Archives For culinary school

I’m teaching table service this summer and have a small class of mostly second year students. We had our first mock restaurant production this week and they did a great job. They invited people to come be our guests and then made the food (sandwiches and sides) and served them in the restaurant of their design. A little like Top Chef without the stress of $100K in the balance.

The restaurant for the night was Three Chicks and a Dude. They set up four tables with our less than stellar tablecloths and one student brought bud vases with flowers from her yard. We found some votive holders and tea lights and turned down the fluorescent lighting. The food was good. They did a great job of setting the places and taking orders. Overall I was thoroughly pleased with their efforts.

I have always wanted to teach this class and though it was on very short notice with no text book, I am enjoying it immensely and looking forward to their presentations at the end when we talk about wine, beer and spirits.

Here’s a copy of their menu:
Three Chicks and a Dude

Victoria’s Big Week in Food

victoria —  November 17, 2007 — 1 Comment

Having previously worked in the chaos that is television, I know that I don’t like to be the center of that particular spotlight. However, that does not mean that I don’t like a pat on the back now and then. I had the great fortune of asking a question at the right time and a great thing came of it. I saw that a certain food writer and culinary celebrity was going to be in our berg for an event and emailed to ask if he would come speak with our culinary arts students at the community college. He said yes and came on Thursday this week. He spoke for about 45 minutes about his training and writing and what is important to all chefs, cooks and people who eat. He then answered student questions for about 45 minutes. They asked great questions and he took all their questions seriously and gave thought provoking answers that I think made a positive impression and reinforced what we are trying to do as instructors. He stayed a little while after that for pictures and book signing. (Yes, I did get my picture made with him). It just goes to show it never hurts to ask.

Also, this week, due to Keifel’s pimping of my culinary talents, I am baking some festive goodies for peeps from his office and the Apple store. I decided to do my shopping at the new Whole Foods because part of the selling point of the desserts was that they were all natural and mostly organic. The butter, flour and sugar were all cheaper than the stuff I had been buying at our regular grocery store (which I still like a lot but, you know, it’s hard to compete with a place with a coffee bar and whole fish on ice). So after my cavalcade of shopping (yes, it was just me, but it seemed a sufficiently grand word for the occasion) I am making pie crusts and ginger cookies tomorrow and all the stuff that won’t keep as well Monday night for Tuesday delivery. My house will smell, to borrow a phrase from Nigella, of nutmeg-y goodness far into next week.

fallen leaves, freshly sharpened pencils and making Mollie Katzen’s gypsy soup.

My thoughts also turn philosophical. My thoughts lately have been about the consequences of raising a food snob and the old adage of “those who can do; those who can’t teach.”

On the first subject, Julian’s birthday falls in the early part of this month and when asked this year what he wanted to do for his birthday he decidedly did not give any of the standard boy pre-teen answers. There was no discussion of paint ball, laser tag, pizza blow out, bowling… nothing so common. For his birthday Julian decided he wanted to go to Zola for a birthday dinner. His rational for such an adult birthday celebration was that Keifel and I go for our anniversary and sometimes for one of our birthdays and he had never gotten to go with us. We invited some of our friends, I think rightly assuming that his posse wouldn’t be up for seared tuna on black rice and coffee caramel creme bruleé. I, of course, could be underestimating his friends’ tastes but I am going with my gut here and saying most kids Julian’s age probably wouldn’t feel real excitement when presented with a piece of mostly raw sashimi grade tuna.

I am incredibly happy that Julian doesn’t clamor to go to McDonald’s or Burger King. I am happy that he knows that hydrogenated fat and HFCS are really bad for your body. I am happy that he will eat a well-dressed salad without too much cajoling and that he has vegetables he does actually enjoying eating and that he will eat almost any fruit presented in some form or another. He loves sushi and pork belly and smoky exotic sausages. He likes seltzer with cassis syrup and would take an Italian soda over a Coke. Boy has expensive tastes to be so young. I realize college is going to be a wake up call into the myriad way one can prepare beans and rice and (god, I really hope not) ramen. I also worry a little because loving good food has made my ass more than a size or two larger than it should be for optimum health. Along with his taste we are trying to instill “all things in moderation,” enjoyment and balance. I would wish that he not have a lifelong struggle with weight and body issues.

In the second area of brain pan spinning, I am thinking about my effectiveness and success (or lack thereof) in teaching. I still feel like I am getting my feet under me and that I don’t have it all together. I feel like I might be boring some of my students and worry about making sure they leave my class with not only more than they came with but a real understanding of the subject. I think on some level I also worry that I just don’t have enough years slogged on the line to really tell them what that world is like. I am going to try some different ways of presenting the lecture and see what works for me and for them. I am also going to think about some ways to do some different things in class that engage them in some more meaningful ways that don’t involve me jabbering for an hour and a half.

