Frangipane, Pastry, Tarts (class 38)

So sugar was the rule today. I never saw so many guys eat the sweets like little girls. We made a bunch of tarts and pies. We also rolled out pastry dough. In between waiting for the dough to rest, we played with chocolate–we piped chocolate. We first wrote happy birthday and then everyone got happy and started writing their names, in English and other languages. They also drew pictures and wrote funky things. It was like the chance to do graffiti. I likened it to writing on a blackboard in a classroom. Sometimes you just make a mistake and it is glaring. Someone wrote I AM HUNGY (AKA I AM HUNGRY) another person wrote HAPPY BIRD (was supposed to be the start of HAPPY BIRTHDAY.) Hilarious.

I was late on acquiring the skills to do this right. My chocolate ran a muck in the piping paper. Then when I was piping, not enough was coming out to make the letters thick and bubbly and then there were times I ran along the paper so you can see a streak–not cool. Even the teacher had to put his two cents in.

So check out my picks and see all the fun we had today. The chef we had was a sub for our morning chef who had a family function to attend to. Our sub was enthusiastic–our morning chef was a tad quiet and somewhat monotone–but knew his stuff.

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The sub tried to make converts of us, he being a pastry chef and not a ‘culinarian.’ Don’t worry, there is no internal battle between culinary and pastry. We just have different ways of doing things.

So the adventure continues in two weeks. More fun with eggs, flour and sugar-the base for cookies, cakes and pies
Eat up this weekend as I know you will have tarts, pies, cakes and all kinds of fun bad stuff.

Ciao for now.

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Baking 101-Do Re Me (Class 37)

So lets look at some pictures first. We macerated, grilled, poached, candied, roasted and dried fruits.

I think I put today’s date down on one of the containers, thinking it was tomorrow. I hope they do not throw away our stuff–as that would be a travesty–for real. I would then be the team bozo. Please don’t let me be bozo the clown. I call this lesson fun with fruits–mine (orange rind) was boiled in sugar (soon it will be tossed with sugar), and then my pears were poached in caramel.

My favorite dishes were the grilled curried mango and the figs & pears mixture–that was so delicious. It would go great with a juicy, tasty piece of pork. The texture is crunchy, a little bit juicy, and then soft and chewy (meat). You cannot make this stuff up. I already passed on the recipes to others.

The grilled pineapples were excellent as well. This weekend for the 4th–you can accent your meat with this cool, tangy dish.

Our dishes were filling also–hearty fruit mixed with varying ingredients-sometimes being sugar or salt. You can basically do what you want with fruits.

So go out and enjoy a fruit salad–cooked with cinnamon or mint. Saute some fruit like you would a piece of chicken.

Enjoy life, enjoy food, live well.

Plating at James Beard with the Sunshine State Boys

This was a different experience. There was a husband and wife team and then 3 other chefs. I thought at first that they were all part of a franchise, but they were just people who knew each other. They made cool dishes. My favorite was the potato ( I think ) disks, with the seafood on top. It was pretty. You just wanted to admire it. I also got a kick out of the hush puppies made with frog legs. Yup-I tried not to focus but slopped it down, and it was pretty good. As my past teacher said, anything fried is good. 🙂

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It almost warrants a trip to Florida.

So the pictures are of a large-scale production. Some items are complete, others are in between processes and then there is the layout phase-the calm before the storm. It is truly fun to cook, then to present and finally relax. It is nice because it is like a little project each time with a definite planning, beginning and end–soon, rather than sometime in the future. I somewhat like to have ends to things.

So if you will be visiting Orlando, or Miami any time soon, let me know, I can send you the restaurant information.

Ciao, and sunny days, on behalf of the guys from the sunshine state.

More of Asian fare-Sushi (Class 36)

We had a quiz before class started and then we moved into our last Asia portion. In the evening we did out practical. That was a hoot and a half. I have pictures of my practice at home too.

Sushi

We did Sushi. Well I have to say that though there were some sushi fans, there were definitely some NON-SUSHI FANS, me partly included. I have to admit making it was fun for a little while but after the 7th roll, I was read to throw all the pieces in a large wok and make a crazy stir fry. Even my usually marathon like team mates were ready to bow out. We even had some other people come to our table as I think other tables were crowded, so people were shifting a lot and shifting for social reasons. The people who really wanted to work had to find other outlets.

We used rice, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, tofu, Anari pockets, cucumber,avocado, pickled ginger, kampyo, lettuce, radish, crab, tuna and salmon. So not everything could be stir-fried, but you get the idea.

I took a few rolls home.

Check out my practical in my AROUND THE WAY POSTING. (To be published)

Till then, enjoy life, eat well, and try some new things (some).
Ciao.

China and Thailand revisited (class 35)

So it was noodle day. We cooked every kind of noodle you may be familiar with and some you may not be.

We made Chengdu Noodles using thin egg noddles. The dressing was made of peanut and sesame , etc.
There was the classic Pan Fried Chinese Egg Noodles with Beef and Broccoli. (Marinade–soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, toasted sesame oil, garlic, cornstarch, chx broth, gingerroot and scallion) The sauce uses some of these ingredients but you can cook the marinade and let it reduce and become the sauce I believe.

