Uncle Ben’s Rice Competition!!!

I’m going to be succinct on this post so that you can get voting!

Recently, I entered the Uncle Ben’s Rice Competition. To enter this competition, you must have a video displaying a rice recipe. The recipe must use the one and only Uncle Ben’s Rice, and it must be under 3 minutes and 10 seconds. The three top winners get a trip to New York to be on Rachael Ray, and $500 dollars to spend while you are in New York! Then they determine the runner ups and the winner. Runner ups receive $5,000 dollars and $10,000 towards their school’s cafeteria. The Grand Prize winner gets 15,000 dollars and $30,000 towards their school cafeteria! The videos are graded on these categories:

  • Personality and ability to engage and inspire the audience (20%);
  • Level of enthusiasm for the recipe and cooking (20%);
  • Demonstrating a basic knowledge of food and recipe (20%);
  • Creativity in responding to the questions posed by Entrant (20%); and
  • Votes: the total number of votes that the Video received on Facebook during the Public Voting Period (20%).

So I need you to vote, readers!!! I have already got my principal acting out and trying to get people to vote so that our school can upgrade our cafeteria! Now I need you to vote for me! Voting starts today, and you can vote once per 24 hour period! So please, vote for me!

Go to this link: https://www.bensbeginnerscontest.com/brand/gallery

Or look up Uncle Ben’s rice competition and go to the page.

Look up “Danelle” and I am the only choice there!

You think I have a chance?

Japanese Festival

IMG_1629Konnichiwa, readers! Time for a Japanese post!

Recently, I attended the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. While I did have some lemonade and funnel cake like a traditional American, I also attended a cooking demonstration. This cooking demonstration starred the owner of Blue Ocean Sushi & Sake House, a restaurant on the Loop in St. Louis. A.K., the owner, was so incredibly nice and sweet, and demonstrated two dishes: California Roll and Gyudon.

The California Roll was surprisingly easy, and I definitely will be making that (or attempting to) with my sushi roller soon. A.K. gave many tips to the audience, including rubbing mayo on your gloves to help the rice not stick. The Gyudon’s aroma was so enticing, I wanted to eat the whole bowl of what he prepared. You may be wondering what Gyudon is. It is like a beef bowl, with Japanese flavors such as sake, soy sauce, mirin, dashi, and other key ingredients such as brown sugar and yellow onion. One thing I found interesting is that he took a raw egg and put it in a bowl of hot water. The egg in the end was slightly cooked, so that you may eat it,  but it wasn’t cooked through. This beef bowl smelled so good, I am considering ordering it instead of sushi at his restaurant. Is that crazy or what?? Well, I know one thing: it was crazy good. He handed out taste tests after, and this beef was so amazingly delicious I could go for seconds…and thirds…and fifths…and tenths…possibly more. Of course, this wasn’t allowed.

A.K. was not only a good chef, he was a good entertainer. He never let anyone get bored, and he cracked jokes here and there to keep everyone on their toes.

This impressive performance, tastes and entertainment combined, deserves 5 out of 5 stars.

IMG_3040♥ Gotta love that Gyudon.♥

Five Bistro

If you ever attend Five Bistro, get the tasting menu. I guarantee you will not regret it.

The tasting menu the night of September 28th, 2013, consisted of some of the best food I have ever tasted. I suppose the only way I can explain this like it deserves is from the beginning to the end.

Before I got food, I ordered whatever the bartender, Lauren, decided to give me. It ended up being a lemon juice-infused club soda with lemon zest and 1 leaf of lemon verbena, an herb, on top. It may sound too sour for your taste, but trust me, it was just fine. Actually, it was better than just fine. It was better than a shirley temple!

To start our appetites, they served an amuse-bouche. The two-bite starter hors d’œuvre was just the start of a fantastic night, and a great one too. It was a tiny biscuit type puff with a meat and field greens filling, sitting on a bed of a well-seasoned shredded sausage similar to, if not the same as, the filling. Salty, just the way I like it. Very tasty.

