August 20, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Applesauce Spice Bars

I know it's not Tuesday, but I've been busy (and my internet is down at home).  School started again this week; teachers worked on Monday & Tuesday, then the students' first day was yesterday.  

I had such a fantastic summer and wasn't at all ready to start school, but now that I am a few days in I am getting excited for a great semester (fingers crossed). I'm also thankful that the weather in St. Louis has been milder than normal (as in NOT 100-degrees) because my school doesn't have air conditioning. Yep, that's right...NO AIR CONDITIONING. I'm not sure how that is even possible in this day and age, but it's true. Try teaching a roomful of 30 teenagers in a second floor classroom during the first week of school when it's 90-something degrees outside with only 3 floor fans. It's damn near impossible. IMPOSSIBLE, I say!

Yesterday was nearly unbearable hot. Everyone was cranky. I was standing in front of one class, reading to them from the novel Speak (to inspire their first writing assignment), when I felt a bead of sweat start to roll down my back. I was wearing a light, loose-fitting dress, so I could feel the sweat roll all the way down my back, past the band of my underpants, and down you know where.  Sound disgusting? I know! I even grossed me out! No one, students or teachers, are at their best these first few hot days.  

Today, though, was much better. There was less humidity and a nice breeze blowing through the windows. Everyone was in a much better mood. 

photo from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

Anyway, I made this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Applesauce Spice Bars (chosen by Karen of Something Sweet), for our faculty potluck lunch on Tuesday. They must have been good, but they were nearly all gone and I didn't get a chance to take a picture!

The bars begin as a dense cake batter laden with apples, nuts & raisins (though, I left the raisins out) and baked in a 9x13 dish. So, you end up with thin slices. The cake is then topped with a homemade brown sugar caramel glaze. 

It tastes like autumn. Cool, cool autumn. *sigh*

August 16, 2009

Fall Cooking Classes

Here are the classes I am teaching at Kitchen Conservatory this fall:

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: SATURDAY NIGHT CHIVE - Saturday, Aug. 29 @ 6:00-8:30
A vegetarian menu!
  • white peach-grape sangria
  • lime-bathed peanut salad with tomatoes and jalapenos
  • caramelized onion bread with olives and parmesan
  • vegetable kabobs with toasted walnut, red pepper, chive & pomegranate marinade
  • mushroom, spinach & tofu-stuffed black tea spring rolls with mango-chutney dipping sauce
  • mesquite chocolate chip cookies

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: FROM BEER TO SUSHI ETERNITY - Saturday, Sep. 19 OR Friday, Nov. 27 @ 6:00-8:30

Jerad Gardner, bar manager for Amalgamated Brewing, joins me in teaching this hands-on class. Enjoy salt-and-pepper edamame & spicy cucumber salad, then learn to prepare sticky sushi rice and make a variety of hand-formed nigiri, and rolled maki, including spicy tuna rolls, California rolls and Philadelphia rolls -- all served with Japanese beer.

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: THE LURE OF LAVENDER - Saturday, Sep. 26 @ 6:00-8:30

  • lavender-tangerine mimosas
  • garlicky lavender-curry hummus with baked pita chips
  • spinach salad with lavender-lemon vinaigrette
  • Northwest lavender crab cakes
  • lavender couscous with artichokes
  • lavender-honey ice cream & lavender sugar cookies

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: EVE'S APPLE - Saturday, Oct. 17 @ 6:30-9:00

  • apple-thyme martinis
  • apple-cheddar crostini
  • fried goat cheese salad with apple vinaigrette
  • lamb chops with apple-mint chutney
  • gingered apple galette


This hands-on class for couples is all about the Cajun cuisine of New Orleans and hard ciders! Jerad has selected two incredible ciders to pair with fried pickles, bacon-wrapped grilled jalapenos stuffed with chorizo, andouille-pork burgers, sweet potato fries, red beans & rice, plus white chocolate bread pudding with bourbon sauce.

GRACE-FUL THANKSGIVING - Saturday, Nov. 7 @ 11:00 am-1:30 pm

I'm doing all the cooking for this elegant Thanksgiving luncheon! Enjoy honey-nut glazed brie, butternut squash-cider bisque, turkey saltimbocca, potato-fennel gratin, cranberry-apple salad, & pumpkin creme brulee.

