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


  1. Yum! I think I told you before that I love carmelized onions, so you know you got my attention right there. :-)

    Congratulations on being selected. And smart move to focus on technique. "5 ingredients" to me just implies simplicity, so I agree that it would be a mistake to circumvent that with odd ingredients. The simple ones offer so many possibilities to a skilled chef.

    I'll have to try your eggless pasta. I've been making the regular kind, but a friend of mine is vegan, so she'll appreciate that varation a lot.

    Good luck on your finals!

  2. A chef with an Italian bloodline! You already have an "A." Good luck.