I agreed to teach another class this week at another culinary school and have some real prep to put into that and getting familiar with their curriculum and expectations. And just getting familiar with the campus and facilities. It’s pretty excited, actually I’m excited to be teaching and feeling my way through this. It’s a little overwhelming, too. I guess on some level I just want to be good enough to be trusted with what small part of their academic life I am overseeing and not messing them up for the next level. That’s a pretty huge thing to wake up to every day.

Though I have been spending the last three weeks scoring standardized tests, my calling still calls and, I am thankful, my phone is still ringing. We have a small catering gig on the 24th (baby shower, 20 guests). I also have three series of classes coming up at various points around Nashville. If you are in the area and want to take a class with me you have some options.

I will be teaching classes in Green Hills beginning April 3 and following every Tuesday 6-8 PM until the end of May. I will also be teaching a class on cooking with herbs, vinegars and oils at the Tennessee Technological Center in Murfreesboro. I don’t have dates and times for this class yet but it will start in May and be on Monday nights and be a 10 week course. I will also be teaching some stand-alone baking classes at Nashville State Community College. Those will be Saturday mornings beginning in May or June. I will post more specific dates and times for the last two when I get them. If you are interested in any of these classes please call the appropriate establishment or institution, as they handle registration and payment.

I also offer personal lessons in your home, either one-on-one or as cooking parties. You can email me at victoria at foodieporn dot com or at victoria at arsculinaria dot net, depending on how strict your net nanny or firewall service is. Joie de Vivre (the catering side of my life) also offers catering for cocktail or buffet parties up to 50 and personal chef services for dinner parties from 2-16. My personal strong suit is Mediterranean rim but I am happy to do everything from authentic Mexican to Southeast Asian curries. If you are craving something authentic from your far flung childhood, we’ll do our best to hit the mark. JC (again, the catering partner, not the Big Guy) and I are also academic geeks girls and happy to do research for historical recreations and authenticity, if you are dreaming of a Victorian Sunday brunch fully catered and serviced or a chuckwagon-style picnic on the grounds, we’re your new best friends.

Instead I have been pounding the virtual pavement looking for a day job to tide me over until things pick up in my culinary life. My new classes at the Pannery don’t begin until April and my gig at school evaporated. I do have a non-cooking job as a stop gap as of yesterday. I’ll be an exam scorer for a company here in town. Should be interesting.

While I was looking for at least semi-gainful employ, I plotted out the Oscar Extravaganza menu with my partner in crime and the husband put together an invitation that was suitably glamorous. The menu sounds worthy of Hollywood party but with some fun twists. It is also a little pricey but I think we will manage as I have become the priestess of quality on the cheap (thanks to Nashville’s burgeoning immigrant population and the bodegas and markets which supply them their foodstuffs).

We are planning on the following, of course the chef, cough, reserves the right to make substitutions depending on availability and cash flow:

A Victoria Cheese Display with accompaniments including home made fig salami
Beef Tenderloin with home made rolls and gorgonzola sauce
Smoked salmon and Trout with accompaniments
Salad Cups with Champagne Vinaigrette
Bagna Cauda with veg
Blini with (domestic!) caviar
Asparagus with proscuitto
Paté en croute
Parmesan popcorn
Spiced cocktail nuts
Mini lemon cheesecakes
Decadent brownies

Technically, I have already begun cooking because the fig salami takes about three weeks to cure. I found the recipe for it in a teeny book on the Italian institution of the enoteca (wine bar). It’s pretty much ground up figs and walnuts moistened with white wine, anise liqueur and balsamic vinegar then allowed to dry into a sliceable salami shape. If it tastes as good as the mixture did before forming and wrapping, it will be fabulous. But, I love figs in any form so there might be a bit of a bias. We will of course take pictures at the event (if one of us remembers) and post all the glorious (or gory) details.

Now to rustle up some lunch.

It’s Official

victoria —  January 6, 2007 — 1 Comment

I am completely done with culinary school, degree conferred, graduated summa cum laude. Yay! It is feeling anti-climactic though in that there wasn’t a December graduation ceremony (not that I would have attended) and I didn’t really tell people I was graduating, well, I am telling now I guess. I had plans for a party but more celebrating during Christmas wasn’t really called for. I’ll have to do something special at some point, but what?

I haven’t received my diploma yet. I guess that will make it seem more real. I am also looking at a new gig that I will talk about later but can’t really divulge at this time to the whole wide world.

Happy new year to all. In the words of John and Yoko, “Let’s hope it’s a good one.”

Sliding into fall

victoria —  August 19, 2006 — Leave a comment

Things have been moving at a fairly brisk pace these days. The Hemingway’s Key West party went off without a hitch though the turnout was a little low. The food however was fab but there is not a single picture. Keifel had to work late at Apple because of the tax holiday and J&J and I were busy hosting.

The menu consisted of smoked trout cakes* with red pepper jam, grilled coconut lime shrimp, coffee and brown sugar rubbed pork tenderloin with Hawaiian bread rolls and chipotle cilantro mayo, tropical fruit platter, veg platter, black-eyed pea dip, guacamole, old school daiquiris and coffee meringues and key lime pie. Keifel and I wound up eating fruit salad for three days and I had to come up with creative ways to use up the left over veg from the tray. I think in future we are going to have to fine tune the party invites for the book research to a core of people who come every time. Making a whole lot of food for people who may or may not come and don’t RSVP is costly.

