About Me

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I am a student currently attending the California School of Culinary Arts Le Cordon Bleu Program in Pasadena, CA. I love to cook and I love to eat and I love to entertain... Next step is to graduate and open a place I can call my own... to entertain and serve YOU!

View of Fire from Pasadena

View of Fire from Pasadena
My thoughts go out to the families and firemen affected by the fire!

Tony in Uniform

Tony in Uniform
Fat and Happy Chef to be

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday August 31st - TEST DAY

Okay all! You have to think good thoughts for me this afternoon! I am getting ready for our test today in Intro to Culinary. When I get there we have a three part test that starts with a written test. In the written test we get to answer questions about terms, measurements, recipes that we have to write from memory and fun stuff like that. Then we move on to the timed knife cut section. It is amazing how hard that can be when you are timed! Then its off to the practical portion of the test which is where the teacher lists products on the board that we are to prepare from memory. It is always such a fun type of test. The pressure!!!! AAARRRGGGHHH! Can't it be Tuesday yet?

Anyways, I will let you all know what the test is like tonight when I get home! Hope you are all having a wonderful day!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Potatoes, Potatoes and More Potatoes!

So based on the title you may know what we made tonight in class... If you can't tell, I will help you out here.... POTATOES! I have worked with more starches in this class than I ever have. Don't get me wrong because I love potatoes! They are so good!

Last night we made Pommes Anna, Pommes Dauphinois, Hollandaise Sauce, Tomato Sauce and Clarified Butter. I am going to brag for a moment here because I actually am pretty good with the clarified butter. This product can burn pretty quickly and I seem to have the touch that it takes to make this. I also kind of like Pommes Anna. They are tough though. You have to cut paper thin small round slices of potato and place them in the form of a rosette in a small pan. You then layer them (no less than 3 layers and up to 5 layers) repeating the formation and then you brown the edges, bake the dish in the oven and then when you pull it out of the oven you have to flip it over on the dish for a very pretty presentaion! Can you say BUTTER! The amount of butter in this dish is to die for!

Pommes Dauphinois is similar to scalloped potatoes. Made with garlic and heavy cream and sliced potatoes it is just really yummy! I could eat this daily but I would be looking like Robert on Hell's Kitchen and that ain't gonna happen!

Tomato sauce is easy and fun but boy is it a mess! It is hard to get the tomato stains out too! But, the end result is pretty delish and it goes great with some fresh pasta. You have to simmer long enough to melt the pork meat right off the bone and then you know you are good to go. The food mill is kind of a mess but it sure makes a good end product.

Tonight we make Latkes and Pommes Anna and Roesti Potatoes...oh yeah... Hollandaise too! Latkes are like small hash brown patties that are pan fried with very tiny diced onions and boy are they good! They go very well with some sour cream and I am dying to try them with some eggs and bacon at breakfast one time. Yum!!! I was pretty pleased with my pommes anna but I am going to practice over the weekend because I am pretty sure it will be part of our practical test on Monday and I want PERFECTION baby!

Roesti potatoes are kind of cool because you have to be like Julia and flip the pan and pray for the courage to do so without a mess. You for grated potatoes into a 1/2 inch thick pancake in the bottom of a hot pan and you wait for it to brown and then - all in the wrist now - you flip this thing over in one shot with the hope in your heart that it doesn't break into tiny pieces all over the range and make the mess from hell! I, surprisingly, did it perfectly the first time. I was so flippin' excited (no pun intended here!) and I ended up with some great color on my product which led to a great grade.

Hollandaise you may ask??? I need to work on this one and I am going to the master hollandaise maker this weekend (My Dad) to see what tricks he can teach me to make a great Hollandaise Sauce.

Oh yeah... Did I tell you all I burned myself? Well, I was in a hurry and my dumb ass grabbed a REALLY hot pan and burned my pointer finger pretty darn good. The blister was there within minutes. Luckily I know about this great cream that you can purchase at Wholefoods called "Calendula Cream" by Boiron. This stuff works miracles. My burn is half the size today and the blister that I want to pop worse than an 8 year old wants to open presents on Christmas, has shrunk and is not bothering me too bad at all. I am glad it is a burn and not a cut though so I just have to be happy about that!

Well all, have a wonderful night and enjoy tomorrow!

Cheers! and Bon Appetit!

Chef Boy R Tony

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sauces Again! This time better!

