Saturday, May 10, 2008

Where Trouble Melts Like Lemon Drops...

I've always loved this version...I hope the clouds are far behind you.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Top Chef: Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead!

For those of you who have been reading my weekly Top Chef reports, you'll know who got voted off simply by reading my title.  If you still don't know don't fret, it's revealed at the end of the post. :)  Got that?  SPOILER ALERT!!!!  This post will tell you all about last night's Top Chef Episode.
 
We start off the evening learning that there is no guest judge this week and on top of that, the Quickfire Challenges will no longer give the winner immunity.  Instead, they will receive an important advantage in the Elimination Challenges.  Tom and Padma announce that the relay will be the challenge and the chefs are visibly excited. 
 
The Tasks:
1.  Supreme 5 Oranges
2.  Turn (was it 5 also?) Artichokes
3.  Clean and filet a Monkfish-aka: The ugliest fish in water.
4.  Make a quart of homemade mayonnaise.
 
The Teams:
1.  Richard, Stephanie, Andrew & Antonia
2.  Lisa, Nikki, Dale & Spike
 
Right out of the gate Lisa smokes Antonia by being a crazy supreming fool.  She gives team 2 a significant lead when Spike jumps in to turn his chokes.  (That sounds dirty.)  At first it appears that Spike is also going to smoke his opponent, Andrew.   After a few seconds, however, Andrew pulls ahead when he uses his "secret" weapon-a vegetable peeler.  (Gasp!)  As strips of choke skin fly and the furry little bits are scraped out of the hearts, Spike is left in the dust and Richard is free to being tearing into the Monkfish. 
 
Just as soon as he begins, Spikes work is inspected and passed and Dale can also begin filleting the fish.  This is where I thought that team 2 would gain more speed.  As much as I like Richard, Dale seems to have extraordinary skills breaking down fish.  Or, so I thought...his fillets were hacked up (meaning his cuts weren't clean and precise) and Richard finishes first.
 
Now, onto the mayo-which everyone on team 2 (except Dale) was worried about.  Nikki says, "I haven't made mayo by hand since culinary school-I use a Robo Coupe."  The camera goes to Dale who says, "It's MAYONNAISE!  Why are you even here?!?"  Amen brother, amen....yes, making mayo by hand is tiring.  But it's not rocket science, and if you can't make a simple mayo you shouldn't have been allowed out of culinary school...Team 1 takes the Quickfire challenge when Stephanie stomps on Nikki by whipping up an apparently tasty mayo in no time flat.  (Did you see Tom's face when he tasted it?  He looked pleasantly surprised."
 
Dale, who we all know is competitive and arrogant (not a good combination) flips out and punches a locker.  Antonia says, "And then he needed his diaper changed."  She's a funny one, that Antonia.  Too bad she's not going to win.  The winning team is now told what their apparently awesome advantage is-they get to choose who they'll cook for.  Where?  At their wedding!
 
Yes, Top Chef replaced the Restaurant Wars challenge with Wedding Wars.  Teams had a little over a day to plan the entire menu and to cook for 125 people each.  The teams split off to meet with their chosen one because the menus are to be created based on the wants of the bride or groom.  The way the show was edited makes the viewer think that team groom is going to win-because he likes Italian food and Nikki is on their team.  She says more than once that they have the same exact pallet and that she feels the same way about all of the food he wants.  Team bride is stuck with meat and potatoes and Richard saying that he's from the same area that the bride grew up in. 
 
The editing that made me think that team groom would win soon gave way to the truth: Dale is a maniac who thinks he can do everything, and Nikki is a worthless piece of poop who never wants to take ownership of anything.  Dale is seen flitting from one project to another like a puppy on crack.  He sneers a few times at the fact that he's doing everything although it's clear that other people are clearly working.  Nikki says that her team wanted her to step up as a leader but she wasn't interested in that so she's just doing her pasta and letting everyone else do what they want.  Their food is basically passable but not fantastic (with the exception of Spikes fish-that get rave reviews.)  The worst of their food was the grilled antipasti veggies (which were the grooms request) and the 7 inch think crostini that Dale made.  I have to admit, it was rather comical to watch people trying to eat the bruschetta without having it fall all over them! 
 
Team bride won the judges over mainly because of their brisket, which was cooked for as long as the chefs have been up-about 24 hours.  Their pizza appetizers were also praised and Tom said that they were better than team grooms even though they made Italian food.  Another winner was Stephanie's wedding cake, which was multi-layered and draped in white fondant.  Gale Gand (a top pastry chef in Chicago and also host of a Food Network show) was a guest judge and was impressed with Steph's ability to pull off such a feat in only 1 day.  "I usually take 3 days to make a cake like that" Gale says.  It was pretty impressive.
 
