Friday, July 23, 2010

American Chef: Road Trip-- Friday

Home again, home again – right back to Center County. After Natalie and Catherine gave out the final tests, The American Chef: Road Trip! program ended today, the way many kids spend their weekend or holiday mornings- eating muffins and watching a cartoon. Only this cartoon was a short called ‘The True Cost Of Food’ and showed how a family could benefit by supporting their local farmer’s market. Chef did a blueberry muffin and pizza making demo and assigned various recipes to the campers that needed to be completed. The campers made their own pizzas and some very unusual dishes were created. Kory and Ben made a pizza topped with corn! There was a pesto, ham and ricotta pizza, some with vegetables, pineapple, bacon, sausage and many versions of the traditional sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

As the clock ticked toward noon, the pace in the lab quickened. There was no time for wii and DDR today! There were chef hats to make, name cards to write, and many, many dishes of leftovers from the Road Trip to heat, garnish and identify. Punch bowls were filled, plates and napkins distributed. As parents and siblings gathered outside the door, chef went over an etiquette presentation about what to expect during the event and then at noon the door burst open and the room filled with families eager to taste what they had heard about all week.

Once everyone had a glass of Apple-Cider-Raspberry Shrub Punch or Strawberry Lemonade and something to eat, certificates were given for all the hard work and demonstrations of the wii and DDR took place. As the parents began to leave, the lab became a relaxed atmosphere… well until next year anyway!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Making waffles!

American Chef: Road Trip--Thursday

The Road Trip continues as we head North to New England and the cold waters of the North Atlantic, full of lobster, clams and fish. Hannah led us through Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Many of the campers had been to the North, and told us their stories!

Megan brought us back to our region, the Mid-Atlantic States, and we toured New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The photos in the PowerPoint were all familiar and many of the campers could identify what was in the pictures- the boardwalk in Bethany Beach, the Liberty Bell, the White house, the Finger Lakes.
Many of the dishes for lunch were comfort foods- Chicken pot pie, Baked beans,Chicken and Waffles and Creamy New England Clam Chowder. Some of the dishes were familiar snack foods- Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dip and celery sticks, Funnel cakes and Cattails made with pretzel sticks. There were a lot of Buckeyes that tasted like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Fresh fruit starred in the Blueberry Cornbread and also in the Raspberry and apple cobbler. The Mohican Indian pudding also turned out to be a big hit!

Food Science Tip: Today’s cooking demo involved the making of cheese. A gallon of milk was poured into a deep pot, salt was stirred in, vinegar was added by Grace and suddenly- cheese curds were floating in the whey. The cheese was tasted by the campers and will be used on the pizzas for our final reception- as we head for home on our Road Trip!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

American Chef: Road Trip--Wednesday

The morning started with a lesson about separating eggs, creating egg foam and whipping cream. Chef discussed the importance of the consistency of the cream and egg foam--which makes a big difference when putting together a recipe! We looked at beating cream to butter, which then separated into butter and buttermilk. We’ll taste our homemade butter later on in the week!

The road trip continued today as we swept through the Heartland of America, through fields of sunflowers and corn in lowa to the towering skyscrapers of Chicago perched on Lake Michigan. The flavors of the region depend on simple ingredients of which are prepared well. Representative dishes produced included Macaroni and Cheese, Fried potatoes, Toffee squares and fragrant Sassafras Tea. The Buckeye production involved many hands and proved to be a 2 day effort- we’ll finish them tomorrow!

Heading down South we toured the Mississippi Delta region, listening to American folk music and New Orleans Brass while we cooked Grits, Collard greens, Blackeyed peas for Hoppin John, Sesame “Fried” Chicken, Hush Puppies, Cajun Catfish and “Fries” and Sweet Potato Pie. All were delicious! Everyone’s favorites differed! Keep a lookout as we round the next bend and head to the cool ocean waters of the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic on our Road Trip!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Popcorn Demo

American Chef: Road Trip--Tuesday

Chef led the tour of the great American west, starting in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge. The campers heard all about a trip out to Napa Valley and to Marin County, where the Marin Agricultural Trust tries to keep the farms there from selling out to the developers. Everyone wants to live in California! Next we moved up the coast to the Pacific Northwest and heard about the Native American tribes. Thanks to the bounty of the sea and forest, the population there has always been wealthy, living off the fruits of the fertile land. Traveling through the Southwest and Texas, the geography changed dramatically to high desert and eerie wind swept plains.

