Monday, July 30, 2007

habla espanol?

Hola, gracias, bien, and caliente is pretty much the extent of my Spanish vocabulary. I knew if I wanted to work in a professional kitchen, learning the "second official" language of America would be to my benefit. I have yet to take a class and the five years of French in high school and college have not been much help. On one occasion, I was "talking" to Marilou, the new salad girl, and she offered me a salad which I replied by shaking my head and putting my hands over my belly trying to tell her that I had already eaten. I think I may have inadvertently told her that I was pregnant because she started talking about her nino. Ay, caramba! Maybe in 20 years I can say that I learned Spanish by working in restaurants; but in the meantime, all I can do is smile, nod, and say thank you. (And keep my hand gestures to a minimum, who knows what I might "say" next time.)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

peruvian independence day

Ceviche, antichuchos (beef, chicken, and beef heart), blue potatoes with cheese sauce, pollo al ajo, among other Peruvian dishes graced FM's menu tonight in celebration of their Independence Day. The chef, being short of cooks these days, asked me if I wanted to be on grill or the oven side. I told him I would do either, but something told me I would be at the grill station for tonight's service. My first time there (no time better than the present, right?) and let me tell you, I think I fared quite well. I only had one entree come back when a customer complained about the "extra char" on the hamburger bun. It was great fun. I get goosebumps thinking about doing it all over again tomorrow night. The only "downside" about it is that I've never been that hot since I was in Cambodia. The A/C being broken didn't help, but the pisco sour and two glasses of sauvignon blanc sure did cool me off.

Friday, July 27, 2007

the swell season

A couple of months ago, as I was perusing through the Express (like I always do every morning to catch up on yesterday's news and to get my daily sudoku and crossword fix), I came across a review for a movie called Once. A so-called modern-day musical love story. Being a sucker for heart breaking lyrics and gut wrenching melodies, I had to go watch it. Starring the frontman of The Frames, Glen Hansard, and Czech musician Marketa Irglova, I fell in love with the movie, music, and the curly-haired Irishman.

Tonight, the duo performed at the 9:30 Club and you guessed, yours truly was there fifth row and center. Peering through waves of heads and shoulders, I shifted from side to side to get a better view. I eagerly looked on, mouthing the words to each song, as The Swell Season put on an unforgettable concert. It was worth standing in the packed venue for three hours. I can't wait to see them again live. I drove home singing along to the soundtrack, belting out karaoke-style.

Check them out on NPR Friday @ Noon or listen to the live concert.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

peach shortcakes

I had agreed to help Vickie, a co-worker at FM, to volunteer for Les Dames d'Escoffier with their Green Kids at the Market Day booth at the Arlington Farmer's Market. An annual event to introduce children to seasonal foods and local farmers. Ice cream and butter making activities were available for kids along with design-you-own toque to building bugs out of fruits and vegetables. I had the privilege of assisting Pastry Chef Kate Jansen of Willow in assembling the delectable mini peach shortcakes. My culinary expertise and keen knife skills were showcased as I sliced the shortcakes in half, plated, and scooped on the macerated peaches finishing them off with a swirl of whipped cream from a can. I enjoyed basking in the morning sun and chatting up with kids and adults alike at the market before I had to make my way down the interstate to FM for my weekly fix of BOH grunt work; which I find completely satisfying. This week's highlights: mutilated thumb from peeling 10lbs of potatoes, making 10 quarts of cocktail sauce, cleaning hanger steak, and assembling the world's most beautiful cheese plate; ok, maybe not, but I got to be on the line for about 2 hours during dinner service. Yeepee!

Peach Shortcake from Willow Restaurant
Serves 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream

Pre-heat over to 425 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder just to combine. Place the cold butter pieces over and pulse until the mixture is mealy in texture. Transfer to a bowl. Mix the egg and heavy cream together. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients. Combine with a spoon until large clumps form. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead until mixture comes together. Gently roll the dough with a rolling pin to an inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter into 6 rounds. Place the shortcakes 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake the shortcakes until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool the cakes, split in half, and top bottom half with peaches. Serve with whipped cream.

Peach Topping

Wash, peel, and cut 4 large peaches into small pieces. Sweeten with 2-4 tbsp of sugar. Macerate slightly to release the juices. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.