Highlights of the judges table:
 
Team bride: Richard is touted as the winner for his guidance and vision but quickly says that he'd like to give the win to Stephanie for her cake.  He says that he could not have done that and she deserved to win instead.  Padma agrees to it and Stephanie is given $2000 to Crate and Barrel-which she says that she will split with Richard.  It's very cool to see the mutual respect growing between these two.  These are the two people to be, in my opinion.
 
Team groom:  A fight breaks out between Dale and Spike when Dale says that he did everything.  "Check the prep lists!" he yells as Spike calls him "a little bitch."  (Which was pretty funny.)  Dale is told that although he may have done a lot, he didn't do it well and he should have spoken up when he was overwhelmed.  Spike is told that his fish was a favorite.  He smirks a little at that.  Last, Nikki is told that having the most experience in Italian cooking means she should have stepped up as a leader and directed her team more.  "Winning this competition means that you have to take a few chances" says Tom.  Meanwhile, Lisa stands at the end of the line looking like she got hit by a bus.  Did anyone else laugh every time they panned over to her?  Talk about droopy eyes! LOL!!  Decision time: Ding dong the which is dead-NIKKI GOES HOME!!!
 
It's about freakin' time people...it's about freakin' time...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mice & Beans

Have you ever known someone who made pants for themselves in the morning before they went to work because they didn't have anything to wear that day? Or a friend who helps furnish your house with cool funky pillows and place mats?

Or, who makes you a historic Civil War dress for your short stay in the reenacting world?

If not, you're truly missing out. One of my best friends happens to be an extremely talented and creative seamstress and I am happy to introduce you to her new website-Mice & Beans.

Together with her sister, Mice & Beans offers quality hand made children's clothing at affordable prices. Being someone who has actually worn a dress that these hands have made, I can attest to how well made their items are. Also, I know few people who love children as much as these sisters-you can guarantee that each tiny outfit is made with love.

If you have any little boys or girls in your life, please take a few minutes to browse through Mice & Beans. Visit often, as new items will be added shortly. (My favorite is the funky multi colored polka dot dress-which is reversible!!)

Because I stand by the clothing (and anything she makes, for that matter) that my friend creates, I would like to offer the first 2 people who order from Mice & Beans free shipping. Once your order is placed and confirmed, I will pay for the items to be delivered to you. So, what are you waiting for?! It's not everyday you have the opportunity to buy handmade children's clothing for less than $50...go ahead...you know you wanna!!

Randomivity



It's good to know that the majority of my readers (those who play Toosdae's anyway) are pervs. :)

You know how some things repeat on you after you eat them? And even though you've eaten something else since then it's still with you? I hate that. Especially when that 2nd thing you ate is yummy.

Having someone walk into the bathroom (at work) when you are having "stomach problems" is embarrassing. Being the one walking in on someone else having "stomach problems" is gross.

I figured something out the other day but it didn't make me feel any better.

The last name "Nutter" makes me giggle for some reason.

They are not "Sauteed Mushrooms in a Minute" if they are made in the microwave for 2 minutes. Jackass.

It's amazing how many times someone can tell a story about a laminate floor installation.

I saw an ad for a research study that paid $275 if you participated. It was about depression. 2 family members had to participate and they also get paid. Perfect for me and my 2 younger sisters...trouble is, I'm apparently not depressed enough. Or depressed in the right way.

They wouldn't tell me exactly why I didn't qualify. Just that I fell into the wrong group. Goodbye $275!

If I were right handed I would qualify for a lot of other research studies.

Yes...I'm poor. No..I don't care if people poke and prod me or ask me embarrassing questions. Money is money!!!

It's funny when someone assumes that you are Jewish. I think it is because of my nose.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Return of the Red Beret

It's been a while since I posted a "I just did fun new stuff in Boston!" post...mainly because I haven't had free time to go out to do things, but also because I don't have the money to do lots of extra fun stuff anymore. Tonight though, I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with a bunch of people from the friend site and I decided not to cancel because after researching it a bit more, I found a cheap way to be able to go.

We went HERE for dinner-the pizza was really fantastic. It was a bit uncomfortable to sit there though b/c they have those high stools and tables, and I just never like those. Before I went I decided that I would get a slice and a salad-which was only $6.25! I called ahead and made sure there was free parking (there was) and so there was no way I could say no to good food (at a place I've been wanting to try) with potential new friends.


There were a lot of us, and the tables didn't really allow us to talk to everyone, but my end of the table was really fun. There was a man who moved to the area to "find a wife", a lady who was kind of a freak but nice and a guy who really liked the food network and therefore talked to me about a lot. We had a great time laughing and joking and I'm glad I decided to go.

