It’s 50 degrees in Des Moines today. The snow is melting, the air smells like spring, and for the first time, in a long, long time, I didn’t have to spend 10 minutes in the morning de-icing my car. You would think that I’d be thrilled with this unexpected gift from mother nature. Not so much. This is just a tease – like a candy dangled in front of the child, just to be taken away. Tomorrow, it’ll be back to 20-degree weather. Bundle up!
My internship at Cuisine is moving along, and I’m currently working on my third issue of the magazine, that will come out in August. The first issue I worked on would be available in March – exciting!
Here are the recipes that I’ve been developing – they are pretty close to being complete.
*Huli Huli Chicken Drumsticks (grilled) with Hawaiian Pasta Salad
*Korean BBQ with Kimchi Rice and Cucumber-Radish Salad
The recipes I developed for the June/July Issue:
*Cremini Marsala Pizza with Radicchio Salad
*Mole Rubbed Steak Fajitas + Sides
*Mexican Spicy Grilled Corn
*Grilled Scallop Teriyaki Salad
*Grilled Fattoush Salad
Since we are working on issues 6 months ahead of the publishing time, it’s summer-grilling time around here. Somewhat strange. They enclosed the outside patio with temporary walls, so we are grilling in there – smoky!
Turns out that I dance Cuban-style salsa rather than in-line salsa. This was pointed out to me by one of my favorite salsa dancers here in Des Moines, who just happens to be a professional ball room instructor (so I suppose he knows what he’s talking about). He meant it as a matter-of-fact statement. I took it as a criticism (shocker, I know). Not dancing in-line, to me, meant that I dance out of line – traveling too much during spins, rather than rotating in one space or traveling in the same line. Cuban style salsa has more of a circular dance pattern. So, from now on, I’m going to make a conscious effort to stay in line!!!
I haven’t always been a fan of mangoes. Perhaps it is the strong pine odor that made me feel like I was biting into a pine tree and had its sap run down my chin, or the fact that the long fibrous strands of the fruit made it necessary to floss immediately after eating it.
But eventually, I grew to appreciate mangoes and happily incorporated them into my lifestyle. The problem I have been facing most recently is the winter mango syndrome. Here’s what happens. I go to the store, and see wooden crates of mangoes among the typical winter-available produce (oranges, pears, apples left from the fall). The mangoes look exotic and regal next to the other fruit, and they are on sale! How could I possibly resist?
I test each mango before it gently lands in my grocery basket. First, I go for the visual clues – not too much green skin, no brown discolorations, I want vibrant yellows, oranges, and maroons. Next, I give the fruit a squeeze – the flesh needs to give a bit to the touch, but still be firm. And then I smell it – there is a hint of tropics. I’m good to go.
I get home, slice through the mango…and then, there it is – the winter syndrome. The perfect looking mango is completely brown inside and inedible, most likely from a frost bite. Directly into the garbage it goes.
It’s not a secret that when it comes to salsa dancing, I’m somewhat (ok, totally and completely) obsessed. The obsession began at Sipango, a Dallas restaurant which featured live salsa music (by Havana NRG) on Wednesdays. Fast forward seven years, quite a few pairs of worn out shoes, good and bad dance partners, etc., the obsession continue to grow, steadily. In fact, I make it a point to salsa dance whenever I visit a new city, state, or country, and so far have happily salsa-ed in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, New York, Puerto Rico, Paris, and most recently, Des Moines.
Well, apparently things have been getting more serious than I thought, because I’m not sure how else one would explain what I did last Friday. Here’s what happened. After work, I met up with a few people from salsa and we drove for 3.5 hours to Kansas City, where we danced until 1:30am (that would be Saturday morning) and then headed back to Des Moines, arriving bright and early at 5:30am. Craziness, pure craziness!