In other news, I am still teaching classes at the Pannery, though things have been up and down with that. Thursday’s class was a bit of a bust. Can I just say I hate cooking fried chicken in front of people? It is a too slow process and because of the shitty range we have at work, I couldn’t keep the oil to temp. So despite the fact that overall the food was good, I had a complainer that resulted in four people getting their money back and one of them spending what seemed an eternity talking with the assistant manager about my shortcomings. Regardless of what did or didn’t happen, the customer is always right. I went through my staged reaction: disappointment, defensiveness, pissed-offness, and finally resignation. There isn’t a thing I can do about how she perceived the class or me. It’s just the first real complaints I’ve had, even if perhaps 60% of her complaints weren’t directly about me, I tend to take things to heart and very personally (often when it isn’t really warranted–though I think I have gotten better over time). Plus all this drama came on the heels of so many of my classes getting cancelled. I am at that point where I want to say whatever and go back to the latest edition of Olive.

School is also gearing up. I have my internship (that is happening at the Pannery), a computer class I am testing out of and one I have to take and I will graduate in December with an A.A.S. to go with my B.A. and M.A. My father always said you could never have too many letters after your name, just don’t put them all on your business card because that looks both silly and pretentious. I need to join the ACF so when I graduate I will be a Certified Culinarian, which means I can put a CC on my chef jacket after my name if I so choose. Go me.

If all goes well (meaning we get enough folks to register), I will be teaching the revamped community education class at NSCC this fall. It means a 7 Saturday commitment in the heart of soccer mom season but Keifel is going to pick up that slack and be the soccer dad, should the class actually make the cut. I won’t know until next week sometime though the first class is on Saturday the 26th. Eek.

*Smoked Trout Cakes
Makes approximate 30 bite-sized cakes

1# smoked trout
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 diced serrano or other red chili
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced very fine
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
salt and pepper to taste
panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) to coat
oil for frying

Break up the trout with the tines of a fork and add all of the remaining ingredients except the panko and oil. Form the mixture into small cakes (one to two bite-size) and roll them in the panko. Set them on a baking sheet or tray and refrigerate about 30 minutes to allow them to firm up. Heat about a 1/4″ of oil in a heavy sauté and fry the cakes until golden brown, turning once. Serve with red pepper jelly.

After a moment or two of thought, okay…not really, after agonizing over it for a week or two, I’ve decided to take the summer off and finish in the fall. Partly for financial reasons, and those are honestly the biggest decider these days, and partly for sanity reasons. I really haven’t had a break since I started school and I have done a great job of piling things on higher and deeper every time I’ve said I need a break.

And so, in the interest of sanity and financial security for a brief moment, I am taking the summer off from school to focus on something else. I am teaching two classes a week at Ye Olde Pot & Pannery for the summer. We are reviving the Kids in the Kitchen series for the duration of the summer break here and I am doing a series for grownups on Thursday nights. My manager, who I have come to adore for letting me have this opportunity and for letting me make the classes my own, has let me run with this latest set of classes. We are doing a little bit of everything. Lots of summer, market-fresh type stuff and some fun, unusual things like a sushi class featuring California rolls.

I also have my first Joie de Vivre student. A local attorney who just wants to do more cooking for herself and pick up some techniques. She has a great kitchen and is excited about the process which has me all excited to finally see if this idea will work and if people will feel like they are getting their money’s worth.

Part of my inner negotiations for taking the summer off were that I couldn’t waste the summer. Not that I won’t be busy with these other things, just that at the end of the summer I had to have something to show for myself, a little “Here’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation” kind of moment. My bargaining chip is this book idea that J.C. and I have been batting around. We have some ideas nailed down and I think we may even have an outlet for it. I do want to keep it kind of amorphous in the public sphere for the time being. It’s a little like announcing you’re pregnant too early. I want it to have more than an outline before I start blabbering about it, here anyway.

It is amazing to me how things fall into place once you find your true calling. I was watching Nigella Lawson’s biography last night with Keifel and thought, okay, aside from famous parents, upper class blood, a posh British accent, famous husbands, and scads of money… what has she got that I don’t? I don’t in any way mean to minimize her accomplishments because, and I think I may have mentioned this a time or two, I do think she is a culinary goddess worthy of adoration. I just mean to say that, if it depends on passion, knowledge and a swift kick in the pants by those who believe in us, I’m qualified to make this dream happen for myself. I can’t even express how amazing that feels without sounding like a strung out ninny.

I don’t know that I want a media empire. I can’t see myself as the next Martha. I really can’t even see myself as the next Nigella or the American Nigella or any other goofy moniker the media attaches to a fresh face. I do enjoy the idea of being Victoria and being a teacher and a writer whose focus happens to be food, since that whole poetry thing didn’t pan out. If a small amount of success included a little fame and fortune, I certainly wouldn’t sneeze at it, but right now that can’t be the focus.

