Sunday, June 20, 2010

better late than never.

i know i suck. but hey, i'm back!

after much bemoaning (ANDY) i have finally found some time to update this little thing.

i guess i should start off by mentioning that i finished my externship at castagna, which means that i'm completely done with school! what does that mean? it means that i am officially a graduate from culinary school. woot!

what now? well, i got hired! i've been working the hot line; crushing crabs, poaching halibut and grilling a 36 hour lamb neck to start. much of the cooking combines modern molecular gastronomy with classic cooking techniques which exposes me on a daily basis to new methods that i had never been exposed to before.  definitely not easy and very challenging but i am learning a ton from the best and most talented chefs in the nation (literally).  the chef was awarded best new chef for food and wine magazine this year (current issue!) so people from all over have been coming into eat and experience the food.  (oh, the pressure for perfection!)

this also means that my time at biwa will be ending. i'm very sad to leave but the experience i received there was invaluable to my first steps into this career. if they hadn't given me a chance, who knows where i would be right now. (thanks gabe and will!)

since it's impossible to take pictures of the food i cook at castagna (umm, i'm cooking!), i was able to find a few photos of some of the dishes i have been cooking via

dungeness crab with amaranth and meyer lemon foam:

poached cod with fried chickpeas, garbanzo bean mousse and seaweed brown butter vinaigrette:
grilled lamb neck (after a 36 hour sous vide), morels and nettle puree:

so, this is what i've been doing for the last 10 weeks...

the menu and plate-ups tend to change quite frequently so i'll try and scrounge up some photos for you and keep you updated on the happs over at castagna.

oh, and thanks for reading this even though i have been away for a while! (keep pestering me, andy!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

death of a lobster.

well, that went by waaay too fast.

the last days of school were filled with distillery field trips, wine and beer tastings, appetizer competitions, and of course, LOBSTER DAY.  

the final day of pro-skills was the production of lobster risotto from start to scratch.  that being said, i got to dispatch my first live lobster.

it was awesome. except the part when i tried to clean the lobster tail (after being removed from the body) and it snapped and i dropped it on the floor. three times. hahaha.

the plating wasn't all that exciting...

but this part was:

i heart lobster. from Jane Hashimawari on Vimeo.

yes, that is a beating lobster heart.

this was fun too:

death of a lobster. from Jane Hashimawari on Vimeo.

we finished off school with a bang and threw a big party for all of the finishing students from both night and day classes.  everyone cooked up a little something--beet and pear salad like always for me. awards and scholarships were handed out (i was awarded the "president's award" and recieved a $500 scholarship!), pictures were taken, hugs were given. i look back to only six months ago and i can still say that this was the best decision i have ever made.  the next 3 months will probably be the most challenging.  i'll be working around 70-80 hours a week at both castagna and biwa.  after that, who knows?

anyone want to open up a food cart with me?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

pork week.

lots and lots of pork.
pork cheek.
pork sausage.
pork tenderloin.

and sauerkraut.

we celebrated the animal this week by using assorted cooking methods and using all parts of the animal to produce a charcroute (or sauerkraut, meat platter). the cheek was braised in hock stock until fork tender. the pork sausage was made from fatback and pork butt, ground, then stuffed. the belly was cured overnight and then braised until tender ( i shed a tear, it was so freaking good). the tenderloin was brined overnight and then quickly pan-seared and finished in the oven.

sauerkraut was supposed to be the star here, but lets get real. pork belly is where it's at.

yesterday was our blackbox challenge.
lamb loin!
i ended up marinating mine with an assortment of herbs, garlic and red wine, grilling then roasting a tomato, sauteing fiddleheads, fennel and mushrooms in butter and sake, and making an herb infused cous cous (i infused oil with thyme and tossed the cous cous in it). i then made a sauce with the marinade and some beef stock, which i then hit with a little cream and butter.

oh snap.

one more week!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

pro-skills, yo.

i'm almost there!

these last few weeks of school consist of "pro-skills" in which we really get to play with our food.  to sum it up, we work with a specialty protein throughout the week and do a final plate up on thursday. on fridays, we do a "black box challenge" that challenges us to use what is given to us and create a dish. 
to catch you up, we worked with duck last week and made duck confit (duck cooked in its own fat. yup.), duck breast saute with a sauce brigarade (orange gastrique type sauce) and a salad garnish.

i presented mine like this:

this week was rabbit week. after breaking down the rabbit, we did a rillette (similar to confit, but cooked in a stock plus fat) of the hindquarters, a braise of the forequarters (which were then shredded and put into a creamy thyme polenta) and then a roulade of the rabbit tenders (which were stuffed with hazelnuts and bacon and sealed together with "meat glue".) i soaked then marinated a wedge of radiccio in garlic, shallot, thyme and balsamic vinegar, grilled it and then popped it into the oven until fork tender. i made a sauce out of the braising liquid by adding a little apple cider vinegar and reducing it down.

it looked like this:

today we had a "blackbox challenge" in which all we were told was that we would be working with scallops. after chef rolled out the cart, i decided to do a red lentil and tomato puree with pickled fennel and herb salad. i cooked the lentils with a bay leaf and crushed garlic until tender, added tomato and pureed it together. i seasoned it with cumin and salt. i pickled fennel with orange juice, champagne vinegar, sugar and seasoned it with zest and ground cardamom. with the scallops, i simply seasoned them with salt and pepper and pan-seared them.  the herb salad was inspired by a new development in my reportoire (which i will expand on more) that consisted of mint, chervil, savory, parsley and fennel fronds. i lightly dressed all of it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and verjus.

