after you read this, let me know what you think cuz I will be turning it in on thursday! thanks
My name is Teal Skibsted. I am 21 and attending the U.M. College of Technology Culinary Arts Program. I love food. I love to cook it, eat it, smell it, serve it, and anything else you can think of relating to food. I really enjoy cooking food for others more than for myself. So if I am able to create something that smells, looks, and tastes amazing, I am usually happier serving it to someone else rather than indulging myself. (This is mostly because I am able to taste my creations in the kitchen before my guests even know about it.
Ever since I was little, everyone told me I had a knack for cooking, just like my Mom. She and I always would cook together, even when I was little enough to need a stepstool to see over the counter. Well, my Mom is a great cook, so I had (and still have) a lot to live up to. But I am learning. So here I am trying to see if I have a knack for writing about food as well as cooking it. In this piece, I will write of several food items and recipes that follow them.
My earliest food-related memory was the annual Christmas at my grandparent’s house. The menu varied from year to year, but I could always count on Grandma Betty’s cinnamon rolls. These rolls have made Christmas brunch what it still is to me today. When I was really young, I remember waking up at the crack of dawn of Christmas morning, being half-starved (or so I thought), but Mom wouldn’t let me have anything to eat until brunch at Grandma’s. But, of course, brunch never started until at least 10 am, so by that time I had pretty much withered away from starvation.
Finally, the time came to go through the brunch “buffet” line and pick out my favorites. The cinnamon rolls always came first. Nicely golden brown and crunchy on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside. Not too sweet, but with the sweet little raisin gems peeking out from the layers of cinnamon-y goodness. Just a little honey or cream cheese frosting drizzled on top is all that is needed to make these rolls heavenly.
My cousins and I still today ask Grandma to make her cinnamon rolls at Christmas. There have been years that she has hesitated when we asked her about making her famous rolls, but we always manage to talk her into it. I don’t know what we would do if they were not a part of the Christmas morning spread. The task may have to fall to someone else when that time comes….. I wonder who it might be…..
Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 30 rolls
¾ oz. (or 3 pkgs) active dry yeast
1 c. lukewarm milk (not above 100F)
½ c. sugar
3 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ c butter or shortening, softened
4 eggs, beaten
For roll center:
6 tbs. butter, melted
2. tbs cinnamon
1 c. raisins
1 c. brown sugar
2 tbs. butter
½ c. water
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk and let sit for 2 minutes. In large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix flour, sugar, and salt together. Then add yeast, soft
butter and eggs. Mix until the dough creates a ball and separates from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Place in a large greased mixing bowl, put in a warm place covered with a towel for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size. Separate dough into 2 evenly sized balls. put out onto a lightly floured surface, then roll into 2 large rectangles (you can do one at a time), with the dough about ¼ inch think. Make your “roll center” mix in a little bowl and then spread half over each rectangle. Roll up your cinnamon rectangle like a jelly roll, with all the cinnamon goodness in the center. Then slice into 1 ½- 2 inch rounds and place in greased pan. Rise in a warm place until double in size once again. While rising for the second time, make your caramel drizzle. In small saucepan, heat up sugar and butter on medium low heat. When the sugar is dissolved and butter melted, then add your water. Cook for 2 minutes after that and then drizzle over risen rolls. Bake the rolls at 350F for 35 minutes or until golden brown on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. YUM!
A mango is a scrumptious fruit that grows on trees in tropical regions. When ripe, its skin is green with some red and yellow areas. Of course this fruit is best when picked off a tree and sliced open right there. But most of us don’t have that luxury, so when shopping for such fruit in the market, look for the ones that are slightly soft to the touch, but not mushy and have a sweet tropical smell.
When you slice the mango open, out bursts bright orange-colored flesh, just like the sunrise over the ocean. After being skinned, the flesh is very soft and slippery, like a soaped up puppy getting a bath. If you are not careful, this fruit can get away from you. The smell of this tropical fruit is very sweet, with a hint of pine. Then you taste it, and you float to “tropical fruit heaven”. The texture in your mouth is so soft and smooth, it almost melts away. The taste is so sweet and fresh. There is a large seed in the center of the fruit that has fibrous strings coming out of it that dissipate in the flesh. Mangoes can be used for a multitude of food needs from salsa to smoothies, to cakes to salsa. Here is a great recipe for a mango upside-down cake given to me by Chef Siegel.
Makes 1- 9” cake
2 (1-lb) firm-ripe mangoes, peeled
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
For cake batter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, 2 of them separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mango nectar
Make topping: Standing each mango upright, remove flesh from pit by cutting a thick lengthwise slice from each broad side. (Be careful, it’s slippery.) Put slices on a work surface and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in brown sugar. Simmer, stirring, until butter is incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread mixture in bottom of a buttered 9- by 2-inch round baking pan and arrange mango on top, overlapping slices.
Make batter: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add whole egg and yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined. Mix in mango nectar, then add remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Beat egg whites in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they just hold stiff peaks, then fold into batter gently but thoroughly.
Gently spoon batter over mango topping and spread evenly. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around inside edge of pan, then invert a plate over pan and invert cake onto plate. Cool completely on plate on rack.
Serve cake at room temperature.
Cardamom is fast becoming one of my favorite spices. It has a mellow, enticing sort of fragrance, slightly lemon-y and almost healing. It actually does have many medicinal properties such as settling upset stomachs and relieving breathing problems when used as aromatherapy. Ancient Romans and Greeks used cardamom in foods, medicines and perfumes. This spice is in the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family.