Last Thursday my team and I produced our final project for Garde Manger. We had to do a theme buffet. Originally, my team thought we wanted to do a 1970s theme party with fondue and “basement party” food done well. After we all looked for recipes with no luck, we decided to go a different direction and do a Mediterranean brunch with a food tour of the Mediterranean rim, as it were.

Part of the project was to do decorations, put together ingredient lists and pull sheets (what a caterer would use to make sure all the equipment needed goes to an event site). We had some parameters we had to hit with our menu. Since garde manger covers certain production territory, we had to make a vegetable terrine, a sausage or a seafood/fish terrine, a paté, 2 hors d’oeuvres, 2 hot mains, a composed salad, a small roll or cracker, a carved fruit and cheese display and a non-alcoholic punch. Seems easy enough and the nice thing about a brunch menu is that you can play with any number of dishes that would be served as a breakfast item or a lunch or even a dinner item.

Several of the items got a dry run for the Oscar party so there is some overlap. You can give 6 cooks the same recipe and you’ll get seven different versions of the same dish and since we assigned different dishes to different groups, the things that you might have already seen a picture of don’t look exactly the same.

Our menu consisted of honeydew wrapped in proscuitto with mint and Prosecco, zucchini rolls with goat cheese, date nut muffins, roasted vegetable terrine, mixed grill-style broiled tomatoes, North African lamb sausage with herbed couscous, risotto frittata, Spanish and Italian cheese display with fresh and dried fruit, orange and red onion salad with olives, turkey/pork/pistachio/juniper berry paté wrapped in grape leaves with sweet & hot pepper jelly and a red onion and pear chutney, and an apricot fruit sparkler.

We were down three classmates, but thankfully my team mates and I had knocked out the terrine, the paté, the sausage and the jelly and chutney the day before. We had lots of down time before service and everyone seemed pretty relaxed. The week before had been a tensionfest and we had discussed not letting that happen on the day we went. I do think we managed to avoid it and I was thrilled at everyone’s work on the menu. The food looked great. The decorations were rather simple but not shoddy looking (though our table cloth really needed ironing). Over all I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out. The weird thing for me was how anti-climactic it was.

It was the last culinary anything of my two year odyssey because I only have computer courses and my internship over the summer. I guess I expected to feel done or feel something but it was just suddenly over and we were packing all the stuff into my car. I stopped for coffee on the way home and sat in the car sipping it thinking, “That’s it.” It makes me even more certain that a party of some sort needs to be had when the actual degree is being conferred. I need something that says this chapter is done and now you can get into the meat of what happens next. I need to actually find an internship before that conferring happens. That’s pretty important.

Again, if you’d like to tackle this menu on your own…

Fruit Sparkler Punch
Yield: 4-6 servings

2 cups chilled apricot nectar
2 cups chilled soda water
1 cup chilled apple juice
1 cup chilled orange juice

Combine just before serving. Serve over ice.

Melon with Prosciutto, Mint and Prosecco
Yield: 2 servings

1 medium honeydew melon
6-8 mint leaves
2 oz. lean prosciutto, sliced very thinly
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Splash prosecco

1. Peel and seed melon. Cut the flesh lengthwise into 3/4” thick slices.
2. Chiffonade the mint leaving a few whole leaves for garnish.
3. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the middle of each melon wedge.
4. Arrange wedges on one large plate or two smaller serving plates. Garnish with mint and black pepper.
5. Drizzle the Prosecco over the melon, approximately 2 tablespoons.

Rolled Zucchini Ribbons with Basil, Chili Pepper and Goat Cheese
Yield: 20 rolls

4-5 small zucchini
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 thumb-sized red chili peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced
Small bunch fresh chives
4 oz. mild goat cheese
Handful fresh basil leaves
2 small handfuls baby arugula, long stems removed
Toothpicks to secure

1. Cut the zucchini into 20 ¼” thick slices lengthwise. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put under the broiler, cooking on both sides until caramelized. Do not over cook or they will be too soft to roll. Set aside to cool.
2. Heat remaining oil in a heavy sauté. Add the chili peppers and fry until crisp around the edges. Drain on paper towels.
3. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, drop in the chives and remove immediately with a slotted spoon. Shock in cold water and remove to paper towels to dry.
4. Spread each zucchini slice with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese. Place a couple of basil leaves, 2-3 chili pepper slivers, and some arugula across one end so they protrude (all on the same side—this will stick up when the roll is finished and set on its side). Gently roll the slice up and secure with a toothpick. Tie a chive around the roll and trim the ends with scissors. Remove toothpicks and refrigerate until serving.

Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Vinaigrette
Serves 6

2 large red bell peppers, quartered, cored and seeded
2 large yellow peppers, quartered, cored and seeded
1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise
2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 2/3 cup tomato juice
2 Tablespoons powdered gelatin
fresh basil leaves, garnish

For the dressing:
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place prepared peppers skin side up under a hot broiler and cook until skins are blackened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool.
2. Arrange the eggplant and zucchini slices on separate baking sheets. Brush them with olive oil and roast in a hot oven, turning if needed, until they are tender and golden.
3. Heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan, and add the sliced onions, raisins, tomato purée and red wine vinegar. Cook gently until the mixture is soft and syrupy. Set aside and let cool in the pan.
4. Line a 7 ½-cup terrine with plastic wrap, leaving a little hanging over the sides of the container.
5. Pour half the tomato juice into a saucepan, and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow to bloom, then dissolve gently over low heat, stirring to prevent lumps.
6. Place a layer of red peppers in the bottom of the terrine, and pour in enough of the tomato juice with the gelatin to cover.
7. Continue layering the vegetables, pouring tomato juice over each layer. Finish with a layer of red peppers. Add the remaining tomato juice to the pan, and pour into the terrine. Give it a sharp tap, to disperse the juice. Cover and chill until set.
8. To make the dressing, whisk together oil and vinegar and season. Turn out the terrine and remove the plastic wrap. Serve in thick slices, drizzled with dressing and garnished with basil leaves.

Turkey, Juniper and Peppercorn Terrine
Serves 10-12

8 oz. chicken livers, trimmed
1 pound ground turkey
1 pound ground pork
8 oz. pancetta, diced small
½ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground mace
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon drained green peppercorns in brine
1 teaspoon juniper berries
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons gin
finely grated zest of one orange
8 large vacuum-packed grape leaves in brine
oil, for the terrine

1. Chop the chicken livers finely. Reserve about ¼ of the pancetta and pistachios. Put the chopped livers in a bowl and add the turkey, pork, pancetta, pistachios, salt, mace and garlic. Mix well.
2. Lightly crush the peppercorns and juniper berries and add them to the mixture. Stir in the white wine, gin and orange zest. Cover and chill overnight to let the flavors mingle.
3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rinse the grape leaves under cold running water. Drain them thoroughly. Lightly oil a 5-cup pâté terrine or loaf pan. Line the terrine or pan with the leaves, letting the ends hang over the sides. Pack half of the mixture into the terrine or pan, sprinkle over the reserved pancetta and pistachios, and pack in the remaining meat mixture. Fold the leaves over to enclose the filling. Brush lightly with oil.
4. Cover the terrine with its lid or with aluminum foil. Place it in a roasting pan and pour in the boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the terrine. Bake for 1 and 3/4 hours, checking the level of the water occasionally, so that the roasting pan does not dry out.
5. Let the terrine cool, then pour off the surface juices. Cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and place weights on top. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Serve at room temperature with chutney and red pepper jelly.

Dried Cherry, Pearl Onion and Pear Chutney
Yield: approximately 3 Cups

½ # red pearl onions
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4” dice
Juice of one lemon
1 ¼ Cups dried cherries
¾ Cup red wine vinegar
½ Cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Boil onions for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Carefully peel onions; trim root ends. Cut in half lengthwise. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss the pears with lemon juice.
2. Place cherries, pearl onions, half the pears, vinegar, sugar, salt, cloves and 2 cups of water in a low-sided, non-reactive saucepan. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until the fruit is tender, about 45 minutes.
4. Raise heat to high; cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining pears and reduce heat to low; cook just until the pears are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
5. Set chutney in an ice water bath to cool quickly and refrigerate for up to one week.

Hot & Sweet Red Pepper Jam
Yield: approximately 2 Cups

1 Cup coarsely chopped, seeded and deribbed sweet red peppers
1/8 Cup coarsely chopped, seeded and deribbed fresh hot red peppers
¾ Cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
3 ¼ Cup sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin (3 oz.)
Tabasco to taste

1. Chop peppers to a very coarse purée in a food processor, using some of the vinegar as a liquid. Scrape into a non-reactive pan. Add remaining vinegar and salt.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat; lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Measure the mixture and return 1 ½ Cups to the pan. If the mixture measures less than 1 ½ Cups add water to make up the difference. Stir in the sugar.
3. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down over high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
4. Add pectin, mixing well. Taste jam mixture for hotness and add drops of hot pepper sauce, if desired. Skim off any foam. Cool, stirring occasionally to prevent pepper bits from floating to the top. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Orange and Red Onion Salad with Cumin
Yield: 6 servings

6 oranges
2 red onions
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
6 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
fresh mint sprigs
niçoise olives

1. Peel and thinly slice oranges into rounds, catching any juice. Thinly slice the onions and separate into rings.
2. Arrange the orange and onion slices in layers in a shallow dish, sprinkling each layer with cumin seeds, black pepper, mint and olive oil. Salt to taste. Pour over the collected orange juice.
3. Let the salad marinate in a cool place for about 2 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with mint sprigs and niçoise olives.

