Wednesday, July 31, 2013


By student blogger Leah.

If your culinary school ever offers you a spot on their blog to be highlighted as a student blogger, take it because then you too might find yourself staying up past midnight making strange blueberry concoctions in a very timely fashion so that you can show them to the people in blogging world. These blueberry experiments were going to be conducted with or without the blog, but the blog was the impetus for doing all this stuff tonight. Maybe a little bit lame but my kitchen is full of cool blueberry stuff, so I’ll take it.

A word about my recipes: I am a fierce supporter of tough love. That means I will probably never give exact measurements or totally clear directions when telling about my own recipes because I believe that each person should participate in the cooking process and that demands critical thinking. Also, what if you were hindered by my directions and could’ve made something better? When I am cooking professionally or for someone else then I am an avid recipe follower, but when I’m alone...all bets are off. (on a side note: this drives my mom a little bit crazy. She is one of the best cooks that I know and I will be lucky if someday I can feed people at a table like her’s but I still refuse to give her exact recipes when I happen to make something that she wants to replicate. If I won’t do it for her, I’m not doing it for anybody.) Pay attention to the details of what gives food the characteristics that you like and then start trying to replicate them. Taste and feel the difference between a deep fried crouton and a baked crouton. Ask people how they prepared the food that you like, take notes, and try it out at home. Read, watch, research, and practice. Smell, taste, look, touch, feel, read, take temperatures, and listen to your heart (yeah, yeah)---cooking is interactive and it’s sensual. Engage your senses and let them do their thing so that you can eat something beautiful. If the golden color is right for you, then it’s good! If you think it should be a bit crispier, saltier, or hotter---then do that! If I am constantly instructing you, then when do you get a chance to think? So if that bothers you, I’m kind of sorry. But I think we’ll all be better cooks when we learn to trust ourselves a little bit and stop letting other people tell us what to do. I’m also a cook to my core (and not a baker), so I never measure anything anyway...

So how did I acquire these blueberries? From the side of a road in Maine while I was traveling, these little gems were looking for a good home and I hope they found one. Summertime, won’t you stay awhile?

Rick’s Blueberry Shrub
My dad first introduced me to shrubs when he ordered a few bottles several years ago that he found online from a small company. Shrubs were invented as a colonial way of preserving fruit in vinegar that was lightly sweetened and used to flavor water as a refreshing summer drink. They are currently enjoying a comeback in today’s cocktails. I like them with sparkling water over ice and maybe a little mint if you’re feelin’ fancy.
1 part fruit
1 part raw apple cider vinegar (any neutral vinegar will do)
1 part sweetener (more or less as you like---maple syrup, agave, sugar, brown sugar, get it)

Combine fruit and vinegar in anything but a metallic container, cover with cheesecloth, coffee filter, or other tight knit cover that keeps pesky fruit flies out and air flowing in. Store on the counter. Let sit for maybe a week and then taste it---you like more flavor? Let it sit. You like less flavor? Fewer days. Strain fruit out with cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. Mix with sweetener, pour into air tight container and store in refrigerator.
*this product is a naturally fermenting food and does run the risk of becoming contaminated. If there is any development of brown, black, green, or other yucky looking mold, then please please PLEASE discard all of it. I promise the reward is not greater than the risk. Fermented foods that go bad can make you really sick. Please be careful! But if it looks good and smells good, and a tiny taste is sour and flavorful---you’re probably fine :)

Blueberry syrup
2 parts fruit
1 part sugar
1 part water

Combine on stove top, boil until it tastes good. Strain. Refrigerate in airtight container. Pour over waffles, corn muffins with butter (mmmmmmmmm), martinis, ice cream, toast, or your fingers.

Blueberry Vodka
1 part fruit
1 part vodka (I like Gordon’s because I think it is smooth and it mixes is also an affordable vodka. And let’s be honest---vodka is a colorless, tasteless, odorless beverage so you don’t have to get crazy over the quality for this infusion, it’s going to taste like berries or fruit anyway.)

