Monday, January 6, 2014

Rose's Roundup - The Extremely Belated Where-Did-The-Holidays-Go Roundup

Hey! Remember that time I wrote a weekly roundup that featured two or three weeks of posts...that I didn't post for about three-four weeks? It's amazing how time can fly during the holidays! So below is my very extremely belated roundup that has resulted in my changing my "Weekly Roundup" to a plain 'ol "Rose's Roundup" so I can feel like less of a failure each time I get my roundup up in a very untimely manner. 

I can't help but become introspective with the change of year each January, and this year has me thinking about priorities. This past year has been an extremely busy one for me, juggling three jobs plus my food blog, and evening courses at George Brown College for Chef Training, and I fear with so much on my plate (literally and figuratively) that some of the more important tasks are getting lost in the juggle. I'm hoping that my awareness of this will help me to edit my life a little bit and gain better perspective on my goals and the things I want out of my year. 

What's my main priority for 2014? I am determined to land myself a job working in recipe development. My blog has opened me up to so many wonderful opportunities and experiences like getting to attend hot events in the city; reviewing new products, books, and recipes; meeting and mingling with top dogs in the industry; and so much more! But what has been the most enjoyable for me has been the many different recipe development projects that I feel so lucky to be invited to work on, with companies from all over the country! I love the challenge of playing around with different ingredients, revising and editing until I have a finished product that I can't wait to send in, so very proud of the delicious results! 

I feel like I have been a bit neglectful of my blog because I don't often want to post a recipe until I feel confident that it is fantastic and ready for you to make in your own kitchen, which with my limited timing is not as often as I would like. Because of this you are going to begin to see a few changes in my blog. My blog is going to take a slightly different direction as I share my experiences developing recipes, acting as my own journal as I experiment with different recipes until it reaches that fantastic stage. All recipes will be experimental and open to revision until I give it my "From Ginger Rose's Kitchen" stamp of approval. I hope that this will open up a conversation with my readers as you play around with the different recipes that I post. I invite you to share your experiences in the kitchen, offering up tips and tricks that will help me to build on my recipes and grow as a chef. Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me and supported me all this time! Ginger Rose wouldn't be what it is today without you! Cheers to many new opportunities and experiences in 2014! 
Burn-My-Face-Off Chili - On a cold Winter Saturday, after working a busy shift at the pub all day long, nothing could make me happier than a big bowl of spicy chili and my boyfriend to cuddle with. While I was running around the pub getting beer and wing dip all over myself, my boyfriend Chris took some time out of his leisurely Saturday to make my night a little spicier. After a bit of chili research Chris came across an award-winning recipe for a Texas-style chili that he felt fit the bill for the night. After anticipating that big bowl of chili all day, I was perhaps a little too generous with my serving...a decision I would regret later. Chris' chili turned out to be so incredibly flavourful and delicious was the spiciest damn thing I have ever eaten in my life!!! By far!! This chili was INSANE! After a few bites resulting in a flushed face and a sweaty head, we ended up doing shots of milk after each bite to tame our tongues at least a little bit. Despite the large bowl of seemingly liquid hot lava that I was served, I couldn't help but finish the whole bowl! It was just too delicious, even with all the heat! To try out the chili for yourself, check out the recipe here!

Potato Latkes - Every year come those eight crazy nights of Chanukah all I find myself thinking about is potato latkes. Over the years I have improved my latkes immensely, yet I still feel the need to try and perfect them, and turn those fried little rounds into a legend! This year the step that set my latkes apart was dumping all of the grated potatoes into a clean kitchen towel and squeezing the hell out of them multiple times to remove as much water as possible. That seemed to work wonders, but silly me did more latke research after making my latkes and picked up a few other interesting tips that I wish I had tried. One of the tips was to squeeze out the potato liquid into another bowl so I can keep the white potato starch that sinks to the bottom to add back into the potatoes to help them adhere together. On that note, if you don't have much potato starch left over, just buy a box of potato starch and use that! Here's to achieving those legendary latkes next year!

Sauce Week At Chef School - In our final class at George Brown Chef School before our exam we learned how to make six different sauces, many of which make up the "Mother sauces" or "leading sauces" which means they are the base that can lead to creating many other sauces. On the menu was:
Chicken Demi Glace
Tomato Sauce
Beurre Blanc
Red Pepper Coulis
Although sauces were originally invented as a way to cover up bad and/or old meat and other unsavory ingredients, sauces have now become a staple to many meals adding flavour, visual appeal, moisture, and more! Being such a saucy gal, this was one of the classes I was most looking forward to all semester! I have always loved eating a good sauce, yet I found when I would attempt to make various sauces in my own kitchen, they would often fall flat. Learning about the breakdown of the different mother sauces, and learning about the three different rouxs and when to use them helped me to understand what I was doing wrong in the past, and little tricks that I can use to fix a sauce gone wrong. My favourite trick to thicken a sauce after making a roux is to make a Beurre manié, which is a paste made out of equal parts butter and flour that you can whisk into pretty much any sauce. This trick saved my ass when it came time to mark my sauces as both my béchamel and velouté didn't seem to want to thicken to the right consistency despite my efforts at making a roux at the beginning. I am looking forward to playing around with the various sauce-making techniques I learned in class to apply to future recipes! 

