While the students did a great job with various carving skills, I got the impression this class would rather actually cook than play with making garnishes.

Gulf Oysters, Blood Orange Vinegar Pearl, Duck Fat Powder

Which is why they had a couple of days to play with a bit of molecular gastronomy. They used tapioca maltodextrin to create powders from olive oil, bacon fat and duck fat. It was sprinkled on french fries, chips, oysters and played within general.

They played with spheres, making pearls and eggs from various liquids like cucumber juice, blood orange vinegar and coffee. Not together of course. They created a jellied piña colada layered sphere – coconut, rum, pineapple – nice concept but awkward to serve and eat.

They cured watermelon in vacuum pack and served it with a seared duck breast and corn jus.

Using the Pâté de Fruit method, they were given an assignment of creating a jelly that would melt in the mouth or inside of something.

Examples being: a jellied stock with a morsel of meat, chicken or fish inside a dumpling. When cooked, the dumpling is full of the flavorful liquid inside. A surprising bite.

They made 4 different kinds of gravlax; a salmon cured with salt, sugar, herbs and spices.

I plan on working more of these things into the garde manger curriculum. These techniques are found out in high-end and cutting edge restaurants so why not explore it while in school.

The final assignment was to do an hors d’oeuvres party for 40 people. They had to plan, set up and do the entire event.

I think they did a terrific job.

Garde Manger II starts at the end of March. That session will feature curing meats, smoking, pate, terrines and all the other sides of garde manger.

Enjoy the slide show.

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