Combine, cover, and store in fridge until infused appropriately. Taste, watch the color, and make a few drinks. Decide if you want to let it sit your thing, strain and enjoy.

I’m seeing some blueberry freezer jam and maybe even some ice cubes of pureed blueberry for mixed drinks or smoothies in my future for tomorrow. But we’ll take of that when it comes, tonight I’m going to sleep breathing in the sweet aroma of blueberries.

p.s. So where’s that post about China, eh? I was a little off in my prediction of timing so this is my first apology, please accept it and know that this is most likely the first of many mistakes. I am a lot of things including imperfect and I just ask for a little patience dear friend, can I have that? China will be here soon, promise.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Break Eats

By Student Blogger Morgan

As Leah described in her recipe for a perfect summer break, we take summer seriously around the Culinary Institute. I knew I only had three weeks to jam pack as much family and friend time in as I could, which for me always means a road trip of sorts because the people I love are pretty scattered. Luckily, I LOVE to travel. One of my favorite things to do when traveling (go figure) is eat. I love trying new foods and restaurants specific to the cities I'm in. It's a great way to expand your own culinary knowledge as well as learn more about the people and places you're visiting. My first stop on my summer break tour de amigos was Hershey, PA to visit my parents:

Hands down my favorite part about my parents living in Pennsylvania is the proximity to so many great farmer's markets. I ate fresh farmer's market berries with greek yogurt and honeycomb from the PA Farm Show almost every morning I was there. We eat realllllly well at the CIA compared to every other college dining program, but after a while you do miss deliciousness of simplicity.

This week was definitely my "detox from school" week. I followed my fresh berry breakfast with a 4th of July grilled mushroom wrap and lemon herb hummus, poolside. There was a roasted tomato aoli on that wrap that I could have eaten with a spoon...! My family celebrated the 4th a little late and had a big grill out that weekend with even more fresh, delicious veggies. Some of our favorite crowd pleasers are grilled charred corn basted with a cilantro lime butter sauce, and watermelon salad with feta cheese and mint picked from our herb garden. Next stop on my break: the foodie city of Nashville, TN.

I couldn't help myself from picking up this baby just a few steps out of the airport. Locally ground and processed artisan chocolate? Done and done.

One of our (okay mine...) biggest excitements of the trip to Music City was reservations at Flyte World Dining and Wine. The execute chef Matt Lackey is not only a graduate of the CIA, but he was also a member of the original team of chefs who opened one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Husk in Charleston, SC (The exec chef and co-owner of Husk is Sean Brock who is from Nashville and has actually recently opened a second location there. Unfortunately Husk is so good that they were booked solid while we were there). I knew we were in for an authentic, southern, farm raised meal - Flyte did not disappoint!

Above is a delicious entree of seared duck from a Nashville farm served with dandelion greens, wheat berries, blackberry compote and lemon curd. Did I mention delicious? Below is the dessert. Ohhh the dessert. It was called 'From Kentucky with Love' and included a bourbon smoked chocolate cremeux, housemade bergamot (Earl Grey tea) ice cream, butterscotch custard and passion fruit gelee. Mmm mmm mmm. Not pictured, but note worthy: our appetizers were buttermilk cornbread with pimento cheese and a steak tartare dish. We were also served an eggplant amuse bouche and a flourless chocolate cake petit four in place of the after dinner mint. Definitely. Highly. Recommend.

A few of my other favorite foodie spots should you ever find yourself in Music City: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, Mas Tacos, I Dream of Weenie (A retro disco style hot dog stand. Yup!), and The Pharmacy for awesome burgers. We left Nashville with very happy and very full bellies to say the least. Next up: Ocean City Maryland.

If you ever find yourself in OC Maryland, you have to - HAVE TO - get some donuts from The Fractured Prune. There are three of them on the main strip so you really have no excuse. Clockwise from the top: Rolo, Myrna Medley, Reese's cup, french toast, morning buzz and banana nut bread.

And at the beach, of course there was much more grilling! 

