Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Guest Blogger: Carla Seet
If you had walked through any grocery store five years ago in search of gluten-free items, you would have left empty-handed and discouraged. These days, more knowledge about Celiac and gluten-sensitivity has led to a rise in demand for gluten-free products, and a trip to the store can get you a gluten-free substitute for almost any food item your heart desires. But why is this important for people who aren’t sensitive to gluten? The rise in demand for gluten-free flour and the increased popularity of ancient grains means that we now have easy access to a huge variety of flours when creating baked goods. Tailoring the flour you use to the type of baked good you’re making can bring your grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe to the next level. It’s time we break out of our All-Purpose flour rut!
But first things first…what is gluten? Gluten is a protein made up of two sub-proteins, gliadin and glutenin, found in the endosperm of cereal grains. The most common gluten-containing grains are wheat, barley and rye, but other grains also contain gluten or have a high potential for cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains during processing, such as oats.
In baking, gluten provides structure and elasticity. When gluten-containing flour is combined with water and kneaded, as when making bread, the proteins are strengthened and stretched. As the dough rises and gas is trapped in the strengthened protein links, it is able to maintain its general shape. Gluten also has binding properties and provides moisture and a soft crumb or texture to baked goods.
Without gluten, bakers have to get creative. Using a gluten-free flour blend that’s customized to the type of baked good you’re making can help bring out specific qualities, such as chewiness or moistness, to make up for the lack of gluten. For example, using almond flour can bring out more moisture in cakes, cookies and quick breads thanks to the high fat content of almonds. So if you’re interested in experimenting with different flours, choosing a gluten-free flour can transform your baked goods by adding new flavors or textures.
Use this handy how-to guide to start experimenting with your own customized flour blends:
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
By Guest Bloggers Kieran Cawley and Eliza Loehr
Things are getting competitive here at C-CAP H.Q. To mark National Culinary Arts Month, we’ve been sharing our culinary tips with you daily across our social channels. Now, half way through the month, we’ve decided to step things up a gear – with a cook-off!
In the ring we have our Operations Manager Eliza, and our Events and Marketing Coordinator Kieran, tasked with cooking the best breakfast. While Eliza hails from New Hampshire, Kieran started out life in Manchester, England. This is more than just a cook-off; this is Team USA Vs. Team UK! Who will prevail?
Kieran: When it comes to a winning breakfast there can only be one option – the ‘Full English.”
This isn’t an everyday day breakfast; well not if you want to watch your waistline, but it’s a weekend treat for sure! I’ll be rustling up sausage, egg, and bacon with a fried tomato, toast and the hero of the dish… homemade ‘British’ baked beans!
Eliza: As a New Yorker, it’s hard to admit we don’t have it all, but when it comes to a true American Breakfast, I had to look to the south. I went with the age-old classic of Johnny Cakes with soft scrambled eggs, thick-cut bacon, and a maple jalapeño butter to top it all off.
Kieran: Whoa, jalapeños first thing in the morning!?
Us Brits prefer to start the day with a cup of tea & toast so I’m not really sure about laying on the heat this early in the morning…
And what is it with you guys putting syrup on everything?
Eliza: Baked beans and tomatoes? Not really my ‘cup of tea’ as the Brits would put it. When he mentioned sausage, I couldn’t get the image of a blood sausage out of my head all day!
How Did It Taste?
Kieran: I hate to admit it, but that’s pretty good! The maple jalapeño butter is actually my favorite part; it gives a nice little kick to the eggs. I’m a convert!
I’d say my beans win over the American variety every time though. Unlike the sweet BBQ flavor I find over here, these beans have a lovely rich tomato sauce and are guilt free – no sugar in sight!
Eliza: Turns out I’ve never had proper baked beans. Those were actually the best part of the meal!
I’m a sucker for anything with corn, so a corn cake with crispy edges is always a great way to start. The bacon adds the salt and the fat while the eggs add a smooth texture and the jalapeño maple butter brought it to the next level!
So Who Won?
Well, that’s up to you! Head over to our Instagram page to vote for your favorite dish!
