dYIng

22Apr10

The slow death of Foodyi is killing me too. Suddenly I’ve lost that perspective that allows me to write whatever I feel (grammatical errors and all), whatever I want to say out loud without seeming consequences. But now that it has some bearing on my “professional” (and it has.. Brad if you’re reading this…hi) life, I’ve become a more nervous and doubting writer. Instead of imposing the seriousness of food as a subject at work onto my creative writing process, I should have  used my writing as more of an escape. Which I did for awhile.. and then it got to me. And then I got them confused. And then I got to where I am now.. writing once a month. Maybe it’s time for a new blog for a new perspective. Have you read The Food Whore? I think she does a great job recounting the day’s events as a chef in a restaurant kitchen. But I don’t know if I can handle doing it anonymously…I like associating myself with my writing. It’s not just a forum for funny stories for me…I don’t know I have to think about it for a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve moved on professionally. I’m at a new restaurant cooking new food with new people. New stories and new techniques to learn. SO much to learn.. and I’m stoked. So stoked…


Office Supplies

16Mar10

I’ve reached a point where the ho-hum days become a part of my work week. Up til this point, I’ve had a relatively exciting week after week. Or at least there were enough new things to learn and jokes to go around to keep me entertained for most of the time. Now, I’ve reached what seems to be The Grind. Go to work. Read prep list. Make polenta. Again. Cut scallions. Again. Talk about drinking after work. Again. Drink after work. Again. Wake up hung over. Again.

Thinking of all the kitchen tools we cooks get excited about, I got to thinking what  tools other trades go gah gah over. Do plumbers get excited about new monkey wrenches? I know my mom LOVES her pink scrubs. I brought in a ceramic vegetable peeler I had purchased on sale a few days before, and we definitely talked about it for a decent 5 minutes. Now donned the space peeler, I can’t deny that I was pretty excited to test it out on a big, fat tuber when I got to work. (update: the space peeler with a lifetime guarantee definitely broke and more or less “pets” the skin with its dull blade, rather than peeling it off the vegetable).

I guess it’s the equivalent to new office supplies. That new box of pens really kicks off the week, no? Everyone gets excited about new office supplies. Mostly because you don’t have to pay for it, and you could scan through the company’s supplier’s website and pretty much buy anything you “need” in any ridiculous color you want, just because you can. But they’re a cheap, simple solution to break up the routine and offer a bit of change. Even if the conversation drifts into pointless discussions on ceramic swivel heads and if they are, in fact, the answer to consistently perfectly peeled vegetables. Sometimes, that’s all you need to get through the day…


So that whole waking up and your muscles are completely sore and feeling like blood has circulated in a full rotation throughout your body for the first time feeling? Ya, that still happens every morning. Except, now my hands looks like I’ve been dipping them in a bag of knives every day and my knees sound like jiffy pop.

That, and breakfast is at 12 pm, lunch is at 5 pm, and dinner is at 12 am. Always. Fucked, right?


Duck Liver Pate, Lemon Zest Ricotta, Parsley Salad, Bruleed Figs  & Crostinis

Sundays are the best, because you’ve just come down from a high off of working 2 crazy back to back nights (200+ covers). Sunday is literally, the day of rest. My weekend is usually Monday and Tuesday, so having only about 50 covers, plus an opportunity to play around with food and make something of my own, is kind of the perfect way to cap off my week.

I don’t know if I actually explained what Sunday Supper is, but it’s essentially a 5 course tasting menu offered alongside the regular menu on Sundays only. Whoever wants to participate (granted it’s approved), gets to create 1 of the 5 courses (5 being dessert). On Sundays, most of the staff comes in at 3:00 pm to prep for service that begins at 6:00 pm. Your dish needs to be ready by 5:30 pm, but planned out by 3:00 pm (so the menu can be typed up). You can imagine what kind of harried predicament that leaves those a little less seasoned in the art of improvisation. If you’ve decided that you’ll be contributing a course in the upcoming Sunday, you’ll want to start thinking of your ingredients probably around Thursday or Friday. But considering you have regular service to be concerned about (and the 200+ people per night), you really don’t have that much time/concern for what’s going to happen 3 days from then. And, when you come home at 1 in the morning, brainstorming about MORE food, is kind of the last thing you want to do. Sooooooo… basically I’m all kinds of flustered, but somehow every Sunday, 5 great dishes come together and people seemed to be happy with what they’re getting. We’ve toyed with the idea of trying to coordinate all five dishes into one theme. And hopefully we can find a balance of time and energy to do so at some point. But when everyone’s schedules change weekly, and ingredients seem to be missing or overly abundant at the end of the week, you just kind of have to bang it out.

My favorite part is the collaboration and group critique, and the personalities that shine through each of the dishes. When you know and understand the people you cook with, it’s a great thing to see what they can create and the creative energy they send through the preparation and execution of their food. It’s finally the time during the week when your cooking is art, not your job, not a craft, not technical, not mindless. There are the risk-takers and the play-it-safers, there are those that take upon past experiences and those that look towards current trends. It’s all solidified into a product that is edible. And I might be biased, but I think that’s the best kind of fuckin art.


Tuscany

30Nov09

Hey, it’s Diane. Sorry I’ve been so MIA recently. As you may or may not have known, I was in Tuscany a few weeks ago renovating my house. It’s been quite the project and Amadeo, the handyman, and I are hoping it will be ready by next summer. Sandra came to help this time. The divorce has been difficult on me, but I’m one lucky bitch and I get to weep and moan under the Tuscan Sun. Below..a few pictures of how I ate my feelings (and the recipe for the AMAZING Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, the salad that almost saved my marriage.)

Love,

Diane Lane Stewart

Continue reading ‘Tuscany’


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Duo of Carrot Brown Butter Dumplings in Tom Yum Soup

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Tom Yum Broth

Bring to a boil 4 cups of chicken stock, preferably home-made + 2 stalks of lemon grass pound and cut into 1-2 inch stems + 2 tbsp of coarsely chopped galangal root + 8 lime leaves + 3 cilantro stem roots + 1/4 cup of fish sauce

Bring back to a simmer and add  4 Thai bird chilies coarsely chopped + juice of 1 lime  + 1 tbsp of palm sugar+ nam prik pao (thai chili paste) to taste ( about 1 tbsp)

Let it simmer for at least 45 minutes/until you can taste the flavors developing. If too salty, add more palm sugar. If not acidic enough, try adding equal parts lemon juice to your lime juice to add a more subtle acidic kick in addition to a little sweetness. If not enough, add more lime juice. Strain through a fine chinoise.

Flavors should be equal parts sweet, salty, sour, and delicious.


Status Update

01Oct09

I’ve cooked for over a decade, yet the manner in which I’ve been cooking for the past few months has put a whole new perspective on what it means to cook. I couldn’t have said it any better than Harold McGee when he said,

“the great virtue of the cook’s time-tested, thought-less recipes is that they free us from the distraction of having to guess or experiment or analyze as we prepare a meal. On the other hand, the great virtue of thought and analysis is that they free us from the necessity of following recipes, and help us deal with the unexpected, including the inspiration to try something new.”

This is the goal: to satisfy the mind, not only the body. To allow my interest in food to lead me to new ideas and wonderful explorations. To pursue unlimited knowledge in limited time.

That’s all.




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