Friday, April 22, 2011

Pasta making 101

Yesterday night I took a pasta making class at Sur La Table with a friend. For anyone that likes hands on instruction, Sur La Table's classes are very helpful and a ton of fun. The class sizes are small enough so the instructor can walk around, guiding each student individually. They last for around 2 1/2 hours and they give you a 10% off coupon good for an entire week. And lets not forget, you get to eat what you cook!

Besides pasta making, I've also taken a knife-skills class which I recommend to anyone that finds chopping therapeutic. Walking around the store is dangerous though... to my ever-growing list of dream kitchen items, I've added a 12 piece set of Scanpans, a Calphalon cutting board, and a set of Shun knives. Someday...

Getting back to pasta! We first learned how to make fresh dough and the proper way to knead it.  While the dough was resting, we cut up the rest of the ingredients for our dishes. Prosciutto, herbs, garlic, etc. Then the pasta machine came out, which was really fun to use. I couldn't resist picking one up for myself :)

Here are a few pictures from the class:
Fettucini, or tagliatelle as they call it in Italy

Tarragon pressed pasta sheets

Hand-cut papperdelle drying on the rack

Sauteing asparagus

Chicken and mushrooms simmering

Fettuccini with prosciutto and asparagus

Papperdelle and almond pesto

Tarragon pasta sheets with chicken and mushrooms

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eating out: Frontera Grill

One show I cannot get enough of is Top Chef. I was delighted when the Bravo producers took it a step further by creating Top Chef Masters, showcasing celebrated chefs around the nation. Rick Bayless, owner of Frontera Grill in Chicago, won the first season and ever since, I've been eager to eat at his restaurant.

So it goes without saying I jumped at boyfriend's spontaneous idea to fly to Chicago for a weekend, ostensibly to watch Purdue play in the NCAA tournament (insert evil laugh here). It was terribly last minute, but I called FG anyways in the off chance we could make a dinner reservation. Naturally, the lady politely laughed in my face and told me the line starts gathering an hour before the restaurant opens.

Not to be discouraged, we dutifully arrived on Saturday, 40 minutes before 5pm and to our disbelief, there was no one waiting. We scratched our heads, peered through the windows, and considered going to a bar and coming back in a bit. In the end, we decided to just wait.

That was a good decision. Within 15 minutes, the line stretched around the block. I stared at the menu posted outside, relishing in the sweet agony of what to order. At 5pm, the doors opened, and we flooded into the bar. We were the first ones seated and having studied the menu for 40 minutes outside, we knew exactly what we wanted.
The line of people waiting for the restaurant to open

Appetizer: Sopes Rancheros

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smörgåsbord of fooooood!

This post is mostly going to be photos I've taken over the past few months. For all the Top Chef fans out there, I was in Chicago in March and HAD to dine at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill. It was amazeballs. So great it deserves a post of its own. 

Enjoy the food porn :)

In February I went to New York for a little get-away....

Cheeseburger from Shake Shack in Madison Square Garden

Ahi tuna salad from Sarabeth's on Upper East

Then my birthday was in March...

Fruit tart from Lunardi's

Sea bass from Cantankerous Fish

Boyfriend's mahi mahi

Tiramisu for dessert!

We also went to Chicago to watch Purdue play in March Madness!

Hot dogs from Wieners Circle. Check out this You-tube video if you've never heard of this place.
Disclaimer: you will hear profanity.

And for some local color:

Sprinkles, always delicious!
Delicious home-cooked meal: roasted potatoes, veggies, and chicken cordon bleu.
I didn't make this, I just ate it!
Shabu House in San Mateo. I highly recommend sitting at the bar cuz you get your own hot pot!
American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in SOMA
 Left: mousetrap w/ bacon and apricot spread. Right: turkey club
Taverna Bistro in Sunnyvale.
I got the Inegol Kofte Kebab. It was okay, the meatballs were bland for my taste.
Boyfriend got the filet mignon. He made the right choice! Meat was tender and juicy.
Colorful vodka shot at Madera
Those are tapioca jalapeno balls!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to cook beets

I used to make fun of people who ate beets. Beets are old people food. They are mushy and weird. Now, I eat beets. Not sure what that says about me :)

I started by adding beets to my salad at the salad bar, after a lifetime of hearing about it's nutritional value. I got accustomed to the taste so one day at the farmer's market I decided to buy fresh beets. Usually three stalks come together. I got home and scratched my head, perplexed at how to cook them. Thankfully, we live in the Google age and so I read several tips online, and here is the finished "Caroline-ized" recipe:

3 stalks beets

(that's it! really!)

1. Slice the stalks off, saving the leafy greens for a nice stir-fry or addition to soup. Wash the beets, but do not peel. Cut in half and put in a oven safe dish. Add water until the line reaches 1/4 of the beets.

2. Bake at 400 degrees for 60 minutes, until they are soft and pliable. Let cool. At this point, the skin will come off easily, and I just use my hands to pry the skin off. Warning: your fingers will be stained pink.

At this point, the beets are ready to eat. I usually eat them au natural. I love the nutty, fresh, sweet flavor and it's super easy to prepare.