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: THE JULIE & JULIA EXPERIENCE - Saturday, Nov. 14 @ 6:30-9:00

I'll tell you all about my recent Hollywood experience, as you enjoy gimlets (author Julie Powell's favorite cocktail) and the incredible cuisine from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and my favorite scenes in the movie: artichokes with lemon butter sauce, French onion soup, lobster thermidor, & chocolate cake with almonds.


This hands-on class will shake up a ginger gin & tonic and blood orange margaritas. Then we'll create a dazzling spread with cheddar straws, tomato bagna cauda fondue with vegetables, bacon-wrapped dates with green olive dipping sauce, tequila-lime shrimp skewers, mini chorizo corn "pups", & chocolate-orange palmiers.

MATCHMAKER - Tuesday, Dec. 29 @ 6:00-8:30

I'll show you that it is not which wines to match with food, but rather how to prepare your food to perfectly balance with your favorite wines! We'll start with buttered popcorn to highlight the butteriness of Chardonnay, then I'll make aromatic sauteed lemongrass-lime shrimp paired with Riesling, seared beef tenderloin with Cabernet, blue cheese with Port, plus a fabulous flourless chocolate-red wine cake with rosemary ganache served with red wine.

Call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online.

August 11, 2009

Cookbook Giveaway Winner

True Random Number Generator  16Comment #16 was written by "simpson1172."Please email your name and address to me at kelly AT barbaricgulp DOT com, and I'll get that into the mail to you this week!

August 5, 2009

On "Julie & Julia" and Being a Food Blogger

You've probably heard that Nora Ephron's new movie Julie & Julia comes out this Friday. It's the story of two women: the famed chef Julia Child, who learns to cook at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in her mid-thirties & works for years on her tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking, & Julie Powell, who cooks all of Child's recipes in a year. The plot is based on their books: Child's My Life in France & Powell's blog-turned-book Julie & Julia. While these are really two separate stories (the two women never met), Ephron has juxtaposed them well, switching back and forth between the two women's lives to show their similarities.

Meryl Streep is brilliant as Julia Child, without mocking satire. My favorite scene is when Child has her first meal in Paris; she is emotionally overwhelmed with the first bite of sole meunière, a dish that seems so delicious that Child cannot express her satisfaction in words. It's a moving scene that nearly brought me to tears. Throughout the film, Streep perfectly portrays Child's passion for food, for love, and for life. It's truly inspiring.

Valentine's Day card from the real Julia & Paul Child.

The movie does a good job highlighting their passionate marriage.

As a foodie, I also loved the food in the film; it really is another of the stars. And I loved watching the actors eat. Chris Messina, who plays Powell's husband, eats with such gusto that I've actually made one of the dishes he so eagerly consumes (the tomato bruschetta). Don't go to the theater hungry, because this movie will be 2 hours of torture. Do go home and make one of Child's recipe, particularly the boeuf bourguignon (you won't regret it).

Powell's husband Eric loves her cooking & is patiently supportive, at least in the film. (Anyone know if they are still married? It's hard to tell.)

On the other hand, I was disappointed in how Julie Powell is portrayed. I couldn't put my finger on it at first. So, when I met Powell in LA last month, I asked her how she felt about the changes they made to her story & character. She reminded me that Julie & Julia is a Nora Ephron romantic comedy and that her character is a "sweetened version" of herself. "It's rated PG-13," she said. "You get one fuck." And that was it! Powell is pretty edgy & dysfunctional in her book (which is one of the reasons I liked it); she's much tamer on screen. She didn’t like that her character says the phrase “the F-word” because in real life she would never have said that; she would just say "fuck" (and she does so in the book often). She also didn’t like that her character shopped at Dean & DeLuca, another thing she would never do. (She calls the store “Grocery of the Antichrist” on her original blog.) Otherwise, she seemed very happy with the movie. (Read Powell's recent article about her reactions to the film.)

One thing that bothered me about the changes to Powell's story is her reason for blogging. As I recall from reading the book, she is frustrated with her job (and life in general) and gets away to visit her parents in Texas. While there, she starts thumbing through her mother's old copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and realizes it's just the thing her soul needs. Before she starts cooking, her husband suggests she blog about it.

In the film, however, she decides to start a blog because her pretentious friend has one that is being made into a Showtime series. "I could write a blog. I have thoughts," Powell whines to her husband, who then suggests she write about cooking. "I'm not a real cook, not like Julia Child," she replies. It's then she comes up with the idea for cooking all of Child's 524 recipes in 365 days. I think that change makes Powell seem less than genuine and quite pretentious herself, like she is doing the project merely to get famous (although, if she was doing it for that reason then kudos to her for succeeding!). In the book, she seems to be doing it for more spiritual reasons (as she is even surprised that anyone is reading her blog in the first place).

