Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vietnamese, Sushi, & Indian Foods Classes at The Kitchen Studio!

Looking to spice up your culinary repertoire? There's no better time at The Kitchen Studio!

We have three great International classes coming up that you're sure to love! We've even lowered our class prices, so you can bring a friend! Check these out:

Vietnamese Street Foods this Friday, October 30 from 6:30-9:30, $55. Join Chef Caroline McAllister as she teaches you the flavors and techniques used in simple Vietnamese cooking. You will prepare and enjoy Quick Pho, Hue Chicken Salad, Rice Paper Summer Rolls, Rice Noodles with Stir-Fry Vegetables, and even killer Vietnamese Coffee. I'm always amazed at how delicious this food is and how great Caroline is at teaching every little detail. You can register for this class here.

Sushi 101, Friday, November 6 from 6:30-9:30, $55. This one is mine and has been hugely popular this year.I'll teach you how to make your own sushi rolls at home. You'll wrap and roll your way to sushi heaven, I promise! You'll learn the techniques to making perfect sushi rice and the tips and tricks to successful rolls. We'll have fresh fish and veggies ready for you to roll the night away. Register for Sushi 101 here.

Small Bites from India, Friday, November 13 from 6:30-9, $55 Join instructor Rajni Hatti of Simple Indian as she teaches you how to make delicious Indian appetizers to spice up your holiday, or any buffet. You will prepare and enjoy: Curry Puffs (puff pastry dough with a savory potato mixture), Tandoori Chicken with Yogurt Mint Chutney, Spiced Nuts, Chikki (cashew brittle) and even Samosas! Rajni seriously has it goin' on, and you can register for her class here.

By taking a class at The Kitchen Studio you'll not only learn new tips and tricks in the kitchen, but you'll also meet great people and enjoy some seriously slammin' food. So check out a class and give us a visit. You know you want to Come Play with Your Food!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I've got Moxie, How 'Bout You?

By now, you've surely heard about Moxie, yes?

Moxie is a delightful, brand-spanking-new cafe/bakery located on North Market St. just between 6th & 7th St. Moxie is the retail shop for Cakes for Cause, a snappy new social enterprise created to train youth in a practical skill. Aw heck, here's what I lifted from their site:

Cakes for Cause operates a social enterprise bakery/café that provides job training and support to vulnerable youth in Frederick, Maryland. Our primary purpose is to give youth options for their future through vocational services.

Our apprentices go through an intensive 6-month curriculum that teaches basic bakery skills alongside restaurant service skills in an energetic and fast-paced café that serves the community at large. More importantly, the role of Cakes for Cause is to help vulnerable youth internalize change—in their surroundings, through their employment opportunities, and within themselves.

Last Friday, October 17th, the shop officially opened, and boy, is it cute. And yummy-smelling. And happy!

Three days, four visits.

I must say, I love a good cappuccino more than I should, and have had several in the past few days. The espresso comes from Dublin Roasters in New Market and is rich and delicious. I'm a little bit of a cappuccino prima-donna, and for those who are particular about their milk, Moxie carries skim and whole milk only. I've been giving in to the whole milk, but know that can't last or I'll have to make the move to all elastic pants. NOT a good look.

The pastries I've had so far (pain au choclat, various scones, pain au Nutella, & lemon meringue tart) have been lovely. Fresh and tasty, and due to some excellent timing, even some right out of the oven. There's not a dud in the bunch! Perhaps this could be more of an elastic waistband warning than the whole milk thing. Hmmmmmm.

Service is warm and friendly, and can be a bit unhurried, but don't let that throw you. These folks are working their butts off and are running more smoothly with every passing visit, not that I've experienced any bumps in the road. Not too shabby for only being open a week! I've taken the time to ask questions and the wonderful staff has actually taken the time to answer them, which I love.

For now, the folks at Moxie are figuring out the best hours to be open, and as of today it looks like Tuesday through Saturday 6a-7p, Sunday 10a-3p, and closed on Mondays. Be aware though that the schedule can change as they figure out traffic flow. Personally, since Sundays are usually my only day off during the week, I'd love to see them open earlier so that when I'm walking the dog, I can stop in for my early morning coffee-lovin' and pastry. But that's just me.