The first official course was a summer vegetable tagliatelle. It had a creamy sauce with tomatoes and other summer produce, with more field greens on top. Delicious. My only complaint was that one noodle was straying out from a nicely tucked bed of noodles, and my parent’s plates did not have this feature. This very minor plating detail did not bother me much, for the taste made up for it and more.

The second course of the menu I was bouncing in my seat waiting for, after the last dish’s outstanding performance. I was in heaven with this next dish. It was a field green salad with an addicting lemon vinaigrette, sliced carrots, pickled beet, and fresh brie cheese. Divine, and 1 of my 3 favorite dishes of the night. So amazing, I could’ve eaten another plate. But, of course, I had to save room for the other courses.

The third course consisted of more field greens, tuna cut into thick slices a little over the size of a half dollar, and the lemon vinaigrette with something extra I could not identify. As you can remember, the lemon vinaigrette was already amazing, but this unidentifiable liquid made it double that, which is hard for even me to fathom. This was my 2nd of 3 favorite dishes of the night.

The fourth course was my parent’s favorite dish of the night, but it did not make my top 3. This dish was made up of lamb cut about the same size as the tuna cuts, with spaghetti squash shredded into noodle shapes, potatoes, asparagus, and a red wine reduction sauce. While is was remarkable, it did not meet the height of tremendous flavor the other dishes did.

Before we advanced to the 5th and final course of dessert, they served us a small dollop of some of the best chocolate ice cream I ever had. Of course, since it was just ice cream and not an actual course, it was not in the top 3.

For the final course, there was vanilla bean pound cake with peach ice cream and peach chutney. Because my mom mentioned my birthday was the day before, a candle sat on the plate, the wax holding it upright. I blew out the candle promptly and dove in. Good choice, Isabella, good choice. This awe-inspiring dish was breath-taking, made great with the best ice cream I ever encountered and the most flavorful chutney I ever saw (not that i’ve seen much chutney). All of it combined with the cake was a burst of dancing flavors on your pallet, but eating each by itself was splendid as well. These componenents make it 3rd of the top 3, and the best of all of them.

It’s not over yet. My mom also somehow mentioned that I love to cook, so the waitress took me into the kitchen! This kitchen was tinier than I expected, which just proves that there doesn’t have to be an extravagant area for an extravagant dish to be made. I met Chef Anthony Devoti, the executive chef. I also met other chefs, including the salad chef, the chef manning the grill, and others. Chef Devoti told me that he would show me the freezer, but it was empty. He said that he normally has whole pigs in there that he butchers himself. Impressive, right?

The waitress then showed me the inventory room, which had two walk-in fridges. One contained many different boxes I didn’t have time to identify because I was counting the eggs (15 boxes of 25 eggs; that’s 375 eggs!). The other held produce, many bananas, and some cheeses. Lastly, the waitress showed me the garden. It was pretty dark, so it was hard to see. That’s where the lemon verbena in my drink came from!

When I came back, they served us a tiny square of watermelon that was in some sort of a compressor in the kitchen. The compressor popped all the water pockets, so there was tons of flavor in one bite! It also had a tiny sprig of mint on top. Pretty good for a piece of watermelon! This mini-course was just to finish it off.

This is a night I will remember forever. So much good food, and the courses didn’t even made me too full! I would give it 6 out of 5 stars, but since that’s not possible…

I will settle for 5 out of 5 stars.

♥With a little extra love♥

Chava’s Mexican Restaurant

The heat of the pepper hits you first but quickly vanishes in the tangy flavor of the cilantro, tomato, jalapeño, and onion. The sweet of the tomato floods in and to finish it off, the spicy hits the back sides of your tongue. The aftertaste leaves you wanting more. Oh, the salsa at Chava’s.

Don’t be fooled.

Chava’s, the new Mexican restaurant in Edwardsville, is an average time-waster. I ordered the cheese enchiladas, and my dad the chicken, and we switched one each. I like to compare cheese enchiladas to El Maguey, my favorite Mexican restaurant around. The beans were average and tasted like they were from a can. The rice was fluffy, and an interesting and confusing texture I can’t say I liked or disliked. The cheese enchiladas had less melted cheese than my favorite ones, and used cheddar jack. Cheddar jack cheese would NOT be my first choice, being not very authentic, but is average nonetheless. The chicken filling was shredded to death, but tasted okay. The guacamole tasted like something you can get from the grocery store with huge chunks of tomatoes. My dad liked it, however. Meanwhile, most of the employees were having lunch break in the dining room with us, which I found peculiar. At least the staff was nice. Also, the silverware was on the table in a basket. What if they were contaminated by one of the guests?

