Friday, December 31, 2010

Lobster Killer

I was watching Julie and Julia and I totally remembered that I have a blog! I promised myself that I'd write daily once I got a new computer, but then I got wrapped up in the throes of life and completely forgot.

So, I just completed (meaning a week ago) Foundations 3 class, which is my 3rd and final professional cooking techniques class. The class focused mainly on butchery as far as theory goes, not the easiest subject. But it also required that every other day I make 2-3 dishes and present them to the instructor and get a grade for them. I swear that it's the hardest class I have had so far and I was counting on getting a B, simply because I thought it impossible to get an A. I was also told by several other students who had already taken the class that no one gets an A. However, being the perfectionist that I am, I worked as hard as I could manage, falling asleep with my books, and did A! Not to brag but, I am such a stud.

Anyway, in the very last class, we cooked live lobster and crawfish. The boys in the class, having to hold up to their boyish reputation, took all the animals and put them head to head so they could watch them "fight" with each other. Meanwhile, the girls in the class (particularly myself) attempted to make the last few moments of the lobsters' lives as comfortable as possible. I got the personal honor of lifting 3 completely live lobsters and dropping them into a large pot of boiling water. According to the instructor, they die within 10-20 seconds of being in there, however I did note them squirming for quite a bit longer than a minute. It was so sad. I had to hide my tears. The result being, I don't think I can ever eat a lobster again. Although I did manage to break one down, twisting the tail off and pulling out all the meat.

Watching Julie and Julia after completing my classes is so much fun. I actually recognize everything they are doing now. Sweet.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tuna Failures, Gingerbread Houses and Creamy Bacon Spinach Soup...

I got this e-mail from Tonnino Tuna that says, "Congratulations on winning first place!" Which basically means I didn't get the Grand Prize of a trip to NY and a $5000 scholarship award. But I did get....drum roll...a year's supply of tuna. To define that, I get a case (6 bottles) of tuna (yes, it comes in bottles) per month, which is a total of 72 bottles in a year. Yum! It's a disappointment but, after crying for a couple days, I got over it.

The next competition was a gingerbread house competition at a retirement home. Although my gingerbread came out kinda funky (little zombie men - see below), the house turned out okay. It was a sort of pink-Victorian Barbie house, with a Golden Graham's roof top and a red licorice chimney. I came in 4th place, 1 point away from 3rd, simply due to resident votes. The judges LOVED my house and possibly would have given me 2nd or 3rd place if it was just up to them. As a result, however, they raised my prize money from $50 to $120. At least I got most of the money I spent on all that candy and icing...

But let me also clarify, I HAD A LOT OF FUN! I love competing. :)~ I just have to learn it's not all about winning.

And finally... by popular demand....



6 slices bacon
1/4 c. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 oz.) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 oz. (6-7 cups) fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 c. non-fat milk
6 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
to taste salt and white pepper


1. In an oven preheated at 350 degrees, cook the bacon on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes until crispy; set aside to cool.

2. Pour a couple teaspoons of bacon fat from the baking sheet into a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, a pinch of salt and white pepper, and cook until tender. Reduce heat to low.

3. Crumble bacon and add to pot. Stir in broth.

4. Rinse spinach well and add to soup. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

5. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until spinach is wilted and cooked, but not fully broken down.

6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine milk and flour; beat with whisk until very well blended.

7. Stir milk mixture into soup. Simmer on low heat until it thickens, stirring often.
Suggestion: Top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve with whole-grain bread.

Serving Size: 2 cups
Number of Servings: 3

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Iron Cupcake Competition! Yummeeee!

I participated in my first Iron Cupcake SF competition and it was awesome fun. The theme was "nuts" so I entered with a spiked eggnog with nutmeg cupcake. It was a yellow cake with a rum glaze and butter cream frosting with a sprinkle of nutmeg. It really tasted like eggnog! I served it with eggnog, too....  Sooooooo YUM!

I didn't win but it was a super fun experience anyway. I actually can't remember all the winners because they didn't really stand out for me. We each had to taste 22 different cupcakes and by the end of it I was a little...well...cupcaked out. So was my mom.

I am definitely doing it again! Next competition is in December and I have to do my "signature cupcake." I think I'm going to do bacon and cheddar. Yum!

Friday, November 19, 2010

And suddenly life happens....

I feel guilty about my lack of blogging presence. I did just get a new laptop so, once I get it online, I should be more attendant.

Life has been a whirlwind. I am in my Foundations 3 class, which basically consists of a day of lecture and food preps, and a day of mastering 2 dishes which are then graded. It's super busy and super tiring, but it's the nitty gritty of what school is about.

I recently participated in the Almost Famous Chef on-campus competition. I was chosen as a finalist, as usual, based on my personally written recipe and essay. The 5 finalists competed in a cooking and personality competition to see which 2 would represent the school in a regional competition in LA. I unfortunately lost, thankfully not due to my lack of personality, mostly due to my crappy food preparation. I have no problem following directions in class. But a recipe of my own creation tends to go bad.... One of my chefs put it like this, "If you were a jazz musician you would have to learn the basics of music before going into improvisation of jazz licks and being any good at it, right?" Right. So, I guess I'm not a pro chef yet. Oh well....the journey continues.

Monday is a cupcake contest that I'm super excited about. And a week after that is the gingerbread competition. Life just gets more and more exciting....

Meanwhile, I have until Dec 1st to get as many votes for my recipe as possible so that I can win the Tonnino Tuna scholarship. So post this link on your Facebook and get your friends to go here and vote for me!

You're the best fans ever!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Wine Class...

So last week I finished my wine and writing classes. I got an A in each of them, despite my typical finals freak out.

I really feel like my freak out on the wine final was totally valid. He was really, really tough. I had trouble paying attention in class because of his lecture style (which I will not mock here, as you never know...). And there is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much random information about wine, you would not believe it!

Despite my qualms, I managed to perfectly translate an Italian wine label including what region of Italy the wine came from, what year it was harvested, the official quality level, what grape it was made out of, the body and taste of the wine and what to pair it with. Not an easy task. It surprised me how much information had seeped in over time.

One thing I can say I definitely got out of this class is an appreciation for wine. Jason (the new beau) and I went wine tasting and it was a lot of fun!

I'd go into more detail, but I guess I get scared no one will understand it. 6 weeks ago, it was Latin to me...

I Changed My Facebook Status....

Okay, I did it. No atom bombs blew up. But so far we've been hanging out for six straight weekends and it's been awesome! It's like meeting one of those people who you can just be completely comfortable with. I can't say anything that's embarassing because he just laughs everything off and makes it so much fun. We definitely have different tastes in a lot of things, but I almost enjoy listening to his annoying complaints about food, and he doesn't seem to mind my obsession with Justin sweet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When Are You Ready to Change Your Facebook Status?!!!

To all my adoring fans, sorry I haven't posted in a while. I got caught up in a whirlwind of wine class, English papers and...a guy.

I met him via an infamous and unmentionable dating site. Meaning, I keep forgetting where I met him exactly but I'm sure it was online.

The first day of meeting we were just going to have breakfast and go to the Exploratorium, but we were having such a good time it turned into bowling, then sushi, then a movie.

The next weekend we went to Six Flags and pooped out after only a few hours and a couple rides. The thing we enjoyed the most was probably sitting on a bench drinking beer and watching little kids run by.