I'm excited to see how Moxie develops and how things run in mid-November once the kids come on board. Elin Ross, the executive director and pastry goddess extraordinaire, has assembled a great space, a great staff, and wonderful pastries. So visit Moxie, sit back, relax, and soak in the atmosphere of butter, sugar, and a little bit of happiness. I'll be ordering another Pain au Nutella just as soon as they open back up again on Tuesday.

See you there?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fab New Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Can you tell that I've been having a little bit of a butternut squash/bacon thing lately?

It must be the cool, fall weather.

I love fall.

And fall food.

But I really love bacon.

I had some leftover bacon (I know - HOW does that happen?) and an errant butternut squash rolling around, so I thought I'd make some salad. "Cause, y'know, salad is better with bacon. And bacon fat. Just sayin'.

Anyway, here's what you want to do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cube a butternut squash into 1" or so pieces. Place on a baking sheet with sides and drizzle some olive oil on it (maybe 1 T., but whatever feels good to you) and a generous sprinkle of salt & pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, gently stir, and roast another 15-20 minutes, or until brown and tender. Set aside.

While your squash is cookin', go ahead and saute 4 or 5 or 6 pieces of bacon in a medium skillet. I like to cut it into pieces before I saute because it makes it easier to nibble. Don't tell anyone.

Remove the bacon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, remove all but 2 T. bacon fat from the pan. (Save the remaining bacon fatty goodness, just in case).

Slice 2 or 3 shallots thinly, then saute in the bacon fat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown.

Add 3 T. olive oil to your pan and swirl. Add 2-3 T. cider vinegar, 1 T. Dijon, 1 T. sugar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then swirl again until the Dijon is dispersed through the pan. Set aside.

Place 6-8 oz. spinach is a big bowl. Toss in your crumbled bacon, your roasted butternut squash, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I like Craisins). Toss gently.

Now, and this is your money shot, pour the warm dressing over the salad. Toss gently again.

Your spinach will get a little wilty, but not turn into mush.

The first time I made this, I used arugula and it was wonderful. I switched it up because I wasn't finding great arugula lately and spinach is a little less expensive.

And that my friends, is the awesomeness of the roasted butternut squash salad with warm bacon dressing. Sha-zam!

Looking for other variations on the theme? It seems like warm bacon dressing is all the rage this month. You can check out Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad recipe here or Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen's version with feta and other assorted yumminess here. There seem to be a million of them floating around this week, so if you've got another that you're loving, let me know!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Explaining Yeast to Kids

One of the most popular kid's cooking birthday party options we offer down at The Kitchen Studio is our Pizza, Smoothies, & Cupcakes menu. And one of my very favorite parts of the class is explaining how yeast works to kids. To be honest, for inexperienced adults, it's a great way to remember it too. So here are a few tips on working with yeast:

First thing you want to do, is think of yeast like a dog.

Really. Like a sweet little doggie living in your house. Yeast is the same sort of thing, just without the cuddliness.

1. A dog is alive, and so is yeast. Of course, yeast is an organism and isn't going to jump up and give you the love, but it is alive and needs to be treated with care.

2. You feed your dog, so be sure to feed your yeast. I like a little sugar or honey just to make sure the yeast is working at full power and give it five minutes or so to proof. Your mixture will get a little foamy and bubbly. That's how you know your yeast is working. It's a double-check and not always totally necessary, but it's how I roll.

3. Dogs need a bath, and so does yeast. You don't want to give your doggie a hot bath, you'll burn it. And you don't want to give a dog a cold bath, because that dog will want nothing to do with it. Yeast is the same way. You body temperature runs at 98.6 degrees or so. Run a little water over the inside of your wrist, just like you would do with a baby bottle. If it feels warm, you're all set. Hot? fugedaboutit.

4. Dogs like to nap, and so does yeast. It gives you the rise time you need. This ties in closely with #5, our money shot...

5. Your dog toots, and so does yeast. Kids crack up at the thought of farting yeast, but it's a great analogy and one that's really simple to grasp. Plus, they'll giggle like crazy when you tell them.

So there you have it. Isn't that a super-simple way to remember how to work with yeast?

Yeah, I thought so.

You're welcome.

Now go make some cinnamon rolls, or focaccia bread, or soft pretzels with the kiddies. It will be a snap and jr will learn a little something in the process.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Butternut Squash & Bacon Pasta

Because seriously? I am totally ruling the kitchen today. Here's what I did:

Put on a pot of water and cook around 3/4 pound pasta while you make the sauce. I like penne or mini penne.