After learning from chef how to thicken with flour--by making a roux, adding beurre manie at the end, making a slurry, or keeping the starch granules separate with sugar--the campers learned how to make a Bechamel Sauce. And just in time--Grace and Mia needed to do that for their recipe!

Soon the campers were back in their units, baking potatoes, zesting oranges and lemons, chopping vegetables for chili and salad. It was quite a kitchen session! While listening the the Songs of the Pioneers, the campers made themselves a potlatch of interesting dishes, very nicely arranged--and tasty too!

The buffet lunch included the perfectly sauced Chicken Tetrazzini, California Club Salad with Avocado and Bacon, Orange County Muffins, Monte Cristo Sandwiches, Blueberry Pudding Cake, Ranger Cookies, Buffalo Chili, Twice Baked Idaho Potatoes,
Teriyaki-glazed Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, Potato Salad with Cucumbers and Capers, Cheddar Apple Bread, Peach Cobbler and Raspberry and blueberry Lemonade. Next stop on our Road Trip: the Heartland!

Monday, July 19, 2010

American Chef: Road Trip--Monday

American Chef: Road Trip! launched this week with 20 campers preparing to go on a virtual journey across the United States in search of the regional flavors that make this country great. Today the campers began by filling out paperwork and surveys for the research aspect of the camp, then learned simple kitchen procedures such as measuring, knife handling, and dishwashing. The campers watched a shot video on handwashing and a longer one on culinary terms that they will be using all week. After the basic lab procedure was explained, it was time for a Hide ‘n Seek activity to make everyone familiar with the location of various kitchen tools. Campers chose partners and settled into their kitchens

Then the stir fry demonstration began. Chef showed the campers how to chop different vegetables and stir fry them in a wok. Mise en place--getting everything ready beforehand so the actual cooking goes smoothly--was demonstrated, so that all the campers can now look like the chefs on the Food Network. The campers decided which vegetables and protein they wanted in their stir fry (chicken ruled!) nd then the chopping began! Soon the woks were sizzling and lunch was well on its way. White rice, brown rice, brown Basmati rice—just try to avoid the Minute Rice unless you forget. While the campers ate their stir frys chef demonstrated the all important dishwashing technique so that everyone knew just what to do.

After lunch, the campers learned how to make different smoothies—banana, strawberry, mango, with soy milk and banana, orange juice and vanilla yogurt. That ended the day and tomorrow begins our Road Trip across the United States. California here we come!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday: Test, Test, Test...then Party!

On Friday the campers got to see what it is like to be in college. They took 4 tests in a row, busily shuffling papers, checking off boxes and writing in comments. In the end, we'll see how much they learned at camp this week. Natalie and Catherine spoke about what it is like in England and Wales where culinary lessons are required for all students between the age of 11 and 16. They don't have anything like cooking camps though! In the UK school lunch includes healthy choices now, thanks to Jamie Oliver's intervention. There are no "fizzy" drinks allowed and no more turkey "dinosaurs" which are like our chicken nuggets. They are only allowed fries on Friday and they call them "chips". Interesting concept! Next Jon gave us a guided tour of the website, where you can find out exactly what you need to eat to get healthy and stay that way. If you use MyPyramid Tracker, you can find out exactly how many calories you need of specific nutrients--pretty handy to ensure optimal growth through the teenage years.
Chef demonstrated how to make an omelet that was healthier--by removing one of the egg yolks--and then the campers all had the chance to make their own omelet--or scrambled eggs in some cases. We were very lucky to be able to taste fresh goat milk that Emily brought in from her farm, where the goats graze around the yard. Delicious! After our big breakfast, the pizza demo showed exactly how to make a pizza
with a special technique that keeps the mozzarella cheese soft (put it under the sauce!) and then load on some of those 2 and a half cups of vegetables you are supposed to eat every day. Campers proceeded to make their pizzas and other goodies for the reception. There was barely enough time to get their stations cleaned up, make their chef hats and listen to chef's etiquette presentation before suddenly the hall outside filled with parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters and the reception was in full swing! Guests roamed around the lab, sampling some of the highlights of the week and then an award ceremony recognized each and every counselor and camper that participated this week. Can they all Cook Like a Chef? Basically, yes!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our 15 Minutes of Fame!

