Friday, December 19, 2014

koldskål holiday hack

I've written before about my love for the Danish treat koldskål. In Denmark, the refreshing sweet buttermilk dessert flies off store shelves during summertime.  But since we lack cold weather seasons here in Southern California, I tend to crave koldskål year round.  Right about now in the city of Copenhagen, people have started to open up their bottles of gløgg (mulled wine), port, and traditional holiday party schnapps, all popular cold weather beverages.  Yet while Copenhagen's cyclists make their way around town on the rainy, chilly city's bike paths, southern Californians sneak in beach days and barbecues in December.  Often the only sign of winter involves when people change from wearing flip flop sandals to wearing actual shoes. Even our Santas have swim trunks and surfboards, examples of the seasonal confusion that leads to winter's koldskål cravings.

In any Danish market, a quart of koldskål is as common as a gallon of milk.  In America, on the other hand, koldskål doesn't exist.  Now, normally you could try to make your own version using pasteurized egg yolks, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, and whatever other approximations of ingredients you can get your hands on.  But during the busy holiday season, why not try a little koldskål holiday hack?

Try mixing 3/4 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup eggnog, then mix in a little sweetened vanilla bean paste, and there you have a quick version of koldskål.  Crumble your crunchy cookie of choice over the top and enjoy. No, it probably will not taste exactly like your favorite Danish version, but tinker around with eggnog brand, add ingredients like lemon or cardamom, and adjust the sweetness level, and I dare say you'll have something close to the real thing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

reflections on kitchen immersion

This January will mark my third semester of culinary school.

Since enrolling in a culinary and baking program, life has been an exciting blur of deli cups, non-slip shoes, chef's whites, and French cooking terms.  While all of these details may or may not sound glamorous to you, they are thrilling to me.  I have long dreamed of changing careers and fully immersing myself in this world, so I still find excitement in even the routine parts of the profession.  Before this journey started, I used to relish setting aside a full weekend day for a baking or cooking project.  Since entering the realm of professional cooking, I spend more of my time in kitchens than outside of them.  Days of wearing normal non-flour-dusted fashionable shoes or clothing uncloaked by aprons are rare: I'm a citizen of the kitchen now.  

Aside from avoiding cuts and burns, another challenge is finding time to reflect on it all while one's brain is taxed with remembering mother sauce methods, recipes, ingredient ratios, and food safety principles.  Having the opportunity to study food is an empowering experience, and one I'm eager to write about.  But often the sheer physical demands of kitchen work steal the energy I require to articulate these adventures to the outside world.  There are only so many hours in a day, and lately I've been spending this precious time with my nose in a book or over a stove.

Luckily, through my patented method of aggressive note taking involving many pocket sized moleskin notebooks, I've been able to file away some excellent information from instructors and chefs who have guided me thus far. I'm looking forward to sharing more of that content in the New Year, with a resolution to find the time to reflect on what I'm learning along the way. Until then, I'd like to thank all of the friends, family members and mentors over the years who recognized the passion I have for all things food and asked me "have you ever considered going to culinary school?" I'm happy to finally be past the consideration stage and actively developing so many new skills. Lastly, I'd like to extend a very special thanks to AAUW, a generous organization who awarded me a Career Development grant to support two semesters of school expenses.  I am so grateful, and I feel beyond lucky to be learning this trade.