Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some-What Homemade with the Walnofer's. #1

sI have decided to start a new series on the blog site entitled, "Some-What Homemade with the Walnofer's." This is my spin on the "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" series from the Food Network. Not only will this new series document my progression through culinary school, but it will also provide cooking ideas for all my readers who don't have time to make all their meals from scratch.

Lean ground beef with Walnofer Burger Sauce and melted double-cream Gouda cheese. Baked batonnet-size assortment of sweet potato and regular potato fries with above burger sauce with an addition of pancake syrup.
For Burger Sauce: 2 Tbl of Trader Joe's Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce
1 Tbl of Honey Mustard
2 Tbl of Ketchup
1 tsp of Garlic Salt and Onion Powder each.
For Fry Condiment:
Add 1/4 cup of pancake syrup to the left over burger sauce.

Trust me, flavor dynamics is a powerful thing and it tastes better than it sounds.

What goes well with Spicy meats and wild sauces............Syrah! Try this spicy little lady from Cuvaison Winery off of Silverado Trail near Calistoga. With rich notes of boysenberry, cassis, spice, and white pepper, this wine paired nicely with the entree above.

I am not a pastry chef, or a baker, but until I take some photography classes, you are just going to have to trust me on the flavor once again. Homemade Pumpkin bread muffin, split in half, and a scoop of Trader Joe's French Vanilla Ice cream topped with honey-nut granola and a dash of cinnamon sugar. Decaf Snickerdoodle Latte to capture the cinnamon, nutmeg notes from the dessert.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seafood ID & Fabrication III

Last but not least, we got some live lobster in to cook up. And by cook I mean.....................

It looks worse than it is, but we are literally dunking their heads in boiling water so that they won't flop around and splash boiling water into our faces. Although, if they could, I am sure they would right about now.

These guy or girl or whatever it is showed up and took a few people for a scare. It is an octopus. Pretty sure we threw him in a smoke box and grilled those little tentacles of his. No lie, tasted exactly like a Ribeye steak, just chews like a bite-size eraser. Crazy what a little smoke and the grill can do to just about anything.
Joe's Crab Shack doesn't get all the crabs in the world. This Dungeness Crab got his shell pulled off, his body split in half, his legs ripped from his belly cavity, and his pincher meat yanked out. Don't get mad at me, I'm just trying to feed people here.

Our special treat for the last day was some Caviar! Four different kinds of caviar from left to right at the top, Secret Caviar (no sticker), Whitefish caviar, American Paddlefish Sturgeon caviar, California Osetra. The at the bottom, Salmon eggs and Tobiko. Chef made up some Latkes, whipped up some creme fraiche, and we dined like Russian Czar's for the day.

Seafood ID & Fabrication II

Next up for seafood exploration was the oyster. We got several varieties to shuck and compare. Blue point, Atlantic (my favorite), Malpeque, BBQ, Myagi, and Japanese Kumamato.I tried everyone, even this one before it was shucked. I am sad to disappoint, but the oyster is not my favorite food. At this point in my palate development, I can barely stand them or the ocean belly after effects.

This little guy is a live sea urchin.

He too was not so easy to eat. Apparently you have to cut off the top of their head and pick out the mustard, fatty looking meat and eat it raw. I did, and actually found it more palatable than the oysters.

This is a monstrous Tuna loin. We cut it down into pave, or square steaks. Look how beautiful that thing is. More to come..........

Seafood ID & Fabrication I

We just finished up Seafood Identification & Fabrication this past Friday. It has been an incredible introduction to the creatures of the sea. Here is the first installment of some pretty cool stuff:
The Red Rockfish before.........................................

and after getting filleted!

Fresh Scallops right out of the sea...................................................

and the inside of a living scallop. Anything look familiar? We only consume the little round ball in the middle, the rest is just intestinal filter-feeding waste.

Last for the day was skate or sting ray. This is a cartilaginous fish species with similar characteristics to shark. Two filet's and one cartilage bone cage. And yes, we ate them all.

Friday, October 17, 2008


As I returned from a late bike ride, I peaked into the window and saw this domesticated housewife making chocolate chip cookies, Kitchenaide Mixer and all.
For all of those back in the day who never thought that I could be lasso'ed and settled, I will happily admit that I have been. Hey, why is my wife not doing this ironing and where is my cookie?

Fire Prevention Week - California Style!