Risotto Frittata
Serves 4

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
¾ cup risotto rice
1 2/3- 2 cups simmering vegetable stock
2-3 Tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups button mushrooms, finely sliced
4 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6-8 eggs
salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic over low heat until the onion begins to soften but does not brown. Add the pepper and cook, stirring, until soft.
2. Stir in the rice and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the grains are evenly coated with oil.
3. Add a quarter of the vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper. Stir over low heat until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding more stock, a little at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid before the next edition. Continue cooking the rice in this way until it is al dente.
4. In a separate small pan, heat a little of the remaining oil and some of the butter and quickly fry the mushrooms until golden. Transfer to a plate.
5. When the rice is tender, remove from the heat and stir in the cooked mushrooms and the Parmesan cheese.
6. Beat together the eggs with 8 teaspoons of cold water and season well. Heat the remaining oil and butter and add the risotto mixture. Spread the mixture out in the pan, then immediately add the beaten egg, tilting the pan so that the omelet cooks evenly. Fry over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, finish under the broiler if necessary. Transfer to a warmed plate and serve immediately.

Mixed Grill-Style Broiled Tomatoes
Serves 4

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
4 large, firm but ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped chives
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the broiler.
2. On a baking sheet large enough to spread the bread crumbs out in a thin layer, toast them until they are a golden brown. Set aside.
3. Core the tomatoes and cut them in half through their stem ends. Using a fingertip or the handle of small spoon, remove their seeds and the pulp between the seed sacs.
4. Add the Parmesan cheese, butter, chives, parsley, tarragon and egg to the tasted crumbs and stir to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well again.
5. Spoon the bread crumbs mixture into the tomato halves, dividing it evenly and mounding it slightly. Lightly grease a baking dish large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer and place the stuffed tomato halves in it, stuffing side up. Slip the dish under the broiler 8-10” from the heat source and broil until the tomatoes are hot and the stuffing is nicely browned, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the broiler and serve hot.

North African Lamb Sausage
Yield: approximately 5 pounds of sausage

4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, diced
1 pound pork back fat, diced
1 ½ oz. kosher salt (3 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 ½ cups roasted red peppers
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons Spanish paprika
2 Tablespoons minced fresh oregano
¼ cup dry red wine, chilled
¼ cup ice water
20 feet sheep casings, soaked in tepid water for at least 30 minutes and rinsed

1. Combine all the ingredients except the wine and water and toss to distribute the seasonings. Chill until ready to grind.
2. Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.
3. Add the wine and water to the meat mixture and mix with the paddle attachment (or a sturdy spoon) until the liquids are incorporated and the mixture has developed uniform sticky appearance, about 1 minute on medium speed.
4. Cook a small portion of the sausage, taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
5. Stuff the sausage into the sheep casings and twist into 10” links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.
6. Gently sauté or roast the sausage to an internal temperature of 150°F. Serve with sautéed peppers and steamed couscous.

Date Nut Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

8 fl. oz. water
6 oz. chopped pitted dates
4 oz. sugar
4 oz. unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
10 oz. all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ oz. chopped pecans

1. Preheat a non-convection oven to 375°F. Butter a 12-cup standard muffin pan.
2. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the dates, sugar and butter, remove from the heat and let stand until the dates have absorbed most or all of the liquid and have cooled to lukewarm (approximately 15 minutes).
3. Transfer the dates and any remaining liquid to a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla. One at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the date mixture and the nuts and stir until well combined.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin-pan cups, filling each about ¾ full. Bake until the muffins are well risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the muffins from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spanish and Italian Cheese and Fruit Board
Yield: serves 6-8

6 oz. Manchego
6 oz. Taleggio
8 oz. Bel Paese
4 oz. dried calmyra figs
4 oz. dried mission figs
1 fresh pomegranate
1 small ripe melon, cantaloupe or honeydew
2 bunches black or red grapes
1 carambola (star fruit)
various carved fruit (lemon, orange, kiwi) flowers for decoration

Recipe Research Sources

Ingram, Christine. Best-Ever Appetizers, Starters & First Courses. Hermes
House: London. 2003.

Joyce, Jennifer. Small Bites: tapas, sushi, mezze, antipasti, and other finger
foods. DK Publishing, Inc.: New York. 2005.

Ruhlman, Michael and Brain Polcyn. Charcuterie: the craft of salting, smoking and
curing. W.W. Norton & Company: New York. 2005

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library. Breakfasts & Brunches. Weldon Owen Inc.:
San Francisco. 1998.

Witty, Helen. Fancy Pantry. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York. 1986.

Witty, Helen. The Good Stuff Cookbook. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.:
New York. 1997.

And tasty they are, too. At least the ones my team and our classmates made for our International Cuisine project. I got up in front of my sketchily-inaccurately drawn map of Denmark and chatted, nattered, and flapped about, about the land of the Danes (I often think of Denmark as the meeting point of my people — my people being the Germans and the Swedes). I talked about their history — ancient to say, WWII. I also talked about the culture and, most importantly, for our purposes, the cuisine. Danish food rings as home cooking for me. Apples, plums, pork (and pork products, of course), rice pudding, fruit sauce, open-faced sandwiches with all manner of lovely things (and admittedly things I don’t personally find lovely such as aspic and raw egg yolks), hearty soups, delicious pastries and all those kinds of things that make a girl warm and fuzzy on the inside when the outside is cold and drizzly.

