Thursday, December 27, 2007

Road Trip

I took a drive to Grandview, TX (South of Ft. Worth) to visit The Burgundy Boucherie. This is the public butcher market where the Burgundy Pasture Beef ranch butchers and sells it's 100% grass-fed beef. That's right, no grain! Most grass-fed beef is finished with grain when it's sent off to the processing plant. But, since they don't send them off to a processing plant and process them in their own USDA inspected butcher market, there's no need to finish them with grain. :-) Of course, they also don't use growth hormones or antibiotics. Should a cow become sick, it is removed from the herd.

They also offer pork, lamb, and chicken.

I purchased some bone-in rib-eye steaks, which they cut and packaged in the Cryovac just minutes before I drove away with them. I took a peek into their butcher room where the two butchers where at work portioning and packaging beef.

For more info, check out their website at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Avocado Salsa Verde

Avocado Salsa Verde
Originally uploaded by mzones
Went to Taco Diner for lunch a couple of days ago. They have two kinds of salsa, but it was their salsa verde that I liked the best. It tasted as though they had blended a traditional salsa verde with avocado. So, I tried it and this is a picture of the result. It is pretty close in taste to theirs, and may actually be better but probably only because it is freshly made.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chocolate-Ancho Torte

Chocolate-Ancho Torte
Originally uploaded by mzones
I've been working as a prep/line cook at a restaurant here in Plano. Their style of food is Southwestern and Continental. We don't have a pastry chef, but we make creme brulee and key lime pie in house, and order cheesecake and a 4 layer chocolate cake from a bakery.

The chef asked me to come up with some dessert ideas as it isn't his thing. So, I thought about the Southwestern cuisine and thought a Chocolate Ancho Chili Torte would be a good fit. On my day off, I made this torte, which is a flourless chocolate cake with the addition of some finely ground dried ancho. The ganache on top is also infused with ancho. I made a Kahlua Creme Anglaise to serve with it.

I took tasters to work (weird to take treats into a restaurant, but I guess it's what I do) and it was a hit with all who tasted it. Will it show up on the menu? Probably not, I think the ingredients are too expensive for them. But, I have another dessert up my sleeve that is just a little different than what everyone else has.


Originally uploaded by mzones
I attended the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs conference in Newport, Rhode Island the first weekend in November. There were 300+ people in attendance. I went on a tour of Sid Wainer & Son warehouse. They are a purveyor of specialty produce and foods, delivering mostly to the New England states, but they will ship elsewhere.

This photo is of a cheese table they put out for one of our evening receptions. I don't thing the photo does it justice, the table was completely filled with many different kinds of cheese. Yum!

Monday, August 27, 2007


I just got home from my last day of internship. I am finished with school now. I already have been awarded full credit for my internship. I am officially a NECI grad. :-D The graduation ceremony will be June 21, 2008. NECI only holds one per year, that's why the delay.

I have a little get together planned at Patanegra (Spanish restaurant in Portland) with the gang from Mezzaluna. We will enjoy some sangria, tapas, and talk about the fun we've had working together these past 5 months.

What a wonderful journey this has been so far. Now that this chapter is complete and I have a great education. I'm moving to Dallas, TX. I feel that is where I am supposed to be. I thought I would surely end up in Seattle, but I'm just not feeling it right now. I'll be taking a drive to Dallas to look for a place to live, then I'll be back up here in WA to arrange for my belongings, which are in storage here, to be loaded into a truck and taken to my new home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scallop Ceviche

Originally uploaded by mzones
I made this scallop ceviche for a recent party that we did at my internship sight. All of the veg had to be cut into tiny cubes so it would look nice in the shot glasses. I did red pepper curls for a garnish.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saffron Panna Cotta

Saffron Panna Cotta
Originally uploaded by mzones
I made this saffron panna cotta for my fine dining plated desserts class at NECI. When I served it at the Chef's Table (NECI's fine dining restaurant), I served it with an orange sauce. I've done some testing with different sauces since then and have finally settled on peach as the winning combination.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Beach Cupcake

Beach Cupcake
Originally uploaded by mzones
I made some fun little cupcakes for a Hawaiian themed dinner party I'm working this weekend. These will be dessert for the children at the party. My chef just asked me to come up with an idea.

Just in case it's not obvious from the picture. It's supposed to be a sandy beach with an umbrella by the ocean. :-)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mod 4 Dinner

Mod 4 Dinner
Originally uploaded by mzones
This post has been a long time coming. ;-)

This is a photo of my block (that's the group of students I was in class with for my second year at NECI) at out Mod 4 dinner, two weeks before we finished classes. We had been one more person, Joey D., but he was suspended about 6 weeks before the end of the year.

From left to right...Nick, Amber, mz, and Chris.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Still here! :-)

I've been neglecting my blog again. I'm so fired!

I had a great return trip to the Pacific NW from Vermont. I was able to make stops along the way to visit friends, which was the best part of the trip!

I got settled in to my room at my friend's house in Battle Ground, WA. It's a suburb of Vancouver, WA. I started my internship at Mezzaluna ( Personal Chef Service on the 2nd of April and am having a great time working with Chef John. I share my time with another personal chef at Black Radish Personal Chef Service...Chef Heather, who is also a joy to work with. This is a picture of some cupcakes that Chef Heather made during one of our recent cook dates.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Last day!

