Posted on August 10, 2018
When you think of Oregon State University (OSU) the last thing that probably comes to mind is a farm that spans dozens of acres in the middle of Aurora, Oregon.
But that’s where you’ll find one of the OSU’s extension sites, North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC).
It’s also where Culinary Artistry students nearing the end of their 2nd term caught a glimpse and learned about crops NWREC boasts, and how studies performed at the site affect agriculture production in the years to come.
During the length of the field trip students were introduced to dozens of different species of crops including strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, lettuces, tomatoes, and quinoa.
The quinoa area is where the field trip was kicked off.
Scientists, farmers and students are among the personnel on the property. They keep the show, or in this case, the farm, running.
After observing the quinoa portion of the farm, students were introduced to the site’s IR-4 Pesticide Registration Research Program.
Oregon’s only research program that collects residue from controlled crops then uses that data along with new chemistry to make sure certain residues are okay and don’t cause health issues.
The IR-4 program is among many of the reasons people from all over the world visit NWREC.
The property will peak anyone's curiosity even if they're foreign to farming. From controlled beehives for berry pollination to top of the line tractors in the field, to recorded sounds mimicking birds of prey to act as a shield for crops, NWREC is an agriculture playground.
And if you don't sign up for a tour, you can still see the center multiple times a year when the team holds "field day". An opportunity for farmers, chefs, plant breeders, and the public to meet and discuss what variety of fruits and vegetables lie in the farm nestled in Aurora's valley.
Posted on July 18, 2018
If you ever find yourself at Oregon Health Science University craving Thai, a two-minute walk to a family owned Japanese-Thai restaurant is all it takes to feed your craving.
Nestled away at the top of Marquam Hill, Oishi Thai serves a wide variety of Asian dishes. Family-owned is an understatement, as this whole joint is completely managed by four people. One of them is 9-years-old and makes one of the best tasting crab puffs Portland has to offer.
(Nui threw a free block party to celebrate getting her liquor license.)
The owner, Nui, is the ruby jewel of this ship. She not only takes all the orders, cashiers, and bar tends, she is also the chef and hostess. Nui doesn’t speak English too well, but she does her best to get a message across. Customers fall in love with the way Nui admires her guests, filling every request and always remembering their favorite sushi roll.
And for the size of the restaurant, this SW Portland destination has options. With a 6-page menu, any single item is sure to grab your attention. Five types of thick curry, filling appetizers like crab rangoons, and endless ramen options are just a teaser into their menu. However, the sushi rolls take the trophy home. With traditional rolls like the California and Veggie ($3) placed alongside original recipes like the Beauty and the Beast ($6), a half-eel, half-tuna, cucumber and avocado roll drizzled with warm sweet sauce, their sushi is hard to resist.
With a variety of options from different regions of Asia, Nui gets questions often about the blended nature of Oishi. “Is this Japanese or Thai food?”
Nui immigrated from Thailand and brought her two half-Japanese sons with her. She wanted to bring her family’s blended traditions together to create a multi-cultural dining destination, open to all. Her 9-year-old son, Ty Ty, is usually hanging around the property, which shares a humble parking lot with Plaid Pantry. He doesn’t actually work for Nui, but he loves being in the kitchen and practicing his serving. Some may find this to be unprofessional or quirky, but it is a constant reminder to the values of family and togetherness the restaurant upholds. Ty Ty is also a self-taught juggler and loves to entertain guests at Oishi.
Up on the wall sits a giant TV screen, with a slideshow of adorable animals and funny videos constantly playing as background noise. The restaurant is colorful and fun, and Ty Ty’s reading nook offers an area for children to play.
There are a few secrets in Nui’s cookbook that don’t appear on the physical menu, or online anywhere, and she loves to WOW customers with them. Fans of Thai iced tea must try Nui’s tangy and smooth Thai Lime Tea, with lime instead of cream. Nui also serves a fried banana tempura style over soft-serve vanilla ice cream, drizzled with hot fudge and salted caramel. It’s a good thing there’s a hospital nearby.