J.S. talked about the cheeses of Denmark, of which there are many. We had a color handout of a photograph of Danish cheeses that my mother found for me in a brochure entitled “Say, ‘Danish Cheese Please’!” published in the 1970s. It was in her cabinet of wonders. My mother is one of those people whom you can ask, “Do you have a sproket for a 1913 widget made in Outer Slabovia?” and she will cock her head and say, “You know, I think I have one in the cabinet/basement/attic/closet/shed.” Trust me, I am not exaggerating.

We also did a mini cheese tasting of three Danish cheeses (all imported). We tasted two Harvartis. One was a triple cream that tasted almost like butter and the other was a Harvarti with caraway seeds. I always thought that my appreciation for caraway must be genetic but my dad thought caraway seeds (along with peas, Buicks and lima beans) were inedible. The third cheese was a creamy Danish blue that had that yummy-stinky cheese thing going that you can’t really describe to non-cheese lovers.

Our menu consisted of a demo of rosehip soup. H.A. demo-ed it and made it taste like something I would want to eat on a sticky summer afternoon on a terrace with a glass of wine and some friends… I did wonder if it was going to be edible. My rosehip experience is mainly of jams and Vitamin C tablets.

The two Ws made yellow-split pea soup from the Age Old Recipe… It was perfectly smooth in texture and very tasty in taste with just enough salt and a little creaminess from the sour cream and a little crunch from the crispy bacon.

The salad showcased the blue cheese from our tasting and quick-pickled cucumbers that are so prevalent in all the recipes we looked at. The butter lettuce made it. I loathe iceberg lettuce. I know it isn’t evil or anything but it just reminds me of every bad salad through which I have had to suffer. Mom and Dad did grow it in their garden one year and I will happily admit that it didn’t taste like the slickly bleached out stuff on your average salad bar. It was sweet and crunchy and I had a fleeting glimmer of why people like iceberg lettuce, that it could be something more than a vehicle for ranch dressing (shudder).

Our main dish was a pork loin stuffed with prunes and apples with a red currant jelly and cream sauce. I know it sounds a little odd, but it was amazingly moist and moreish. We served it with Hasselback potatoes. Not the most Danish thing on the menu but I felt like they were very Scandinavian and people would be more excited by them than boiled potates.

We also made snitter, which is a miniture smørrebrød, the Danish for open-faced sandwich. We stuck with a simpler sandwich that we found in my giant Culinaria: European Specialities. It consisted of rye bread slathered with Lurpak Dainsh butter, layered with smoked salmon and blanched asparagus and topped with hard-cooked eggs and dill sprigs. I think they may have been my favorite thing on the menu.

For dessert we made rice pudding with a red fruit sauce. V., our classmate who made it, found the almond that was hidden in the pudding which according to legend means he should have a series of lucky adventures. Not a bad little tradition and the almond is less likely to ruin your dental work or stick in your throat than a silver coin or plastic baby.

All and all, I was pretty pleased with our project. I worried about timing and scheduling but I felt like everybody worked at making it great. Overall, Int’l was one of the most fun classes of culinary school. The food geek in me loves learning about all the different ingredients and I have a fat folder of new recipes from all over the world. On Tuesday, we are all going out to eat Vietnamese as our “final”. Not a bad way to end the semester.

In the event that you might like to have a Danish night at your hus, here are the recipes for everything except the rosehip soup:

A Danish Menu

Danish Open-Faced Sandwich Smørrebrød
Yield: 4 sandwiches

Open-faced sandwiches are the national dish of Denmark. There are even special carriers made so Danes can take homemade open-faced sandwiches as a packed lunch.

4 slices dark rye bread
2 Tablespoons Lurpak lightly salted butter, softened
8 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon
4 3” spears asparagus, blanch and halved length-wise
2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
dill sprigs, for garnish

Divide the butter evenly between the slices of bread and spread in a thin layer that completely covers the top side of the bread. Layer the smoked salmon over the butter, arranging the salmon so it completely covers the bread mostly without overlapping. Arrange the asparagus spears and egg quarters on each sandwich and garnish with a sprig of dill.

Yellow Split Pea Soup
Yield: approx 6 cups

This soup is eaten throughout Scandinavia. In Sweden and Finland, especially, it is eaten every Thursday, a tradition dating to the pre-Reformation era and believed to be a preparation for fasting on Friday.