Do you want to taste Eliza’s Johnny Cakes with jalapeño maple butter? Or see what all the fuss is about Kieran’s baked beans? Find the recipes for both on our Facebook page now!
Thursday, July 7th, 2016
By Guest Blogger Eliza Loehr
One of the biggest food myths is that eating healthy is expensive. While there will always be a new health craze with a high price tag, those inflated costs generally reflect the demand and the marketing, not necessarily the health benefits. My personal mantra is “EAT REAL FOOD”. When you stick to the basics, eat minimally processed, local foods, and eat a balanced diet, you will save money, lose weight and support your local economy without breaking the bank.
An incredible meal does not require unhealthy or expensive ingredients. The two most powerful ingredients to achieve strength, depth and balance of flavor are onions and garlic. These also happen to be some of the healthiest and cheapest ingredients in the store. Strong flavors come from spices, herbs and acidic ingredients such as vinegars or citrus. Deep flavors come from umami-rich ingredients such as garlic, onions, meats, shellfish, mushrooms and tomatoes.
By buying simple, real foods with few ingredients (that are all pronounceable!), you are doing your body and wallet an enormous favor. Marketers will always have a new “healthy” food or beverage, but don’t forget that diet soda was once thought to be a health food! Stick to your gut, and your gut will thank you.
Tips to eat healthy while saving money:
- Prepackaged bulk foods: Grocery stores often purchase prepackaged foods in bulk that are much cheaper than the brand name products. Because the store pays a bulk rate and cuts out the middleman, they are able to offer a much lower price without cutting the quality.
- Go local and seasonal: When you buy local, you are usually buying organic. Many times small farmers don’t have the money or time to go through the organic certification. Buying what’s in season where you live supports your economy, and nothing beats the flavor and health benefits of fresh vegetables. Many large companies aim to “just” pass organic inspections and inject food with many chemicals. Your local farmers don’t need chemicals to mass-produce. Local meat and produce, even without an organic label, is healthier and more worth your money than organic products from food giants.
- Don’t pay for packaging: Whenever possible, avoid paying for packaging. Fancy packaging means that your extra dollars will pay for plastic, paper or metal, and not better quality. Excess packaging also typically comes with more processing, which goes against the mantra of eat realfood!
- Shop store brand products: Quite often the top or bottom shelves house store brand products that mimic the popular products found at eye level. Generally these products are very similar but are less expensive due to minimal advertising and development costs.
What do you do with your groceries now? Stick with C-CAP for National Culinary Arts Month. We are sharing cooking tips on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all month long. #CCAPTip
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Guest Blogger: Eliza Loehr
You may have noticed the phrase “ancient grains” taking over the grocery store shelves in the past few years. Cheerios now boasts a mix of ancient grains, quinoa fills entire sections of the store and rye berry salad has taken the place of egg salad in the prepared foods case. But how far back are we talking when we use the ambiguous label of “ancient”? As it turns out, while some grains like teff have been harvested for up to six thousand years, we didn’t stop eating these so-called ancient grains until the 1960s.
Meet Jeff Zimmerman. Jeff was born to a wheat-growing family in North Dakota. His family had been in the business of poly-farming for centuries and grew dozens of varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains. In the 1960s, a newly created genetically engineered variety of wheat was introduced to the market that promised to triple the yield these farmers had ever seen. Within a few years, nearly every family within 100 miles of the Zimmerman farm was ditching their multi-crop farms and was prospering from this new wheat variety. But as with most booms, there was a bust. Diseases hit hard, and with monoculture sweeping across the state, the diseases wiped out nearly every single farm. Jeff’s family high-tailed it to Arizona.
