Chef Wannabe's Culinary Adventures

The thoughts and adventures of a wannabe chef cooking his way into the hearts of a few.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New found spice...

I'm back. Not a soon as I should have been but back nonetheless.
It's funny I just finished reading a blog on Blogger that was written by someone going through culinary school at NAIT in Alberta. It was great and was very inspirational. I think that (should I ever actually get off my ass and do something about deciding on my future and actually talking to someone about it) I too will Blog about my experience in School. I think that it would be a great study tool for me as well as help for anyone else thinking of doing the same thing. Sara's blog( was very helpful in pumping me up again to want to do this. I have a problem with following thru or implementing plans when I think of them. I think that change is another thing that I have trouble dealing with and fear of it tends to hold me back from time to time. So does fear of failing. That's the real reason that I quit music class so many years ago. I was afraid to fail. Had I not quit, I might be a great trombonist now! ;)
Well, too much of a therapy session there eh?
This is supposed to be about my culinary adventures. And I have had a few since last I wrote.
This was freaking awesome! I will definately be making this again. I won't post the recipe here because well... It is in Beth Hensperger's book The Bread Bible and well you should buy it I suppose or maybe someone else has posted it on the Internet (like in a blog( but I'm not going to link to it. Go ahead and look for it... you're pretty smart.
Back to the Bread of the matter. This was so good. I have gone out and bought bananas again just to let them get over-ripe so that I can make it again. I shared half of the loaf with my friends that bought me the book for xmas last year and they really enjoyed it. I just wish that I didn't share it cuz I ate all of mine so quickly. Just as good though the recent diet and exercise programme has paid off with a loss of 16 lbs. and I don't want to backslide too much. I'm looking so good now!
This was pretty good. Actually a little bit better on the second day after the flavours intensified overnight in the fridge. It needed more garlic and more hot stuff. I think that the recipe was too white. It needed to be spicier and a little stronger in flavour. I would love to try to make the original Sichuan version originally called Gōng bǎo jī dīng according to Wikipedia. Link
I took it too over to my friends' house to have the next night and we heated it up again and I added some more chili flakes as well as some chili sauce to try to heat it up some more. I think too, that I wasn't able to find black chinese vinegar and used worchestershire sause instead and that may have had something to do with it. I have to make a trip to the Asian markets.

That day I also made something that I just had to try. It is called Wacky Cake and is from the Harrowsmith cookbook. It is ridiculous how easy this cake is and how good it tastes for such an easy cake. There's not even any eggs. There's several versions out there on the web. Here are a couple. and
This one I'll include cuz it's so easy.
THE WACKY CAKE (sharon steele - the complete Harrowsmith cookbook)
They say you can mix it in the pan but I would do it in a bowl the next time to make sure that everything mixes well.
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tblsp. cocoa (Dutch process)
1 tsp. vanilla ( I used some homeade pure extract that I have)
1 Tblsp vinegar ( I used cider vinegar)
5 Tblsp. melted butter (mmmmmmmmmmm butter)
1 cup luke warm water.
Preheat oven to 350
Mix the dry together well.
Add the wet stuff.
Mix well again.
Pop in the oven for 30 min. or so.
We had ours with some simple homemade vanilla ice-cream that I made in the Cuisinart Ice cream maker I got with Air miles this summer.

Then, I went nutz and cleaned the kitchen for a couple of days and tried to reorgaize it so that it worked a bit better but really there is not much that can be done with that shit hole. There is no prep space and the fact that it is in the friggin basement doesn't really inspire much. I gotta get outta here. Mom and Dad's would be a real nice change if I do go there. Wherever I go next I am definately getting a place with a decent kitchen no matter the cost.

On the weekend I went to a 40th birthday party for a friend. It was catered at their place and was a real treat. I have been so used to being the one doing the cooking at these events it was really nice to just sit back, get loaded and well... wish that I was doing the cooking.
The food was good. It was all cocktail type finger food. The best by far was what was basically mini-filet mignons. You can never go wrong with meat wrapped in meat.
The only complaint about the night (other than I came home alone and had to bail on dinner the next day cuz I was so hung over) was that the bartender for some reason found it necessary to shake his gin martinis... bad form. They tasted fine though and well... got me loaded.
On the Sunday I made Split Peas Soup. I had tried some that my friend Dave had made and liked it so I wanted to try to make it myself.
I used Chef Michael Smith's recipe. It was pretty damn good. I think that my rosemary was a bit old though or that I didn't crush it up enough because it ended up being kind of woody and distracting in the soup. Next time I'll use less or fresher.
Nonetheless, it was tasty and fed me for a couple of days. I put a bunch in those large ziploc twist containers (I love those things) and froze it to see what it is like later. I wonder if it would be better to freeze that kind of stuff in a bag so that it lies flat and thinner.... more even freezing? I don't know. I'm sure somebody's got a good answer on that. Maybe a good idea for a blogisode. compare bags vs. containers.... hmmm.
Well, that should keep me for a bit. As well as you too!
Keep on cooking,


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