The weekend after that we ended up in Tahoe, on the gambling side, and had a fun time at the rapid roullette and the hamburger slot machine. I won $500 and lost about $600.

The weekend after that, last weekend, he followed me around the city to my cooking competition and a temp job I had to do. We went shopping together and I made dinner. We ate snuggled up on the couch watching random Netflix. The interesting thing was that we managed to keep it pretty platonic the entire time. I'm sure most can't imagine a boy/girl trip to Tahoe remaining platonic. But it was pretty easy and pretty fun and there was really no pressure, which I thought was awesome.

On Sunday morning, we went to eat at The IHOP and started talking about changing FB status. That's a big step, don't you think? I'm not sure I'm ready. I definitely like the guy. We are cracking jokes with each other and LOAO all the time. Why not change the FB status?

I guess it's just that none of my friends even know who he is and I really don't want to talk about it. So there... that's that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ladle Rat Rotting Hut

At the Exploratorium in San Francisco, there is an awesome exhibit on sound that features the story of Ladle Rat Rotting Hut. If you haven't experienced an Anguish Languish Furry Tell, you must.

Not wanting to plaguerize (spelling?), I'll just give you the link.

Even if you can't listen to it, at least go and read it. I swear, I was on the ground, laughing so hard I cried. I have it on video....

The "Hot Pile" A.K.A. Warm Bacterial Poo Dirt

Another fun exhibit at the "you know what" was the Hot Pile.


This dirt feels warm because bacteria and fungi in it are harvesting energy from decaying plants.

Dig your hand down into the soil. (Use a plastic glove if you like.)

Can you feel the heat? You may need to dig deep to find the warmth.

Are you serious?

Have You Ever Drunk From a Toilet? I Have....

And yet another fun experience....

Not so hard....but you wouldn't believe the squeamish, giggling girls who tried to drink from this thing before me and failed. No joke.


A tall, well-built woman with good
sense of humor, who can cook frog
legs and who appreciates a good fuc-
schia garden, classical music and tal-
king wihout getting too serious.

But please only read lines 1, 3 and 5

I hope I didn't offend anyone. I just came across this recently and was lmao.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tanno's Tonnino Tuna Treasure - The Recipe - By Popular Demand

My fans have requested a copy of my video recipe for them to follow. So here it is:

1/2      jar         Tonnino Tuna (any flavor)
1         each      Russet Potato (thin slices)
2         oz         Gruyere Cheese (grated)
1/2      oz         Parmesan Cheese (grated)
1         tbsp      Cream
1/2      oz         Butter
To taste           Salt and White Pepper
Garnish            Paprika and fresh parsley

1. Coat the bottom of an oven-safe dish with butter.
2. Put down a layer of potato slices.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Pour cream over.
5. Sprinkle a layer of Gruyere.
6. Put down another layer of potato and another layer of Gruyere.
7. Top with a layer of parmesan.
8. Wrap with foil and bake approx 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until you can poke a toothpick easily through the potatoes.
9. Uncover and put back in the oven for about 5 minutes to toast the parmesan, until light golden brown.
10. Cool for 5-10 minutes (so the cream stops bubbling), and sprinkle with paprika and fresh chopped parsley.
11. Serve hot and YUM!

Notes: For more servings, just increase the potatoes until you fill your dish and sprinkly with enough cheese for a very thin layer. Don't over cheese or over cream, as it will become a soggy mess. Definitely use Tonnino Tuna, it is very moist and works well in the oven.

And don't forget to vote for my video recipe:

Directions for voting: Click on my video, "Tanno's Tonnino Tuna Treasure" and look below the video. A "like" button should pop us as well as a list of comments. Click on the "like" button (you may have to login your Facebook account) and you have voted. Leave me a comment for extra pizzaz!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Soda That Tastes Like Curry?!!!

Seriously, folks... Among other oddities found in my "Asian" market, curry soda is one I recently discovered. Mostly corn-syrup, but with a distinct after-taste of curry powder which apparently only I can taste. Just wanted to share....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stinky Fruit Smells Like Feet - Hereby Dubbed "Spike"

My mother and I have a passion for shopping in strange markets and experiencing odd things. There is an "Asian" market near our house, for lack of a better description, that we like to get our produce from. Besides just shopping for produce, this store is particularly fun to just wander around in just to look at things. But it makes eating at Chinese restaurants a debatable experience...

In this particular market they have huge, over-crowded fish tanks with huge fish (alive) piled on top of each other. Eating it must be like eating pure anxiety. The "butcher" reaches in with his net, and all the fish scramble to the bottom to get away. Then you can watch him chop the head off, drain the blood and gut it. Poor fish. And I like seafood....

Anyway, we don't go there for the fish. Last time we were there we came across this strange vegetable/fruit thing that we'd never seen before. We decided to buy one just for the experience. According to the label, the name of the thing is "Monthong Durian," or something like that.

After checking my mom's trusty dictionary, she found that this particular fruit is known to have a fetid smell, yet a creamy and yummy taste (paraphrasing). It was the "fetid smell" description that made us super-eager to open it. We are weird, it's true. Not knowing whether it had a pit or what the proper procedure for opening said fruit was, we hacked at it from various different angles with no success. We finally decided it was frozen and perhaps we should let it thaw.

After allowing it to thaw, I let me mother have the honor of getting the thing open. According to her, it smelled like (jack)ass. I kinda thought it smelled like a cross between a carob tree in the fall and someone's dirty socks. We couldn't figure out how to eat it and eventually ended up throwing it away.

I am inspired to find out how this fruit is of use to mankind, make a video teaching the skill of getting it open and serving it, and posting it online. Unless someone has beat me to it... :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wine Class....or Whine Class...?

As of last Monday, I started my next set of classes which includes an English Writing class and a Wine and Beverage class.

Initially, the idea of writing prose whilst drinking the day away (wine tasting) sounded like a superb idea. However, after the first week, we all quickly realize that our concept of these classes was a little distorted.

I am now a complete aficionado on the history of wine making, vineyards, varietals and the exact procedure for corporate wine-making, whether I wanted to be or not. While it has a feeling of sophistication, I must say that, for me, the subject is rather a bore. Today is our first day of actually tasting wine, which I'm actually not a fan of really, and I guess we shall see where that takes us.

English writing was just about what I thought it would be, but a little less exciting. Not only am I reviewing things I feel I know to the bottom of my soul, this particular class has it's irksome quirks as well. While I adore the instructor's constant gabble and storytelling, yesterday we came upon the dreaded subject of the redundant comma and now the nightmare begins.

"To comma, or not to comma?" That is the question.

I personally feel it's often a bit redundant to include a comma before a conjunction connecting two independent clauses. And according to our book, it's a judgement call. Our instructor teaches this as the proper use of a comma. However, to his praise, when I asked if we would be poorly graded for not doing so, he said he would not be too picky about it as it's clearly a debatable. Hurrah!

What's your prognosis?

P.S. I still need more votes for my scholarship video:

Friday, October 1, 2010

HELP! ...I want to be the next TUNA GIRL!

I entered this scholarship contest to win $5000 towards my schooling (with a $50,000 tuition I'm going to need it) and an opportunity to be the next ambassador for Tonnino Tuna! I had to make a neato recipe video and it was a lot of fun. Now I need people to go to the website and vote for me! The 3 with the highest votes will be in the running for the #1 prize!

Click on the link below, then click on my video (Tanno's Tonnino Tuna Treasure) and just "like" my video and maybe make a comment. It's facebook-style, real simpe. The voting options will not show up unless you actually choose my video from the column on the right.