Our photographer showed up today with a huge bucket of fresh flowers (carnations, roses, lilies, astromerias, etc) from the shoot he just finished at a local grocery store. Flowers galore! Made two arrangements – one to keep at work, and one to take home. Nothing like fresh flowers to brighten up a day.
***Warning – do not read this if you are hungry***
On Saturday, I helped to prepare and serve this meal at Cuisine for three lucky couples who bid on the dinner at a local school auction. On the menu:
Caucus I was, and caucus I did. Braving the winter Iowa chills and crowds of people, some with their crying and unhappy children, I attended a local community center last night to caucus for Obama. It was clear right away that the sheer number of attendees way exceeded what anyone could possibly expect. In fact, I believe this election year set the record for caucus turn-out.
Once inside the community center, I indicated that I was supporting Obama and was given a sticker with his name (no thank you nice man, I will stick that sticker on myself, I do not require any help in that department). Lines, several of them, were attempted to be formed by above mentioned crowds. That was quite an undertaking. I am not registered to vote in Iowa, but I knew I could register at the event. However, I was at the wrong location (according to my local address), and was denied registration. That’s fine, I asked if I could still witness the event, and was granted the entry.
Now, imagine 422 people (not including all the minors who were not counted) all in one room, standing around, waiting for something to happen. It was overwhelming to say the least. They could barely fit all of us in one room (you’d be in pretty bad shape if you were claustrophobic). There were some conversations happening around the room, but nothing too vocal as I expected. By the way, this was a location specifically for democratic presidential candidates, supporters of Republican candidates were meeting elsewhere.
Next, we were instructed to go into different rooms, according to which candidates we were supporting. We were then counted, a task that would’ve been made much simpler, had they counted us AS we were entering the room, rather than once we were all in the room. But that’s just details. Anyway, turns out that we had 182 Obama supporters in the room. Major news! That was almost half of all the attendees. According to the rules, you needed at least 64 people for the candidate of your choice to be viable. And then for every 47 people, your candidate gets 1 delegate.
Clear on the math? So at that point, we had enough people for 3 delegates. These delegates were sent to the rooms with Clinton, Edwards, and Biden supporters, trying to convince them to switch sides and come to the Obama room. I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get to hear their arguments (had to stay in the Obama room). Well, their arguments must’ve been somewhat affective, because we got 14 more people by the time the second count took place, giving Obama 1 more delegate, for a total of 4.
As for the others, both Clinton and Edwards ended up with 2 delegates, and Biden (who at the start of the night didn’t have enough supporters to be even viable) finished with 1 delegate.
Looking at the overall state numbers, the story at my caucus location seems to be pretty representative of the state (at least for the top 3 candidates). Obama got 38% of the votes, Edwards and Clinton 30% each. I’ve got to say, this is a great time to be in Iowa.
Eating on the job is one of the perks here at Cuisine. Lately though, I’ve been trying to avoid this perk (aka weight gain) by going to the gym during lunch. But one must still eat, right? What usually happens though, is by the time I’m back from the gym, the kitchen table is empty and I am left with a dilemma of what to eat (I’m not about to start packing my own lunches).
Yesterday, I came back from the gym and was admiring a take-out salad one of the art directors was eating. “Wow, the salad looks great!” I said loudly enough for the Editor of the magazine to hear. Less than 10 minutes later, John presented to me a plate of better-than-just-Greek salad – I can’t think of a better name, but it had mixed greens, red onions, feta, green olives, banana peppers, cherry tomatoes, in a fresh red vinegar oregano vinaigrette. And if that wasn’t enough, he had grilled pita bread, cut into wedges, on a side.
Last night’s dinner.
1. Remove a piece of steak from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before cooking, season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a pan with a little bit of oil.
3. Cook the steak according to your preference (medium-rare for me).
4. Remove the steak from the pan and rest on a plate.
5. Pour off extra fat from the pan, add chopped sundried tomatoes, capers, sliced garlic, diced red onion, and fresh lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes to bring the sauce together. Fresh parsley would be nice here.
