Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Evening In

What does a new chef do on her day off? Cook, of course.

Last night Matt and I planned, cooked, and ate a three course feast to rival any restaurant in Charleston. The food was all Italian of course, starting with homemade farfalle in a brown butter and roasted garlic sauce with button mushrooms, broccoli rabe, homemade sausage, and topped with a poached egg. I started cooking around two in the afternoon, after all I had two doughs to make, pasta to cut, shape, and dry, and a tart shell (I made a tart for our dessert course) to let cool.

The pasta was perfect. The dough came out flawless due in large part to the utilization of my new favorite kitchen toy, the kitchen aid stand mixer. The kitchen aid took all the grunt work out of kneading the dough into submission and gave me a product my little arms could actually handle properly. It was a shame to throw a large part of it away, but after producing an entire tray of little bow ties out of half of the dough ball I didn't have the motivation to completely cover the kitchen in drying pasta.
The dish was inspired by one Matt and I had at my very own Trattoria Lucca a little over a week ago. However, I put my own spin on it and I think it came out almost, if not as good as the original.

The second course was a pan seared tilapia over an eggplant and tomato agrodolce on a bed of sweet pea puree. It was delicate and the flavors worked well together. I think at that point Matt was impressed by my culinary prowess.
The final dish was a fig tart with a marscapone cream filling. For the crust I used a recipe from the restaurant because I admit, I am not a skilled baker naturally. It came out crispy and sweet, I will definitely be reusing that recipe in the future. The filling was a makeshift recipe I came up with myself, with a little advice from Conrad, the guarde manger at Trattoria Lucca. I softened the cream cheese in the mixer and then added the marscapone to it, then I added two egg yolks (should have used three) and some whipped cream to fluff it up. I then added the entire mixture to my pre-baked tart shell and cooked it at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. I then added the figs on top and baked it for ten more minutes. After it cooled we each devoured a large slice and our feast was over.

It was a pretty fantastic evening accompanied by extraordinary food (if I do say so myself)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Beginings

Life has sure changed drastically in a few short weeks. It wasn't long ago that I was begrudgingly returned to the United States, dreading the impending boredom that I suffered the last time I called Charleston, South Carolina, home.

I am pleased to report, however, that this time around everything is different. I am beyond happy in my new surroundings and have already secured a dream job in the kitchen of the best Italian restaurant in town, Trattoria Lucca. The chef stays true to classic flavors but adds his own creative twist to classic dishes, creating a cuisine that is both modern and elegant. My boyfriend Matt and I went to dinner there on Saturday night and came away with aggressively full bellies and huge smiles. Chef Ken will be a fantastic mentor and I can't wait to start work on Thursday.