Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Milestone in the Blogosphere: My 50th Post!

Greetings, dear Reader! Since January, I have been having a blast cooking, eating, and writing about food. This has certainly been a great exercise thus far, and I as I catch up on each post and find myself referring to previous ones, I continue to be motivated to continue cooking, eating, and writing food. As I continue to work in Student Affairs and speak the language, I'm reminded of the need for learning outcomes as a means of assessing relative "success." This said, there were no immediate learning outcomes I had when I first reconceptualised this current blog--perhaps other than to literally "learn through food"--and at this point, I don't think it's all that necessary to assess the blog. If nothing else, and as I continue to articulate in person, this blog serves as a written archive of experiences, experiences which in themselves are much more meaningful live. This is not to say this blog is not worth reading should this fall within your genre of interest; rather, I hope I have been able to convey lessons I've learned and experiences I've had without you at the table in this media. Moreover, I have found validation for the blog itself in hearing from those of you who have found some time to, at the very least, acknowledge this blog's existence. And it is with this spirit, I celebrate this 50th post. What better way, then, to celebrate such an occassion than a post on a culinary journey outside of the campus walls I've cooked in and written about these past months? This post specifically takes us to Indianapolis, Indiana, and IUPUI, as the host for the third Conference on College Men. A short conference in actuality, there was certainly a lot of food to go around!

Friday, 20 May 2011

When You Can't Decide, Go Ahead and Make Both

Culinary-wise, this has been one of the strangest weeks for me. Here in the Midwest, an even stranger cold front made its way and, coupled with an abnormally cold office, I eventually got sick. Indeed, this past Wednesday marked the first "Top Chef" cooking evening in which I decided not to hold to tradition and cook something "blog-able." And so here I am, more than a week since I poached the pears of my previous post, finally getting around to blogging about the midnight sauces and pastas I cooked last Sunday. It had been for quite a few hours that day I had craved bacon; what's more, I wanted to include that in a homemade tomato sauce that I just had to make. I even had the perfect pasta in mind--my new favourite: radiatore--but lo and behold, once that crisped bacon came out of the pan, my mind switched off to spaghetti carbonara. The solution? Make both, of course.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Two Posts until Post Fifty: Poached Pears and Tart Textures

From time to time, I find myself craving a single ingredient and, given the time, enjoy playing with my food. A few days ago, that single craving was pear; the technique: poaching. Having previous pear baking experience, this craving certainly gave me the outlet to not only practice a new technique but to revisit two other culinary components: coulis and freshly whipped cream. And as I reflect on this post prior to its completion, I have just now realised the most exciting part for me was that I could use the one piece of kitchen equipment I have been equally craving: the sieve.

Friday, 13 May 2011

A Second Response to Summer: BBC Burgers

In my previous post, I made a larger than expected batch of chicken salad. And while the brightness and cooling qualities of the dish certainly helped me get through the opposing heat that has now arrived with the burgeoning spring and otherwise threatening summer, I was still thinking about grilling and which in turn eventually led me to forming my own burger patties. Oh yes, and if you are looking at the photo above and are appalled by the thought of not eating these burgers with caramelized onions, cheese, and slices of bacon, well... continue reading, because all of those ingredients (along with garlic, thyme, and dijon mustard) are in my BBC burgers.

A Response to Wednesday's (and Thursday's) Warm Weather: Homemade Chicken Salad

As I sat in my office Wednesday afternoon, keeping cool from the warm weather, I began to think about barbecuing. It was certainly a good day for it, and it had certainly been a while since the threat of rain did not hamper our spirits. Yet, the thought of grilling outdoors eventually became unappealing. My response, then, was to think about typical picnic fare side dishes. And then it dawned on me: one of my favourites is chicken salad, the most memorable of which I can place at The Cove (Leland, MI). It has been a while since I had it, but the simple combination of dried cherries, juicy chicken, and fresh cantaloupe is one that transports me to the water and speaks volumes of what summer eating is all about. With all of this in mind, I clocked out and headed to the grocery store, purchased my ingredients (including stuff for today’s cooking), and returned to the apartment apparently salivating for flavours to be expected. However, as has been the case for most of these posts at this point, I have never made chicken salad nor have ever read about it. Armed with what I could remember of the best chicken salads I have had in the past and guided by suggestions by my colleagues, I turned on “Top Chef Masters” and continued my weekly tradition (it seems) of cooking with the chefs.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Cinco de Mayo 2011: The Fiesta

What's a fiesta without food? The Cinco de Mayo 2011 party finally rolled around on Thursday, marking the end of my anxiety as to whether or not the flan (chronicled in my previous post) turned out correctly despite a burnt, first attempt of caramelising sugar, an unfamiliar pan, and an unevenly baked bottom flan surface. Keep reading for more on the party, with a specific focus on the flan.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Cinco de Mayo 2011: The Flan

What is the first thing you think of when you hear "Cinco de Mayo?" I will venture a guess you may have first thought of Mexico's Independence Day rather than the Battle of Puebla in the early 1860s following Mexico's French occupation, or perhaps margaritas or deep fried ice cream before queso frecso and chorizo. In either case, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of the former (though, margaritas tend to be a staple it seems), but rather of the heritage, resilience, and authenticity, of the people of Estados Unidos Mexicanos. However celebrated, I find today's Cinco de Mayo--at least, as celebrated here in the States--to represent what all other holidays represent: a communal gathering around food, which in this case is Mexican inspired. As far as a culinary challenge was concerned for this year's celebration, it was suggested I try my hand at flan (which was a better suggestion than my initial thought of making a sombrero-looking cake) for a colleague's fourth annual Cinco de Mayo party. For me, flan is among the many dishes I refused to eat growing up (alongside seafood and eggplant) and being Filipino, the opportunity to try it was present at nearly every party. I did not, however, try flan and enjoy it until very recently (about three weeks ago) when a Filipino student on campus made some on campus and brought it the night of the tinikling performance. As was the case with seafood and eggplant, it seems my palate has become much more accepting and the journey through food seems to have fewer roadblocks as I progress.Take note not to let the opening photo of this post fool you; though the dish itself is theoretically on the easier side of the spectrum in terms of preparation, I was reminded last week that there are off nights which complicate procedure. Last Wednesday was one such night.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Don't Scramble the Eggs! ...That's Easier Said than Done (Pairs of Pictures)

As you may or may not have noticed by now, I typically select a single photo to kick-start each blog posts. However, with the way the rest of this post is set up, I have done away with this short tradition. Covered here is a post which describes a night which began at 9pm and somehow ended about 4.5 hours later. Time certainly flies when you are having fun!

Cooking into May

Finally making my way out of the April months and into more recent cooking territory, my last April culinary experience found me playing with leftover Easter dinner ham. And on a related note, my first May experience in the kitchen mashed new ingredients with a recently practiced recipe.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Couscous and Cake: Cooking in the College Kitchen

Prior to the Easter weekend, I joined a group of students in dancing/performing a traditional and "modern" version of one of the Philippines' most popular dances--tinikling--at the Cherry Blossom Festival held on campus and sponsored by Asian Culture Club, one of the campus's multi-cultural student groups. As promised to the group, I cooked a dinner and timed it to coincide with last week's 90-minute episode of "Glee." And as suggested by the above photo, the meal overall was rather dessert heavy... not that any of us were complaining.

Catching up on Easter Weekend

Good evening, dear Reader. We have now crossed into May and I have yet to still catch up on my April foodie experiences. With this said, I begin this relatively brisk post with another "from scratch" pancake recipe, or rather, my "cakes in a pan."