As I was heading to Model Bakery the other day, I saw the most ironic banner I have ever seen. And yes, I stood in the middle of the road to get this money shot. My apologizes jerk old, rich lady that almost ran over me. Seriously, I am a journalist here......sorta.
I wish I would have taken a picture the night before, because the entire hillside was filled with bright, glowing flames! This is 24 hours after the fire started, and helicopters and airplanes are still dropping water attempting to fight the fire. After 300 acres burned, the fire was finally contained.
Luckily, this hillside wasn't full of grapes. But, it almost did burn down the entire city of Angwin, which had to be evacuated. Many thanks go out to my CIA pal Britny ( for getting this close-up of her former favorite picnic spot, and to the desert climate and winds of Nortern California that provided this story of dramatic irony.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Restaurant Review: Dry Creek in Heldsburg!

Friday night was the first night we had gotten out of the Valley for a little date night since we got married....................two months ago! Sorry, but we have been kind of busy with life in a new land. On recommendation of Chef Tucker at the CIA, we headed over the Heldsburg for a nice dinner at Charlie Palmer's restaurant Dry Creek. Not since our return from Europe, have we experienced the beauty of a small town city center like the one in Heldsburg. The trip alone is worth it to visit the city, but the food at Dry Creek, is worth many return trips. Here is the Whole Milk Ricotta Tortellini with Seasonal Vegetables, and a Pecorino Grand CruBeurre Monté. Exquisite execution with such rich ingredients, while mellowing them out and bringing forth the flavor of the vegetables.My plate consisted of the Seared Sonoma Duck Breast with a Caramelized Dry Creek Peach, Crispy shredded Confit Leg, Haricot Verts, Almonds, all in a Duck Jus. Considering I just spent 5-months salivating over Canard Confit and Magret from the famous Gascogne region of Southwest France, I am quite picky when it comes to my duck. But, this plate blew the doors off my impression of American duck and they are for sure doing something right over there in Sonoma, as well as Mes Complements au Chef at Dry Creek.
No good dinner story ends without dessert. We are still on a college kids budget and weren't quite ready to hash out another $10 for a Valrhona Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar. Therefore we went classic French Vanilla Ice Cream with Homemade Chocolate Chip cookies and my famous espresso latte.
That isn't the end of the sweet stuff though. While cruising on a post-dinner stroll through the city center, we came across the most amazing candy store that had this contraption waiting at the entrance door. It is a manual Pixie-Stick flavored sugar distribution system with multiple unit continuous streaming flow head valves. Wow, pretty sure I could picture feeding myself into a coma out of that thing.
The store didn't just have a cool Pixie-Stick machine, it had tons of assorted candy bars, a High-definition plasma screen showing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and my new signature candy bar line that just came out. Sorry about that last part, but my wife made me add it to the post. All content is pre-edited now that we share a computer system. My apologizes to all loyal readers who fill that they have lost my individual, dynamic personal view that you have all come to love.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More Cheese Please!

We had a Saturday Seminar with Dr. Moshe Rosenberg Professor and Dairy Specialist from the Department of FoodScience and Technology at UC Davis. After a few months over in France, I was more than happy to attend the seminar and learn more about this dairy-based delicacy.
First up on the chopping block was the French Morbier. Notice the line of black ash that runs down the center of the cheese. Many stories abound at how this layer or ash came about including one half in the morning milk and the other half is the evening milk, the original cheese was dropped and the cheese monger covered up the dirt with ash and added new cheese to it, but really it is just an ancient preservation technique that became the identity of the cheese thus remains to this day.
The classic Brie, no, actually a Frommage de Meaux, or double cream Brie. Excellent example of a mellow cheese with many uses other than savoring it on a fresh baguette.
The big, bad, bold guy of the day was this Italian Gorganzola. Rotting, in a good way, with intense blue cheese flavor and a pungent aroma characteristic of gym socks hiding in your son's duffle bag. With that said, I still love these blue cheeses with all their character and might.
The seminar ended with a small tasting session. From left to right (counterclockwise), Morbier, Gruyere, Brie, and Gorganzola. Thanks to Dr. Chris Loss for bringing in a new aspect of learning regarding a very popular subject.

Pork: "The Best White Meat!"

Remember this little guy from the other day, we shall call him Wilson. He took a long swim in a little water brine overnight and came out ready for the oven.
Remember his belly that got removed? It got sent to the rotisserie after marinating with the dry rub. Notice how nice and crispy that skin is. Quite possibly the tastiest pork belly I have ever eaten!
After a morning in the oven, Wilson came out with some crispy, golden skin and some mouthwatering meat. Due to the feedback regarding the graphic nature of the demise of Wilson, I have left his face covered to protect my readers with weak stomachs.
Those not suffering from weak stomach's is the A.O.S Section 6 "Friends" cast. From left to right, Michael Austin, Miss Laci Issippi, Rick Zona, and Chris Canuck. They bellied up to the table for some great pork belly and chewed the fat right off of the back of Wilson. Once again, the secret philosophy was met, "Good Friends and Good Food makes a Great Experience!"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Quarter Century + 1 = 26 Years Old!