Oh...and I forgot to mention.... the top three winners all get a year's supply of tuna.

If you come vote for me I'll give you a special mention on my future chef tv show. If you get others to vote for me, maybe you can get a guest spot. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sad Contest Results and the Next Battle...

So, the results of my cooking contest were unfortunately that I did not win. My squash did not cook long enough, according to the judges it was undercooked, but the flavor was awesome and it looked great. I got super kudos for creativity.

 Time to get back on the bike and keep going....

Next contest - chili cook-off! My idea is to do a seafood chili...what do you think? I don't want to do anything normal or traditional, unless it's so friggen awesome it blows the judges away. But these are not your typical Texas chili judges. They are culinary artists who specialize in French cooking. So....any ideas?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finals Can Suck....but on the Bright Side of Things...

I've been out of the blogging universe for the past week working on homework and finals which I am now mid. Today I took the written exam and I'm sure I got at least 3 things wrong, but the majority I'm pretty confident about.

It's particularly tought remembering what temperatures to cook the various types of food to. I generally just overcook them all and eat them rough, tough and rubbery. Don't we all? Who the heck uses a thermometer for anything but a turkey?

Anyway, tomorrow and Thursday I have 4 different dishes I have to cook and that's what I'm really worried about. If I miss more than 20 points out of the 160 I have, then I will get a B. (Most people would be happy with that, but not the over-achiever.) :(

On the bright side of things... (yelling from the rooftops) MY RECIPE GOT PICKED FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION! I know I haven't really said much about it. But I had to write a menu and recipe plan using only 5 ingredients, including spices. About 75 students entered and only 10 were chosen. So, this Saturday I get to make my recipes for a chef judge and could win $1000 tuition money. Yay!

I thought you might want to see it:

by Jaime Tanno, CCA Culinary Student

The Menu

Ragù di Manzo Condito con Cipolle Caramellate
(Peppered Beef Ragu with Caramelized Onions)

Zucca Ravioli
(Eggless Ravioli with Butternut Squash)

Cipolle Arrosto Parmigiano
(Roasted Parmesan Onion Halves)

The Concept

Keep it simple and apply what I have learned in school!

The competition is entitled “Real/Simple/Food.” The challenge is using only 5 ingredients in a complete menu.

My first instinct was to be ultra, overly-creative and come up with combinations of foods that people have never eaten such as bacon ice cream or liver pie. I wanted to be original and submit something that no one else could possibly think of.

The more I attended class in Foundations 2, the more I learned that some of the simplest foods can be made absolutely delicious simply through the technique used to prepare it, including proper seasoning. So I went back to basics and decided to use what I have learned in life and in school to create a simple meal that is scrumdiddlyumptious!

I went back to my Italian family roots (my grandfather is from Sicily and I have a lot of family in the north of Italy) and uprooted a pasta recipe that doesn’t require eggs but that makes a deliciously fresh and tender pasta, using the same technique I learned in class. I then turned to the butternut squash as I recently had to write a paper on it and the recipe that intrigued me the most was putting it in a ravioli. Using further techniques I learned in “braising” my beef stew and making caramelized onions for my French onion soup, I put together a rich ragu to top it all off. And just to bring it all around, I am reintroducing the squash and onion in a beautiful roast that has an entirely different texture and flavor.

The Ingredients

Basic Five:

White Onions
Butternut Squash
Parmesan Cheese


Salt & Pepper (both black and white)


Butter (clarified and whole)
Olive Oil

The Recipes

Ragù di Manzo Condito con Cipolle Caramellate

Quantity of Ingredients:

1 lb Beef (1 inch cubes)
1 each White Onion (small dice)
1 each White Onion (half-round cuts)
1 tbsp Flour
1 tbsp Clarified Butter
1 tbsp Whole Butter
TT Salt & Black Pepper
Water as needed

1. Trim any extra fat off of meat. Coat with salt and pepper and then flour until dry.
2. Heat butter in a small pot.

3. Sweat small dice onions until they begin to brown.
4. Add beef to pot and brown all sides.
5. Cover in water and bring to a simmer. Put a tight lid on the pot and continue simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour, adding water as needed to keep it submerged.
6. In a separate sauté pan or pot, heat about 1 tbsp water with a pinch of salt.
7. Add onion slices to water and allow to brown (not burn). Continue to add small amounts of water as it evaporates to deglaze the bottom of the pan until the onions are a deep brown color.
8. Once the onions are done and the beef has been simmering approximately 45 minutes, take the lid off of the beef and combine both. Reduce any water left, down to about ¼ the original amount.
9. Season with salt and pepper.
10. Off the heat, add whole butter and melt it in.
11. Serve over the ravioli.

Zucca Ravioli

Quantity of Ingredients:

2 ¾ cups All-purpose Flour
½ tsp Salt
½ cup Water
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 each Butternut Squash
2 cups Parmesan Cheese (Grated)

1. Cut each squash in half and seed them. Sprinkle salt and pepper on 4 ½ pieces of squash and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, until tender and soft in the middle. During the last 10 minutes of baking, add a layer of shredded parmesan to the top and let it get golden brown and a little crunchy.

2. Take the rest of the squash and cut it into smaller pieces. Do not season. Bake them at 350 degrees for only about 15 minutes until they are quite warm and able to be cut easily. Allow them to cool until they are manageable and then cut them into even cubes.

3. Blanch the cubes by putting them in boiling water about 20-30 minutes, until they are fully cooked, and then shocking them in an ice-water bath.

4. Put the cubes of cooked squash through a food mill and add the parmesan cheese while it is still warm so that the cheese fully melts. Mix them together. This is the ravioli filling. It does not need seasoning as the sauce will be well seasoned.

5. Pour the flour out onto a clean counter and create a sort of moat of it with the water and oil in the center of the flour walls.

6. Slowly combine the flour with the water, folding it in little by little until it becomes a dough. Knead the dough for approximately 8 minutes, adding water or flour as needed, until it is soft and manageable.

7. Using a pasta maker, thin out the dough to the thinnest setting and put a layer down on the counter with some flour or seminola underneath to keep it from sticking.

8. Put the filling in little tablespoon sized droplets at 2-inch intervals along the sheet of pasta. Spread a few drops of water around each one so that the next layer of dough will stick. Ensuring you do not get any air pockets, lay down the next layer of dough on top and cut out your ravioli with a knife or a circle or whatever your prefer.

9. Cook the fresh ravioli in a pot of boiling, slightly salted, water for about 3-5 minutes. They should be soft and tender and not starchy or al dente.

10. Serve the ravioli in the baked half-shell of butternut squash with a topping of the beef ragu.

Cipolle Arrosto Parmigiano

Quantity of Ingredients:

4 each White Onions
2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
TT Salt & White Pepper

1. Peel the onions and slice them in half.

2. Salt and Pepper each half lightly.

3. Roast them in a preheated 380 degree oven approximately 25 minutes until they appear shiny, soft and toasty.

4. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle them with parmesan and cook until it is golden brown.

5. Serve to halves alongside the butternut squash filled with ravioli and beef ragu.

Total Servings: 4

Thursday, September 16, 2010

E-Mail Hackers from India and China, and Disappearing Blogs!