Good evening all! Let me first start by saying that I had a discussion with a classmate today while we were making risotto parmesan about the new movie that is out, "Time Traveler's Wife", and I have come to the conclusion that Rachel McAdams is quite possibly one of the most beautiful women on our planet! So, now that I have that out there.... on to the cooking!

Today went okay. We had a huge demo list tonight. Chef was showing us how to do the dishes that we are going to cook tomorrow because we are being hosted for dinner at the school's Bistro restaurant tomorrow night. Rumor has it we are having Osso Bucco. I hope that is true because I love that dish. The problem with our "free" dinner is that it cuts into our class time and our prep time. We have a lot to cook tomorrow night and we have had our class time cut down for dinner.

Tonight we did risotto parmesan again along with Bechamel Sauce and Veloute Sauce again. It was good to do these again because my grade went up for all three items. However, the only major drama tonight was when we made clarified butter. My partner and I threw our butter in the pot and threw it on the flame and we both got busy and the butter bubbled up and over the pan and went EVERYWHERE! What a flippin mess. I was over it all at that point! Once I composed myself again I started over and got it perfect! Woo Whoo!

The class is fairly interesting. It is hard to not throw my management urges into the whole thing. I can't stand when people stand around and dishes need to be done. People got to see the "Get your ass to work" side of Tony tonight and I am not sure many of them really enjoyed that part of me but what the hey.... everyone has to jump in and get the job done! I just won't stay quiet about it. God I wish I had a dishwashing staff at this school....

So until tomorrow all.... Bon Appetit and Cheers!!

Sauce Week!

So tonight was the beginning of Sauce Week... Could be mistaken for Hell Week but I guess I will change that to "Hella Bland Sauces" being whooped up during Hell Week #2 in the kitchen. With all honesty, this class is kicking my behind. I have so much appreciation for Chefs and what they do now. It is a lot of work to make everything come out perfectly and consistently. I am truly impressed by the work that trained and skilled Chefs do.

We made three sauces tonight and I must tell you, they were all bland. No seasoning at this stage so you hardly want to taste them to see if you made them correctly. Now understand that two of the most important standards for a sauce is the texture and the consistency of the sauce.

Tonight we made:
Sauce Bechamel = Sauce Mornay
Sauce Espagnole
Sauce Veloute = Sauce Supreme
Clarified Butter

The best of all three in my opinion was the Sauce Espagnole because it had some flavor to it. The other two were fairly bland white sauces... well, one was more of a blond than the other!

It was a nice night in the kitchen. We need to step up our A game in getting the dishes done. I think that is the biggest problem we have. TOO MANY DISHES AND NO DISH WASHER!!!

The rest of the week is more potato dishes and more sauces so stay tuned for a "Saucy Update"!!! LOL

Bon Appetit! Cheers!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I am back! Week one down and no cuts!

Hello all. I have been away a couple days. Sorry I have not been on here updating. We had our first test yesterday. It was probably one of the hardest tests I have taken in several years. I studied like crazy for it and I think I did alright! The test was a three part test. We started out with a written test that contained terms and multiple choice questions along with some fill in the blanks. That was not the hard part though. Next was to write 5 recipes that we did this week by memory. They were ten points a piece. I have never memorized a recipe before and that is hard unless you make it a few times. Anyways, I think I may have done okay on the recipes....not great but okay.

Then when the written portion was done we moved on to knife cuts. Those are hard because they are cuts that one does not normally do. I was shocked at how tired my hands got. I think it was because of the pressure of being timed. When I was practicing during the week my hands didn't tire out because I was more relaxed I think. Anyways, I got all the cuts done but I did notice a couple were off in size so I know where I need to practice more. The best thing to do is practice! Practice! Practice! Right?.?.?

The final portion of the test consisted of a practical exam. Chef posted three dishes on the board and we had to scurry around and gather all the ingredients and put the dishes together without using a recipe card. From memory! There was a two hour time limit and there was to be silence. Anyone who has met my classmates would know that is probably the hardest test of all for us! We are a bit chatty! Anyways, Chef posted mashed potatoes, rice pilaf and ratatouille. I whipped it all together as best I could and quite frankly I was shocked that I remembered how to do them. As I may have shared previously the only ingredient I really like in ratatouille is the garlic... I don't see myself making that much in the future! As we presented our dishes Chef would taste them and take notes but he did not share with us or give us critiques. The only comment he made to me was that my ratatouille was the worst of all three of my dishes and that would be in the "B" range. I was surprised because I was not that thrilled with the way my dish came out. The eggplant was undercooked.