Cardamom grows best in the highland rainforests of India. It grows on a shrub about six feet tall with yellow and blue flowers that produce small fruit pods. Each flower produces between ten and twenty pods. These little jewels have to be hand-picked and then dried before they are edible.
The plant grows wild throughout the rainforest of Malabar in India, but is now cultivated in Sri Lanka, Thailand and parts of Central America. Cardamom has been traded in India for at least 1000 years, and most of the world’s supply came from the wild plants that grew there. Then, in the 19th century, the British colonies established cardamom in plantations in other parts of India, which eventually spread to some more tropical areas in the world. During this time of the British colony establishment, it was called the”Queen of Spices”. It is rightly named as such being the third most expensive spice in the world, only after saffron and vanilla. Cleopatra is said to have had found the scent of cardamom so enticing that she had the palace scented with cardamom smoke when Marc Antony came to visit.
The spice itself grows in a green pod with small, sticky, black seeds in the center. The pod itself is hard and inedible, but can be cooked with the food item and then strained out. The black seeds are edible, but only if ground first as they are hard as well. The best way to buy this spice is in the whole pod form as it loses its flavor very quickly once it has been ground. The whole pods will last about a year once picked. But once the little black seeds have been ground, they lose their pungency in a week or two. This spice can be used in many ways, such as curries, vanilla pie fillings, ice cream, turkish coffee, herbal teas rice puddings and cakes are just a few examples. Here is my recipe for cardomom ice cream.
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6-7 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
Whisk together sugar and eggs until frothy and lemony yellow. In saucepan, heat milk and cardamom until it simmers. Add milk and cardamom slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly. (This process is called Tempering) Return to pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon: 6-8 minutes. Pour custard through a strainer and cool. Add cream and refrigerate until cold. Process in ice cream maker according to your machine’s directions.
Fettuccine alfredo would have to be one of my favorite meals. If there is any “fall-back” dish on a restaurant menu for me, this is it. It can be prepared a variety of ways, two of which are: pre-making a Bechamel sauce and then adding your seasonings or, by deglazing the pan with some white wine after cooking your protein, then adding cream and Parmesan cheese, etc. It’s all about the consistency and flavor of the sauce that makes it so delectable-not too thin and runny, and not too thick and pastey.
To me, the perfect alfredo consists of scallops (chicken is good as well) cream, white wine, lots of Parmesan cheese, peas, and a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. All of this perfection is served over a bed of steaming hot fresh pasta (not dried) and enjoyed immediately. The creamy consistency rubbing between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, the salt meandering across your taste buds, the peas bursting as your teeth chomp down on them- the perfect fettuccine alfredo. If you are curious how this masterpiece has developed, you should speak to John Caruso about that. He passed this recipe onto me.
(makes one portion)
1 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 sea scallops, trimmed and cleaned
¼ c. white wine
½ c. heavy whipping cream
1 oz prosciutto, julienned and slightly sauteed
2 Tbs. frozen peas
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbs. butter
Pinch of ground nutmeg
3 oz. Fresh or dried pasta, cooked to al dente
Saute scallops in olive oil until just browned, drain oil from pan and set scallops aside. To keep them warm, wrap them in a little piece of foil for a few minutes.
Deglaze with white wine, then add heavy cream and reduce for a couple of minute until it starts to thicken, stirring or swirling often. Add proscuitto and peas and cook for 2 minutes.
Add cheese (reserving a bit for garnish), nutmeg, and butter, cook to desired consistency (not too thick).
Gently add cooked pasta to pan and coat. Plate pasta and add scallops to top, garnish with remaining parmesan.
One of my all-time favorite foods are cream puffs. To me, they are one of the best recipes ever created by a chef! The choux paste used for the “puff” part is made up of milk, butter, flour and eggs. this is concocted together and then piped out of an icing bag, baked until it is brown and “poofed”, and then cooled and filled with pastry cream or other such cream substances.
Each little ball of cream puff goodness is like heaven to me! I would eat them every day three times a day if I could…. But many things prohibit me from such indulgence. Things such as my top button on my favorite pair of jeans, or my budget (they can get expensive), among other things (like my fiancée). So to keep myself under control, I only splurge occasionally. After a while, I forget about these tiny tastes of heaven until I see a box of them in the store, or someone mentions them in conversation. Then I will think about them all the time, even dream at night about them…. until I can pop one (or 3) into my mouth once again. If you have any of the same feelings as I do about cream puffs, maybe you should try making them yourself.
Pate a Choux (aka cream puffs)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
4 oz butter
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
6 oz bread flour
4 large eggs
Bring the milk and water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and stir vigorously to combine. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat briefly on medium heat with a paddle attachment to cool off. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Fill a pasty bag fitted with a medium plain tip and pipe in ¾ inch domes of batter onto parchment lined sheet pans. Bake in a preheated 400° oven until the pastries are puffed and golden brown (10 or 15 minutes) then turn down to 325° to cook through about 25 minutes. Cool completely before filling.
Filling for Cream Puffs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don’ t curdle or scorch on the bottom. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat-proof container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled before using. When ready to fill puffs, put the pastry cream into a pastry bag with a tiny tip on it and pierce all the cream puffs with a wooden skewer or ice pick and then fill up the puffs with the cream using the pierced hole. Don’t try to put in too much though or it will ooze all over.