I had the horrible experience recently of having my gmail hacked into and used to send spam. I first noticed when I received a few e-mail responses that said my e-mail couldn't be sent because I had reached my daily limit of 100 e-mails per day. I looked in my sent and found spam about drugstores being sent to my 346 contacts. I started getting responses from people asking why I was sending them that stuff. The horrible thing was, I couldn't answer them to explain because I had reached my e-mail limit!

I checked on google to find out what I'm supposed to do if such a situation arises. It directed me to my "recent activity" and I saw that my account had been logged onto in such places as India and China! I was told to change my password if there was any suspicious activity, so I did it immediately.

After 24 hours my e-mail reset and I was able to send e-mails again. But now I don't know if I should use  up my 100 e-mails a day to send e-mails to everyone on my contact list apologizing or if I should just assume my friends would know that it wasn't something I would do. I decided to blog about it.

But guess my blog disappeared. It was taken off line by the spam police. Anyway, I went through this whole password verification thing now and I am hoping to G that everything is over and this will show up.

Be warned.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Fun Day In Class

I'm just enjoying the heck out of burning the tips off of my fingers and eating fattening food. I gained another pound (but I think it is up from the "Fry" day before) but I'm still down 8 from when I started trying to lose about a month ago.

Today was Pork Chops and Veal Marsala, super yum. I don't think I've ever tasted a pork chop before. If I have, it wasn't this. And veal? Well, I'm not a fan of eating baby cows but this wasn't so bad. The fun part was pounding the crap out of it with a mallet. Hee.

Once again, I pounced on the veal marsala and was eating it to my heart's content when I realized I hadn't taken pictures. Oh well. It's a testament to my good cooking, I guess. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fattening "Fry" Day!! Ugh.

20 pieces of tempura, 4 pieces of fish, a batch of "chips" and another batch of onion rings later....

Well, at least I know how to make it now? Is that going to be worth the nearly 20 bites of random fried particles I just injested. Only the scale will tell.

I did learn new recipes for tartar sauce and ginger/soy sauce that are AMAZING! That's probably why I couldn't stop dipping and tasting.

The tempura was gone (not just into my mouth) before I could get a decent pic. :)

How do all those English chicks stay so hot with all the fish and chips?! And the Japanese girls with all that tempura???! Does the fact that it's mostly vegetables justify anything? Or does dipping them in 3 kinds of flour and a vat of fat totally negate it all?

Oh well....forge on in the culinary adventure!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food Related TV Show Ideas - WIN A PRIZE

Okay, I want your ideas. There are a lot of TV shows around about FOOD. What do you like the best? What do you not like? What sort of TV show would you like to see about FOOD or COOKING? Please share your ideas with me.... best idea gets a prize!

(Btw, I never gave out a prize for my pizza competition because I wasn't selected to participate. That doesn't mean the one idea I got sucked. Hehe.)

And don't ask me what the prize is. It's a surPRIZE. Okay? ....may the best man win!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An epiphany....

For some reason I've turned on a light today and I really don't want it to turn off. I think I truly understand the concept of letting go of the past and going after your dreams. I am building a castle on a cloud and I like the view from up here. I think the only reason people don't really do that too often is a fear of falling. But you have to get over being scared of heights if you want to reach the top, right?

So, here it is. By the age of 33, I am going to make my mark. That gives me at least 2 years. By January 2012 I will be done with school and ready to move out and establish myself and my career. But who's waiting for that. I'm starting now. I'm putting together my recipe book and it's going to go global. If Justin B can do it via YouTube so can I! HEY RACHEL RAY, HERE I AM!!!!!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Midterms....ugh! Etc., etc....

I really don't like tests. Not that I'm bad at them. But if I get one question wrong I mentally FREAK! Why is that?

Anyway, I was thinking the other day....

.....and I decided to take a picture of it.

I have been trying my damndest to remember to take pictures of my food, but the food hypnosis has come over me and out of the 20 dishes I made this week I managed to get a shot of 1. I also took a picture of someone elses Au Gratin...

And here are my lovely duchess potatoes, aka pommes duchess!

Anyway, I'm reading  up on blogs so I have something more interesting to say. I also started a diary to see if that helps. I love to write and I think of things all the time, but when I get that very rare opportunity to write.....

Any ideas?

P.S. I've edited this page 500 times and still can't get the layout right. Oy vey.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Joys of Cooking Class

Whew! It has been an exhausting  yet fun adventure in class the last couple of weeks. I stopped cutting myself so much and started burning myself a lot. Hopefully eventually I won't even notice these things because my skin will just toughen  up.

We went through a serious heat wave this week which brought our class room/kitchen up to almost 100 degrees while we were cooking. I had to wash my face every time I washed my hands to keep from dripping sweat into my soup. I turned as red as a turnip and felt like I must be going through menopause.

I also got in at least 3 fights with my classmates over random, stupid stuff. I'm sure the heat and activity in the kitchen raised our stress levels quite a bit. But after a few days it has seemed to calm down and we're on a smooth road to heaven.

Seriously, twice this week I have enjoyed an incredibly rich afternoon snack of a freshly made shrimp bisque. Three times I've had a delicious clam chowder and two other times I had a freshly baked French onion soup. On the count of three, let's all say, "YUM!"

Before we got into soups we were doing a bunch of sauces. The first day I became completely nauseous from all the butter I ingested through having to taste my sauces. They were absolutely delicious but the combination, without food, was pretty deadly. One day I made a Bearnaise sauce, which is a rich small sauce made from Hollandaise; a mornay sauce that had parmegiano reggiano, Gruyere (like Swiss) cheese and lots of cream and butter; AND a beurre blanc which is basicually pure white butter in reduced white wine and shallots. I made all three in the same day two days in a row. Although it was a bit tough in class, I have to admit, bringing this stuff home and pouring it over white fish, asparagus and rice was awesome!

In my attempt to broaden my culinary experiences, when I eat out (which isn't often lately, on my student budget) I have been trying to choose new and exciting things that I think would be fun to eat as well as write about. I have begun to see that sharing these experiences with others in a visual fashion is extremely difficult. The phenomena that occurs when the food arrives to the table has almost hypnotic qualities and, not matter how hard I try to remind myself or get others to remind me, I ALWAYS forget to take pictures until after I've eaten half the dish.

The same phenomena occurs in my cooking class. I get finished making something, and am so excited after having my chef instructor grade it, I simply dig into it and then store the leftovers away for my mom. She's taken to texting me several times mid-class to remind me to take pics and send them to her. Sigh.

Anyway.... today ends the adventure of soups and sauces. I got a 56 out of 60 grade on the soups I did today: Clam Chowder (below), French Onion Soup (below) and a beef/veal Consomme.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash, sometimes referred to as butternut pumpkin, is a type of winter squash that has a sweet flavor and texture similar to that of a pumpkin. It has a long, cylindrical, bell-like shape with a thick outer shell that ranges from yellow to caramel-tan. It can grow up to 8-12 inches long and 3-5 inches at its widest point. The outer-shell is hard and there is a stem growing out of the top. The inside is orange and fleshy and similar to that of a pumpkin, with seeds in the middle. It grows on the vine and the more it is ripened the deeper the orange color and the stronger and sometimes sweeter the flavor.

The most popular version of butternut squash used in the United States today, originates from Stow, Massachusetts on a farm that is now known as the Butternut Farm Golf Club. It was created by a man named Charles A. Leggett in the mid 1940’s. There were 2 common squashes in use at that time – the gooseneck squash, which was difficult to transport due to being long and gangly, and the Hubbard squash which was quite large. Leggett wanted a simple squash that was smaller and easier to transport for sales. He tried out several different strains of squash until he got one he liked and then he developed the first official acre crops of butternut squash in the US.