As he got older, his family became interested in local and heritage varieties of food. When he realized there was no heritage wheat available, he wanted to find out why. That’s when he stumbled upon White Sonora Wheat. Jeff and his family soon opened Hayden Flour Mills, selling single-origin White Sonoran Wheat to bakers in their area. While most of the flour we know is a highly processed blend of grains to ensure consistency, single-origin grains take on the terroir of their growing region. Bakers were noticing hints of lemon from batches on the east of town, and a flowery scent from the batches that came from the north. Many industrial wheat growers look for durability and consistency in their crops rather than flavor, dramatically changing the way our bodies process the milled product. While gluten allergies seem to be increasing, the new generation has begun to dig into their grandparents’ old boxes, pull out the seeds of the past and sow a new food future for us. The rise of ancient grains may seem to parallel every other food trend sweeping the nation, but the health benefits, flavor and history that this particular trend brings to the plate indicates that this one is here to stay. The story of Jeff’s family tells the story of food in America in the 20th century: small family farms that were overtaken by promising industrial agriculture and its staggering yields are now slowly reforming as the new generation is beginning to reintroduce the diverse and flavorful crops of our past. Anson Mills, the de facto leader in the ancient grains revolution, has this to say about why this change is important to them,
“Why do we make this effort? We could simply lie down and lament the future of American agriculture. But instead we choose to extend the promise of pleasure—pleasure in the fine flavors of grains and vegetables produced with an eye to the integrity of cuisine and the integral character of farming. It’s been going beautifully so far.”
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
By Guest Blogger Jill Lloyd, Director of Development
Ah, a visit to the City of Light! How romantic!! But wait – not so romantic when moms have three teenage boys in tow who want to explore the culture, meet the locals and eat, eat, eat!
Upon arrival, we set out for lunch at Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germaine, which offered fabulous café food and wonderful people watching. The Salade de Nicoise was just the thing before exploring Paris and the Picasso Museum.
After enjoying the buzz of the city and an eventful visit to the catacombs, we ventured to Les Climats, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the 7th District.. We had a table in the beautifully appointed bar, where we were surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine. The sommelier recommended a bottle of wine that was a crowd pleaser, and we were given the most fabulous amuse-bouche of fluke, lemony avocado puree and zucchini. What a way to start the evening! We then ate filet of beef that was served with mushrooms and a pinot noir bernaise sauce (which I am still dreaming about) and pigeon that was served with asparagus and delicate potato crisps. We were then treated to an assortment of delectable desserts. What a meal!!!
On Sunday we ventured to the 9th District for brunch at the highly-acclaimed Buvette and to visit with our friends, the Mayers. At Buvette the boys scarfed down a plate of perfectly cured and beautifully sliced prosciutto, lots of fresh-squeezed orange juice, croque monsieur, potato pancakes with smoked salmon, lentils with trout and eggs with more delicious prosciutto before venturing out to the Louvre.
The Café Saint-Germaine was a favorite stop throughout our stay where the boys enjoyed late-night orders of croque monsieur, and the local cafes were always good for buttery, flakey croissants and jolts of café au lait or the perfectly seasoned chicken. A street vendor who served up tasty, smokey kabobs was also a hit with the teenage crowd.
After a full day of exploring the city, when the boys ventured out on their own, the moms ventured out too! One stop was the historic Bar Hemingway at the Ritz. The Ritz, one of Paris’ most romanticized Belle Epoque hotels, first opened in 1898 and just re-opened after a four-year renovation. Collin, the bartender at the Hemingway, is a genius who mixed up the most delectable cocktails while entertaining those of us who were lucky enough to find a seat at the bar.
Another great stop was the Four Seasons Hotel George V near the Champs-Elysees. The flowers throughout the hotel were breath-taking, and the cosmos at Le Bar were especially appreciated after a full day of enjoying the neighborhoods, the museums and the parks.
Café Lipp, which was established in 1880 on Boulevard Saint-Germaine, was the final stop on our eating adventure. This iconic Parisienne restaurant and Historical Monument serves French bourgeois cuisine and is full of friendly, attentive waiters and beautifully decorated ceilings. The delicious and fun meal when the boys wrote lots of postcards to loved ones, ended with amazing desserts that included profiteroles, floating islands and napoleons. It was a fantastic way to end a memorable visit to Paris.
Maybe not such a romantic visit, but fun, fun, fun (and delicious) nevertheless!