My birthday started really early this past Tuesday, October 7th, 2008. With a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call for class, the birthday celebration started before the sun even came up. Thanks for the present mom, it came two days ago, but I waited until my birthday before I opened it.
Mrs. Walnofer, not my mom, surprised me with a special night away from the 400 sq.ft cottage. Cuvaision Estate Winery has a guest house located in the center of their Carneros vineyards. Very cool and a nice little benefit from the best Direct Marketing Specialist in the entire Valley!
Steak and Potatoes was on the birthday menu tonight. After cutting up tenderloins in class today, it was only fitting to end the day actually eating one with dinner. What is that I spy over there.............
That's right, my favorite Bordeaux direct from France, via my suitcase about 2 months ago! Domaine du Pruerat stepped up to the plate and paired oh so nicely with the filet mignon.
Where's the cake? We didn't bring a cake with us, but this one magically appeared in 10 minutes or less. Kristen found a neat little recipe called, "Cake in a Mug", which can be made in a coffee mug with basic ingredients. Here is the recipe if you want to surprise your significant other on their birthday in the future..............or when you just want to have chocolate cake and ice cream................which is pretty much always for me!

Chocolate Cake in a Mug!

1 coffee mug
4 tbsp. flour (plain, not self rising)
4 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg
3 tbs. milk
3 tbsp. oil
Dash of vanilla
3 tbsp. choc. chips, optional

Spray mug add dry ingredients to mug, mix well with fork
Add egg, mix well
Pour in milk and oil and vanilla, mix well
Add chips if using
Put in microwave (with tray underneath) and cook for 3 minutes on 1000 watts. Cake will rise over the top of mug,allow to cool before tipping over on plate for icing. Enjoy!

Wooooooo Piggggggg Sooiiiiiieeeee!

This may be a little too dramatic for most Razorback fans, but our football team stinks so bad this year that I had to show this from my current Meat Identification and Fabrication class at the CIA.
Chef Tucker Bunch broke this complete Suckling Pig down during his demo at the end of class today. We are soaking it in a water brine and then Chef is going to show us how to cook it tomorrow with a tasting session to follow. His missing pork belly got rubbed with a Rosemary, Bay Leaf, &Garlic rub and will be put on the rotisserie for roasting. Culinary school is a lot more than making Goulash if you know what I mean.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Halloween is Almost Here!

I spyed these two pumpkins hanging out on the loading dock at the Culinary Institute of America the other day. Apparently they are going, as decoration, in front of the Wine Spectator Restaurant, which is connected to the culinary school. The symbolism alone makes it apparent that Fall is almost here, and the wrath of my favorite sugar addiction re-lapse holiday is waiting to be unleashed!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Parental Discretion is Advised!

I get this brash email, out of the blue, the other day from my sister. Apparently she feels like I am being a bad influence on my only nephew Maddox.

His love of food and drink used to only be limited to bottles and formula. But, the signs were apparent from a young age that he was following in his Uncle's footsteps.She says he has been sneaking onto my blog when he gets home from the sitter, and reading about all my food & wine adventures around the world. I do apologize, but the content on this blog was never intended for viewers under the age of 2 years old, therefore parental discretion is advised!

I didn't believe how badly I had influenced this little man until I saw it for myself recently as we celebrated with a little birthday dessert, for Uncle Scotty. Say it ain't so Maddox, you have acquired the Walnofer addiction for chocolate too! You will be tempted by this wonderful substance many times over the course of your lifetime, so don't ever let your mom find out, because she was once a Walnofer and she too has this addiction..................

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Restaurant Review: The Catfish Shack! Dewitt, Arkansas

This weekend, an unexpected return visit to Arkansas brought us to a secret jewel in the southeast corner of the state. Although I have somewhat of a yuppie career choice, my country roots always bring me back to what I love.
Southern comfort food with a wonderful family to share it with. Dewitt, Arkansas is actually smack dab in the middle of one of the most fertile areas in all the world for rice production. No, they don't produce a lot of Organic rice, or serve a lot of whole grain rice medley, or boast about sustainable agricultural practices, they just put their nose down to the grindstone and produce a large portion of the food that feeds America. Today's Sunday special was the chicken fried steak with white gravy, fried okra, corn, and owe so special polished, bone-white rice!
No Sunday suppa would be complete with out a little D-Zert! Chocolate creme-de-la-creme, mouse au chocolat? Nope, just classic chocolate pie! Umm umm, life back home is one to be treasured. Back to school to recreate the comfort food that makes us all remember home and the one's we love. Wine Pairing with today's meal: Sweet Tea with extra sugga!