Lemon rosemary salmon, grilled eggplant, grilled corn on the cob, steak with sauteed baby bella shrooms and homemade fingerling potato mash. 

Also in Maryland, I spent a short stint in the capital city of Annapolis. This is right near where I went to college the first go around and I love this city and it's food. Some of my favorite spots here are Chick and Ruth's Deli, Red Red Wine Bar, Level Small Plates Lounge and another CIA grad's bakery Sweet Heart's Patisserie. One of the best things I ate during this visit was a fried green tomato BLT from Reynold's Tavern.

I have one more stop to go before making the drive back up to New York to return to school and that is my hometown of Charlottesville, VA. Whenever I go back to Charlottesville now I just end up eating out almost every meal so that I can squeeze in all of my favorite spots. There are too many for just one blog post! But to mention a few just in case you're ever down there: Bodo's Bagels, Dips and Sips Ice Cream Shoppe, Christian's Pizza, and Baja Bean Co. I know I'll hit all of 'em when I'm there so if you're hungry for more tantalizing food pictures, you can follow me on Instagram for more. Now that I've basically eaten my way through summer break, it's time to get back to school and eat even more! I can't wait to get back in the bakeshop next week and start Individual Production Pastries, my second to last stop before externship. Hope that everyone is joining me in soaking up all the summer they can get while it lasts!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

summer lovin'

By student blogger Leah

We take our summer break pretty seriously around here because we only get 26 precious days. Now, you stop that “psshhhh” at me for those of you working folk who get maybe 14 days of vacation a year or those professional cooks who are lucky to get 2 days off a week and no extended vacation, I hear you and I will be in your boat soon enough but right now I get to hang out in college-land and I’d like to do all the hanging out that I please. All of the students and most of the faculty (I know those mail room angels are still on campus---you go mailroom angels!) leave campus for three weeks in July. Students are required to find another place to lay their heads and the chefs trade in their whites for flip-flops (I hope, but don’t actually know). Many of my fellow classmates go back to their hometown jobs or pick up cool summer gigs where they cater weddings or even chase hot dogs around a grill at a beautiful country club.

After much contemplation, reflection, and deep thought this is the general equation I have devised for my summer lovin’:

2 parts people who make you smile
If they’re parents, friends, lovers, mentors, strangers, or cheerful customers, make a little time for people who turn the corners of your mouth in the upwards direction. Science tells us that smiling is good for our health, take it or leave it. I just like how I feel when I smile but I understand if smiling isn’t for you. Substitutions include: people who tell good jokes (dare you not to smile!), people who give good handshakes, people who smell good, or people that make you feel warm inside…just find yourself a few good people.

2 parts food you love
Whatever tickles your fancy, now is the time to treat yourself.

2 parts food that is good for your body
Maybe if you’re lucky, you can just make it 4 parts food that you love but if high protein, no refined sugars, good fats, whole grains, and natural foods aren’t your go-to food loves…I understand because they’re not mine. Summer time brings a bounty of inspiring produce and fresh products that make nutritious eating particularly delicious, so eat 10 fresh peaches or 4 ears of sweet corn---go crazy because in November, Mother Nature isn’t quite as sweet.

1 part fun
I know what I like for fun and you know yourself better than anyone else too. It is also possible that you get caught up doing “fun” things that you don’t really find fun for whatever reason. Cut that out, and find yourself a little fun. You’ll know when you find it.

1 part productive fun
Walk on the beach, travel to a new place, work for the night at a restaurant you love, visit a farm, go to a museum, watch an interesting and educational documentary, send someone a hand written letter, learn to knit, do a little volunteering----whatever you decide to do, this is the portion of your energy spent doing something you like that benefits other people or contributes to tangible success.

I think I’ll get back to soaking up a little sunshine and spending time with people who make me smile. Another smile to the universe for granting me this bit of respite? Don’t mind if I do.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chef Spotlight: Chef Dieter Schorner

By student blogger Morgan

The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park is jam packed with accomplished chefs to say the least. In just the Baking and Pastry department alone over half of the chef instructors hold the title of Certified Master Baker, which is one of the highest certifications in the industry. Before coming to the CIA, the chefs ran successful businesses, worked in first class hotels, and studied in some of the most prestigious schools in the world (namely, the CIA...).

