Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summertime Salsa Verde

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Salsa verdeSummer is finally here! It seems like this year has flown by, and I’m trying not to let the same thing happen to summertime.  Its beautiful outside, the sun is finally beating down on us, and there is produce everywhere.  Spring and summertime get me very excited to get into the kitchen and try new fun recipes and ideas, but the heat of summer makes me want to get in and out and enjoying my new food somewhere outside with a glass of rose in hand.  But I digress.

Last weekend I made a simple salsa verde I wanted to share, showcasing some of the ingredients of this current season: Lovage and green garlic.

For anyone who hasn’t come across either of these ingredients, never fear: They’re everywhere at farmers markets. Lovage is a green leaf with a flavor similar to celery, but sweeter and more substantial.  Green garlic is just garlic in its younger stages, still young and sweet.  It can also be called spring garlic.

This simple salsa is perfect for literally anything. I used it on steak, but it can also used it as a topper for chicken, seafood, and grilled veggies. You could also use it as a dressing for summer pasta salads. I recently used it as a topping for mozzarella cheese last weekend and it was magical.

Mozz

Lovage- Green Garlic Salsa Verde

2C Lovage leaves, picked

1 whole bulb and stem green garlic, chopped

1 tbsp white balsamic

zest of 1 lemon

3 C olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Add all ingredients except Olive oil to a blender and pulse.  Add Olive oil slowly in a thin stream until sauce becomes emulsified.  Season to taste and enjoy!

Happy Summer!

-L

 

 

 

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Ending One Chapter, Starting Another

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Recently (finally), I graduated from culinary school.  It’s amazing! My love of cooking has definitely taken me down a path I could not have predicted.  Of course the obvious (and often asked) question is: “what’s next?”

In short, to cook. As much as possible and as for as many people as possible.  I’m not a simple girl by any means, but my desires are pretty straightforward.

“So how was culinary school?” Well, that’s the question I get second–most often, tied with “what do you like to cook?” Just to get the latter out of the way, I like to cook anything and everything.  Explaining school is a little more lengthy of an answer.

my first day of culinary school

The first year seemed long, with classes covering the basics and lots of academic classes.  Everyone was feeling each other out and sizing up the competition; cooking will always be known as a competitive field, but some are comparing themselves to others while others only compete with themselves.  It can be an interesting mental game; definitely easy to get caught up in everything or anything that is going on around you.  It was here I learned my first lesson: the only person I should be worrying about doing better than is the person I was yesterday.  Cooking is self improvement; there is nothing more satisfying than creating something beautiful that you can eat.  I learned that it is so important not to lose sight of why I cook: to bring others joy, and hopefully (in the words of Daenerys Targaryen) “to leave the world better than when we found it. ”

I’m with her.

Things really changed for me during my summer externship. I was working in fine dining, and really learning how far I could push myself.  I learned how to taste for specific flavors and find balance in food; I was also exposed to new restaurants and the lifestyle of a cook in the big city. I learned my second lesson during this time: No cook was made in a day. Every day I tried to perfect my knife cuts, to work faster, season better, to anticipate what was needed of me. I couldn’t see much change on the day-to-day basis, but when it was all over, I couldn’t believe how much I had learned and grew in such a short period.  While I was exhausted at the end of it, I was more dedicated than ever to learning as much as I could about my craft.

Then our second year started, and I swear, I blinked my eyes and graduation time was almost upon me. Classes changed every three weeks, the academic classes dried up, and all of a sudden it was game time: cooking every day, cooking in the restaurants on campus for the public, and learning the more advanced principals the school had to offer.  I was working two jobs, going to school, and visiting my friends almost every weekend in Boston.  It all moved by so quickly, and I wish I could have paused it, especially at certain moments, to examine each second of my life with more understanding.  But that’s impossible, so I still had to learn the hardest lesson of all; one I am still struggling with  and I think most people do: Life moves by fast.  Focus on what is important to you and try not to let the rest enter your mind.  Stress is the most common emotion that eats at  me, and I had a lot of it during school.  It wasn’t always pretty, but I got through it all, with jobs intact, all my fingers, and friends that would still talk to me.  Best of all I got another diploma to hang on my wall, a psyical product of my achievement, to give me strength when mine own is faltering.

Graduation day- feeling very accompllished

Graduation day- feeling very accomplished

I left my life in Boston to come home to New York and pursue a dream of mine– a hobby that developed into a passion with became my life’s work, and I never looked back.  I was inspired along the way– by friends and family who supported me, my teachers and chefs who guided me, my fellow culinary students that worked with me, fought with me, and ultimately made me stronger– thank you all. My future scares me, but in a good way.  I hope those around me are hungry– I know I sure am.

-L

 

Fall Beginnings

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I know it’s been forever, and that’s my fault. Working as chef can zap any energy I once had to write, and a summer mending a broken heart can take away enthusiasm to share my culinary experiences. My summer was spent working hard as an intern, exploring New York City’s food scene, and being inspired by food on a whole other level. I have so much to write about in the coming weeks, but for now,mi wanted to re-introduce myself and my mission on this blog. I’m Lana, I’m 26, single, and a cook, married to the job. I am inspired by the seasonality of food, preserving, and recently, pickling. I am looking to enhance my world with food, and I can find inspiration anywhere. I have had the pleasure to work at some of the best restaurants around, and I have a thirst for knowledge about anything food. I am looking forward to sharing my experience this summer on this blog and new dishes I have created. Stay tuned for much more!
-L

Making Cheese

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Who doesn’t like cheese? Nobody, that’s who. Luckily, I’ve found out how to make some cheese at home, for those who want to try something new. It’s easy, fast, and definitely a great way to spend some time on a snowy day like most of us Northeasters had today.
So I decided on goat cheese, but this recipe can be made with any milk. Just make sure it isn’t ultra-pasteurized.
Here’s all you need to make some tasty cheese. Certainly not that much.