Before you ask-the guy who moved here to find a wife is searching for a specific breed of woman-specifically, a Jewish one. He does, however, want me to send him my number and website address because he wants to throw some dinner parties and he'd like a caterer! So, yay!

Because it was such a nice night and we were enjoying each others company, we decided to meander over to THIS place for ice cream. It was SO good! This was my first time to an ice cream shop this season, and I was psyched because they had my favorite-Cinnamon! We sat in comfy chairs in the corner and chatted for a while before we all walked back to our cars/apartments and went our separate ways.

I really liked the night-we weren't in Boston but just outside in a city I've never been too. It was cute and quaint but still diverse, which was cool. There was one tapas restaurant that I MUST go to-it looks fantastic. The coolest part is that it's completely open to the street in the front when the weather is nice-it reminded me of Mexico. It would be the perfect place for a date.

I know that my "red beret" that you all said I have has been tucked away for a while, but I hope to soon be able to have more time to frolic and have fun so I can give you some more of my new city notes. :)

Communique 4 Ivanhoe

I was tagged by the lovely Ivana to do this meme and since she's such a doll (and if I don't stop staring at what I'm doing I'm going to be blind) I have taken a few minutes to fill it out.  Please also remember to stop by my Toosdae ?'s post if you haven't already done so.  The comments are pretty low so far!  :)
 
1.  What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was planning my wedding.  I'd like to say that I was focused on the other things I was doing (like going to school full time while working at Disney full time and also hanging out with great friends) but my mind was really occupied with planning the perfect wedding.  Too bad the guy I married ended up being a loser & a cheatin' fool!
 
2.  What are 5 things on your to do list today?
1.  Going out for classy pizza and ice cream with a group of people I have never met.  (Through that site I joined to meet friends)
2.  Go through the pile of mail that is accumulating on the sideboard in my hallway.
3.  Take a long walk to clear my head & to make my heart beat hard.
4.  Think about making fresh pasta sometime soon.  Which includes seeing if my pasta maker fits onto my counters.
5.  Fold the clean clothes that I keep throwing on the floor at night and putting on my bed again in the morning.
 
3.  What 5 snacks do you enjoy?
1.  Cheese and Crackers
2.  Pretzels
3.  Light Sour Cream & Onion Pringles
4.  Bananas  (Am I the only one who sings B-anana-s now?)
5.  PB&J Crackers made fresh by me.
 
4.  Name 5 things you would do if you were a millionaire.

1.  Travel to Italy for 6 months-1 year to work in restaurants, meet the locals and wander around the beautiful country side.

2.  Travel to all of the places I've wanted to go-Greece, Ireland, Spain, Tahiti, Hawaii, New Orleans, Savannah and lots of other places.

3.  Create a community center where underprivileged families can become educated in nutrition, get work by feeding other families (like a soup kitchen but more upscale) and cultivate land to grow vegetables and fruits used in the kitchens. 

4.  Open a small cafe that I can cater out of.

5.  Pay off the bills of everyone I care about.

 

5.  What are 3 of your bad habits?

1.  Leaving dirty dishes in the sink, even when I have time to wash them.

2.  Not folding my laundry after it's done.

3.  Being lazy & not exercising or going for walks when I should.

 

6.  Name 5 places you have lived.
1.  Elmsford, NY

2.  Chester, CT

3.  Joppa Town, MD

4.  Orlando, FL

5.  Windsor, CT

 
7.  Name 5 jobs you have had.

1.  Pharmacists' assistant

2.  Park Greeter on Main St. USA at the Magic Kingdom

3.  Grill cook at a private country club in CT.

4.  Room assignor at a WDW Resort.

5.  Pastry Chef
 
 
 

Toosdae ?'s

What up Toosdae people!? It's been a long couple of sleepless nights for me, so I'm sure that I'll need a little bit of waking up while sitting at my desk at work-you know what always makes me perk up? YOUR COMMENTS! So, help me keep my job and answer away!!

1. Since you were little how many different careers did you seriously consider? What were they?

2. You receive a neighbor’s bank statement by mistake, and you realize that the envelope wasn’t sealed before it was mailed. Are you more likely to open the envelope and take a peek before walking it next door, or just seal it up without looking?

3. You’re dining alone when you hear a couple talking about plans for their next sexual encounter. Are you more likely to get up and leave or to listen?

1. I thought about being a teacher, a mother, a marine biologist, a social worker and a chef. So that's 5. (It's the outlandish ones that are more interesting, actually!!)

2. Oh, the temptation would be so great! But I don't snoop through other peoples things because I did it once in high school and regretted it. Sometimes not knowing about certain things is better...plus: I don't know my neighbors, so it's not really that juicy for me to know how much $$ they have.