You can probably tell the salsa was my favorite thing.

The chips were very hot and fresh from the oven, though.

And for the worst and most surprising fact for last, I will quote my mom directly. “This is the worst margarita I have ever had. It’s like an expensive sprite!” My dad, always giving the benefit of the doubt, said “It has the weirdest aftertaste. There has to have been something wrong with that batch.”

Being that I can’t taste the margaritas, but I can trust my parents, I will degrade its score. After all, my dad does have a margarita blog.

I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Finger Problems

I am typing this with an injured finger.

Okay, so maybe I healed it for a while before I typed this, and now it doesn’t hurt.

I was at my house with my sister one day, and  pulled out a huge “pink cripps” apple. Elena, my sister, walked in the kitchen and asked to share the apple with me. I agreed, and pulled out a cutting board from the cabinet and a Cutco knife from the drawer.

You can probably predict what is coming.

The leading cause of all knife wounds are because the knife slips and your hand is in the wrong position. I am a (lucky) example of these times. This apple was SOLID! I sawed and sliced for a while. When I was slicing up the first half of the apple, my hand was fatigued and I forgot the proper protocol. Then, the knife skidded on the slippery apple skin going forward, and I sliced the right side of my left pointer finger.

First response in my mind: “OH, I’m bleeding.” I started sucking on it for 1 second, then realize I need to put it under pressure. I then rinsed it a little to get the immediate germs from my mouth off it some, then start the greuling “pressure test”. 🙂

I had my thumb and my other pointer finger surrounding it, and had solid pressure, not letting go, for 10 minutes. When I first started, I got my sister to call my parents, who were out shopping. They said they were gong to arrive in 20 minutes. In the 10 minutes I had continuous pressure on it, I stared out the window, and my brain tuned out. I didn’t panic, and my heart didn’t beat fast, probably making the blood flow slower. Then my mom called again, wanted a picture to see how deep it was. I got my sister ready to take a picture, and when I partially let go, it stuck to my finger a bit, then stung. I told my mom, and she said I needed to hold pressure with a wet paper towel, not my bare finger. I obeyed. Then I had to let go entirely a few minutes later. I released it, it started bleeding badly, and I got scared. My heart started beating hard now. But – here’s the catch – the reason it was “bleeding badly” is because it was wet and the blood was spreading with only a small drop leaking out. This made it look like more blood came out. When I finally got a picture, it was blurry and we gave up. I watched TV to keep my mind off it and slow my heart rate.

When my parents got home they heard the story and examined the cut. It was not deep enough for stitches. My dad asked if I sliced in the first part of the slice, or the second. The first part is when you first slice forward into the food, and the second is when you push down. Since it was the first, it was less deep then it could’ve been. I had kept good pressure on it and it didn’t bleed much when they helped me. It also skid on my fingernail, but it didn’t split it. They cleaned it with water and put a band-aid on it.

Then my nail went through wear and tear, and the skid turned into a split. Luckily, it was just a close shave on the pink and trimming it was not hard. My nail still looks normal.

It was a bit hard to get used to using my middle finger instead of my pointer finger to put in contacts and to type (when nessacary). But I didn’t want to not use my left hand all the time! Luckily, I write with my right hand, so all was well.

Now my finger is healed, and there is a small dent where the cut was. The extra skin is peeling, and the fingernail is a bit crooked for now. But, I can type, it doesn’t hurt, I can use the finger, and my mom says there won’t be a scar.

But I’m still putting cocoa butter on it.

-Young Chef

Beef Tartare

Whoever thought that raw beef and a raw egg yolk together would be gross is sadly mistaken. Hello again, it’s Young Chef, and in this thrilling new adventure, I learn a spectacular new recipe.