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Ingredients
1/2 gallon goats milk [$8]
2 cups heavy cream [$2]
1/4 cup white vinegar [$1 for a bottle]
1 bunch thyme [$2]
Kosher salt

Note: you’ll also need some cheesecloth, which runs about $5. This can be washed and used again in endless ways while cooking (though I’d only use the cheesecloth one or two more times). A worthwhile investment. Also, a thermometer is very helpful here.

Directions
Place the milk and cream in a large pot with the thyme.

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Bring the milk up to 185 degrees (F), making sure that a skin doesn’t form and that the milk doesn’t come close to boiling.

When the milk comes up to temperature, remove the thyme and add the vinegar, stirring only a few times to incorporate. Let curdle. It will look weird at first, but I promise this cheese is awesome.

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After the milk curdles, take it off the heat and let stand for at least 10 minutes so the curd can form.

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Strain the cheese into a colander lined with cheesecloth. The leftover liquid can be discarded or saved and used to make ricotta cheese, to add protein to smoothies, or to braise meats.

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It should take another 10 minutes or so for the cheese to drain. Add a tablespoon or so if salt to taste and help with the draining process.

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After the cheese is drained, it’s time to eat! It’s seriously that easy. Whole process took me maybe two hours. Still plenty of time for more activities on a blizzard day (I’m just assuming there will be more before winter is over, but this can be made anytime you’re feeling like some fresh cheese).
I tried to form mine into kisses, they came out more like small pyramids. Not sure if that made it better or worse.

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The cheese itself, however, was delicious. After cooling the cheese for about 30 minutes, they formed and solidified into just the right consistency. Feel free to just keep it in a container to spread on crackers if pyramid shapes aren’t your thing.
-L

Cheap Eats: @Union

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Who doesn’t love brunch? No one, that’s who. I personally love breakfast foods without having to wake up at breakfast times (read: before noon). That’s why I’m happy to live in a college town; I’m not alone in these beliefs. I’m also not alone in being frugal (read: broke), and when I heard about @Union, a great spot for breakfast foods that won’t break the bank, I was sold.
So The Russian and I rolled in around 1:30 and I was instantly giddy that they offer Earl Grey lattes. I love those (I’m not a big coffee drinker, which is probably why I sleep til noon).

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The menu @Union (at @Union?) is extensive. They offer so many options, I obviously have to go back and try more. For the time, however, I couldn’t decide, so I ordered the country Benedict, which is a Benedict with sausage patties, The Russian ordered the lobster Benedict, and we got some chocolate chip pancakes and bacon to share. It was a full table.

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So how was the food? It was glorious. I loved the country Benedict, how have I not seen this on more menus? It was genius and delicious and simple and so filling, I needed to be rolled home. It would be so embarrassing how much (and how fast) I ate if I wasn’t so shameless. Worth it.

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The Russian’s dish was equally as amazing. The lobster was delicate, the hollandaise rich, and the spinach was a nice touch.

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Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. We barely finished our food, took some pancakes home to snack on later, and when it was all said and done, the bill was $35. Impossible you say?
Go try this place for yourself.
-L
@Union
174 Harvard ave, Allston

Cheap Eats: The Hop, Beacon, New York

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Last weekend, I was lucky enough to get to go home and see my parents for a bit. I didn’t just steal my mom’s recipe from her, I also went out into the town as well. I’d been meaning to try The Hop for a bit, since I’ve only heard good things from friends that live in Beacon. Let me tell you, it was awesome. I’m really proud of Beacon for having awesome little spots like this. First off, it’s got some rustic and awesome decor (see photo above), and a tremendous selection of craft beers.

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They also have a crazy amount of cool jams, jellies, and specialty condiments just ready for purchase.

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It was a budding chef’s (like myself) paradise.
Did I mention they also have a menu? I should have started with that. I’m still thinking about the food. No, seriously.
The Russian and I started off with some brews, a raspberry cider for him and the Allagash Interlude for me. I loved my beer, and the fact that it was light and hoppy and somehow 10% alcohol. Definitely packed a healthy punch (the sneaky kind). I was okay with it, though. It was really great beer.

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We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the food though. It was marvelous.
The Russian and I had the olives and almonds, which were marinated in rosemary and olive oil. They were crunchy and well seasoned and a lovely compliment to the beer.

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Then they had these soft pretzels with homemade mustard and I could have cried. Pretzels are my favorite. Especially the big soft ones. The mustard was awesome, but it had a huge kick so using only a little was necessary.

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The crowning jewel was the chicken liver pâté. Dear god there was so much flavor. There was a homemade cherry (I believe, don’t quote me just know it was delicious) jam and a vinaigrette with homemade toast points. There was also a huge hunk of cheese. I was in love. There was a layer of fat on the bottom that tasted just like Sunday roast chicken. I was a very happy lady and giddy with excitement.

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The whole shebang cost me around $40, making it an affordable lunch for two.
The Hop was an incredible experience and a surprising experience to be found in Beacon, it makes me happy to come home and find so many delicious options springing up where my parents live. Also sad they don’t have something like this in Boston, that I’ve found at least. I cannot wait to come home and try more of The Hop’s menu offerings.
-L