Some students made Japanese Udon, Vietnamese Rice Noodles Bun Salad with Beef, and still others made another favorite-Pad Thai. Three students made this and only one got the full thumbs up. They tasted good but were darker and so appeared slightly different from what we are used to. There is so much preparation. I could not see myself making this often. It has to be a special dish.

I made the Thai Shrimp with Bean Thread Noodles. This was fun. I had to soak the noddles in water first. Lets back up to the noodles preparation. I had to cut this hard as plastic noodles

Noodles uncooked
off of a bush and watch the pieces fly every which way and onto the floor–you could hurt someone’s eye if not your own with this. LOL Not to mention the clear nature, you can accidentally land a piece in someones dish without them knowing. SHHHHH–I won’t say a word if you don’t. 🙂 I also made the Japanese Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce. This exercise was purely to familiarize us with the noodle as no special preparation outside the normal boiling was performed.

So I was only able to take one shot as I forgot and had to take a picture of my portion to take home. You will see all the different ones though. There were 5-7 of them.

6 different noodles--yummy

Noodles stir fried with almost anything is awesome. Try it. Tell me your favorite combination. Leave a comment as other people read and get ideas.

In the mean time, travel well (maybe to another area and go food shopping), eat well and enjoy life.
Ciao for now.

Day 2 Asia, Chinese Food Rules (Class 34)

We used WOKS till we were burning ourselves, dirtying the floor and steaming our faces off-literally. “Ever throw water in a HOT ASS pot–watch the fog thicken.”

One of the dishes today was Stir Fried Green Beans–like a right of passage. We had learned to saute them in a pan with little more than some butter and maybe, maaaybeee some garlic. Here we used the WOK method and added soy sauce, stock, garlic and oil–not in that order of course.
My team did the stir fried clams in black bean sauce and Crisp Velveted Chix (I did this one). Here is what it is: you cover the chicken with a slurry of cornstarch and salt. You drop the pieces in hot oil and let them turn white, then take it out and let it drain. When making stir fry, you add the meat at the end (hence it is par cooked before) and it finishes cooking with the other food.

We also did Red Cooked chicken–aka, cooking with Soy Sauce (RED COOKING). You learn something everyday. 🙂 Lastly we cooked Chinese Cloud Fish. Another team deep fried a fish in a WOK.

In the evening we learned about DASHI (Japanese stock) Miso (our team), Dal, Chinese Velvet Corn and Crab Soup (our team) and Chutneys–I did 2, b/c we had the materials. I volunteered to do a pineapple chutney and then a mango chutney. I also did the Scallion Bread, while another teammate did Chapati, Phulka and Poori.

We were working like little leprechauns today, creating little pots of magic.

I would say try some chutneys–they are excellent off the back off a spoon or accompanying an actual dish.

Enjoy life, eat well.

Leaving Italy and entering India (class 33)

Here was the run down for the day:
Carponato alla Siciliana (aka Sicilian Eggplant), Pesto Trapanese (a take on Pesto), hand-made fettuccine, Fregula alla Sarda (aka Italian Couscous-quarter inch balls), in a nice mushroom sauce, and finally Involtini de Pesce Spada (Swordfish rolled with a filling). Involtini is anything rolled. We made a second eggplant dish, which was like an eggplant pancake (similar to our squash pancakes), a simple salad and finally another take on chicken. I tasted one from another team and it was great.

So I made the Pesto, which is basic pesto but instead of using pine nuts you use almonds and add sun-dried tomatoes. I also tackled the Sicilian Eggplant. The Couscous was good and I just wanted to eat it by itself, one spoon at a time. The eggplant cakes, were really good. I was not sure I would enjoy the eggplant but it was good enough to dig in at lunch time. It had good flavor and being breaded, it had a nice little crust.

After lunch we launched into India. We learned about some essentials: Ghee, Masala, Curry, Tempering, cardamom (I run into this every time I go to Indian Restaurants. It is so strong and when you crunch into one–your face becomes twisted and you want to cross your eyes. Yeah you know that feeling.)

We made some Garam Masala–by the way, Masala is the blend of spices. Curry or “a curry” is made of a meat, a liquid, vegetables, and spices. I made Basmati rice with crispy brown fried onions. My team-mate made the onions. It took two tries but the second time was the charm. Then we mixed them together–I was late with that dish, but it had a good taste. I took about a cup home.

We also made Traditional Thai Green Curry Paste and finally Sea Bass Curry. Both were great and though I am not a fish fan, the fish was so flavored. Something about these curries- a few of them, it was very powdery. I think they did not add enough liquid. Actually, I guess that is why they say paste-it accurately describes the consistence.

Man I was beat at the end of the day. The smells in the kitchen were strong but not the kind you smell when on the train and you run into some serious Indians. It was different, not really a home-grown smell. I guess we had too much going on and were well ventilated.