Chef Dino is teaching me Beef Tartare

Chef Dino is teaching me Beef Tartare

I mentioned the Tenderloin Room in my very first post, when I took a “shift”. 🙂 Good times. I went again recently with my mom, dad, and sister. My parents brought along their friends the Lohmanns, and the Lohmanns’ kids, Hannah and Nathaniel. While Elena, my sister, and Nathaniel played video games most of the time, Hannah and I talked and enjoy…. BEEF TARTARE. This delicious dish is salty, with the main ingredient being raw beef. Hannah and I love this appetizer! When we ordered it, the owner of the Restaurant, Dino Karagiannis, came and demonstrated making the dish right before our very eyes. I took notes studiously, and savored every last bit. While I would love to share this recipe with my daring fans, it is a secret. 🙂 I will be making it myself soon!

Necessary Skills

Hello readers, long time, no see, huh? Well, now, I will write regularly, so BE WARNED! 🙂

Recently, I went to visit some of my family in Wheaton, which is near Chicago. Before we met up with them, we stopped at The Bank, a very nice restaurant in their town.

Patrick Cassata and me

The executive chef was Patrick Cassata, who appeared on Hell’s Kitchen, Season 10. When my mom mentioned how I wanted to be a chef to the waiter, Cassata himself came out from the kitchen and gave me some rare advice.

I asked him what necessary skills I must have to become a great chef and he answered truthfully. I have summarized his words below.

1. Knife Skills. Without knife skills, prep goes slowly and you don’t have all day. Plus, people love pretty food.

2. Patience. Being impatient gets you nowhere. You must be patient to perfect a dish.

3. Tolerance. Tolerance in the heat, the burns you might get, and the bad reviews, which brings me to #4.

4. Shake Off Bad Comments. No matter how fantastic your dish is, there will always be a different taste pallet of someone who hates it. Instead of centering your attention on the small group of hates, pay attention to the large group of greats.

5. Taste and savor every food; learn the flavor. The better you know the food, the better you can make it. Plus, who doesn’t like enjoying good food? 🙂

Another fun fact he gave me is that Indian food is tough to master, and that it will take a lot of practice. Just remember #3.

I will remember these inspiring words. Feel free to comment below about what you think a great chef must have.

Restaurant Tour de Jour! Location #4: Rooster!

Rooster

My crepe at Rooster!

Hello again, readers! This morning we went to ‘Rooster.’ It was very good. Here is my review:

What I thought was cool was you got to pick your own table! We picked one inside. It was a little chilly but the decor made me forget about it. There were kid-like drawings of roosters on the walls, and and a blackboard with the bloody mary and mimosa drink menu on it. But, best of all, the was a HUGE rooster painted on the wall in front of me! So, as you can tell, I liked the decor a lot.

Our server, David, was one of the nicest servers I have had, ever. He was also very quick, and took our order very speedily. I had some hot chocolate, which was really good, and was nice and traditional, which is good. I also had a bean burrito, that has black beans, egg, white cheddar, romaine, and house-made salsa on the side, and it was all wrapped in a crepe. It was very delicious. The waiter told us that the black beans had orange juice in them! I could  taste it, too.The house-made salsa was a little more of a pico de gallo, but good anyway.

As my mom said, they are famous for their crepes. Not only are they famous for their crepes, they are also famous for their homemade jelly! My mom got me some toast with some of their homemade raspberry jam, which so good. It was one of the best jams I have tasted! Overall, I give it 5 stars!!! Go Rooster!   Now for my younger sisters review:

 

On the kids menu they have french toast sticks, raisin french toast sticks, grilled cheese, pb+j, cheesy crepe, and pizza crepe. They have meter parking and outside seating. I had two pancakes that were GIANT. They have mimosas and bloody mary drinks. i give it 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :). 5 smiley faces!

Restaurant Tour de Jour! Location #3: The Drunken Fish!

The plates at The Drunken Fish are very cool!

The plates at The Drunken Fish are very cool!