Leggett’s squash was highly praised for its smooth buttery skin and its nutty flavor and that is how it was eventually dubbed butternut squash.

According to several sources, including Wikipedia, the origin of that general family of squash originates around Mexico, and its cousin, the pumpkin, is from South America. Use of similar squashes apparently date back to around 3000 BC, when they were used by Indian tribes throughout Central and South America.

Butternut squash can be prepared in many different ways including being roasted, puréed, mashed, baked, boiled, simmered, sautéed, and made into pies, casseroles, breads or muffins. It is often served as a dessert, with some sort of syrup, nuts and so on. Similar to the pumpkin, in addition to being a good dessert, it is also a great vegetable side-dish or main dish. I’ve eaten this squash in a curry sauce with tofu, or baked right in its shell with a little seasoning.

One of my favorite recipes using this exotic vegetable is as follows:

Butternut Squash Ravioli

• Cook Time: 10 min

• Yield: 4 appetizer servings


• 9 tablespoons butter

• 3 tablespoons minced shallots

• 1 cup roasted butternut squash puree

• Salt

• Freshly ground white pepper

• 3 tablespoons heavy cream

• 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 ounces

• Pinch nutmeg

• 1 recipe pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons, about 1/4-inch thick

• 12 fresh sage leaves

• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

Cut the pasta ribbons into 3-inch squares. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each pasta square. Bring 1 corner of the square to the other, forming a triangle and seal the pasta completely. Add the pasta to a pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the pasta floats and is pale in color.

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well. Season the pasta with salt and pepper.

In a large sauté pan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle the 2 ounces of cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Culinary School Update

I'm just starting my 3rd 6-week term. So far I've completed Cooking Foundations 1, Food Safety and Sanitation, College Success, Hospitality Math, Food Science and Computer Software classes with straight A's and a 4.0 gpa. Hallelujah!

Today was my second day of Foundations 2, 4 hours straight of cooking, and it is pretty awesome. We're starting to get into the meat of things. In the past two days I have personally made my own fish stock, chicken stock, browned veal bones and browned mirepoix, and reviewed all my basic cuts. I feel like I'm on the way to really becoming a skilled culinarist. :)~

I also just landed a work study job in the Student Services area and I'm super excited about it. But it means I'll be at school from 9-5+. Yee ha!

If you're just browsing here, definitely take a look at my pizza competition post. I really need some ideas because our submissions will be needed shortly. I have compiled a list of general pizza likes and dislikes and I'm considering surveying it out.... but I need more ideas.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Dieting Blues

By Saturday I had lost a whopping 6 pounds from when I first started dieting and weighing myself, 2 weeks ago. That's pretty cool.

By Sunday I had lost a little bit of my edge. Feeling a little lonely and somewhat down on myself, I spend the day hanging with my moms, relaxing and having fun. We spend the afternoon outside of the grocery store, buying scratchers, winning a few dollars here and there, collecting the money and buying more scratchers. I don't know how much we spent but I think just a few dollars kept us going for a couple hours. We finally had to stop and relocate to a different store because the scratcher machine got jammed.

Before relocating, we stopped at Noah's Bagels to have lunch. We had chicken wraps on whole wheat tortillas which seemed like a really good idea until moms looked them up on the WW points counter and found out they were worth 12 points each. Well, I also found out that the Caesar dressing on my wrap was a trigger for sweet cravings and I just could not avoid pickup a batch of sweet cream cheese bagel poppers. Despite the name, I don't think there is much cream cheese involved. It was basically plain bagel holes drenched in white butter cream frosting. Can you say yum?!

After devouring my bagel poppers with the assistance of mother dearest, she decides that she didn't have enough and orders a batch of cinnamon and sugar bagel poppers. No explanation needed there. Those were gone in less than 15 minutes.

We relocated to our local convenience market for further scratching joy. And as I'm inside the store for the 3rd time trading in a winning ticket for a couple more scratchers, my mom decides she's going to check out the ice cream/frozen  yogurt shop that just opened next door.

4 scoops and 2 cookies later, we retire to our car, stuffed, satisfied and yet defeated.... I checked the scale and I was down a pound from yesterday. Can't wait for my Sunday disaster to catch up with me.

But the great thing about Monday, among a lack of great things about Monday, is that we can start all over again. Yay!

Does anyone else have experiences like this to share?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


According to Garfield, a diet is just DIE with a T.

I often find myself feeling a little too chubby for comfort. I've tried the whole, "I'm big and I'm beautiful and I love myself!" approach, but the truth is, I'd really much rather be without the extra fat. Not that I'm going for a size 0. But at least let's clear up the unnecessary fat folds, right?

There are many products that boast the ability to lose weight rapidly. I've never found these to really work. I've tried Xanadine and other similar diet pills and got massive headaches from the caffeine. I've tried the green tea pills and sometimes it feels like their working, but really they are influenced by diet and exercise anyway so is it just a placebo?

The best diet that ever worked for me was the First Personal Diet, which I think you can find online. The heaviest I ever got was about 209 and I was a size 18. I had heard a lot about this diet and I decided to try it. I had to go to a clinic and get blood tested and then I got my own personal daily "menu" of sorts. I had to weigh and portion every single thing that I ate. There were almost  no simple carbs in the diet. Mostly just protein and vegetables. The bonuses were a serving of fruit, 6 crackers a day, and as much diet soda as I wanted. I spent most of my time drinking the must natural diet sodas I could find and they kept me pretty full. I didn't really do any exercise specifically. And after about 3 months, I got down to a size 10. Sweeeet!

As good as that was, I ended up going on a business trip for several months and the eating-style was no longer conducive to my lifestyle. Sigh.

That was about 2 years ago and I am no a struggling size 12/14, weighing in at 197. I don't pay attention much to the weight because I actually have a high amount of muscle mass, but I definitely don't want to be over 200 and I'd really like to get down to a size 6 or 8.

I read the book Skinny Bitch which actually was a bit of an inspiration to at least eat more healthy. The writers of that book would want you to go completely vegan, and they have some good points, but that's not 100% real to me right now.

Again, I'm looking for something that really fits my lifestyle.

So, as of 2 weeks ago (197 lb and a size 12/14) I decided to go on a basically nutritional, under 2000 calories per day, diet. So far, I basically have cut out extreme junk food, and have limited my processed foods. This means more fresh fruits and vegetables and basic proteins. As far as eating too much, this actually has never been a problem for me. I can pile up my plate but I generally stop eating when I'm no longer hungry, and I usually can't really snack or eat unless I am hungry. So that's pretty much a lifesaver as I know many people struggle with that alone.

So good-bye cookies and cake!

Hello, celery sticks!

After the first week, I started to feel hungry a lot more often. Spending my entire day in class hungry was a bit rough. I started bringing cut up vegetables but it was really hard. Often I would find myself bursting into tears for absolutely no reason. I've managed to balance it out now and I think I've adjusted (knock on wood). I'm sure I was driving everyone crazy....

Today is my last day of math and computer classes. Next week I start a class that is all cooking, 4 hours per day. Yay....could be dieting hell in a French cooking school. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun for Free (or Very Little Money)

 I've noticed that, unless I motivate myself to get out and do things, I spend a lot of time doing pretty much nothing. When you are a poor, starving, artist, student there isn't a lot to do with no money. But I've been managing to make the most out of it recently. Thought I would share.