Ok, more like 5 minutes....

Channel 6


Channel 10

Thursday: Dairy and Proteins

First we watched the Channel 10 news story about the camp. Our campers looked and sounded very professional! then we started to think about dairy, and things got off to a rolling boil as the gallon of milk that Sierra and Ciara had poured in a deep pot to make cheese started to boil over. Off the burner! Stir in the salt, add the vinegar and suddenly--cheese curds were floating in the whey. We made ricotta for the manicotti! After that, Hannah explained all about Dairy products. Emily lives on a farm with goats and they make goat milk--how handy is that?! If you have trouble digesting milk--that is, if you get a bellyache--you need to be sure to get your calcium from other sources. Next Felicia explained all about Proteins, which was very complicated. Animal proteins are complete--meaning they have all the essential amino acids necessary to promote growth. If you want to get the proper amount of protein from vegetable sources, you need to combine some things so that they are complementary. We tried some of the classic combinations--like corn tortillas and refried beans and bean hummus and wheat pita triangles, and enjoyed some tasty tofu in a black bean garlic sauce with brown rice that Jaia and Raina made. It was delicious! You sure don't have to eat meat at every meal!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday: Fruits and Fats

Whew! Busy day with lots of excitement. Thanks to Jon, we were able to view the video of cooking methods and techniques--many that the campers will do while they are here for camp.Simmer, zest, blanch, saute--they all are terms we will cover this week. Next Katrina led the lively discussion about the benefits of including a lot of colorful fruit in your diet, especially in the summer when so many local fruits are available. It seems that everyone enjoys fruit in many ways and has a favorite. After the Powerpoint discussion chef showed how to use a melon baller to make fancy little melon balls for fruit salads or fruit kebabs, which many of the campers did later with Crystal and Meghan. The Fats discussion by Meghan was very technical about the benefits of healthy fast like those that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and it all made more sense with the olive oil tasting that followed. EVOO was a clear favorite. During the cooking time both Channel 6 and Channel 10 news teams interviewed several campers and chef to see what was going on. We couldn't convince them to stay for lunch, but Mike the Mailman--one of the most popular and famous people on campus showed up to help serve the delicious Watermelon Gazpacho before he ran back to the post office. Fruits and Fats make some mighty tasty combinations--and we will have the pies at the reception on Friday since they were too hot to slice. Enjoy blueberry season this summer!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday: Grains and Vegetables

Crystal started off the morning with a presentation about grains, the foundation of the Food Guide Pyramid. Whole grains are the ones to choose! Make half your grains whole--which we later proved was easy to do with our recipes and snack. Megan told the campers all about vegetables and how beneficial they are to include in your diet. You can never eat too many of them--and many of the campers enjoyed tasting a vegetable they had never tired before during our colorful tasting. Even our snack demo fit the theme--corn, freshly popped and tossed with a little Kosher salt, is a vegetable that provides a whole grain option in a tasty way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Taste Workshop and Procedures

After much pretesting to find out what the campers know before they start, we are finally ready to commence the camp program. Natalie and Catherine from Leeds Metropolitan in England have come to help process the paperwork but they couldn't help but get involved in the cooking and tasting too. After hearing all about how we get our taste preferences, the lab procedures and some safety issues from chef, the campers went back to their stations and got familiar with their territory through a Hide 'n Seek activity. A Taste Workshop followed, small samples of the 5 basic tastes to tune up the palate. Campers watched as chef demonstrated how to cut vegetables and handle a knife safely--without cutting off a fingertip ;-]--and then they went back and prepared Minestrone Soup and a big tossed salad to have for lunch with home (well, lab) made bread. Lowfat milk proved to be the favorite beverage! After watching a demonstration about how to wash dishes, the campers went back and cleaned up their stations well enough to earn the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" from Meghan

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cook Like a Chef: The Basics--All Systems Go!

The counselors will soon be arriving for our meeting. Some have come from as far away as England and Wales! Soon it will be time to light the fire under this hot-air balloon so that it can take off. Ready, set--cook!