Category Archives: Tech Ed 2009

Wow. All I Can Say is Wow.

So I missed breakfast this morning, and given what I experienced at lunch, I did myself a favor.  The menu looked like:


Sounds ok right?  By the way, anyone who has never been to an event where 5 or 6 thousand people try to eat all at the same time, it looks like this:


In light of that, I am totally willing to make some allowances.  It’s a huge task.  But come on.  These potatoes were hard and were completely unseasoned and the vegetables were cooked into oblivion.  They never had a chance.


How can you mess up tomato cucumber salad?  By adding more red onion than tomatoes or cucumbers, of course!  Salmon on a buffet?  Don’t get me started.  If you’re going to do ravioli, I’m all for it.  That actually makes sense in a mass quantity situation. BUT, you really HAVE to do something to the sauce other than just dumping tomato paste on it.  Basil, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano; I would’ve taken any one of them.

The one thing that wasn’t a total failure was the beef.  The “alfredo” part was unspeakable, but the beef was tender and it actually had some flavor, thanks to the gorgonzola.  Tomorrow will be a better day.  Say it with me:  Tomorrow will be another day.  It would have to be.

My contribution to make your tomorrow a little better is this:

Fettuccine with Foolproof Alfredo Sauce

  • 8 ounces Fettuccine Noodles (Fresh ones are GREAT in this)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I’ll let you off the hook if you only have pre-ground)

Boil 6-8 quarts of water for noodles. Drop the noodles in as soon as the water boils and cook according to directions.

In a heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat until it stops foaming. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add cream and bring to a low boil, while stirring constantly. Cook the sauce until it reduces by about half and thickens a good bit. When it gets to a consistency that makes you happy, remove from heat and season with salt and pepper-make sure you taste it! Lastly, add the nutmeg and serve with the noodles. Be prepared to accept effusive praise from all who partake!

Alas, There Will Be No More Cooking…

Just for this week, so don’t panic.  Some of you know that I do technology related work for my day job, so this week I am in sunny California at a Microsoft Conference.  No cooking or eating with the family for me.  As aggravating as it can be trying to get them to eat and have manners and so forth, I really miss it when I’m gone.

So, I was thinking that there would be no posts this week, as I won’t be cooking anything, but it came to me in a flash:  I’ll blog about the food at Tech Ed 2009!!  Surely that’s a new thing under the sun (read: nothing comes up on Google).  Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me at lunch, so I didn’t get any pictures, but I got some of the Partner Expo food in the evening.

Lunch was supposed to be some kind of Asian inspired thing.  Spinach salad which was ok, but nothing to get excited about, dry teriyaki grilled chicken which wasn’t horrible, uninspired chow mien, and honestly, the worst sweet and sour pork I’ve eaten EVER.  I can’t imagine how you could screw it up so badly.  The only positive thing I can say about it is that it wasn’t slathered in a bright red sauce.  I think sweet and sour dishes can be a little tricky.  Certainly many of the Chinese food restaurants I’ve been to have blown it, I’m a bit surprised that a 60 billion dollar company like Microsoft can’t get it right either.  Have no fear though, I will share with you my fool proof answer to this thorny problem.  (From memory, mind you – you’ve been warned).

The food at the expo was much more interesting, I thought.  Here are some really good “California Spring Rolls” that had rice noodles and fresh mushrooms and basil leaves:


They had some very tasty Andouille sausage wrapped in puff pastry, some mediocre sliders, and a sadly disappointing potato bar.  One cool thing they did was make a chopped chef salad on the spot and serve it in little take out boxes.


I liked the mini grilled Ruebens also.  From a concept standpoint, I think my favorite thing was the dessert, which was all kinds of candy.  Cotton candy, malt balls, Andes mints, Ghiradelli, smarties, it was very creative.



Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork

  • 2 pounds boneless pork chops, cut into bite sized pieces (I like center cut, but I’ve made it with other cuts.  You can also use chicken with no problem)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits, drained – that’s where I get the juice called for earlier in this list
  • 1 green or red bell pepper diced
  • Oil for frying

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat.  We’re going for 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, cornstarch, egg, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add water and mix until smooth.  Add meat and stir to coat.  Working in batches of 8 or 10 pieces, drop the coated meat into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 6 or 7 minutes.  As always, don’t crowd the pan.  As I’m pulling them out of the oil, I always cut one open to make sure it’s done all the way.  If not, I throw them back and adjust my times.

In a medium sauce pan, combine pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy, salt, chili garlic and carrots.  Heat to boiling and then simmer until the carrots are tender.  In small dish mix cornstarch and water until smooth, then add to the sauce pan while stirring constantly.  This will thicken the sauce after a couple of minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium low and then add the pineapple and peppers and let cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. 

You can mix the fried meat pieces into the sauce if you want and serve over rice, but my group likes to have everything separate.