Part Time Culinary Student, Full-Time Nanny and Daycare Manager
Posted on February 14, 2018
By 2050 the world’s population is going to be around nine billion people. There is nowhere near enough meat to compensate for that huge number. One company is trying to revolutionize the world of plant-based meat. Chefs can agree that creating the most balanced and beautifully made burger is a goal they all strive for. Whether it’s using chicken, beef, beans or tofu, creating the perfect patty is all about flavor. Deep in the heart of Silicon Valley a little startup called Impossible Foods is starting to gain some serious steam. Backed by $250 million dollars in investment money from Singapore-based venture fund Temasek, Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, and others, Impossible Foods is creating something that we haven’t seen before. The veggie burger market is about to change forever.
The Impossible Foods group has found what they believe to be the essence of what makes meat taste and smell the way it does. Heme is a compound that gives meat its color and metallic taste. Heme is found in the protein called hemoglobin. Impossible Foods has found a way to use hemoglobin from soy plants as a substitute. To begin, beef is heated up to release its aromas. The machine isolates the aroma compounds and gives a fingerprint of how to recreate the smell. A lot of research goes into creating a meat alternative that rivals beef itself. Impossible Foods has proven they can do just that.
With the $250 million dollars raised, Impossible Foods is looking to expand its facility to allow for higher production rates. They are looking to supply over 1000 restaurants with their groundbreaking veggie meat over the next few years. Impossible Foods has made it known that they want to keep the meat in restaurants with professional chefs. The special veggie meat can be found all around the United States. Locally there are 8 restaurants here in Portland that serve the veggie meat that bleeds including Superbite, Jackrabbit and Imperial.
Impossible Foods has created a meat alternative that even the hungriest of meat eaters will eat. I think that what makes a burger so good is its meaty and salty flavor. I’ve tried the bean, tofu and various meat alternatives and been left unsatisfied. The thought of being able to have that salty and meaty flavor and still be conscious of animals is one that intrigues me. As this product becomes more main stream I think there will be a huge decrease in meat consumption. Many people like myself want to be conscious but also want the beef. If this product lives up to its hype, I can assure you that I will be switching to the Impossible Burger meat.
By Jonathon Byers, OCI Culinary Arts Graduate
Posted on February 14, 2018
When I tell a friend or family member, “I saw the cutest naked cake on Pinterest,” I’m usually met with quizzical looks.
“What’s a naked cake?” they ask. My reply is usually the description of a multi layered cake with either a minimal to no coat of icing on it, typically decorated with fruit and or flowers and some kind of filling.
Still I’m met with dumbfounded looks of them trying to picture what I am talking about. Pulling out my phone, I show them a picture.
[Image Source; www.hitched.co.uk]
Their eyes get big and and their mouths open wide. “Ooohhh… yeah,” they say, “I’ve seen those. I didn’t know it was called a naked cake.”
Yes, it’s a naked cake. No signs of fondant or buttercream covering up the entire cake. We get to see the cake in its natural state. A yummy, fluffy, and airy cake with sweet and smooth filling.
There are two kinds of naked cakes, naked and semi-naked.
The simplistic naked naked cake showcases just the cake, generally white or yellow but can be any other color and flavoring. It is layered and filled commonly with buttercream and decorated with fresh fruit; berries are the fan favorite because they don’t need to be cut and they look gorgeous whole. Flowers and herbs also adorn many of these exposed cakes; edible flowers are ideal but not always the choice. To finish off, each cake is lightly dusted with powdered sugar.
[Image Source; bite.co.nz]
Now let’s talk about the semi-naked cake. This kind of cake receives a minimal coat of frosting, usually described by cake bakers as a “crumb coat.” That usually goes on before fondant or more buttercream is added to hold in any crumbs that could potentially come off while trying to decorate it.
Through the crumb coat the cake and filling are slightly in view, resembling the affect of swiping a paint brush on a canvas with only one stroke where the lines are not defined but blurred.
