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Toast Skagen & Other Swedish Successes & Failures

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleThis month’s LA Food Bloggers Meet Up is dedicated to ethnic heritage, and we are to bring a dish that relates to ours. Since I am Swedish, I set out to find a yummy dish to showcase my cultural background and make my Swedish Grandma proud.

Growing up in Iowa – which is full of Scandinavians – my Grandma Nelson led the pack when she made krumkake, fattigman and rosettes.  I wanted to make one of these specialties, but I realized they all require scary special equipment.

cathy nelson arkle(If you haven’t seen these before, there a good chance your not Scandinavian)

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Seared Tuna and Orange Supreme Salad

I love simple recipes that reproduce the flavors you adore in high-end eateries, especially when I am entertaining. So I was delighted to be a part of a cooking demonstration/tasting with other LA based food bloggers featuring Chef Johnny Prep. This Detroit based chef & cooking coach is committed to helping the home cook with simple recipes that are restaurant quality.

In his book “The Five Star Casual Entertaining Cookbook”, Chef Johnny offers tips and simple recipes for making entertaining stress-free. Continue Reading →

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Mexican Mania

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail from New School of Cooking

Mexican cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world, and traditionally passed down through the generations in an unwritten form.  This cuisine relies more on intuitive cooking skills, so today’s class was more of a “watch and learn, then do” lesson.

Techniques for Mexican cooking are basically the same across the country of Mexico, but it’s the ingredients that differ by region.  Contributing factors are Mexico’s vast size, diverse climates, geography, and different levels of influence by the Mayas, Aztecs and Spaniards

Indigenous Ingredients

Typical herbs and spices used in Mexican cuisine are chili powder, oregano, cilantro, coriander, cumin, epazote, cinnamon, and cocoa.

The grain staples are corn and rice. Other popular items are pinto beans in Northern Mexico and black beans towards the south.

Peppers and other ingredients in Mexican cuisinedried Peppers for Mexican cuisine

The one ingredient that seems to make its way into more Mexican recipes is chilies. They are grown in every state, there are over 150 varieties, and each one has its own distinct flavor. Continue Reading →

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methods & madness…
class 10: seafood – coming out of your shell

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Shrimp | She Paused 4 Thought

Recipes & Ramblings from Chef School

What a huge learning curve I had this week with shellfish. If you read last week’s blog, you know that I am a Midwest farm girl who had no experience with fins, scales, and particularly things that carry a house on their back! After this week’s class however, I am shocked at how easy most shellfish are to cook.

Shellfish are categorized according their skeletal structure:

  • Univalves – Single-shelled mollusks
    e.g. abalone, sea urchins, conch, escargot
  • Bivalves – Mollusks with two shells joined by a hinge
    e.g. clams, mussels, oysters, scallops
  • Crustaceans – Jointed exterior skeletons or shells
    e.g. lobster, crawfish, shrimp, crab
  • Cephalopods – Mollusks with tentacles attached directly to the head
    e.g. octopus, squid/calamari, cuttlefish

Buying Shellfish

When buying live crab or lobsters, look for movement. If you buy them frozen or pre-packaged and they are still moving—run.

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methods & madness… 
recipes & ramblings from the culinary classroom

Thai Style Cabbage Salad with Grilled Shrimp

In the beginning…

As a child growing up on the farm, I remember loving to help my mother in the kitchen. At the wee age of one I was allowed to watch… and learn.  As mom kneaded bread, I played with the dough.  Soon I was baking mud pies in the sun, eventually graduating to edible cakes. My favorite part was food coloring and the creative license that came with it. Purple cake with green frosting, blue cake with magenta frosting…I mean really, why did they print color combinations on the back of the box if I wasn’t supposed to use them?

It has been many years since my cow pie inspired baking days. My inspiration these days come from culinary classrooms. “Hi, my name is Cathy and I am a cooking class junkie.”

Tiring of recreational classes, I recently upped the ante with a 20-week professional chef course at The New School of Cooking.  If you have ever dreamed of taking chef courses, or if you are a closet Food Network fan, I invite you to join my journey.  I will be sharing the adventure with my friend Rona Lewis who has penned two cookbooks.

Class One

I was already stressed after dealing with LA traffic, but quickly relaxed after meeting my fellow chefs in the making. First, we received our white chef coats, along with an explanation of how they worked and why.  I didn’t realize there was so much to this simple garment.  The double-breasted jacket can be buttoned both ways… In case you spill, you can simply cover it up by switching sides… clever! The second order of business, was receiving handouts of rules, regulations and other pertinent, but boring stuff. The real prize was an encyclopedia looking book called The Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America. Score!

Parlez vous francais?

I was thrilled to discover a bonus – not only was this a cooking class, but I would be learning French as well since so many cooking terms are taken from the language.  I couldn’t remember them all, let alone spell them.  I am still regretting taking German in college.  Our first term was Mise En Place (meez ahn plahs) “everything in its place”.  It aptly describes the preparation and assembly of all ingredients and equipment prior to cooking.  We learned that a well-organized cook is the basis for a great chef.  Oh dear…I could be in trouble. Continue Reading →

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