Category Archives: Fish

Introducing…Chef Alison!

This past Monday my lifelong dreams became a reality when I graduated culinary school and became a professional chef!  
Our final project was to create a banquet, or as Orthodox Jews may call it, a shmorg.   My class and I made an abundance of delicious freshly made foods.   We were each assigned to make two or three original recipes and had the entire day to complete the mission. I made Jamaican spring rolls with spicy mango dipping sauce and my infamous mojito hamantashen, all of which were not kosher.  My parents flew in all the way from Columbus, Ohio to partake in my graduation celebrations.  Since my parents, two sisters, and a bunch of my friends were coming, I brought along kosher pots and pans so I was able to make them some Kosher treats.  I seared up pomegranate-citrus glazed salmon and lemon-curry mashed potatoes (I snuck in some frozen lemon meringue bars too). 

The day was hectic and such an adrenaline rush.  We were each called up individually and were given a book and a toque.  I think I donned my toque quite well if i do say so myself!

Here I go, out into the culinary world, armed with knives and a uniform.  Some would describe that as going out to war, but I would call it living my dream!

Lemon-Curry Mashed Potatoes

Serves 8-10 people
8 Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
½ Cup Butter
¾ C. Milk
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (adjust to your desired spiciness)
1 TBS. Curry
1 Lemon, juiced
Salt and Pepper
Walnuts, crushed  (Optional)
Boil potatoes in water till soft.  Drain.   While hot, mash in the butter, milk and spices.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.   

Chef Alison 

Starting Monday I will be interning at Solo 🙂

It’s All In The Presentation

I’m now in Module 3 (out of 5) and we are doing a lot more in terms of plating and complex dishes.  You can check out the rest of my pics on the left side of the page, titled “Creations.”  (Album Title: Ali Babka Blog)
Captions are in the album as well!
Oh! Exciting news!  I now bring a pan into class and sear fresh fish (when we have kosher, of course).  Add that to my reinvented potato…and SHAZAM!  Not goin hungry no more…

Come Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy…

Words cannot even describe how much I am looking forward to and dreading these next two weeks. I am looking forward to conquering a fear!  That is one of the most terrifying yet best feelings in the world! “Fabrication” seems like a harmless word, and it is…but I have this ingrained fear in me of taking apart animals. Odd, right? For some yes and for some no. But either way, I am sure you can relate to one of those options 🙂
Yesterday, we began our journey.  We started with fish.  I love fish, I really do!  They taste incredible, especially fresh.  Sushi, fried, baked, grilled, fish is good every way! I never realized though, how gross they really were to prepare fresh.  Just like when i dissected a cat and pig in biology class in college, I had to disconnect myself from the reality.  I will spare the details and pictures of the actual filleting process, but it was successful!  I filleted very nicely.  This skill will hopefully make it’s first appearance in about a week and a half when I go to Cancun.  There isn’t much kosher food there, but I will, nonetheless, eat in style!
Let me just give you an overview on how terrified I was.  For the past month, every time I passed the fish section in my grocery store or the meat department, I would literally stare at the meat and fish in order to desensitize myself.  The men at the counter probably thought I had a huge affinity to dead fish. The only thing I still have an issue with is lobster, I still can’t stop getting chills and looking away.  Also included in my “mission to desensitize”, I pre-gamed the class and bought myself a whole fish, gutted and “filleted” that little guy, and ate it.  A pretty gosh darn good experimental dish came out of it too.

Fish of the Sea: 
2 Bass, filleted and chopped
1 Onion, diced
1 Shallot, diced
1 Lemon, Juiced 
Salt and Pepper
Cherry Tomatoes
Parsley, chopped (garnish)
Wild Rice
Bake all ingredients together, covered, at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Spoon the fish on a pile of wild rice.  Garnish with parsley.   

I filleted and gutted four fish yesterday, of which include: 2 Flounder, 1 Mackerel, and 1 Bass. (Refer to the garlic article) Same reaction on the subway home.  You would be surprised how many people gravitated towards me on the subway.  I thought I smelled, others loved it.  A day later and my hands still smell like fish.  I have rubbed a numerous amount of floral lotion on them to try and mask the smell.  The result? I now smell like a  flowery fish. Mmmmmm…..I should bottle that one up! “Eu Deu Perfume Fishe’ Flowere'”   
People call dibs on the food I prepare before class even begins (even the chef is in the “game” of who gets my food/leftovers).  But not yesterday! I walked away with some leftover fresh salmon and trout.  It’s the first and only thing I have been able to take home since we began! Very exciting time! Just gotta rinse them off and cook em’ for dinner.
The truth is, what really kept me going through this whole process was my mom.  She grew up with Lake Erie literally being her backyard.  She would, along with a boat full of boys, go fishing almost everyday in the summer.  What was her job (besides the fishing)?  The gutter and filleter!  If my mom can do it, so can I!  After all, it’s in the genes…and yesterday that was proven! Mom, you gave me the “guts” to do it!