Thursday, June 16th, 2016
One of our favorite ways to kick off the summer is to check-in with a recent high school graduate. We asked Eubene Kim, who graduated from Chatsworth Charter High School in Los Angeles, to share a little more about his achievements this past year.
How did you come up with the idea for your winning recipe for the Meatless Monday competition?
The theme was a burger recipe and many ideas ran through my head for a healthy, yet delicious recipe. Coming from a Korean background, I wanted to revolve my recipe around the culture that shaped my taste. The most iconic Korean side dish known all around the world is kimchi. Because kimchi is very nutritious I looked at many different ingredients that go well with kimchi. Using the recipe of a kimchi stew known as Kimchi Chigae, I used tofu as my base to add the proteins that meat is known for. Figuring out what works best with kimchi and tofu, I used traditional ingredients, spinach, mushrooms, onions, and garlic to enhance the taste and give a taste that screams Korean.
Can you describe your experience in winning a scholarship to attend the Culinary Institute of America?
Being able to have the opportunity to be a part of C-CAP has been a life changer. Without the support of the wonderful C-CAP Los Angeles staff and my teachers, Paul Lauten and Ramon Douglas, preparing for the competition wouldn’t have been possible. During the competition I was overwhelmed with doubt after seeing my fellow competitors and newly formed friends, but realized that there is no room for doubt if I give my 110% effort. Finding out that I received a scholarship to attend the Culinary Institute of America blew my mind. I have no other words than words of thanks for the people who believed in me and support my future.
What advice do you have for other kids who are going to compete for scholarships in the next couple years?
Although my experience with C-CAP may seem like it went smoothly, I did face many difficulties. Procrastination was always a problem for me. Events with either friends or family kept me from seeing the real picture. Some advice I would give to future C-CAP students would be to learn to prioritize your schedule and to always have room for yourself to rest and to practice. Being able to give yourself time to rest prevents you from being stressed. Trust me…if you think your life is stressful right now, wait till you’re finally working in the kitchen. Also immerse yourself in the art of cooking to constantly open yourself to the various culture and foods. If you want to be a chef, you can’t be picky with food.
Thursday, June 9th, 2016
By Guest Blogger, Amy Wickstein, Development Manager
The results are in…when polled on social media, you reported that you drink rosé because it reminds you of summer. It’s refreshing, it’s pink, and it can be served chilled. Here at C-CAP, we know we’ll be kicking off the summer with rosé from The Drop Wine in NYC on Bar Hugo’s rooftop next Monday.
It’s no surprise that rosé wine sales are growing ten times faster than overall table wine, according to a January 2015 Nielsen report. Shyda Gilmer, COO of New York retailer Sherry-Lehmann, explains that rosé sales have continued to grow by double digits in the last five years and he anticipates the same growth in 2016.
Interestingly, rosé’s supply can, for the most part, meet its growing demand. (Phew!) Unlike a lot of wines, most rosés are meant to be poured the year they are made. This makes it easier for wine makers and distributors to stay current with its increasing popularity.
If you want to learn about this delightful, pink beverage and how it’s made, look to Wine Folly for a concise, easy to understand summary.
As Eric Asimov reminded us in his New York Times column last week: “As usual, serve chilled but not ice-cold. And try not to track sand into the house.” Cheers to that!
Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
By Guest Blogger, Carla Seet
There’s a magical quality to a family heirloom. Whether it’s an object passed down through generations or something stumbled upon at an antique store, it comes with a story attached and connects us to our heritage and collective past. While you’ve likely heard of heirloom tomatoes, you may not have thought about what makes them “heirlooms.” So we are here to tell their story.
Growing heirloom, also known as heritage, produce may seem like the hip new way to garden, but what we now distinguish as organic farming and gardening was actually the norm for many growers, including many of our grandparents, for centuries prior to industrialization. Passing down the family heirloom seeds was common practice, and many families had their own varieties of vegetables and fruits, giving us amusing tomato varieties like Aunt Ruby’s German Green and Box Car Willie!
As we transition back to the old (out with the new), here’s what you need to know about the heirloom revolution!
