Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stuffed Peppers, Chicken Masala, and Goulash

We started our day making stuffed peppers, Middle Eastern style, so I jumped on that. We sauteed ground beef and set it aside, then sauteed onions and garlic with some spices that included cumin and cinnamon. Then we added some tomato paste and diced tomatoes, threw the beef back in, and mixed it all up. We mixed in raisins, pine nuts, cilantro, and lemon zest. That's where I called it a day and made a bowl of the stuffing for myself. The rest of the stuffing went into bell peppers, which we then baked. The stuffing was delicious; I don't know why anyone would want to taint it with bell peppers. I wish we had gotten some zucchini to stuff!

Then we made chicken masala. It was the first time I made my own from beginning to end. We tossed the chicken in chickpea flour, seared it, and set it aside. Chef made us an aromatic oil to use to continue the dish. We threw some onions, garlic, and ginger in with the oil, along with our masala spice mix, then some tomato. We added the chicken back in and finished the dish with some yogurt. Mine was delicious and I was proud of myself. We made some naan bread to go with the curry.

Some of the kids made spaetzle while we worked on other dishes, because we were going to finally eat our goulash from Tuesday! When it came out and we heated it up, the meat was incredibly tender and the sauce was to die for. The main spice in goulash is paprika, and it has a ton of onions in it as well, which I love. Goulash + spaetzle + shredded cabbage + sour cream? Score!

Obviously, today was a good day. I think I cooked more today than I have any other day in this class. It was fun and the food was great, plus I have leftovers of everything!

Chef made us bananas foster for dessert. By then I was so full, I only ate one bite! The booze flavor was a little overpowering, but the caramel sauce was really good anyway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken, French Omelet, and Pineapple Foster

I call it pineapple foster for lack of a better word. Basically, we cooked pineapple in brown sugar, cinnamon, and some spices. I know there were some whole cloves in there. Then we flambeed it and served it with vanilla bean ice cream. I had a little bit of ice cream but I don't like pineapple, and it definitely still tasted like pineapple even after all we did to it.

We cooked our Jamaican jerk chicken after marinating it for two days. Damn, it was good. Jerk chicken is one of my favorite foods in the world.

Chef showed us how to make a French omelet. Did you know that the French traditional omelet is just eggs, salt, and butter? It's a tri-folded thing, which you have to make perfectly using only a fork, and only then can you cut it open and add a filling. Oh, and it has to be exactly three eggs. I find the whole thing a little eyeroll-worthy, but whatever.

We also made some flat bread to eat with our chicken. I made a little taco-like thing with some thigh meat, some cilantro and lime, and the bread. Yum!

Chef even let us have a little Gewurtztraminer to go with the jerk chicken. Double yum.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chili Rellenos, Mole Chicken, and Guacamole

This week we are focusing on the "new world," that is, food that originated in North and South America.

We made chili rellenos with the same Mexican cheese we used last week; I think it's called poquino or something like that. It's like really creamy string cheese and melts really well. I'm not a fan of the texture of peppers, but I don't mind poblanos very much. For the fried goodness on the outside we made an egg batter. They were pretty tasty.

Tim made the mole sauce, as I knew he would. It was dried smoked chilies, raisins, a few spices, a bit of chocolate, and a few other things. I should have paid more attention to that. It was delicious on the chicken.

Corrinne and I made the guacamole, as I am prone to do. We added jalapenos, habaneros, and garlic to the regular suspects of lime, cilantro, red onion, and tomato. It sure looked like everyone liked it, since we used seven avocados and it was gone within minutes!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dim Sum Day

Today was dim sum day, so we made pot stickers, wontons, fried spring rolls, and some fried dessert rolls. We also had a Chinese soup with pork meatballs.

The rolls weren't hard to make at all, but you'd never know it by most of my classmates' attempts. We filled the dessert ones with chocolate and banana, deep fried them, and coated them in cinnamon sugar. Yum!

I've made pot stickers before, but I didn't really know how to do it, so I tried frying them and steaming them. At school we seared one side of them, and then added water and covered the pan to steam them, which turned out better than either of my attempts at home. I guess I learned something today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pho, Spring Rolls, and Pad Thai

Today we focused on those glassy noodles you find in pho and pad Thai.

Corrinne and I made the sausage meatballs and sliced the beef for the pho, so we could eat some right away. I love soup so much; pho is no exception. I can't stop pronouncing it wrong in my head, though. It's pronounced "fuh" but I keep thinking "fo." Oh well.

I made a spring roll for myself. I've never been a huge fan; they were decent. Other people went crazy for them. I used a lot of Sriracha today, in the pho and in my spring roll.