I finished my last day of classes at culinary school about an hour ago! I'm so excited to be complete with this part of my education. Now I just have a 6 month internship to complete before I graduate! Yay!

Friday, March 02, 2007


Well, here I am with two more days in the classroom and a snowstorm has already deposited a few inches of the white stuff on the ground. It shows no signs of stopping and as it warms up out there, it is expected to turn to sleet for part of the day, then back to snow. I have class from 2 PM to close. Given the weather, close will probably be around 9:30PM.

I have most of my belongings packed and ready for the trip back home. I leave for internship on March 7. Of course, I don't actually start until April 2nd, which gives me time to stop and visit friends along the way. This time, I don't have to return to VT for more school, I'll be finished with school when I finish my internship in August. Woohoo!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Too Much Snow

There was a snow storm that came through yesterday. It snowed part of the night and then all day long. At one point during the day, he accumulation rate was 2" per hour. In the afternoon and on into the evening, we also had some stong winds, which caused drifting of the powdery snow.

This is a picture off the front porch of my apartment building. The apartment manager had shoveled a path to the driveway so we could get out. The walls of snow along the path is up to my waist. My car is buried in the snow and won't be going anywhere for a while.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Meat Fabulous, The Sequel

Meat Fabrication 2 is the class I started this past week. We are building on what we learned in Meat Fab 1 last year...and getting a refresher...but we get to break down more primals (those are the large hunks of "primal cuts" that the carcass is broken down into) into portsions. For instance, we broke down the pig loin primal (pictured here) Thursday into Pork Loin Chops, Baby Back Ribs, Pork Tenderloin Medallions, and a loin roast which we just cut up for making sausage. Yesterday we made three sausage kits, which we will continue working on Monday, one of which (breakfast sausage) used the pork from the loin project. How cool is that!?!?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Wine Dinner

In our Chef's Table class, my group had to create a menu for a Zinfandel dinner. The wines for the 5 courses were chosen by the beverage manager and our chef instructor assigned us a list of proteins, starches and veggies that we had to use. We could add other ingredients, but had to use the ones on the list she gave us. BTW, it was a 5 course dinner. We were responsible for the first 4 courses and the Plated Desserts class was responsible for the 5th course.

We tasted the wines during lecture a week before the dinner and took tasting notes and decided which of the proteins would be the best match for each of the wines. We then met before class the following day and discussed in detail what we would prepare for each dish. At lecture that day, we presented our menu to our chef instructor.

The following week, our dinner was served to a group of 26 people who had made reservations. It was a huge success. We didn't get to taste our dishes with the wines until two days later, but when we did, it confirmed that we had made wise choices when designing the menu. Our chef was very pleased with our menu and we all received an Exceed Standards for this portion of the class. :-)

The photo is of Chef Lynnette helping us plate up the souffle.

Here was our menu:

1st Course:
Game Hen Consomme with Game Hen and Brasied Cabbage Ravioli
Edizione Pennino Zinfandel, 2002, Rutherford, Niebaum-Coppola Estate
2nd Course:
Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese Souffle with Radish Salad
Hendry Block 7 Zinfandel, 2003, Napa Valley
3rd Course:
Monkfish Osso Bucco with Golden Beet Fettuccine, Chestnut Gremolata,
Marrow and Zinfandel Sauce.
Rosenblum, San Francisco Bay Zinfandel, 2003, Carla's Vineyards
Raspberry-Zinfandel Sorbet served in a Tuile Cone
4th Course:
Veal Breast Roulade & Grilled Lamb Chop
Roulade stuffed with Veal Sweetbreads and served with Tomato Jam
and Pommes Anna. Lamb served with Cranberry-Cherry Chutney and
Baby Root Vegetables.
Ridge, California Zinfandel Late Picked, 2001, York Creek
5th Course:
Fig & Pinenut Beggars Purse, Poached Fig and Zinfandel Reduction
Rosenblum, Rosie Rabbit, California Late Harvest Zinfandel

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back to the kitchen

Ah. Finally I'll be back in the kitchen. Today I start the A La Carte cooking class at the Chef's Table. We'll be learning the art of cooking on a fine dining line. So, we should have access to different ingredients that we have not worked with before because of the cost. Venison, foie gras, wild boar, lobster, etc.

My group have been out of the kitchen for 5 weeks now and we all agree that we are more than ready to get back into our chef jackets and play with knives and fire. ;-)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Operations Management

This class has been a complete waste of time. I mean. You go in thinking that you are going to learn something about starting and managing a restaurant, but you come out not knowing any more than you already knew from other classes that you've been in. Oy! I'm not happy and I'm someone is going to hear about it. Too late to help me, but maybe it will help other students down the road.

So, there's an Excel class as part of the "financial analysis" piece to this class. There is not much finance and little to no analysis. The instructor sits at the front of the class and literally tells us each keystroke to make. Go to cell A1 and type in the name of your restaurant, etc. I mean. He leads us through the building of templates that we will us for our project to show projected sales, expenses, etc. How stupid is that!?!?!

This same instructor teaches a lot of the classes in the BA program. So. I'm thinking to myself, if this is an indication of what the BA classes are like, I would never consider NECI for my BA. There are schools that have stronger academic programs for hospitality.