Yesterday I had the joy of taking a hobby class at my Culinary Institute about pulling sugar.  The 4-hour class only skimmed the surface of sugar pulling, but we had a ton of fun!

It is definitely not easy – the sugar is incredibly delicate and burns are common (thankfully nobody in the class was too terribly burned yesterday).

I cannot wait until we get to the full-length sugar course in a few weeks, so I can learn a lot more.

Here are a few pics of my work from yesterday.  Not bad for a first-timer, eh?

(you probably can’t see it all that well, but sticking up from the ‘sculpture’
is something called ‘bubble sugar’ – it’s awesome stuff)


Shrimp Po-Boys

I had a pound of shrimp that was burning a hole in my pocket freezer this weekend, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to cook it.  So, off to Google Reader I went…didn’t stay there for very long, though, because the first recipe I found was from my friend Koko at My Adventures in Food.

These po-boys immediately caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to make them!

The cajun fish fry packet I picked up was delightful.  A little spicy and had a great crunch.  Can’t wait to make these again!


1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 package of Cajun fish fry (if you can’t find Cajun, plan fish fry is fine)
Oil for frying
Black pepper

French bread
Shredded lettuce
Tomato slices
Dill pickle slices
Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Place egg whites in a shallow dish; place fish fry mixture in another shallow dish. Dip all the seafood in the egg, and then dredge in the fish fry, coating completely. Place coated shrimp on a plate and let sit for 5 minutes while heating the oil.

Pour enough oil in a fryer or Dutch oven to reach a 2-3 inch depth. Heat to 350˚F. Fry seafood in batches for 1 minute. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Season lightly with black pepper.

To prepare the po-boys, divide bread into sandwich-sized portions.  Slice bread open, and stuff with shrimp, lettuce, tomato, pickle and remoulade sauce.

Remoulade Sauce
1C. Mayonnaise
3T. Dijon mustard
2T. Prepared horseradish
1T. Chopped parsley
1 small Shallot, finely minced
1 clove of Garlic, finely minced
1T. White vinegar
1t. Lemon juice
1t. Tabasco sauce
½t. Paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
¼t. Garlic powder
Dash of salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Husband Rating – 5 out of 5 – “I want to put remoulade sauce on EVERYTHING now!

Clams Casino Pasta

I’m a huge fan of clams casino and will often order it when it is on a restaurant menu.  I mean, what’s not to love … clams, bacon, peppers, butter, garlic …

**wipes drool from lips**

Ahem, sorry about that.  Anyway, I came across this recipe on How Sweet It Is the other day and couldn’t wait to make it.

This pasta dish is wonderful and tastes just like clams casino!  It was easy to put together and the flavor is really outstanding.  We’ll definitely make this again soon!

2T. Olive oil or bacon grease
1/2C. Chopped red peppers
1/2C. Chopped onions
3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Minced clams in clam juice, 13 ounces total
1/2C. Dry white wine
1T. Butter
4 Slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2lb. Pasta of choice
1/4C. Parmesan cheese + more for garnish
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil (or, if your bacon isn’t already cooked, cook the bacon first and reserve a little of the grease to use when cooking the veggies).  Add chopped onions and peppers with a pinch of salt and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add in both cans of clams + juice and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add white wine and let mixture simmer for about 5 full minutes.  Stir in butter.

Turn heat down to low and add cooked linguine. Toss to allow the noodles to soak up the sauce. Add Parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon and parsley.

Serve with additional Parmesan.

Husband Rating – 4.5 out of 5 – “I wanted to write a haiku about this dish, but it just wasn’t happening tonight – just know I loved it enough to spend 5 minutes trying to write a clams casino haiku.

We just finished final exams for our American and European Pastries course, and I figured this would be a good time to share some more snapshots.

I am still LOVING culinary school – even though this winter weather made us miss a bunch of classes this section and we didn’t get to everything we wanted to accomplish in this course – we still got a lot done and had a lot of fun!

Pate a Choux Swans


Strawberry and Cream Crepe Napoleon

Warm Pomegranate Souffle

Traditional Napoleon

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tartlet

Banana Chocolate Frozen Souffle

Our next course:  Cakes!  Stay tuned for more pics coming soon!

Orange Chicken

I’ve never ordered orange chicken in a restaurant before, so I don’t have anything to compare this to – but WOW!  I don’t think any take-away food could ever be better than this!

The chicken was moist yet crispy and the sauce was a little sweet and a little spicy.  The orange flavor was not obnoxiously orangey, which was great.

Orangey…is that even a word?  Well, it is now!

Recipe from What’s Cookin, Chicago?.

Marinade & Sauce:
1 1/2lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3/4C. Low sodium chicken broth
3/4C. Fresh squeezed orange juice
1 1/2t. Orange zest
6T. Distilled white vinegar
1/4C. Low sodium soy sauce
1/2C. Dark brown sugar
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1T. Grated fresh ginger
1/4t. Cayenne pepper
1T. plus 2t. Cornstarch
2T. Cold water

Coating & Frying oil:
3 Egg whites
1C. Cornstarch
1/2t. Baking soda
1/4t. Cayenne pepper
3C. Frying oil (I used vegetable oil)

Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside.

Combine the chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan; whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag, making sure that all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.

Bring the remaining mixture in the saucepan to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold waterl which the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simjmer, stirrig occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Set aside.

Place the egg whites in a pie plate, using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second pie plate, which the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne until combined. Drain the chicken; thoroughly pat the dry. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat; transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the dredged chicken pieces on a clean plate.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or staight sided saute pan over high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Carefully place half of the chicken in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Reheat the sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately.

Husband Rating – 4.5 out of 5 – “Loved the chicken…thought the sauce was just a little too sweet…but I could totally eat those fried chicken pieces all day long!

Roasted Broccoli

Growing up, I thought I hated most veggies.  Turns out, I only hate boiled veggies.  I have come to the conclusion that hubs and I will eat just about any veggie as long as it is roasted (we still won’t eat lima beans, though, YUCK!).

The process is so simple and does its thing in the oven while you are free to go about preparing the rest of the meal.

1lb. Broccoli florets, washed and drained

To taste:
Olive oil
Granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (if you have it set at another temp for your main dish, that is fine, just adjust the cooking time of the broccoli up or down).

Place broccoli on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with granulated garlic, kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Roast for 12-15 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Of course, there are many variations on this dish, but the above is very basic.  You could spice yours up with Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, fresh garlic, even some ginger would be nice.  Have fun with it!

Husband Rating – 5 out of 5 – “My favorite veggie!”

Last week it was my turn to bring breakfast into the office.  I wanted to do something a little special, different than the usual bagels/donuts and with a Valentine’s Day twist.  So, I decided to do biscuits and sausage gravy.  As you can see, I decided to use a heart-shaped cutter on the biscuits.  I thought they were adorable!  And, of course, they are so tasty!

Recipe from Chef Alex (one of the chef instructors at my culinary school) – hence why this recipe is in grams instead of cups.  Get your scales ready!

255g. Bread flour
213g. Cake flour
11g. Salt
28g. Sugar
21g. Baking powder
170g. Butter
340g. Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Keep all ingredients as cold as possible.  Mix dry ingredients – preferably by hand.

Cut butter into small cubes and cut into the dry ingredients.

Add buttermilk and mix until shaggy.  Cover and rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out on floured surface.  Fold over itself twice and roll out again.  Cut with biscuit cutter or cookie cutter of choice.  Place on sheet pan (with sides of biscuits touching) and bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Paint with melted butter after removing from the oven, if you wish.

Husband Rating – 5 out of 5 – “Nailed It!”