I am happy with the overall results of my testing yesterday and I feel like I will start next week with a new approach and a more positive mindset. We are going to learn so much. I really like the Chef too. He is very smart and is a very talented Chef.

Today we are having a knife cut party! I know that sounds like a rager!!! It should be fun. I have converted my dining room table into a knife cut station armed with tons of weaponry... LOL... Okay really just a bunch of sharp knives, a waste bowl, cutting boards and of course POTATOES! Woo Whoo!!! Can't wait for this Saturday night bash! I may just have to cook for my study guests as well.

Well all! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and if you are near a stove, whip up something new and challenging. You might just happen to love it!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 3 of Intro to Culinary

OMG! I am so tired after tonight's class. I almost fell down when I walked in the door of my apartment. Being day 3 I was shocked to see how much we had to do. It tested every ounce of me tonight. We had to make three things tonight and we were timed and we had to wear every hat known in a kitchen. I was the prep cook, the Chef, the dishwasher... All at the same time too! Crazy but fun!

So we started with a braised leek dish. Not my favorite but hey, I will try everything once. It was kind of a fun dish to make because it was different and I would never ever order it. The flavor was kind of bland for me and I love vegetables!

Dish two was amazing and super easy too so I will be doing this one many more times to come! It was glazed carrots and WOW were they yummy! The sweetness with the carrot flavor and texture is just phenomenal.

The third dish tonight was made up mostly of items that I do not generally eat but it was pretty good if you ask me! Ratatouille... and I don't mean the animated mouse!!! The ratatouille we made included eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic and salt and pepper to taste of course... This was the hardest because of the prep time and the way you cook it. You must caramelize each ingredient by itself - but you have to be careful not to over cook the product - then at the end you mix them all together and throw a cute little paper hat over the dish and let them cook for a few. De-lish!

Over all, it was a fun night. Those of you that know me probably already get that I am not a huge fan of dishwashing... Well that is what screwed all of us up on our grade tonight. Our workmanship grades were hurt because we let some dishes pile up. I am not too cool with that so I have to figure this one out! LOL

So tomorrow I need to work on my knife cuts! These are going to be the death of me I swear. Our first test in on Friday and I have got to be prepared for it. So tomorrow will be practice practice and more practice.

I am sure those of you who are dialed in noticed that I changed the layout. I hope you all like it. I feel like it is more viewer friendly.

Until tomorrow my friends!!! Bon Appetit!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 2 of Intro to Culinary

I'm Tony Rasmussen and I am currently a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. What you are about to read is written by me and only me. Everything is from my point of view and is being written as I go through the program at California School of Culinary Arts. The things that I write about are things that are taught to me while attending the school. - Hopefully that is enough of a disclaimer! If not send me what I should say and I will update my blog to reflect the correct disclaimer!

Let me start by saying that I am pretty excited about this blog thing. I have never done one and I saw Julie and Julia the other day and thought this would be a pretty cool thing to try. Because of the work load that I have while attending this school I figured that this would be a fun way to keep friends and family updated with what I am up to. So I hope you will add yourself as a follower and stay up to date with what I am learning! If you have questions or want to know more feel free to email me directly at TRASMSN@aol.com and I will get back to you!

Bon Appetit! Enjoy my blogs and I look forward to sharing many more days to come!

Okay.... Is it water from all the dishes from the cleanup or is it sweat???? Unfortunately the heat is up in the kitchen. It doesn't seem to matter how many fans are on... the stoves put out way too much heat for my fat ass!!! LOL The amount of water one drinks in class is amazing! I think it is the heat and the amount of work you do in a short period of time. I have a new found respect for Chefs now.

So today is the end of day two. We made blanched spinach (yum yum) and pommes vapeur (aka: steamed tourneed potatoes). The potatoes were pretty good actually but I need to work on the knife cuts because mine didn't exactly look like little mini football shaped potatoes. It was really neat to get to do the set up, the prep and then cook the food and present it to Chef Whitmore for tasting and grading.

Everything from how warm the plate is to how dry and fluffy your parsley is when sprinkled on top of a dish for presentation is important and part of the grade. The taste is actually only a small part! Once he tastes it and plays with it to check texture, temperature and consistency, he gives you comments and tells you to dive in or toss it! Thankfully, I took pictures before he played with my food. That sounds kind of funny to say that actually! I guess I had better get used to playing with my food.