3. Oh. For sure-I would listen. And I'd probably get irritated if people were making noise and I couldn't hear them! :)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Manic Monday: Fresh

Be sure to visit Morgen and wish him a happy Manic Monday!
 
As a chef, I am obviously an advocate of fresh ingredients and dishes that are made fresh, from scratch.  (Like pasta)  I have many, many favorites like fresh lime juice, fresh squeezed orange juice and fresh fish.  But one of the freshest flavors I can think of is that of fresh basil.  Perhaps it's because my mother has always grown it in her garden and it's been something that I have always had access to-but fresh basil sings to my soul and makes me thankful for taste buds.
 
Basil Facts:
*It is a member of the mint family
*It's scientific name is "Ocimum Basilcum
*It has been found in mummies of ancient Egypt and is thought to have been used as an embalming herb.
*In Greece, it was thought of as a symbol of mourning.
*The word Basil comes from a Greek word that means king and is said to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine discovered the Holy Cross.
*The Romans thought that the best basil came from someone who was swearing when they planted it.
*In Italy, young maidens would wear a sprig of basil in their hair to flaunt their availability.
*Most people associate basil with Italian cooking, but it is also a prominent flavor in Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisine as well.
 
Here is a great summer basil recipe that would make for a great dinner party starter...
 
4 zucchini (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups fresh corn (cut from about 3 ears)
12 boiled or steamed 1 1/4-pound lobsters
1/2 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely shredded fresh basil leaves

Garnish: fresh basil sprigs and finely shredded basil leaves

With a small (about 1/4-inch) melon-ball cutter scoop outer flesh of zucchini, reserving remaining zucchini for another use if desired. (There should be about 1 1/2 cups zucchini pieces.) In a saucepan of boiling water blanch zucchini and corn 1 minute and drain well. Let vegetables cool and transfer to a large bowl. **If you don't want to take the time to do this, go ahead and cut them into small bite sized pieces.

Break off claws at body of each lobster. Crack claws and remove meat. Cut claw meat into 1/2-inch pieces and add to vegetables. Twist tails off lobster bodies, keeping them intact, and discard bodies. With a pair of kitchen shears remove thin hard membrane from each lobster tail by cutting just inside outer edge of shell. Remove meat from tail and reserve tail shells for serving. Cut tail meat into 1/2-inch pieces and add to claw meat mixture.

In a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste and add to lobster mixture. Toss salad gently just to combine well. Salad may be prepared up to this point 8 hours ahead and chilled, covered.

Just before serving, stir shredded basil into salad. Mound about 1/2 cup salad into each reserved lobster tail and arrange on a platter. Transfer remaining salad to a serving bowl and garnish platter and bowl with basil.

Recipe from Epicurious

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Luck of the Draw

During orientation I encountered 2 people who asked very stupid questions. They were so stupid that for a minute I thought that maybe they were joking and when I realized they weren't I actually rolled my eyes. Well, when I worked in suites one of the guys was part of the team. (He's actually one of the guys who was clueless who got to do more than me b/c I am a woman.) The other guy works in the kitchen I now work in.

And he's an idiot. On top of that, he's rude and has no idea how to take care of the people who are giving us a paycheck-the customers. The first time I talked to him he asked me if I watched the Simpsons. When I told him no, he said, "What are you stupid!?!? Everyone watches the Simpsons!"

Um. Not everyone, bucko.

Next, he walked out onto the line (he works in the back of the kitchen) and told us all that we're doing a great job and that he's proud of us. Now, to most of you, you're thinking, "Ok...that seems like a nice thing to do." But it's not. Because he's a jerk and he's saying it just to make us like him.

The last straw though was when he asked me for food. This is normally ok but on this day, we were so busy that I had to keep asking the kitchen for fresh fish because I was running out. I was making fish tacos and without the fish, well, you get it...

So this jackass came out from the kitchen and asked me for a fish taco. I said ok and began making him one. And then he said, "That's not a good piece of fish-give me another one."

Now to another aside-the day before he said, "I want a taco." and I said, "PLEASE". He was angry that I made him say please. See? Rude.

Back to the "I want a better piece of fish" episode. I said, "This is a perfectly good piece of fish-I have to save the rest for our customers." He went "Pfft" and said, "Forget it" and walked away.

Why is it that the piece of fish I gave you wasn't good enough for you but it's good enough for our customers? Listen jerkface loser boy-you are not our priority. We get the food that is left over. Our paying customers are more important and you are to wait for food like the rest of us. In the event that you get food before we pull it off of the line, you will take what you get because there are still PAYING customers who get the best food.

Period.

I can't stand that guy. Who says "The bomb digity" anymore anyway?