Emma's Country Kitchen - It's not often that I treat myself to brunch, with my Sundays all tied up with work each week, and my Saturdays dedicated to homemade breakfasts, but recently Chris and I decided to leave the breakfast making to someone else and consulted a list of the best brunch spots in Toronto. Although the list of fifty that we went through had so many tempting options, the one that stood out for us was Emma's Country Kitchen. Although their homemade biscuits was the first thing that caught our attention, it was the homemade dolce de leche beignets that got us rushing to put our coats and boots on and head over to St. Clair and Dufferin to indulge in brunch heaven. We knew we were in for a wait before going, so the crowded entrance came as no surprise to us. After about a half hour wait we were seated at the counter by the window (despite the uncomfortable stools, I love me some people watching!) and were being poured freshly squeezed orange juice and were requesting an order of three beignets! We were devastated to hear that the beignets were all sold out for the day (which just means I must go back!), so we settled on one giant house-made apple fritter, a worthy replacement. With images of fluffy warm biscuits in our minds, both Chris and I ordered the eggs benedict on biscuits. So incredibly rich, Emma's Country Kitchen eggs benedict definitely makes my list as one of the best eggs bennies I have had! Great food plus super service means you will be seeing me again Emma! Hopefully soon!
Shrimp 'n Grits - What do you do when you are pressed for time and have a fridge full of a whole lotta nothin'? You learn from your mistakes and make sure your fridge is stocked for next time! No I don't mean fresh foods, although that is the best option, sometimes a busy schedule means that just can't happen. This is why I always like to keep frozen shrimp in my freezer (as well as good meal additions like frozen dark leafy greens, green peas, and corn niblets) and stone-ground grits in my pantry (just like you would have dried pasta, polenta, rice, and other grains). Last week when I was pressed for time before class and in need of substance before rushing out, it took all of 20-minutes for me to whip up a delicious and satisfying meal. I turned to Bobby Flay's recipe for shrimp and grits, thankful that I had some leftover bacon and a bit of parsley kicking around in my fridge. This recipe was so simple, yet so tasty!

Final Exam At Chef School - Last week I had my final exam for Chef Skills 1 at George Brown college and I am very proud to say I DID IT! I PASSED! On the menu for our exam was
Purée of Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Cauliflower
Mushroom Cream Sauce
Goats Cheese & Sundried Tomato Wrap
I was really happy that our final exam challenged us, as we had never made anything on the menu other than the fresh fettuccini before, but was still fairly simple so we were scrambling to get everything handed in on time for "service". Although I was a little skeptical as to how I was going to fare at first, I was so incredibly relieved to have our chef tell me that everything was near perfect! I was ecstatic! I am so unbelievably happy that I made the snap decision to sign up for chef school this past Fall. I have learned so much and have acquired so much more confidence than I could have ever hoped for. This has been such a rewarding experience for me. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the rest of the courses take me and sharing my chef school adventures with you! 

Beef Bourguignonne - After Chris had spoiled me the previous week with his delicious homemade chili, I felt it was my turn to treat him to a warm and comforting meal. With Chris as my lovely sous chef, together we made Williams Sonoma's recipe for Beef Bourguignonne. What made this recipe stand out for us was the addition of swiss chard and turnips, making this comforting meal a little more healthy. The beef bourguignonne turned out absolutely incredible!! Chris was going nuts over it repeating over and over again "this is so good Dani!" and "this is definitely the best thing you've made me!" while going up for multiple helpings. This is one recipe that will most certainly be going down in the favourites! I can see myself making this one pot wonder for years to come!

Metro Gingerbread House - Last week thanks to Metro, I was sent a special delivery of a little pre-built gingerbread house designed by design expert Kimberley Sheldon and made by For The Love Of Cake, along with decorating tips from Kimberley! It's always been my dream to make a little log cabin gingerbread house, so with Kimberley's suggestion of having a colour scheme in mind, I attacked the aisles of Metro with Chris and bought all the goodies needed to make a little log cabin gingerbread house! Although we thought we would be working on the gingerbread house into the wee hours of the night, we actually had it all decorated and beautiful pretty quickly! After a couple hours of decorating with the awesome Leafs game on in the background we had created my dream gingerbread log cabin! It was so adorable, I'm kind of obsessed with it and want to become miniature so I can live in it forever! If you haven't made a gingerbread house this year yet, just stop by your local Metro and make a dream gingerbread house of your own!

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Listening To:
Timber Timbre - Magic Arrow

1 comment:

Louisa [Living Lou] said...

Looking forward to following along your journey of recipe development in 2014, Danielle! It's one of my favourite things about food blogging - it's like putting together a puzzle. I'm a firm believer in quality of quantity when it comes to recipes, if you think about it, sharing a "perfect" recipe is just another reason for people to come back and again and again because they trust your recipes!