So go out and try some different curries. Restaurants like Saigon Grill and Ruby Foos may give you some good curry. Try a Thai place and you will fall in love with curries.

Enjoy life, take in some new smells and live well.

2 days after vacation–where is everyone (class 32)

So the second day. Oh we were up fairly early as we tried to wean ourselves off of our vacation schedule.
Man it was a repeat day. There were two people absent.

Our teammate who was half there the day before was here even less. A slight cut of the hand made it impossible to continue at the normal speed and we had to be careful of gushing blood.

We were so fast , I guess with combined teams (what we resorted to) that around 4 I asked Chef if we could leave early if we cleaned up in a half an hour. Well we were 2 minutes past the time but I think it was an excellent team effort. So we got to leave early and I wanted to try and catch an earlier train–failure. I missed that train. Why is it that when you try hard you always cannot get it.

So we made: Soup, spreads, potato pies, mozzarella cheese (fresh)-I bet you never did that, pork chops, and lamb stew.

I had to take a taste of the mozzarella. I added salt and black pepper to my olive oil also-for my bread also–life has to be more interesting. If I had other seasoning on the table it would have been a wild experience for the bread.

Here are some pictures from the day.

It was a long class but a fun time.

Till next time-enjoy life, eat well.

vacation time–well a return from (class 31)

So I was away and that was fun, but on my vacation I started a study sheet so that I could be prepared for my quiz the day after returning. So by the pool, in the bed, on the patio, I prepared my notes. Also, in order to be extra prepared, I go to class early-or at least try. I try to catch an early train but end up being late. So I get to school and two classmates let me know that the quiz was pushed to Sunday–well yay and okay. So I get another night to memorize.

Class was quiet when I arrived. 6 people were out at 9am. Two trickled in a little after. One guy came in on the second half and so there were three still missing. It was a nice change and it allowed for more hands on, as less people were available to do the work, there was ample opportunity for creativity and team work. One person chopped all the onions and another did all the herbs and still others fabricated all the meat so all that was left was to season and cook.

My table was interesting. One person was missing and our second team-mate was a little out of it. It was almost like having only 2.5 people at our table. I was rocking, trying to get my work done. We still pushed out a bunch of dishes.

Here they are

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. I had a good lunch.

In the mean time, eat well, and enjoy life.

LEILÃO RESTAURANT, MONTMOR-O-NOVO, PORTUGAL

YUMMY FOOD

OH I ORDERED THE BACALHAO AND ONIONS,WHICH LOOKED LIKE A LARGE SQUARE SAUSAGE LOG. It had an onion sauce, as if you were making French Onion soup and it was the most marvelous combination.

YOU KNOW THE FEELING YOU HAVE WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO ORDER FROM A MENU. WELL PICTURE WHEN YOU ARE WITH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO ALL WANT YOU TO TRY EVERYTHING AND YOU HAVE TO BE CULTURALLY SENSITIVE AND NO IS THE FURTHEST THING FROM THE MIND-WELL THAT WAS US TODAY.

SO BACK TO THE CHOOSING OF THE FOOD.  I WANTED MY OTHER HALF TO TRY THE COD FISH AKA BACALHAO.  WE HAVE COD FISH AT HOME BUT THIS IS ONE OF THE NATIONAL DISHES OF PORTUGAL OR AT LEAST POPULAR DISHES SO I WANTED TO AT LEAST HAVE IT ON THIS TRIP.  ALSO THERE WAS BEEF ON THE MENU. IT WAS MENTIONED THAT THE BEEF WAS GOOD AS THE LOCAL MEAT WAS EXCELLENT AND TOP KNOTCH-SO WHAT DO WE EAT.  WELL I DECIDED FOR US AND WE GOT THE FISH AND THE STEAK.  YUMMY.

THE FISH CAME IN A SHAPE OF A LARGE SQUARE SAUSAGE AND IT HAD A LOVELY GOLDEN CRUST.  IN MY CLASSES WE TALK ABOUT GOLDEN CRUSTS-THIS WAS THE EPITOME.

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WINE-WE JUST SAID YES, BUT IT ENDED UP GOING WELL WITH BOTH MY FISH AND DESSERT.

DESSERT-I HAD THE CHEESECAKE WITH WHAT AMOUNTED TO SOME KIND OF JAM ON THE TOP. MY OTHER HALF HAD THE CREAM AND SUGAR WITH COOKIES. BASICALLY THE CREAM FILLING, RATHER ALL AROUND WAS GOOD QUALITY CREAM WITH BROWN SUGAR-YOU COULD TASTE/FEEL IT. THERE WERE WAFER COOKIES IN IT–MARIE, BRAND cookies.

COFFEE-WELL, WE HAD NO CHOICE-THAT IS LIKE THE CULTURAL NORM AND LETS NOT FORGET THE CANDY–THE MOM BASICALLY DUMPED IT IN MY LAP.

FREE FOOD-THIS MUST HAVE COST A WEEKS SALARY FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON-  I AM GLAD WE HAVE FRIENDS WITH PARENTS.

ENJOY THE PICTURES.