Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dining Alone

Recently, at Bella Bella, I noticed a thirty-something woman having dinner alone. Normally I feel pity for people eating alone, but not this time. She seemed really at ease. She looked like she'd just gotten off work and just wanted to enjoy a nice meal alone. Throughout my entire meal, I just couldn't stop thinking about the concept of eating alone.

Why is it that we avoid eating alone at all costs- but only if we're in public? The answer is obvious; Society looks down upon it. It's not the fact that we're consuming food alone, but the fact that we're dining alone. Just Google "dining alone." You'll find books, articles, even entire websites dedicated to "the dreaded eating alone experience" (Yes, that's a direct quote).

I eat alone all the time at my apartment. Actually, I really prefer eating alone, but I wouldn't dare go to a restaurant and dine alone. I've only done it a few times on campus and in airports, and I ate as fast as possible and felt self-conscious the entire time.

So my question to you is this. How do you personally feel about eating/dining alone? And how do you feel when you see someone else doing it?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tomato-Stuffed Mushroom

Warning: The photography in this post may distress you. I was way too hungry to bother with taking good photos.

I had a craving for meat the other day, which hasn't happened to me in a long time. So I figured my best bet would be mushrooms. Portabello mushrooms are savory, earthy, and have a pretty substantial texture. I liked this application because was a combination of earthiness and freshness.

  • 1 Portabello mushroom
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp. pesto (I used store-bought)
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 2 tbsp grated Asiago
  • 1 tbsp Italian bread crumbs.

1. Peel your garlic clove, but leave the clove whole. Cut the stem off of the mushroom and remove the gills. If you don't cut them out your mushroom will be filled with black mushroom juice. Gross.
2. Roast the mushroom stem-side down with the garlic clove on an oiled sheet pan at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
3. While the mushroom is roasting, cut the tomato in half, scoop the seeds and juice out, and dice it.
4. After the mushroom and garlic are done roasting, mash the roasted garlic and combine it with the pesto. Coat the tomatoes in the pesto mixture.


5. Pat the mushroom dry. Layer the bottom of the mushroom with spinach, followed by the tomato mixture, and top with the grated Asiago and breadcrumbs.
6. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Move to the top rack and broil for 2 minutes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Passion vs. Motivation

Since I started this blog, all I've really talked about is food. At the beginning I talked a little about my intentions, but I haven't really talked about ME. Although I'm pretty everyone who reads this knows me already (I'm not that popular... yet), I feel like it's important to let you know a little bit more about myself and my ambitions: of which I am completely unsure.

Obviously I'm kind of obsessed with food; There's no other way to put it. I just love food. It's really not just eating, but everything about food that I love. Nothing makes me happier or more alive than this.


Yes, that's chocolate cake. On a knife.

But there's another part of me that is really interested in law and social justice. I've done mock trial since high school, and honestly, I'm good at it. I like figuring out the "puzzle" that is a court case: manipulating all the pieces until I make them into something truly convincing. I like the adrenaline rush that comes from being in front of a courtroom- the feeling that, in the past few years, has transformed from fear to confidence.



So here's the big question that has racked my brain for the past three years: Culinary School or Law School?

I'm honestly just scared of both options. As a chef I'd probably make less money, have a more physically demanding job, and be giving up something I'm good at that I could use to help so many people. But as a lawyer, I think that one day, eventually, I'd stop liking my job. And I know I'd always wonder, "What if?"

"Passion is an overwhelming love for the experience of a favorite activity. Motivation is a drive to engage in an activity based on some reward the activity offers beyond the simple enjoyment of the experience itself. When you have great passion... you don't need any extra motivation. But motivation without passion can only take you so far" - Dean Karnazes

Friday, February 12, 2010

My New Favorite Pasta

I'm not exactly sure what to title this recipe. "Pasta with garlic oil, cherry tomatoes, spinach, kalamata olives, and a whole lot of cheese" is a mouthful- literally and figuratively. But it's delicious.

  • 1.5 cups dry radiatore pasta
  • 2 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cups chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
1. Before you start cooking anything, do your prep-work. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Roughly chop the spinach and olives. Crush one garlic clove, but don't chop it. Grate the asiago cheese.
2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
3. While the pasta is boiling, start heating the olive oil in a pan with the crushed garlic on medium heat. Make sure you put the garlic in the cold oil so they come to temperature together. You want to get as much flavor out of the garlic as possible.
4. When the garlic starts turning golden-brown, discard it. Lower the heat and add the spinach, tomatoes, and olives to the oil. Cook until the leaves are wilted.
5. Add the cooked pasta directly to the pan with the spinach mixture.
6. Top with the grated asiago cheese and mix everything together!


  • If you want more garlic flavor, you have a couple different options. You can chop the garlic and leave it in the oil with the spinach mixture, or you can add one more crushed garlic clove and still discard it before adding the spinach.
  • It seems like this might bland since there's no real "sauce," but it's far from that. The garlicy oil combined with the nutty, sharp asiago creates a super-flavorful dish.
  • If you feel like the "sauce" is too thin, add some pasta water to it. The starch will help thicken everything.
  • This is more like a template than a recipe. Don't pay too much attention to my measurements or even what I put in the pasta. If you really like spinach, add more. If you hate olives, don't use them. There are no real rules to this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lake Ella's Offerings

I made a trip to Lake Ella last Wednesday for the Farmer's Market. That's where I got those gorgeous cherry tomatoes! If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with tomatoes. But only if they're home-grown. Well, I know it's not tomato season yet, but a lady has been growing these, along with some full-sized tomatoes, in her greenhouse and they are absolutely delicious. I've been roasting them with balsamic and olive oil, eating them in salads, and just grabbing one or two every now and then like they're candy.


I also got some really great broccoli that was picked just that morning. I've honestly never had broccoli like that- I've always bought a whole head of it from the grocery store. I'll admit, at first I thought $3 was a little much for the small amount, but it was totally worth it. I ended up doing something new with it, which I'll tell you about in a recipe later this week. :)



Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy Whipped Cream Cheese Icing

I made this icing for a half-birthday party, and I'd have to say it's my favorite icing I've made so far. It's even better refrigerated and eaten cold with a warm brownie (don't try to spread it once it's refrigerated- won't happen.)

I used it on a modified version of Hershey's Black Magic cupcakes. My personal chocolate cake recipe is in the works, but I'm not going to post it until I'm happy. :)

  • 1 lb. cream cheese (room temp)
  • 2 sticks butter (room temp)
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
1. Mix the cream cheese and butter on low speed until combined. Then whip the cream cheese and butter mixture on high until until light.
2. With mixer on low, slowly add in the confectioner's sugar until combined. Scrape down bowl when necessary.
3. Whip the mixture on high. Slowly stream in the heavy cream until the icing is very light and fluffy.