- Heirloom seeds are super old. Heritage seeds are old seed varieties created by centuries of open-pollination by birds, insects, wind, or other natural means. They are often passed down through generations in a family, but can also be obtained from companies or local farmers. Some in the seed saving community say a seed must be at least 100 years old to be considered an heirloom, while others say it must have originated before widespread plant hybridization in the wake of World War II.
- There are major differences between heirloom produce and what you find on the supermarket shelves. The fruits and vegetables you typically find at the grocery store are more likely to come from hybridized or GMO seeds than heirloom seeds. Hybrids are created through cross-pollination of two different varieties of a plant. Scientists began experimenting with hybrid plants in the late 1800s, and by the early 1950s farmers predominantly grew hybrid crops. Why did they become so popular? Thanks to the advent of the supermarket, produce needed to be high yield, durable to withstand travelling long distances, uniform and aesthetically pleasing. Created for similar reasons, GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are made by genetically altering the plant’s DNA so that it has a longer shelf life or a higher concentration of specific nutrients that might be lacking in a region’s diet.
- We’re in the midst of an heirloom seed renaissance. While hybrid and GMO seeds once seemed to be a saving grace for farmers and consumers alike, there is now growing concern about the sustainability of the farming practices used to produce these crops and the possible long-term health consequences of eating them. On a worldwide scale, heirloom seeds and the genetic diversity of heirloom plants are crucial to obtaining global food security. Since heritage seeds have evolved in their specific regions over generations, they adapt easily to climate and soil variations in those regions unlike hybrid plants, which are engineered to produce the same product across a wide range of growing conditions. Therefore, heirloom seeds may be better able to thrive in times of draught, disease and pestilence.
- Growing heirloom seeds may be better for farmers. The seeds inside heirloom produce can be saved and planted countless times over with nearly the same result. For most farmers this makes heirloom farming more stable and economical. Farmers who grow hybrid plants may have to buy seeds every year because the seeds from their crop may be sterile, produce an entirely different offspring, or contain no seeds at all. Thanks to generations of open-pollination, heirloom seeds have also evolved to be more resistant to disease and pests typical in the areas where they’re grown. This reduces the need for farmers to buy pesticides and prevents soil and water contamination from pesticide use and leakage.
- Eating produce grown from heirloom seeds may be better for you. Heirloom produce most often is grown organically and benefits from maturing in soil uncontaminated by pesticides. It often contains more minerals from healthy soil and more overall nutritional value than hybrid and GMO produce. This higher concentration of nutrients and minerals can actually makes heirloom produce much more flavorful.
Young farmers are challenging the idea that a vegetable is a vegetable is a vegetable. They’re working hard in the fields to provide us eaters with top quality, delicious, beautiful, seasonal produce while preserving history at the same time. The heirloom movement has also expanded beyond produce to heritage meats and now it’s moved on to ancient grains.
Stay tuned for more on how the history of wheat has effectively mirrored the history of agriculture in the U.S.!
Thursday, May 26th, 2016
By Guest Blogger Eliza Loehr
Eighty-six percent of shoppers believe in the importance of seasonality, but only five percent of those polled know when blackberries are ripe for eating. Are they to blame? Knowing what produce is in season is hard. If all you have to go by is what’s in the supermarket, seasonality may seem like a myth. When you try looking up charts of what’s in season, you find extremely complicated wheels that are only accurate for certain climates. So, how can we make this simpler? By cheating.
We’re going to give you easy to remember guidelines to get you started. First, let’s break it down into the four main categories: spring, summer, fall and winter. Next, let’s use some common sense.
Main color: GREEN
A new year brings new growth. Seeds planted in late winter start to come up in the spring. This new growth becomes what’s in season: spring peas, ramps, asparagus etc. Have you heard of spring onions? The name is no coincidence; these are literally just young onions that are harvested in the spring before the bulb has had a chance to swell.