A naked cake doesn’t always need to be simply decorated with fruit and flowers. Bakers have started glazing the tops, letting the glaze run down the sides in long soft drips adding effect and texture. Another texture technique done is piping buttercream in intricate scroll work over the cake. This adds beauty and detail to the already-bare cake.
One of the benefits of making or buying a naked cake is that they can be cheaper than buying a cake that is completely covered in buttercream or fondant.
Buttercream also tends to melt quicker. Purchasing a naked cake will ensure the cake will stay intact longer in the warmer months.
Naked cakes aren’t necessarily a new idea but they have become widely popular. Going naked on a bride’s wedding day isn’t always a good idea but when it comes to cake, it might not be a bad idea.
Written by Angel Hugs, OCI Baking & Pastry Graduate
Posted on December 07, 2016
Rachel Ciula is a notable alumnus of Oregon Culinary Institute and pastry chef owner of Délice Confections. Read more about her story here.
Could You Tell Us About Yourself Before Becoming a Chef?
As a child I always struggled with what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was actually really into science in high school and started working towards a degree in Anthropology at Portland State University after I graduated. Nothing really inspired me though and I was more interested in competing in hunter/jumpers with my horse at the time. I ended up dropping out of college and getting a full time office job to support my riding hobby.
What Inspired You to Become a Chef?
Growing up, my dad was an amazing cook, my mom baked everything from scratch and I loved being in the kitchen with both of them. They turned my older brother and I into foodies for sure.
When I was living alone in my early 20’s, I started baking more to entertain myself. I would share it with everyone I knew and it felt really great to see them so surprised and delighted. I realized that everyone was getting so used to mass-produced, store-bought, bland baked goods, so it was easy to blow their minds with some scratch cookies.
After a couple years I began to get a little restless with my job sitting in a cubicle so I got a crazy idea to enroll myself in culinary school. I had no idea where it was going to take me or what to expect, which was both exciting and terrifying.
How Did Délice Confections Come to Be?
After a few years of culinary school and working as a pastry chef at a couple different restaurants I felt like I was kind of stuck in a rut. I never really got to do or make exactly what I wanted.
I discovered I loved making chocolates and dessert buffets and wasn’t as fond of plated desserts. I always toyed with the idea of starting my own dessert catering business and after being encouraged by a few fellow entrepreneurs, I decided to go ahead and make the leap and start Délice Confections.
It has been a pretty bumpy start with a lot of learning along the way. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great small business owners in Oregon City who have helped me grow slowly but surely. My little bakery keeps morphing and adapting as I discover more about myself and the wants and needs of my community around me. There’s still a long road ahead, but I know I am on the right path.
We Are Coming to Your Place Tonight, What Do You Make Us?
I would definitely serve up a slice of my salted caramel cheesecake. You can find it at Ranee’s on Main in Oregon City year-round.
The recipe was actually created for me by a dear friend of mine when Délice first started and I have been sworn to secrecy. I combine her cheesecake with salted caramel that I make from scratch and it’s magical. I’d like to say it has become pretty famous with the locals!
Any Advice to Aspiring OCI Ninjas?
I would say that Oregon Culinary Institute taught me a lot to get me started in the big pastry world, but it pales in comparison to what you learn when you finally get out there.
Try not to get too set on something specific you want to do or make and be open to opportunities as they come your way. You might stumble onto something you’re really good at that you hadn’t considered doing before.
Be flexible in the kitchen because things rarely turn out precisely like you planned. Also, improvisation is key.
Keep in mind that there is perfection in imperfection. And any negativity in the kitchen will show through your food, so stay positive and remind yourself that you’re doing what you love!
About Rachel Ciula
Rachel Ciula is the pastry chef owner of Délice Confections, a dessert catering business based in Oregon City. Her macarons, cakes, cheesecakes, and caramel sauce are made from scratch with whole ingredients and no preservatives or artificial ingredients.
For more information about Rachel or her delicious catering services, visit her website.