There has been a lot of recent press about food bloggers hating Powell. I, for one, do NOT hate her. I loved her book (it inspired me to start cooking more & blogging about it), and I was absolutely thrilled to meet her (I really liked her). I honestly think that most of the hate comes from jealousy; she is, after all, the first to have her blog made into a book & a movie. I mean, most of us would love to have our blogs turned into books that are then made into movies starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Who wouldn't? There is really no reason to hate Powell for what she did; her project was ambitious & creative, and her writing is witty & entertaining. I think some people are just upset that they didn't think of mastering the art of French cooking first.

Some of the negative reactions to Powell stems from a comment she made in May when she said: "I don’t consider myself a food blogger. I feel deeply ambivalent about the whole thing. Food bloggers can be clannish, slightly evil people sometimes, which is OK I guess. I can be clannish and slightly evil too."

A couple of the food bloggers at the LA event were highly offended by that comment and even asked her about it. Powell responded by saying that she doesn't consider herself a food blogger because she doesn't blog for a living. She had that one blog (started in 2002), which is not really about the food (she doesn't post recipes or photos) but is more about her life, her job, her relationship, and trying to find her passion. She was quick to compliment those who have made a career out of food blogging. As a food blogger myself, I am not at all offended by her comment. In fact, I tend to agree with her. EVERYONE can be clannish & slightly evil sometimes...bloggers of any kind are not excluded. Anyone who says they aren't and never have been are simply lying. And I respect and like her more for admitting she can be, too.

Offense was taken to the fact that Powell doesn't define herself as a blogger. Who cares how she defines herself! If you've read her book, the entire book, you'd know that she wanted to be an author even before she started blogging. And, I'll tell you, if I ever have a book published and it becomes my career, I'll then call myself an author and no longer a blogger.

One comment made about the difference between a "blogger" and an "author" is that bloggers aren't taken seriously as writers. For the most part, I think that's true...some people don't consider bloggers to be serious writers, even though many bloggers are fabulous writers. But blogging alone does not make one a writer. For example, I wouldn't consider every teenager who has a blog to be a writer, nor would I necessarily consider someone who merely has a blog to be a "blogger." In fact, I don't really consider myself to be a writer, even though I recently wrote a magazine article. I am, for now, a blogger...because it's what I do most regularly. But, I'm also a teacher, and I consider myself to be a cook (not a chef, of course). I don't really care how Julie Powell (or anyone else for that matter) defines herself.

Nevertheless, whether or not you like Julie Powell, this movie is entertaining and worth seeing...even if you're not a foodie or a Julia Child fan (though, her life is really interesting).

Of course, since I'm an English teacher, I have to recommend that you read the books before (or after) seeing the film, since Ephron has changed some things and left out other details. Also, check out Powell's next novel, Cleaving, which comes out in December.

August 4, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Classic Banana Cake

Hiya, my fellow Tuesdays with Dorie bakers! I'm back! I took a little break from Dorie because I was getting overwhelmed with sweets. But, I was sitting at home today, avoiding having to help clean up outside post-tree cutting & putting off lesson planning for the upcoming school year when I realized I had a few overly ripe bananas in the freezer. So, I scrounged together the rest of the ingredients for this week's recipe...Classic Banana Cake, which was chosen by Mary of The Food Librarian.

Since I don't own a bundt pan, I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 square pan for about 50 minutes. I was going to top the cake with goat cheese icing and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, but it turned out so moist and fluffy; it didn't need anything on top!

Cookbook Giveaway

One of the perks of working at Kitchen Conservatory, besides getting to eat all the fabulous food, is meeting all the great chefs who teach classes there. Recently, I met pastry chef and food writer Julia Usher, and she generously donated a copy of her new cookbook Cookie Swap for me to give away! Cookie Swap is a gorgeous book with recipes for decorated cookies and baked treats throughout the year.

If you'd like to win this book, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite cookie recipe is! I'll pick a random winner next Tuesday.

Oh, and, if you're in the St. Louis area and would like to meet Julia Usher, she's teaching a couple classes at Kitchen Conservatory this fall: Halloween cookies on September 15 & Holiday cookies on December 2. You can see the menus and register HERE.