Main colors: RED, YELLOW
As the summer rolls in with its hot temperatures, things are looking pretty good in the fields! As with a hot day in the city, just about everyone crawls out of their hiding place and soaks up as much sun as they can get. Because of this, summer brings out all of those juicy, colorful fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, berries and bell peppers. Things that hit peak ripeness and then rot quickly are generally in season in the summer.
Main colors: ORANGE, DARK GREEN
By the time fall comes, the growing season has had a long time to mature. The produce that will survive as the temperatures drop tends to be heartier and denser. Beautiful dark greens and deep orange colors take over the fields, as squash, kale and apples come into play.
Main colors: WHITE, PURPLE, GREEN
While some heartier greens like spinach and kale may grow in greenhouses, not much actually grows in the winter. When we talk about “winter produce”, what we’re mostly talking about are vegetables and fruits that store well. Just as humans have to layer up in the winter, produce with a thicker skin does better in storage. Onions, squash, cabbage and carrots can be stored for months in cool, dry places to grace our tables with some color over the gluttonous holiday season.
WHY SHOULD I EAT SEASONALLY?
Leaving the importance of supporting your local community aside, eating seasonal produce is not only good for your wallet, but also for your health and your taste buds. If farmers have to sell all of their asparagus before the season is over and the produce is past its peak, they will lower their price to help make that product move. Seasonal produce has a lot more flavor and more nutrients for two reasons. The first is that being in season means being at maximum ripeness. The second is that produce out of season comes from far away locations and is often grown with the intention of shipping well rather than tasting good.
We’ll leave you with an easier, visual guide to remembering the basics:
Thursday, May 19th, 2016
By Guest Poster Kieran Cawley, Events & Marketing Coordinator
Each year many of our students take part in the C-CAP preliminary and final competitions in the hope of securing scholarships to some of the finest culinary schools in the country. It is during these competitions that our students put all that they have learned into action, preparing four dishes that could propel them into the next phase of their culinary education.
Many of you will be familiar with the competition dishes, whether you have prepared them yourself under the watchful eye of our judges, or simply admired the finished results on our social channels. Earlier this week, I sat down with C-CAP Founder and Chairman Emeritus Richard Grausman (Mr. G) to find out the importance of each competition dish. Here are some of his words of wisdom on this topic:
French Rolled Omelet
The omelet has been a technique used by chefs for many years to demonstrate a base level of competency and dexterity when hiring for French kitchens. Every chef, at one point or another, will have mastered the technique of making the perfect omelet. For a high school student to show competency here demonstrates two things: practice and speed – both vital for culinary success.
Tomato, Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salad
Knife skills are the name of the game here. These skills are impossible to master immediately. Again, it takes practice, repetition and focus. Once in a professional kitchen, C-CAP students rarely have any problems learning the tasks that chefs ask of them. This is in large part due to students mastering knife skills while in high school with C-CAP.
Another important component of the salad is the vinaigrette. The vinaigrette helps students develop their sense of taste and understand the importance of seasoning. One extra drop of vinegar could create a whole new taste, so finding the right balance is the key.
Now, moving on to dishes from the final competition…
Poulet Chasseur avec Pommes Château
The perfect shape and turning of the infamous tourné potato requires time and patience. Practice is the key to mastering this skill. As for the chicken, there are lots of ingredients used in creating the sauce for this dish. Attention to detail and timing are important here, as is using ingredients properly to achieve the right consistency. While creating a sauce is not a skill usually expected of an entry-level position in a professional kitchen, this experience takes C-CAP students’ knowledge beyond entry-level, giving them that all-important edge over any rivals!
Crêpes à la Crème Pâtissière avec une Sauce au Chocolat
There are many things to consider with this dessert – thickness and texture of the crêpe, flavor and smoothness of a properly cooked pastry crème, and consistency and shine of the chocolate sauce. When done right, this can be very delicious and impressive to a professional chef.
In short, the dishes and techniques are chosen to focus teachers on teaching their students skills needed for entry-level jobs. It’s always been C-CAP’s purpose to empower our young students to get jobs in good professional kitchens. ‘Practice makes perfect’ they say, and it seems Richard Grausman has found four dishes that offer exactly that!