it turned out like this:

next week, we work with all things pork. all parts. don't worry, i'll update!

so to fill you in on very recent developments (as mentioned earlier), my externship is coming up and i have decided to do it at castagna restaurant. ( i'll be working there around 60 hours a week and then be working a biwa on my days off. that being said, i had to quit my job over at vindalho. 
the restaurant focuses a lot on molecular gastronomy (in general, science based cooking technique) and very, very, very detailed plate presentations. let's just say, i'll be cooking and plating with tweezers, somewhat similar to this (watch the video!). we trim herbs off by hand (with little scissors) and use tweezers to plate them carefully on the dish. the kitchen is pristine (we stop and scrub down the kitchen every few hours), professional and focused.  the next three monthes will definitely be extremely challening, but i know i'll be learning a ton. 
in other words, i'm looked forward to getting my ass kicked.

lastly, today is my birthday.  to my surprise, i not only recieved a birthday cupcake (thanks anna!!!) but well wishes and a little cheesecake treat from my classmates (thanks!).

happy weekend!

Monday, March 15, 2010

recoup mac n' cheese.

so i had a bit of a bike crash the other day. let's just say oil spills and rainy weather don't mix very well. my wrist and leg are a little messed up.
yes, i am fine.
no, nothing is broken.
yes, i am a little sore.
and yes, i am still able to cook and work (sort of).

being a monday, i don't have work (thankfully) so i pilfered whatever fresh produce i have left in the fridge, and grabbed my go-to comfort food, mac and cheese. it's definitely a hodge-podge of sorts, but damn tasty to boot.

nothin' a big bowl of mac n' cheese, a beer and a couple of ibuprofen won't fix...

recoup mac n' cheese:

1 package of annie's mac and cheese (don't judge me because i eat mac and cheese from a box! it's annie's, nuff said.)
1 cup asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 small yellow squash, small diced
handful of fresh baby spinach
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
olive oil

optional garnish:
a beer of choice
400mg ibuprofen*

* disclaimer!!!: not recommended to mix alcohol with pain killers. i am in no way trying to advocate this, i just enjoy having a beer with my meal and that's it.

moving on...

heat up water to boil pasta (per instructions on box). heat another saute pan for your veggies. once heated, add a little oil and add onions, zuccini and asparagus. saute for a couple of minutes and add mushrooms. season with salt and pepper. once cooked, set aside.

once pasta is cooked (drain and return to pan), add a bit of milk, a couple tablespoons of butter and "cheese packet" to pasta. add veg and adjust consistency with milk. add the spinach and tomatoes last and mix well. (you want the spinach to wilt slightly.) add the grated cheese for extra cheesiness and BAM, you're done!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

the "i love you mom and dad" asparagus and mushroom frittata.

sooooo, really, really, really sorry for the lack of updates. ( i realize putting up pictures of burns and cuts aren't all that great updates either...)

to catch you up, i'm almost halfway done with my third and final term at school before heading off to my externship. after that, i'm all done.
certified culinary school graduate.

but to be even more specific with the current happenings, i am completing the "restaurant" portion of school in which i work lunch service at the school restaurant and then head directly to work to finish my day off working dinner service. 8am to 11pm. i do this 5-6 days a week. nonstop.

nonetheless, i haven't been eating very well on top of the fact that i'm trying to save money to pay for school, rent, bills, etc. i can't afford or even find time to spend money on food. if i don't work, i don't eat.

which brings me to my next point.

my parents are awesome.

after getting off the phone and sharing my sad-sap story with my mom, my parents sent me a little care package with food, coupons and a gift card to go grocery shopping.


i went shopping for fresh produce last weekend before work, but then realized i work all week and wouldn't be able to use any of it till today (a week later). fortunately, i purchased wisely and cooked up a delicious and hearty breakfast.

thanks mom and dad. 

here is my salute to you. i call it:

the "i love you mom and dad" asparagus and mushroom frittata.
( i used an ovenproof NONSTICK 9in pan)
5 eggs
splash of milk
1 cup asparagus. chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, small diced
1/2 tablespoon fresh herb (i used oregano but would have preferred thyme if i had it on hand)
1/4 cup shredded tillamook sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

preheat oven to 400.  whisk eggs with a splash of milk (couple tablespoons). season with salt and pepper. set aside.

add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to your pan. saute onions and asparagus for a couple minutes, or until they start to get tender. add mushrooms and saute until tender. add oregano and season with salt and pepper. taste and adjust seasonings. add eggs and give the pan a jiggle so the eggs are dispersed evenly. turn the heat down low and let the egg set around the edges. top with shredded cheese. once the edges begin to set, place pan in oven. cook for about 3-4 minutes or until eggs are set. (give it a jiggle. you want a wee bit of a jiggle but not too much). transfer under the broiler for a minute or so until the top gets brown and delicious looking.

remove from oven and slide onto a plate. cut into wedges and enjoy with your choice of hot sauce. (we went with aardvark habanero hot sauce this morning.)


p.s. i'll save you the worry and stop putting up pictures of burns and cuts. although, i did just get a cool burn from the 600 degree tandoor oven day before yesterday...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

tattoos, meh.

who needs em', when you can have these for free...

the latest and greatest. burns...