The last class I took was Basic and Classical Cakes taught by Chef Dieter Schorner. His experience and expertise is tough to match, and when you combine that with his passion to teach you have a recipe for an excellent class. One of my favorite things about his lectures is that he would teach us the basic recipe or technique, but then expand on it by giving examples of alternative methods and other flavors you can add to make it better. At 76 years old, he had more energy than most of the people I've worked with and he demoed everything for us from puff pastry to building a croquembouche. The stories he told about baking for the Queen of England or having lunch with Salvatore Dali will stick with me for long after school is over. It is one thing to learn how to make a Black Forrest cake from someone, it is another thing to learn how to make a Black Forrest cake from someone who has lived in the actual Black Forrest...

Among other things, Chef Schorner is credited for bringing crème brǔlée to the United States and making it popular. He originally hails from Munich, Germany but he has worked in restaurants and hotels all around the world.

 He had his 76th birthday during the second week of my class, and two previous students of his who were just about to graduate made him this cake in the shape of a ramekin and crème brǔlée. The entire department and tons of previous students were there when he was presented with the cake, which he sprinkled sugar on top of the fondant and brǔléed with a blow torch.

On our last day of class he demoed how to make a croquembouche, which is a French wedding cake made from cream puffs dipped in caramel and stacked in a tower. First he handmade this cake stand made from nougatine (almonds and caramel). 

He stacked the cream puffs upside down in a chinois to get the cone shape, and then inverted the tower onto the cake stand.

He then demoed how to make a pulled sugar ribbon to top the tower with, and we each shaped a loop from the sugar to make the final ribbon.

He topped the tower with gumpaste flowers made by Chef Kate Cavotti who is the instructor of the cake class we will take post-externship.

Thanks to Chef Schorner for a very educational and inspiring class! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

By student blogger Morgan 

We celebrated the 4th of July a bit early around here partly because service men and women have a big presence on our campus and also because the real 4th of July marks the first official day of our three week summer break. Two weekends ago (June 22nd) the Residence Life and Rec Center staffs put on the annual Stars and Stripes event here at the CIA. The festivities began on Saturday night with a huge fireworks show overlooking Anton Plaza and a dance party in the plaza in honor of current students who served in the U.S. Military. All week in expectation of the throw-down the front of Roth Hall looked like this:

To kick off the night, we started a new tradition of naming a few post-military students and having them come forward and be formally recognized for their service. The Culinary Institute was actually founded in 1946 (originally in Connecticut) as a place for World War II veterans to get job training after the war ended, so the relationship between the U.S. Military and the CIA has always been a good one. After the students were recognized, the national anthem was played to start the fireworks show. And for being June 22nd, it really felt a lot like July 4th...

I was hugely impressed by the fireworks display that was set off and the large crowd the entire event drew. It seemed like just about everyone on campus showed up, plus a lot of faculty, staff and community members who work there. Maybe I just really like fireworks, but I thought it was pretty awesome.

The fun continued on Sunday with a carnival that would make even the oldest soul feel like a kid again. There was everything from an inflatable obstacle course to a zip line, and so much food in between. Only at the CIA would they serve Snow Cones flavored 'rosemary lemon' and 'lavender blueberry.' Among other treats, there were homemade oreos, freshly brewed Arnold Palmers, made from scratch 'choco-tacos' and of course the classic burgers, dogs and potato salad. 

They even had a dunk tank where you could dunk your favorite RA and donate money to the U.S. Military all at once:

Festive students pose with a student serving in the National Guard  and as an RA by the dunk tank.

Happy 4th of July from CIA Hyde Park! There will be a whole 'lotta relaxing going on here for the next month while we are summer break, we hope that you're doing the same! 

Want to see more photos of the event? Check out the Stars & Stripes album on our facebook page!