If you are in the unfortunate position of not having one of those fancy laptops that can download all the movies from the net, you might want to check out your local library. I have found I can check out up to 10 DVDs at a time. And not just movies. This past weekend I had an awesome trip watching several episodes of Anthony Bordain's "No Reservations," where he travels the world and tries interesting new things. As a student chef, and a terribly picky eater, I find him very inspiring.

Last week I joined a soccer team that I found on Craigslist of all places. Everyone met each other for the first time on Sunday morning, 5 minutes before our first game. Although it was quite exhausting, it was super fun. I forgot how much fun it can be to slide in the dirt and scrape your knees. Chasing around athletic boys in shorts was just a bonus.

My mother took me to a noodle restaurant which was pretty interesting. Despite the fact that the food came unreasonably fast and was pretty unrecognizable, it was a relatively decent experience. I had a noodle bowl with chicken and shrimp on it (sounds pretty normal) and then this weird dessert with bright green jelly noodles, white bean paste, red tapioca balls and coconut milk. Hmmmmm....makes you hungry, doesn't it?

Lastly, I went riding around for a couple of  hours in my friend's bright yellow convertible. Driving outside the city (San Francisco) where it was wet and rainy, into the bright sun was awesome. I never realized what a cloud of doom I live in.

Don't forget to check out the pizza competition contest! I need your ideas and you can win a prize! (See earlier blog.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Burmese Eating Experience

I promised myself that once I began learning how to be a chef, I would have to open my culinary horizons and try things I may not have been willing to try before. I have always been a somewhat picky eater. And yet, growing up in Los Angeles, I am familiar with many different cultures and their foods.

Living in San Francisco, it is not surprising that many people are familiar with Chinese, Thai, Indian and Italian foods. There are many cultures here. Despite that fact, there are a few obscure types of food, particularly Asian, that I haven't personally become familiar with.

One of my very best friends, "Fred," is from Burma (now known as Myanmar - just don't tell the Burmese they are now called Myanmarese). I had the great honor of being treated by him to a fascinating array of Burmese treats. I speak highly of it now, but I have to admit that the experience itself did not appeal to my American side.

The first time I ate out with Fred, it was after 1am on Saturday night. Instead of the typical 24-hour Mel's Diner visit, we ended up at an Asian hot spot where it appeared that most of my village's Chinese population had gathered for a culinary feast. Although, not on the menu during the day, at this time they had all sorts of fascinating items such as chicken's feet and tripe.

To Fred's surprise, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. "Really,?!" he exclaimed. "A sandwich with just bread and cheese?!!"

I assured him that this was a common American treat, but he didn't believe that anyone could enjoy such a thing. While I had been mildly shocked at the idea that someone would eat duck hearts like they were candy, I had never really thought what a grilled cheese sandwich could seem like to someone who wasn't American.

Anyway, the Burmese restaurant we went to was absolutely darling and my mother adored the decor. Fred ordered for us and the dishes that came were unlike anything I had ever seen. I really wish I had thought to take pictures first, but we were well into eating before I thought of it. I have to admit, there weren't many leftovers.

We started with a cute salad that looked like shredded cabbage and walnuts. I bit into one of the walnuts and found out it was actually a dried bean. That's something I haven't experienced before. Overall, the salad was kind of nice. Fred said it was a common dish that his mother would make when he was back home.

The dishes that followed included a fish curry that was delicious and spicy, and something with various body parts of a pig that I didn't touch but my mother seemed to really like.

My favorite part was the desserts, again like nothing I had ever experienced. There was this fried Burmese sweet thing with coconut and sesame. Yum. And a weird jelly pudding that was to die for. Again, I wish I had thought to take photos before they were devoured. Now I know.

So...if you are interested in a new culinary experience and you live in the bay area, there's a great little restaurant at Mission and John Daly Blvd., in Daly City. Otherwise, try googling it. I'd be curious to find out what parts of the US have Burmese restaurants. Let me know what you try...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Best Pizza Competition!!!

A little birdie has informed me that the school will soon be having a pizza scholarship competition. If this is anything like the picnic competition (see earlier blog post), we will first be required to submit a recipe for our pizza and the best recipes will be chosen as finalists.

I have some ideas that I will not be giving away just I do not want anyone to steal them. But I could use some more.

What is your favorite pizza toppings, crust-style, recipe for pizza, etc. If you can give me an idea that I use and win with...I will award you a super duper prize!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get Money Quickly and Easily - TIP #1

If you're looking for a way to make money super-duper fast without a lot of work...I haven't figured out how yet. But putting Craigslist to use this week I managed to pull together enough money for groceries and gas.

Last Sunday I had a yardsale that was pretty disappointing. After an hour of set-up and 4 hours in the cold, I ended up with no sales. However, after seeing my ad on Craigslist, 1 person came by while I was cleaning up and asked about my karaoke CD's. I made $10.

I decided to take a picture of the main things I had for sale that someone else might consider valuable and put ads on Craigslist. Within a few hours I had a buyer for my old laptop, a keyboard set and my rollerskates - almost $200.

Looking through my junk in storage I have found that things I haven't used in many, many months and years are commmon things that other people would be able to treasure right now. As hard as it is to have to give up my white roller skates with the shiny red wheels, I have to be honest with myself...I haven't been rollerskating for years.

It just goes to show that one person's junk can be another person's treasure...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Need Money...Don't We All?

The online search teaches me that there are millions and billions of supposed ways to get free grants to support education, or work online from home and make a 6-figure income, and so on. Is it all a scam?

Television teaches us that there are hundreds of people weekly who get free houses and free money by playing games. How is there any poverty at all? Is there some big pile of money in the sky that just requires a treasure map to dig into it?

I'm not looking for an easy way out. But I am looking for the manual on modern-day life that will help me build the solutions to supporting my family and helping them live a happy life. How do I start the business I want to start? How do I gain credit with no credit? Do I even want credit?

I am starting on a journey down a road to find the answers. These are not basic or simple spiritual answers to man and life. They are mechanical, how-to's. I want to put it in layman's terms. I want a support group. I want to know who else in the world has had these problems and what have they done to solve it.

Maybe I'll just end up sitting down and writing a novel about witches and wizards, or perhaps vampires, that gets made into a movie where the merchandising alone makes me richer than the Queen of England. It can happen....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last Saturday morning I participated in my first cooking competition ever and it was a total blast! As earlier posted, I had three recipes that I wrote and submitted that made me a finalist in the competition. My recipes included Bacon-wrapped Liver Skewers, Fava Bean Spread on Croustini and Poached Pears.

There were three different judges: The Executive Chef of my school, a Chef Instructor of my school and a school alumni. The two chefs who work at my school both have over 25 years of experience in this field and are key opinion leaders for me.

We had an hour and a half to prepare everything and get it plated and ready to eat. If you have never cooked under the clock, let me tell you, it is scary. I felt like I was on iron chef. 20 different chefs in the kitchen all running around trying to cook their food at the same time. What a rush!