Hello readers! Sorry for the delay. My family got very busy. Anyway, a few days ago, I went to a place called ‘The Drunken Fish.’ It was fancier than I thought it would be! Here is my review:

We were sat down at a very nice table. Although the seating was nice, it was very loud. But that doesn’t always bother people, so lets move on. The decor is nice, and, as I have said, fancier than I thought it would be. It was a little cold, but I got used to it. I think our waitress forgot about us it the beginning. It had been a while, and the waitress hadn’t even taken our drink order! Never the less, my mom told a lady to please get her, and she came.

They’re lemonade is very good! Nice and a bit sour, and has a kick to it, like I like it. This lemonade, though, took a long time to get to the table. Also, my mom and dad waited about 15 minutes for their martinis! Then we ordered some appetizers, which were gyoza and tuna kickers, and I ordered some miso soup. The gyoza did taste very good! I did not taste one flaw! The tuna kickers were spicy,(like they were supposed to be,) but good anyway. Be warned, it is not a one-bite thing for a child! My miso soup was very good and traditional, and had a good amount of vegetables in there, as well.

For the sushi rolls, we ordered the spicy salmon roll (dad’s pick), mango roll (mom’s pick), spider roll (group pick), and….. the octopus roll (my pick). I had never tasted octopus, so I was drawn to it! When the sushi got there, I tased each one carefully. The spicy salmon roll wasn’t that spicy but good anyway. The mango roll was a bit spicier than I imagined, and it had some thick slices, but it was good. The spider roll was very good, and soft, but not spicy. I don’t think it was meant to be, but it could have used some spiciness to it, in my opinion. The octopus roll was very good. For all you folks out there who don’t know what octopus tastes like, To my taste buds, it was chewy, tasted  a little like kalamari, and would taste good with lemon. They also gave us an array of dipping sauces. The panszu sauce (or at least thats how i THINK it is spelled,) was a lot like soy sauce, in my opinion, but my mom loved it. The 7 spice sauce was very good, and had a tangy taste to it. The honey wasabi sauce was good, but the wasabi sure does rule the aftertaste, if you know what I mean! And last, but not least, is the spicy mayo, which was not as spicy as I thought it would be, but good.

Overall, I give ‘The Drunken Fish’ 4 stars! Now for my  younger sister’s review:

There is two floors. They have noodles,sushi,and fish. They have outside seating.They give you water in the beginnging.

The lemonade is good. I give it 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :). 5 smiley faces!

Restaurant Tour de Jour! Location #2: Maya Cafe

My meal at Maya!

A few weeks ago, I went to a restaurant named Maya Cafe. It was a pretty good experience, but i don’t know whether or not they have the best margaritas in town!

I walked out of the car and saw outside seating, which, to me, is a good sign. As I walked in, it appeared to be cozy and comfortable, but still colorful. There were lots of string lights around-well-almost everything! I don’t know if I would have chosen that many lights, though. There was not only inside and outside seats, but also bar seating. When I sat down, I took a whiff of air. It faintly smelled of enchiladas, but there was not much smell due to a very large fan. Speaking of the fan, it was turned on high and it was pretty chilly in there because of it. The table cloth was very soft, and the chair was pretty cozy, but a little uncomfortable in the back. You could hear the fan humming and some kitchen sounds, such as a blender. You could also here the band playing that they had hired.

Moving on to the food, the salsa was a bit watery, and more like a Pico de Gallo, but it was tasty. Our guacamole was very good, but it could have used a little lime juice. The chips were a little salty, but tasty. I ordered a chicken chimichango with saffron rice. My chimichango was really good altogether. The meat was perfectly cooked, and the tortilla looked like it was going to be extremely crunchy, but was actually soft! The saffron rice was very tender a had a hint of saffron to it, so that was very yummy, also.

The service was very good. Our waitress was very nice and funny, but she was rushing around to serve many people, and my family and I concluded that the boss needed to hire her some help. She recommended something called Spanish plantains. She had lots of trouble describing it, though. We trusted her and ordered some after all. It turns out, she was VERY right! It not only had ice cream with cinnamon on top for the side,(which was very creamy, by the way,) but it also had some sliced almonds sprinkled over the top of the plantains. The almonds were very crispy, and the plantains were, if I may say so, were HEAVEN. My dad called them “plantainy goodness!”   Overall, I say it deserves 4 stars.

My sister has chosen not to write a review for this article. Thank you for reading!