February 1, 2013

Cooking Escapades

For all you lucky people who have gotten a chance to visit Casa Kamm over the last few weeks, hopefully, you got a small taste of a Chez Lucia spread looks like! From brunches to football games to a baking first, oh my! I've listed a few of my spreads below to whet your appetite for the weekend. Buen Provecho friends! 

Unfortunately, I have no photo's as that was my blogger amateur miss!

Bagels & Accoutrements - Bagels, smoked salmon, different cream cheeses (plain & chives are a favorite), sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, capers, and diced red onions. 
    • I usually supplement with a side of simple scramble eggs with chives (chopped chives, scrambled eggs, salt & peper) and BACON in case people are in the mood for a breakfast sandwich option, YUM!
    • For people looking for less savory & more sweet, a great berry fruit salad is great & doubles as bagel toppings with plain cream cheese. 
    • For a fantastic bagel place & their spreads are equally amazing: Rosenfeld Bagel Co in Newton Center. I've been going since I was a kid. Friendly reminder, they're cash only! 

Hola Breakfast Taco's- Flour tortillas, Shredded Cheese (I usually mix Monterrey & Cheddar cheeses and add some mexican spices), Salsa, Jalapenos, Sour Cream, Diced Tomatoes, home made quac, and Chopped Lettuce).
  • Taco Filling: Your choice of protein (I recommend Chicken, Shrimp or Tofu), scramble eggs and veggies (red/green peppers and onions), and mix in taco seasoning. 
  • Sides: Tex Mex Breakfast Potatoes. Chop up baby red potatoes, red & green peppers, onions. Throw all of the ingredients into a ziplock bag, add olive oil, salt, pepper and mexican spices & SHAKE!!! Bake in oven 400 degrees, 45minutes. Enjoy! 

 I've been craving some good 'ol queso, like the queso I've had in Austin, TX. While it's not quite as good, I found the following recipe, which was almost as yummy. I served it in an Asian style hot pot to keep the cheese warm

Chile Con Queso
1/2 onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
4 cloves of garlic minced
3 Serrano peppers diced
3 jalapeno peppers diced
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
6 cups of shredded cheese, can use any combination of Longhorn cheddar and Monterrey Jack
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 cup, can use canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)
1/2 cup of sour cream
Salt to taste

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat, and then cook the onions and peppers for about five minutes or until onions are translucent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Whisk the flour into the butter, vegetable mix and cook for about 30 seconds.
4. Add the milk to the pot, and cook on medium, whisking constantly until sauce is thick, about five minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.
5. Turn heat down to low, and a 1/4-cup at a time, slowly add the shredded cheese stirring into the white sauce until completely melted. Repeat.
6. Stir in the sour cream.
7. Add salt to taste.  

* Helpful hint: It was tough to get a smooth consistency with the cheeses so I added some Velveeta to help smooth out the texture.

Mise en Place

 I've been cooking more over the last few months, getting into a fantastic grove with my #2 (cook more) and #3 (start baking). Let's say I found my cooking zen and I love it.  


Joel has been my stand-in cooking teacher. I learned from him mise en place is cooking 101. In his free time while working at the White Barn Inn (Relais Chateaux property), Joel would ask the chefs (classic french trained) to teach him how to cook, which is where he learned to cook so well. I learned that mise en place in French means "everything in place" -  means arranging your ingredients, spices, chopped veggies and all cooking components & equipment all prior to physically cooking. I laughed at the bowls and complained about the volume of dishes I had to clean. I thought to myself, how is preparing in bowls going to help me cook? 

As I clumsily found my way through the first few dishes, I half-adopted the mise en place protocol and as a result, my food was as a result, half ass. Poor Joel, he had to eat his heart out through some pretty unappetizing dishes. Over time, I humbly adopted the protocol and spent a disproportionate amount of my time chopping, bowling, and prepping. I eventually found joy and pride in displaying my beautiful bowls of color, spices and smells. I realized that the time I took in investing in the science of preparation helped free me to enjoy the art of cooking. I also learned that 95% of successfully cooking is in the preparation and mise en place-ing the gusto out of every recipe. 

I guess this cooking lesson could be readily applied to my life. Whenever I think I've come to an end of a chapter, good or bad, I end up learning that all of the preceding experiences are preparing me for the next dish I am going to cook. I've been doing a lot of reflecting since I left P&G. My career to date has been a lot of mise en place- checking the boxes, following the steps, and preparing. 

The question I'm left with now is what am I preparing for? What dish do I want I want cook next? For the first time in my life, the world is literally my oyster with no strings attached.
I have a few things in motion and will be putting a few more in place.  I half joked to a friend that I'm hoping DxD inspires a book or business idea. Who knows? In the meantime, I'm going to cook my heart out and tackle DxD in hopes it inspires my next "dish."