Upon arriving that morning at the competition, I walked into the kitchen and the first thing I asked was, "Where's the broiler?" I was immediately told, "There is no broiler in this kitchen, you'll have to use the grill or carry your food into another kitchen to broil it." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Next, I checked out the ingredients they had available for us. They were supposed to have all the ingredients needed for each of our recipes. The first thing I noted, they had DRY fava beans. If anyone has any experience cooking with beans, you might understand why I freaked out. Dry beans are meant to be soaked in water overnight before they are cooked for several hours so that they become soft enough to eat. How I was supposed to manage that in an hour and 30 minutes, I do not know. Luckily, I had checked things out the day before and I happened to know that there were fresh beans in the refrigerator in another class room. So I had someone go get them.

Next freak pears. How do you make poached pears without pears? Someone made a run down to the store to get them and they arrived with 30 minutes left on the clock. BUT THEY WERE THE WRONG PEARS!!! So I made a gourmet poached pear dish with hard, green pears and you know what? ...they turned out great.

Making the fava bean spread was a riot, using an industry-grade food processor. We become so used to our cute little blender or Cuisine Art-type models. This thing was huge and had a weird lid that was hard to click on. But I managed and it turned out really nice.

The result....

We laid all of our dishes out across two long tables in another room and were told to clean up the kitchen while we were being judged. I washed about 400 dishes and was exhausted and sore and anxious to find out the results.

We were finally called in to hear what the judges had to say and they gave us some good advice about competition dishes and so on. It was specifically noted that they had to raise the bar on the judging due to the magnificence of the dishes created.

There were some amazing things there, too. Someone had made sushi with Spam in it that actually tasted good until someone told me it was Spam in it. There was fried chicken, curry shrimp with pilaf rice, poor boy sandwiches...and we got to taste them all. They were all-in-all very, very good and I had no idea how the judges had come to a decision.

Finally, an administrator came in bearing our certificates and started calling off names of those recognized for participation. I waited and waited to hear my name called and became more and more excited as it wasn't called, realizing they were going to save 3rd, 2nd and 1st place for last. The names were called and finally the last certificate of recognition was held up. The administrator said, "and finally....Jaime Tanno." Awwwwww.... oh, well. I think it was called in order from lowest score to highest, so I'm pretty sure that I ended up being 4th place.

The winners dish was a cute little sandwich and the most amazing dessert of some sort of caramelized egg custard. Nothing spectacular but his display was amazing. He had set up an entire picnic setting, including a little iPod and speak that played the sounds of birds chirping. I guess that won over the judges.

Second place was really, really good fried chicken and an interesting watermelon and feta salad that I didn't really enjoy much.

Third place was good but I'm not sure why. It was a pretty normal sort of chicken and pita with couscous.

Anyway....those are the results. Please join me next time for the pizza competition in the Fall!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Foundations 1 Class

This is a backlogged report on the first cooking class I experienced at the CCA. It included 6 weeks of learning what I suppose are the basics. It's amazing how much you can cram in over a 6-week period.

I learned the following:
Basic Knife Cuts (You would not believe how many different shapes and sizes you can cut something into.)

How to make stock ( a chicken or vegetable broth but old-school with real ingredients and no boillon cubes.)

The 5 mother sauces and how to make them - hollandaise, bechamell, veloute, espangole and tomato sauce

How to make mayonnaise

Basic soups and how to make them - clear, vegetable, cream, specialty, etc.

The 6 different cooking techniques, also known as Les Cuisons - Frying, Grilling, Roasting, Sauteing, Poaching, Braising

We got to make and eat all of the above, which is an interesting experience in school. I remember in 2nd grade we made applesauce and got to eat applesauce all through class. This was a similar experience except we were eating things like poached salmon with hollandaise and fried chicken strips with french fries. I have to admit, I think I gained about 10 pounds during this set of classes. But boy was it yummy.

It's interesting coming out of this class and knowing that now I can pretty much prepare any kind of sauce and cook any kind of meat. I can't imagine learning much more, really. But I have almost a year and a half to I guess we'll see. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Picnic Contest Finalist!!!!!!

Unfortunately, life gets a little hectic when you're in school. No time to blog....

I just wanted to stop in and say that my recipes got picked for a school contest. Take a looks:

Hannibal's Picnic Feast
by Jaime Tanno, CCA Culinary Student

Foie au Bacon Posé sur Onions Grillés
Chicken liver morsels wrapped in bacon, skewered and broiled until crisp, laid over grilled onions.

Feves à Tartiner en Croûte
A savory fava bean and garlic spread on a French bread croustini, topped with fresh parsley.

Poires Pochées au Sucre Brun
Bosc pears poached in brown syrup with nutmeg and cardamom, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

A Nice Chianti
Chianti is a refreshing, red wine that is not too sweet and pairs perfectly with this meal.

The Concept

Summer is the time for blockbuster movie hits! This picnic feast is based on one of my favorite movies of all time as well as a combination of some of my favorite food items. The recipes are light and healthy, and leave you feeling refreshed…perfect for an afternoon at the park, the beach or by the lake. It is a well-rounded meal with protein, vegetables, fruits, carbs and sweets.

I have tested the recipes and found that the entire food portion can be purchased for $18.57 and will easily feed 4 people. The beverage pairing not only goes with the general theme, but it is an extremely delicious pairing and rounds off the meal nicely. I found a beautiful bottle of Chianti for only $4.99 at Trader Joe's, so it is also economical and brings the entire picnic to a total of $23.56.

This recipe can be adapted for availability during any season.

The Recipes

Foie au Bacon Posé sur Onions Grillés


1 lb Chicken Liver
8 slices of bacon
4 skewers
1 white onion
½ teaspoon olive oil

1.Soak the skewers in water for at least 20 minutes prior to using them. This prevents them from catching fire or burning under the broiler.

2.Grill the onions in a skillet with the olive oil until they are fully cooked, soft and supple. Set aside to cool.

3.Wash the chicken livers and sort them into 16 bite-sized morsels, approximately ¾” squared.

4.Cut the bacon slices in half.

5.Wrap each chicken liver morsel with ½ a slice of bacon and skewer it so that it remains wrapped. 4 per skewer.

6.Place the skewers under the broiler for approximately 20 minutes, turning them over halfway thru cooking time. The liver should be firm and the bacon crisp and the internal temperature should be a minimum of 145 degrees.

7.Place the skewers on a paper towel to soak up any extra grease.

8.Cool and serve over grilled onions.

Serves 4, 1 skewer per person.

Feves à Tartiner en Croûte


15 oz fava beans*
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz diced red pepper
1 garlic clove (crushed)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
1 - 8” French roll or baguette
8 small sprigs fresh parsley

* This recipe can be used with either Mediterranean fava beans or the more traditional broad beans. If the beans are purchased dry, they must be cooked first according to instructions. I used canned Mediterranean beans which worked just as well.

1.Blend all ingredients (except the fresh parsley) in a food processor or blender until fine and creamy.

2.Slice the French roll into ½” slices and cook in a skillet using olive oil until each side is browned and crisp. Allow to cool.

3.Serve the spread on the crouton slices and top with a sprig of fresh parsley.

Serves 4, 2 per person.

Poires Pochées au Sucre Brun


4 Bosc pears
1 quart water
2 cups brown sugar
½ tsp cardamom (to taste)
½ tsp nutmeg
cinnamon (decor)
powdered sugar (décor)

1.Peel the pears, leaving the stem intact.

2.Bring the water to a light simmer, appropriate for poaching, in a deep saucepan.

3.Add brown sugar, cardamom and nutmeg, and stir until dissolved fully.

4.Poach pears in the simmering syrup for approximately 20 minutes. The pears should turn a deep golden brown color.