6. Pour the sauce over the steak (the juices that come out of the steak while it’s resting, should be added to the sauce).
7. Crumble some blue cheese on top.
Education has always been a significant part of my life, both as a student and as an educator myself. Back in high school, in my first position as a math tutor, I quickly learned that being able to explain a subject to someone and help them learn was actually the best way for me to learn the information myself. And so began my journey as a teacher.
Aside from tutoring Economics at a University Level, I was most fulfilled tutoring students across many at-risk elementary schools, most often in math, English, and reading.
As a Culinary Instructor, I began my career teaching classes at Whole Foods in Plano, TX. There, I had a great opportunity to create my own class themes, recipes, and lessons plans.
Back in Seattle, I was lucky enough to be an instructor at a two-week summer cooking camp at Kaspars Special Events and Catering. Being surrounded by eager-to-learn and sometimes eager-to-listen children and young adults was one of the most fulfilling experiences.
Most recently, I signed up as a guest instructor at Sur La Table in Kirkland, WA. One of my favorite classes to teach so far has been Knife Skills – it is the foundation you need to become a more confident and capable chef of your own kitchen.
Ready to get cooking and learning yourself? Please contact me to schedule a private or group cooking class.
I am currently a Culinary Director at Whole Foods Market in Redmond, WA where I design, promote and teach all classes.
Previous Classes Taught:
French Bistro Cooking, Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Don’t be intimidated by the name of the class, classic French cooking is no problem with the help of our expert instructor. We’ll show you tips and techniques the pros use to save time and energy preparing authentic and amazing classic French favorites like onion soup, a soufflé, bourguignon and a crème brulee.
MENU Soupe a l’Oignon – Cheese Souffle – Boeuf Bourguignon – Crème Brulee
Bon Appetit: Delicious Dinner Basics, Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
The kids are back in school, vacations are over, and summer is on the wane. It’s time to get back to business and that usually means less leisurely time in the kitchen. We have five easy entrees that will become new staples in your repertoire of easy dinners, including a stellar shrimp scampi, a simple steak salad and easy homemade pizza.
MENU Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita – Flank Steak Salad with Chimichurri Dressing – Chicken Parmesan Burgers – Moroccan Halibut and Carrots – Shrimp Scampi with Green Onion and Orzo
5 Fish Recipes Every Cook Should Know, Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
In this series we show you how to prepare five foundational dishes our experts think every chef should master. This class focuses on helping cooks learn how to take advantage of the fruits of the sea. We’ll walk you through this menu full of tried and true globally inspired favorites that are a necessary addition to everyone’s culinary repertoire.
MENU Crispy Skin Salmon with Shiitake-Cream Sauce – Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks with Ginger-Soy Sauce – Classic Fish and Chips – Grilled Fish Tacos – Pan Fried Sole with Lemon-Butter Sauce
The prevailing wisdom is that once you feel comfortable with the rules of French cuisine, you can tackle just about anything in the kitchen. This class will give you the secret to a perfect vinaigrette, classic roast chicken, luscious soufflés, and much more.
MENU Grilled Peach Salad with Pancetta and Arugula – Summer Tomato Spaghettini with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella – Grilled Chicken with Salsa Verde – Grilled Nectarines with Mascarpone Ice Cream
MENU Oysters with Frozen Red Wine Mignonette (Ethan Stowell, Union) – Pan-Seared Wild King Salmon with Sautéed Apples and Cider Reduction (Brian Scheeser, Trellis) – Butter and Sage-Braised Chanterelles (Jason Wilson, Crush) – Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Aioli (Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita) – Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Verbena Custard Sauce (Johnathan Sundstrom, Lark)
This class promises to expand your summer culinary repertoire by exploring fast and easy dishes that celebrate the flavors of the season. Our instructor will show you how to prepare this menu full of classic summertime dishes with a gourmet spin that are great for barbecues, family dinners and much more.