8 Cups water
approx 4 oz piece salt pork or slab bacon
1 pound yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 large carrot, medium dice
1 medium onion, medium dice
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
sour cream, to garnish

Combine water, pork and peas in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour. Add vegetables and bouquet garni and simmer until peas are tender, approximately one hour. Check seasoning. Remove bouquet garni and salt pork, reserving pork. Using a stick blender or food processor, puree soup smooth. Dice reserved pork or bacon and sauté crisp. To serve, ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with a swirl of sour cream, crispy bacon and a sprinkling of coarsely ground pepper.

Danish Pickled Cucumbers Syltede Aqurker
Yield: approx 6 servings

These are popular as a relish with meals and show up in salads and as a topping for open-faced sandwiches.

2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Snipped dill weed or parsley

Place cucumbers in a glass or plastic bowl (do not use metal as it may impart off-flavors to the pickles). Mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper and pour over cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, at least three hours. Drain and sprinkle with dill weed or parsley.

Blue Cheese Salad
Yield: 4 servings

Danes are especially known for the quality of their cheeses, Danish Blue being among the most famous.

Pinch each: salt, pepper, dry mustard and sugar
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
4 tablespoons light tasting oil
1 quart butter lettuce leaves, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 small bunch baby radishes, thinly sliced
1 recipe Danish pickled cucumbers
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
¼ pound crumbled Danish blue cheese

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, dry mustard, sugar and vinegar. Whisk in the oil. Just before service, toss the lettuce with the dressing.

To make one large salad, place lettuce in a bowl large enough to accommodate or lay out on a platter. Arrange the radishes, pickled cucumbers and onions and sprinkle with crumbled cheese.

Hasselback Potatoes
Yield: 6 servings

Hasselback potatoes are traditional to Sweden but have been adopted throughout Scandinavia. For Christmas especially, Danes caramelize boiled potatoes in a butter and sugar mixture.

6 baking potatoes, about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel the potatoes and keep in a bowl covered with water. Place one potato at a time on a wooden spoon large enough to cradle it comfortable, and beginning at about ½” from the end slice down the potato at 1/8” intervals without slicing through the potato completely, the bowl of the spoon helps in doing this. Drop the sliced potato back into the water while slicing the others.

When all potatoes are sliced, drain and pat them dry. Generously butter a baking dish and arrange the potatoes in one layer. Baste the potatoes with 1 ½ tablespoons of the melted butter and sprinkle them liberally with salt. Roast them in the center of the oven. After 30 minutes sprinkle the bread crumbs over the surface of each potato and baste with the remaining butter and any butter in the pan. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and show no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples and Prunes Mørbrad med Svedskar og Aebler
Yield: 6-8 servings

Pork is by far the favorite meat of the Danish and pork is one of the country’s largest exports.

4 ½?5# boned loin of pork, center cut if possible
12 medium-sized pitted prunes
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1” cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup dry white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon red currant jelly

Place prunes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let prunes soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain the prunes, pat dry with paper towels and set aside. Sprinkle the cubed apple with the lemon juice and set aside. With a strong, sharp knife, make a pocket in the pork by cutting a deep slit down the length of the loin, going to within a ½” of the ends and to within 1” of the other side. Season the pocket lightly with salt and pepper and stuff it with the prunes and apples. Tie the loin at 1” intervals to keep the stuffing in and retain the shape while cooking. Season the outside of the roast.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a pan that can go into the oven and is big enough to just fit the roast, melt the butter and oil over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the loin, turning it to brown on all sides. Set the meat aside and drain all fat from the pan. Deglaze with wine and stir in the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer place the meat back into the pan, cover and place in the oven. Cook until meat reaches 135°F degrees.

Remove the loin from the pan and let rest on a heated platter, covered, while finishing the sauce.

Skim the fat from the liquid in the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. When it has reduced to about 1 cup, stir in the red currant jelly, reduce the heat and, stirring constantly, simmer briefly until the jelly is melted and sauce is smooth. Taste for seasoning and keep warm.

To carve the roast, cut the strings and slice the roast into 1” slices. To serve, pour one or two tablespoons of sauce onto a heated plate and arrange the slice of roast over it to display the stuffing.

Danish Christmas Rice Pudding with Raspberry Sauce
Yield: 6-8 servings

This pudding is traditionally served on Christmas Eve with one almond hidden in the dessert. The recipient of the almond is guaranteed good luck in the New Year.

For Pudding:
¾” cup uncooked short- or medium-grained rice
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 3” stick cinnamon
1 whole almond

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a two-quart casserole dish.

Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Add rice and salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the water. Add the cream, milk, eggs, butter, sugar and cardamom to the rice. Turn the mixture into the prepared casserole. Poke the cinnamon stick into the rice and hide the almond in the pudding.

Set the casserole into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan so that it reaches halfway up the edge of the casserole. Bake for 2 hours, or until the rice swells and has a creamy texture.

For Sauce:
1 10 oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed
½ cup apple or red currant jelly
1 tablespoon cold water
1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch

In a saucepan, bring raspberries with the juice and jelly to a boil. Make a slurry with the water and cornstarch and stir into the raspberries. Bring to a boil again, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Keep warm.

Serve pudding warm or chilled with warm sauce.