Friday, December 30, 2011

Check out this super easy recipe!

Apple Bourekas from Steamy Kitchen!

Tonight, some of my family is going to a party at a friends house, and I thought this would be a simple recipe to make up something delicious and different to take along... I even have a box of filo dough thawing in my fridge! It's after Christmas and I am sure some people are open to a change from chocolate and cookies... not everyone, though!

Four Seasons - Part I

The Four Seasons Philadelphia.
The food line to the right is for room service only. Our tour of the kitchen was around 9:45am, so we were able to see some of the guest's breakfasts heading out. One plate was Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce, garnished with chopped chives (I think). Cooking bacon was the strongest smell here!

The very end of a food line. I think this one was mostly for the Swan Lounge and breakfast. At the hotel, the food lines are separated into the different restaurants they serve, such as room service, the Fountain, and the Swan Lounge. Additionally, the lines are split into the Times they serve, breakfast and then lunch and dinner are together.

Chef preparing sandwiches for tea, which is served every afternoon at the hotel.

In one of the numerous refrigerators. Chef Gonzalez is explaining their standards for food and where they like to purchase food. While the Four Seasons has twelve raised beds on the roof of the hotel that provide fresh produce in the summer, in the winter, Chef Gonzalez likes to stay as local as possible. However, if a guest asks for something like strawberries, Chef Gonzalez will do his best to get whatever the customer requests.
Another food line! On the left in the picture is cheese-steak beef, thawing. One of the signature dishes at the Four Seasons are cheese-steak egg rolls. Instead of a filling of vegetables and or shrimp or chicken, the onions and beef of a cheese-steak are finely chopped and cooked together, then cheese is added to the mixture. The final product is rolled up in the traditional egg roll pastry, then fried and served. What a clever idea to showcase a pillar of Philadelphia cuisine in a new way!

A chef cutting American cheese for the filling of the cheese-steak egg rolls.
Another chef blanching pasta. Chef Gonzalez explained that the hotel either uses fresh pasta, made right in their kitchens, or frozen pasta for their hotel dining. For banquets, the hotel uses dried pasta. Coming in a later post: the banquet tour and a peek inside the pastry kitchen!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Birthday Treat!

Today I got a fabulous treat! My creative mom arranged a special birthday surprise for me: a meeting with the head chef of the Four Seasons Philadelphia!

Not only were we graciously welcomed by Rafael Gonzalez, but he personally took us on an extensive tour of the hotel/restaurant kitchen, food service areas, banquet rooms and explained the joys and challenges of being a chef. We spent nearly an hour meeting staff, observing the kitchen in action, peering into chilly refrigerators and asking questions about the hotel and the cuisine.

In the above photo, Chef Gonzalez is explaining the balance of staff for the different restaurants in the hotel (The Swan Lounge, the Fountain Restaurant, and room service). The plate heading out is for room service with Eggs Benedict. The smells were incredible!

In the next few days, I will add an update or two on life as well as a more complete report on my visit to the Four Seasons. Touring the kitchen was a perfect way to get an inside peek into one of the finest hotels in the region. The standards of excellence and service are evident in the beauty and friendliness of the hotel.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remembering A Hero: Steve Jobs

The world lost a genius today - I was sorry to hear about the passing of Apple's Founder Steve Jobs. He proved that you can be successful without a college degree. He pioneered new technology and never settled for anything less than the best. His legacy of Apple computers created a legacy in my own family.

My grandfather started buying computers as early as the II SI (I think) and whenever he upgraded, we always got the old ones. As part of a large family, we appreciated my grandfather’s generosity, insight and advice on all techie things. It was my grandfather who recognized early on the importance of Apple computers and made sure we stayed current on the latest innovations. When the first grandchildren graduated high school in 2001, their present from Granddad and Grandma was an Apple laptop. As the most recent grad I love using my beautiful MacBook, in addition to my iPod Touch. My grandfather passed away suddenly in 2003. The Apple computer was a way to have a tangible connection to someone I loved very much.

I was just moving into my dorm at college when I found out Steve Jobs was stepping down. Today, I was deeply moved when I heard he had passed. I cried. We never know how much we love someone until they are gone. Both Steve and my grandfather have passed on, but I can still feel their presence in many ways. The world is a better place with Apple computers, but today we have lost one of our greatest innovators. Steve Jobs will be missed by many people, including me. New products from Apple aren't the same without the tall, lanky, silver-haired inventor in a black turtleneck. Steve Jobs was an icon and leader in his field. Imagine a world without Apple. I am grateful for the full and fruitful life of Steve Jobs. May God have mercy on his soul.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

This weekend is already off to a great start. Today, my favorite tennis player, Novak Djokovic made it into the finals at the Wimbledon and became World #1!  Tomorrow is a celebration of my great-aunt's 80th birthday with lots of  fun and food (to start the day off, all the girls are going out for manicures and facials!). Sunday... Wimbledon.  Monday... the office is closed! 

Fireworks will light up the skies from the Atlantic to the Pacific - when you see them, think of the soldiers that are keeping us safe and protecting our great nation. Say a prayer for them, for their families, and for our leaders.

Wherever you are and wherever you go, may you have a glorious weekend celebrating Freedom!

God Bless America!

Image from Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zucchini Double Header

Take a look at these pictures I just took in my backyard...

I have never seen a double-headed zucchini flower. EVER. Once, last summer, I had a two-headed zinnia grow in my garden. But alas, I did not take pictures of the flower so it remains an urban legend. 

Note: this is not a developing zucchini "fruit" - it's merely one of the buds on the plant... can't wait to for the summer squash to ripen so I can make this.

Friday, June 24, 2011


It's a warm, bright summer day and I'm craving something sweet. Although I'm not allowing myself desserts right now, I've got a couple ideas on my mind for the ultimate mid-afternoon-on-a-Friday-in-June snack.

 - Strawberry Sorbet
Prepare fresh strawberries by washing them and removing the hulls. Crush two-thirds into a paste then add the remaining third that have been sliced. Add sugar to taste and mix evenly. Put into freezer-proof container and freeze until solid. Add fresh mint leaves for extra flavor when serving (or eat right out of the bowl).

- Brownie Sundae
Bake up a tray of your favorite brownies - but take them out of the oven just when the edges are cooked. Let it cool for 20 minutes. Spread your favorite flavor of ice cream (I recommend mint chocolate chip or coffee) evenly across the surface. Pop into freezer until the ice cream has hardened (if you can wait that long). Top with fudge sauce, honey roasted peanuts or whatever you're craving.

- Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
Save time and throw your dough for a batch of chocolate chip cookies into an un-greased 10 inch pie pan. Bake until the top is slightly golden brown - the center should be gooey. Slice, er, spoon out portions and top with vanilla ice cream a la mode.

Hmmm. The strawberry sorbet isn't exactly a dessert... or is it?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Update on Life - September 2010

It's been too long...

Although I've been theoretically taking a "year off," these past nine months or so have been anything but a vacation. At the very beginning of my gap year I didn't have a job and had only one regular commitment (besides meals). Now, at the final stretch of summer before I pack up and leave for college, I have a full-time job and my "free-time" is filled with running errands, going to baseball games and swim meets, rehearsals, picnics with friends, and trying to stay out of trouble (which usually means staying out of the kitchen).

To give you a glimpse into what a gap year can look like, here is one snapshot from each month of year.