A few of my classmates cut themselves pretty good tonight. Thank goodness I haven't done that one yet. Those of you who know me well know how well I would do with a cut! (Mr. Schranz!)

Knife Cuts:

Not sure how many of you have ever done these but personally I feel that this is the scariest part of this class. Over the years I have eaten in a number of fine dining establishment... probably more than I should have, but either way, I have eaten all types of food and I must say there really aren't many places that I have noticed some of these cuts so I am learning something totally new.

There are three categories of knife cuts:

1. Long Cuts
a. Julienne = 1/8" x 1/8" x 2" - 3"
b. Battonet = 1/4" x 1/4" x 2" - 3"

2. Square Cuts
a. Brunoise = 1/8" x 1/8" x 1/8"
b. Macedoine = 1/4" x 1/4" x 1/4"
c. Parmentier = 1/2" x 1/2" x 1/2"
d. Carre = 3/4" x 3/4" x 3/4"

3. Miscellaneous Cuts
a. Rondelle
b. Asian
c. Oblique (or Round Cut)
d. Paysanne (or Tile Cut)
e. Tourne
f. Chiffonade

The Misc. Cuts are the most unique cuts of all with the exception of the Rondelle which basically translates to small like size slices. For example: Cutting a carrot into small similar disc size pieces is a Rondelle cut.

It was a fun and fast paced night. I can't wait to see what tomorrow is like. We are learning to do brown veal stock, braised leek, glazed root vegetable and le piece de resistance (of the day) is Ratatouille - not the little mouse but the dish! That should be fun!

So I am off to fetch my bag of potatoes and my carving knife to sit and watch some television and practice my cuts. I see many 5lb. bags of potatoes in our future my dear readers!!! LOL

And, if you have not seen Julie and Julia yet, you should put it on your list. As Chef Julia Child once said, "Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy! Dining is not a fuel stop, it is a recreation!"

And I will steel her famous line tonight!

I'm Tony Rasmussen! Bon Appetit!

Day 1 of Intro to Culinary - CSCA Le Cordon Bleu

HOLY COW! HOW AMAZING! There are not enough clean expletives to explain how unbelievable class was tonight! Let me apologize for the wordy notes to follow but I am very eager to share my excitement with you all.

Chef Whitmore is a complete hard ass and I love it! He is demanding, very rule oriented and above all, a great teacher! This is going to be an incredible three weeks. He has it packed full. Tonight was the absolute earliest we will be out of class and that was 11:00pm. He said to plan on being in class until 11:30 or 12am each night depending on the cleanup time. I am completely exhausted but I feel high as a kite! The excitement and the rush from the running around the kitchen and learning is really neat!

Chef is a very hard grader and our attendance and work habits are 70% of our grade in this class. Each day will consist of a lecture, a demo and then our individual work of the recipes done in the demo. We get to eat or take home what we make in class each day. We will have three tests in this class. We will have knife cuts due once a week and we are strongly encouraged to get a bag of potatoes and a bag of large carrots and practice practice practice... The knife cuts are a large portion of the test grade.

Tonight we jumped in and started with a chicken stock. We are going to be learning a lot about stocks over the three weeks. We will be learning a lot of other recipes as well.

Chef said that those that practice a sense of urgency in the kitchen and take initiative will surely do well. His average students are C students so he says you must work hard and excel in order to receive higher grades. He is not quick to give out A’s. I am going to jump in and work very hard at this and enjoy every minute of working in the kitchen with a great Chef instructor. He also teaches our business law class and he has a law degree from UCLA, he is a cancer survivor and he was an Executive Chef for several years for the Marriott Corporation. He has been with the school for 7 years and he even traveled to Europe to help design the Intro to Culinary program for the school. He seems to know what he is doing inside and out and has taught our class over 100 times.

I am going to be staying very busy with this class but it is going to be quite a chance to learn some amazing things about this business. One small fact about kitchens the Chef shared with us tonight is that Cornell University did a study and figured that it costs an establishment 2 to 3 cents on average per step that the executive chef takes in the kitchen. That adds up pretty quick so it is imperitive to have a Chef that understands EVERYTHING that needs to be done and how quickly it needs to get done and done correctly...

If only you guys could take this class with me! What a blast!


Tony, Nigel and Chef