Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kitchen Adventures of A Beginner Chef

What would you answer to the question, "If you could work your dream job, what would it be?" Could you answer this with your current career? Or are you another american who has lost their dream, and settled for the 9-5 to pay the bills? I have decided to take a chance with my life and do my dream job: working with food. I'm starting out by being a home chef. I need to get to know spices, flavors, procedures, prices, software (ingredients) and hardware (pots and pans). I'm cooking every meal I and my boyfriend indulges in. I'm introducing him to many vegan meals and making sure an omnivore can like them. Today I made a delicious soft polenta, left over from my dinner the other night. I blended it with Earth Balance, soy milk, Daiya Pepper Jack, and some spices (cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic). He came along with a spoon and said, "Mmm! Can I have a bowl?" He added a little more cayenne to his, so I guess if I'm serving it I'll have to ask for a rating system like they do at Thai restaurants,"One through five?"

After lunch comes dessert... 3pm I began my journey into a challenging recipe...

Today I attempted to make something in one of my cookbooks that I always thought would be too hard. The total time to make this recipe is about 5 hours total! When I read through the recipe this morning, I almost backed out. I took a seat on my couch and was like,"Oh man do I really want to cook this?" But then I mustered up my energy and decided I had to start challenging myself now, so that I could become a better chef tomorrow. The more I learn about cooking hard, time consuming things, the better I will become at making everything. What is this recipe you ask? Brooklyn Cream Pie Cupcakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World."

Yesterday I went to Mother's Market and bought all of the ingredients. My receipt reads things like agar flakes, arrowroot, vital wheat gluten, soy milk, and guar gum. This recipe called for agar flakes, a seaweed gum that acts like gelatin, and arrowroot powder which is a thickener. These two ingredients were a part of the "creme" in the cupcakes, and were the hardest to manage. It took 20 minutes to make the first half with the agar, and an hour for it to firm up. Then it took another 20 minutes or so to make the second half. After all was firm, I had to blend them together (tofu mixture and agar mixture) to make the creme. It was a definite workout!

I also made a dark chocolate ganache that went on top of the cupcakes, not too difficult. Just melt some chopped dark chocolate and maple syrup into soy milk and wah-lah, a chocolate ganache for the topping and truffles later. (There was left over ganache, so I'm going to firm it up and roll it in cocoa powder and powdered sugar for truffles-yum!) And the overall result: Delicous Goodness!

I'm still shopping around for a food processor and a better camera to document my cooking adventures. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this, but each day I will learn more and get inspired as to where it will bring me. A chef in a restaurant, then my own restaurant-maybe. Or making a line of products like Amy's. There aren't enough prepared-healthy foods out there. I can't just go grab something and know that it is low calorie, low sodium, low fat, low sugar, and super yummy and healthy. It doesn't exist. Even Amy's doesn't cut it for me. People want convenient ways to look pretty and eat healthy- they don't want to spend 5 hours cooking in the kitchen, nor do they have the time and energy like I currently do. I'm going to want to just grab something from the fridge one of these days, and I want to make sure it is healthy. Let's see what I can do! Stay tuned for more daily adventures from a beginner natural food chef... or cook for now. ;)

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