5.Take them out of the syrup and let them cool for 10 minutes.

6.Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

7.Chill before serving.

Serves 4, 1 each.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Starving" Student/Artist Blues.....

I have a bit of backlogged blogging to do about school. I will get to that. In the meantime, it wouldn't do any good to get further backlogged on things that are fresh in my mind.

I quit my job today. A little over a month ago I found a job at a diner as a cook's helper. It was entry-level and I thought it was going to be absolutely perfect for me to come up to speed in the food and hospitality industry. But apparently I set my sights too low.

This place was a perfect example of every violation of the food code that I just finished learning in my Safety and Sanity class. While assisting in preparing and serving food, I witnessed the following:

Cartons of eggs sitting out of the refridgerator in a hot room for about 4 days. When we finally got around to cracking some of them, they were somewhat solidified. Despite that, they were whipped right into batches of scrambled eggs, and served to an unknowing and sorry clientel.

Cutting boards used to chop raw meat, wiped off (not washed or sanitized) and immediately used to chop fruit for fruit salads. The slice had months of guck from meats and cheeses caked on it and was used to slice tomatoes. Ew.

The chefs regularly used their hands to get food from the fat fryer trays. I was scoffed at for trying to use the tongs, which resulted in numerous small burn incidents.

I saw a lady drop a bucket full of chopped mushrooms on the dirtiest floor I had ever seen, pick them up and put them back into the bucket and then into the fridge. Omg.

So, despite my need for monetary benefit right now, I did not go from making $20 per hour sitting at a desk, to making minimum wage and poisoning people.

Oh well....thank goodness for mom's.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My First Class

My first class at the CCA was the ServSafe, Safety and Sanitation Class, which I later appropriately abreviated to Safety and Sanity. You would not believe the insane and unhealthy habits of present day society when it comes to food preparations. This class makes you double-check everything you eat and how it was prepared.

The first class was sort of an orientation. None of the students knew each other and the atmosphere was a bit stiffled. The instructor, Chef Peter, had us all write down an interesting tidbit about ourselves and hand in the papers to him. He then read them aloud to the class and we had to walk around and talk to each other and find out which tidbit belonged to each student. As I had started school twice, I went through this procedure twice. The first time, I wrote that my favorite food was Kraft Mac and Cheese. The second time, I wrote that I go to karaoke and trivia with my friends every Tuesday night in the Marina. Initially I was pretty uncomfortable as the only white girl in my class of 14 people. However, this process immediately helped us loosen up and become familiar with each other. And I could see from the beginning that all of us were going to get along just fine. ...

Getting Into College

I called up the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and told them I wanted to start school right away. I went in to see an admissions counsellor and after a 3-minute tour (a 3-minute tour, a 3-minute tour) I was completely convinced that this was what I wanted to do. The admissions counsellor insisted on a couple more hours of briefing just to be sure and then he let me submit my application.

Greeting Day was just two weeks later... I remember that early Saturday morning in April 2010, walking into the school's restaurant dining room packed with aspiring culinary students and their families. The age ranges were incredible, from the recent high school grad 17 year olds, to those who may have been even 40-45 years old and wanting to get into a new field. Throughout the briefing from the various chefs and executives at the school, I became extremely excited and confirmed for myself that going back to school was the thing to do.

During the process of being administrated, I found out that the private school I had painstakingly worked so hard to attend and graduate from might not be accredited with the state of California. To the CCA, this made my diploma invalid and they couldn't admit me. However, my admissions counsellor was very passionate about overcoming this obstacle, he had me start attending classes right away despite this and we put together a huge package of all my achievements and submitted it to the school board.

High school for me was a very exciting and challenging experience. I was very much an activist and took charge of ensuring my school had fundraisers, a school yearbook, a school newspaper and fun dances and events. I was the lead in every school musical. I was the senior class president. I was the #1 student in the school with absolute straight A's and ended up the valedictorian. I was a leader in community activism....etc. etc. So to find out at the age of 30 that none of this meant anything to the State of California and I had never officially graduated high school was heartbreaking.

Additionally, to be told this after having attended the school of my dreams for 3 days and gotten to know all 26 of my classmates on a personal level, was further devistation.

I cried.

Then I got over it.

I registered to take my GED exams at the Berkeley Adult School. I got a GED study book from the library and crammed for 1 week. My mother got us a motel room across from the school and I went in at 7am on a Saturday morning and sat until 11am taking exam after exam. The exams were supposed to go until 3pm, but I finished them all early and was allowed to leave.

It's amazing that after 14 years of being out of school, with 1-week of study, I managed to thoroughly ace my GED. I got 99% in writing and English. I felt my appreciation for my hard-earned high school experience return. Obviously my education was good enough and I would now be acknowledged by the State of California.

I re-registered for the CCA and was fully approved and ready to attend the next term in March. ...

Starting Fresh

Well, I decided to finally document some experiences to see if I can clear my head of the thoughts swimming around in it.

At age 30, I moved back home to live with my mom while going through a not-so-traumatic divorce.

When I officially moved out at age 19, my mother finally decided she was rid of me enough that she could move out of Los Angeles, which she had always wanted to do. She has spent the last 10 years in San Francisco, which I adore but have had no familiarity with.

It's not easy to leave everything you're familiar with, and as a young adult I vowed never to do it, but I have to say that it's really not hard to fall in love with this city. I've spend the past several months settling in and getting used to living with my mom again and I'm pretty satisfied.

Moving back with my mom was a bit rocky at first. There's this innate mother-daughter connection that requires her to know where I am at all times. This bond is not so strong with distance between us, but the moment I moved back in the text messages from mother got so crazy we decided to get unlimited texting. She believed I must have been texting a gazillion times a day with other friends, but I know the truth.

Now that we've settled into a routine, all that is required is that I let her know where I'm going and what I'm doing. And if I'm out late at night, I have to tell her when I'm safe in bed (wherever that may be). At first, this was a little odd to the other people (my age) that I would hang out with. But those that have become my close friends are quite used to it and find it somewhat endearing. I've accepted that it's a lot easier than having to pay rent. :)

At 18 years old I had decided what I wanted to do and had determined that I didn't need to go to college and get a degree. I got the "back-up plan" speech, but I can be pretty stuborn-headed and once I decide on doing something, that's the way it goes.

Starting your life over at age 30 is not easy. And for me it wasn't just a new city, new friends, new hang outs and new jobs. I felt like I had just graduated high school and was trying to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. I thought about going back into entertainment and trying to do movies. But as much as I tried to get into it, I really didn't have the same passion for it. And, honestly, when you are "old" and kind of chubby, the competition is a lot more intimidating.

I sat around home for several weeks, doing some temp work in between, and watched hours and hours of TV. At some point, for whatever reason, I became inspired to have my own TV show. I didn't really think I had the makings for reality TV, and I didn't have any great ideas like pretending my kid flew away in a balloon, but I thought I'd make a really good talk show host or journalist. I love travelling. I love researching. I love adventure and challenges. I'm good at writing. I'm good at talking... It just seemed to fit.

Then....I saw a commercial for Le Cordon Bleu! What an interesting idea? I love to cook. I learned a lot about cooking from my parents and I've been doing it since I was a kid. I love watching cooking shows. And I really feel that the food industry needs a serious face-lift. I decided to blend my new-found passion to have my own TV show, with a career as a chef! (Like it hasn't been done before.) ...