Saute 5 pieces of bacon in a large saute pan (non-stick, stainless; doesn't matter)

Remove bacon when crisp and set aside. Nibble a little, but save most of it to add in at the end.

Saute 1 or 2 minced shallots & 1 medium butternut squash, cubed into 1" pieces or smaller, in the bacon fat. You'll probably need to do this in two batches so that you don't crowd the pan. Once just golden brown on one or two sides, remove from pan and add in the second batch. Cook 'til golden brown, then add the first batch back to the pan.

Add 2 T. flour to the pan and stir well to coat.

Add 2 cups chicken stock to pan and swirl to combine with squash/flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to medium. Throw in a few handfuls of washed baby spinach. If you like (and I do), add a splash (maybe 1/4 cup) of heavy cream because yes, I do keep that in my fridge, so there. You can skip it though. That's ok.

Grate in a metric ton of good Parmesan cheese (or whatever suits you) and stir, stir, stir.

Salt & pepper to taste, and don't be shy.

Toss pasta with sauce in pan. Add in crumbled bacon and stir well. If it gets a little thick, just splash in some water or a little more chicken stock to thin it out.


Serves 6 hungry people or 8 or 10 as a first course.

Fall food. It's my very favorite. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just a little trip to San Francisco: BlogHer Food '09

Oh yeah baby, that's right. Guess who got to take a little weekend jaunt to the City by the Bay? Moi! Meeeeeeeeeee!!

So here's how it happened:

I was spending a Sunday afternoon avoiding work and doing a little surfin' on the 'ole web, trying to find a little info about blogging, food blogging, and how to reach new audiences (I have a super awesome new project that I'm working on right now and was looking for a little extra input). Anywho, I stumbled upon the BlogHer site, which is essentially a blogging community for female bloggers. I started going through the site and saw not only that they hold conferences, but they were even holding one targeted just toward food bloggers. In two weeks! In San Francisco! A note indicated that the conference was sold out, but they were taking names for a waitlist, so I went ahead and put my name on the list (I know - I'm a wild woman :).

Just putting my name on the list got me thinking about whether or not I would even really go. Let's be serious here: the conference was in two weeks, and I'm a real planner when it comes to this stuff, it was in San freakin' Cisco, (which is not inexpensive to get to or stay in), and really, was I that serious about it?

I thought I'd send a little email asking the folks at BlogHer if they thought I had a shot at getting in.
Un-uh. Not gonna happen.

But then, just a few minutes later, after sending another nice email, I got another response. Someone had a ticket for sale, and guess who could buy it? Yup - me.
So I did.

Quick check on plane tix to SF (surprisingly not ridiculous on Southwest), transfer of a room reservation (also not ridiculous), a few days of closed schools, and we were set. I even got to bring the hubby along. And not the kids.

So what was the conference like?

Intimidating (so many people I didn't know, so very loud, and a bit awkward for mingling and meeting new folks).

Educational (A big shout out to Jaden at Steamy Kitchen for keeping it realistic and Kalyn at Kalyns Kitchen for pushing on even though her time was up, and Pioneer Woman because I just love her blog and could just tell how awkward she felt, which made me like her more - I swear I am not a stalker)

Eye-Opening (The conference was limited to 300 people. That's 300 people with food blogs. That's a lot of food bloggers, and almost every single one of them was West Coast-based. Almost all of them were recipe sites too, which was a totally surprising to me.)
Swag-a-licious (The amount of free stuff I got from so many vendors borders on the absurd. In fact, I'm even going to have a little giveaway here in just a few days courtesy of one of the vendors. Curious? Well, just stay-tuned!)

Really, really FUN (and I'm talkin' to you JeanneBee, My World on a Plate new BFF)

Even though they fed us Bertolli frozen meals for lunch, complete with celebish chef Rocco Despirito running though the room flirting with all the ladies (more on that AND how I offended said chef in less than 90 seconds coming soon in another post...), it was wonderful. And I'm glad I went.

The very best part of the weekend? No doubt, it was the chicken liver pate & panzanella at Il Cane Rosso, a cafe in The Ferry Building (also knows as Foodie Heaven - helloooooo Scharfen Berger!). A perfect cool evening sitting by the bay, watching the boats go in and out as the sun set while eating the perfect relaxed meal with a kind, wonderful waiter, and super delicious, well, everything. I think that with very little effort, I could become a California girl. To clarify: A Northern California girl. I don't have the thighs to be a SoCal type.