MENU Grilled Chicken Salad with Peaches, Arugula and Ricotta Salata – Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam – Grilled Mahi Mahi with Cool Cucumber Sauce – Watermelon and Raspberry Sorbet
MENU B’stilla Bites – Chicken and Date Tagine with Golden Couscous – Tomato and Preserved Lemon Salad – Saffron Ice Cream with Candied Rose Petals – Moroccan Mint Tea
MENU Quinoa Salad with Pickled Radish and Feta – Roasted Cherry Tomato Pizza with Pesto and Aged Gouda – Summer Squash Gratin – Fritters with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
MENU Gyoza (Japanese Steamed Dumplings) – Tom Kah Gai (Thai Lemongrass and Coconut Soup with Chicken) – Sweet and Sour Pork – Pho (Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup)
MENU Mini Corn Pancakes with Jalapeno-Lime Cream – Soy-Ginger Glazed Beef Skewers – Fried Mozzarella Balls with Pomodoro Dipping Sauce – Sesame Wontons with Smoked Salmon, Radish Sprouts and Wasabi – French Semolina Flatbread with Lemon. Rosemary, and Olive Oil
MENU Lemon Creme Brulee with Fresh Berries – Chocolate-Mint Pudding Cakes – Vanilla-Orange Custard with Caramel – Arugula and Bacon Quiche – Goat Cheese and Herb Souffles
MENU Basic Savory Crepes – Basic Sweet Crepes – Chicken and Mushroom Crepes – Crepes with Apples and Calvados – Herbed Crepes with Smoked Salmon and DillCream – Crepes Suzette
Feels like -7°F. The temperature is dropping to 0°F by this afternoon. Need I say more? Brrrrr
I would love to hear from you!
Please feel free to contact me with questions, cooking class inquiries, recipe development and testing or just to say hello.
cia007girl at gmail
My first opportunity to develop recipes sent me to Des Moines, Iowa, where I worked as a Recipe Developer and Editor at Cuisine at home magazine.
My latest development has been for the Fitness Magazine.
September 2010 Edition, page 146. Dinner in 20: Grilled Curried Shrimp with Mango Couscous
November/December 2010 Edition, page 140. Dinner in 20: Chicken Soba Bowl
Please contact me if you would like me to develop recipes or menus for you.
Have you ever wondered if a recipe published in a cookbook or a magazine works? Let me test it out for you. You will save your time and money and have a success-guaranteed recipe.
One of the first questions I was asked when people found out that I am attending the Culinary Institute of America was: Are you going to be a chef? Are you going to own a restaurant?
The answer to both was always a solid “no.” As much as I love to cook, I am more passionate about being in a test kitchen rather than a restaurant kitchen. And so I pursued different culinary opportunities in the world of publishing.
My first such opportunity sent me to Des Moines, Iowa, where I worked as a Recipe Developer and Editor at Cuisine at home magazine.
For my next assignment, I went to Birmingham, Alabama to the test kitchens of Southern Living Magazine.
My name is Anna. Welcome to my blog! I began this blog at the end of 2006. This was a big year for me. I decided to leave my comfortable life in Dallas, my friends, my job, my apartment, and move to Upstate New York to pursue my culinary passion at the Culinary Institute of America. This blog was originally created as a tool to keep up with my friends and to share my experience at the school. After I graduated from school, I kept the blog and continue to use it as my personal diary – a collection of recipes, restaurant reviews and food photos. I welcome you to explore this site and hope you learn new recipes ideas and share your own.
I am originally from Russia and moved to the United States at the age of 13. I have since lived in Seattle (where I am lucky to live at the moment), Dallas, New York, Des Moines, and Birmingham. You can say that my passion for food took me places far and away.
I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2008 and have been pursuing culinary milestones (big and small) ever since. I teach cooking classes (hands on and demo to both kids and adults), develop and test recipes for magazines and cookbook, and eat. I love to eat! Will you join me?