The pad Thai was good; Pedro made mine since I was busy cleaning so we could get out early. Dev and I have to get down to Laughlin tonight and we want to beat traffic!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pupusas, Quesadillas, and Churros

Yum, today we made Mexican food. Pupusas are masa dough balls stuffed with mozzarella, then fried in a skillet. We served them with a marinara-like sauce and some cabbage and carrot slaw.

My team worked on the tortillas and then made the quesadillas. The Mexican cheese we used was similar to mozzarella, but creamier. They turned out to be some of the best quesadillas I've ever had, and Chef was impressed with our tortillas. It was pretty much the first time we impressed Chef as a class, or at least the first time he said anything about it. He's from Jersey; you never really know with those East Coasters anyway.

After we were almost done with the quesadillas and pupusas, Chef said, "Who wants to make churros?" Well, we all did. They looked easy to make; I didn't make the batter but I helped to fry them up.

I love churros so much. They remind me of the Exploratorium, a kids' science museum in San Francisco that I used to go to all the time. The first time I ever had a churro was there; I had to be maybe seven. I was obsessed. I had to have one every time I returned, and we had season passes so it was often. And that's my Eve-memory of the day, folks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Moroccan Chicken

Today we made Moroccan chicken with couscous and Moroccan bread. I made the bread, since the chicken is basically the same method as Indian food with different spices. Moroccan spice is almost indistinguishable in smell, and that's because it's half cumin and half cinnamon. When you smell it, you just get this, "Wow, this smells great but I have no idea what's in it!" feeling.

Also, I would like to profess my love for harisa at this time. It's a condiment in Moroccan cuisine, but I would use it on just about anything. It's made with red peppers, but the standout tastes are the chilies and the spices. I knew about it before, but hadn't tried it until today. Yum!

Tomorrow we're making more Mexican food, including flour tortillas, my favorite. I know corn is more traditional, but what can I say? I'm still a white girl.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pasta Coming out of my Ears

We made Italian style pasta today: Fettuccine Alfredo, Pasta puttanesca, tortellini with marinara, and gnocchi with pesto. I am so full right now, and really just want a nice piece of fish or something for dinner.

Pasta is really easy to make once you get the hang of it. Gnocchi is a bit of a pain but it's worth it, because it's so delicious. Sometime this week I will use my new pasta attachment (thanks Mom and Dad!) for my KitchenAid and make some fresh pasta at home.

Sen of Japan was ridiculously good. I had avocado tempura, which I have never seen on a menu before. They have a lot of sushi rolls that involve mango, so I ordered one with mango, eel, and kiwi. It was amazing. They also have the best hamachi I've ever had. I will be back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Soba and Udon

I am very familiar with both soba and udon noodles, but most of the class wasn't. We served the soba cold with a dipping sauce of soy, mirin, dashi, and yuzu. I made the sauce. We had the udon noodles in a hot broth with seaweed, and oh man, yum.

Tim is the best ever; he brought a cake for me because it's my birthday. He got it right, too: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

I can't wait to eat at Sen of Japan tonight. I will have a full report tomorrow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tamales and Arancini

Today we used some of our leftover risotto to make arancini. Basically, you form the risotto into little balls, stuff them with mozzarella or another cheese, bread them, and deep fry them. We ate them with tomato sauce. Yum!

We also made tamales. Now, there will never be tamales as good as Tamale Lady SF's, but these were decent. We used a queso and some poblano chilies for the filling. Tamales are pretty easy to make.

And now, to celebrate my birthday weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Polenta Cakes and Risotto

For lack of a better word, and due to my desire not to use the term "casserole," I will call the first dish we made polenta cakes. We made the polenta a couple of days ago and left it in the walk-in to cool. It's just made with really fine cornmeal and water, so easy. Today we cut it into squares and fried it, then baked it in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella. It was so good!

We also made mushroom risotto. I worked with Tim like I usually do, and ours turned out the best! Risotto is easy to make, just sweat onions and garlic, add the rice and cook it for a bit, add a little white wine, then chopped up mushrooms (or anything), then add stock and continue to slowly add more until the risotto is cooked. We finished ours with Parmesan and butter, and topped it with some mushrooms that we had sauteed on the side. Mmmmushrooms. I love them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Indian Food

Today we made an Indian rice dish with onion, garlic, ginger, chicken, spices, and basmati rice. It was yummy and I have lots of leftovers, which I love! We also made naan bread, and another Indian bread that is whole wheat and deep-fried.

Tomorrow we are making risotto!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fried Rice and Sushi

Fried rice, easy, whatever. Day-old rice, ginger, vegetables, dark soy sauce, etc.

SUSHI! I love sushi so much. We had tuna and avocado, which is really all I could ask for. I made two nigiri, a regular maki roll with the tuna, avocado, cucumber, sushi rice, and seaweed, and then I made a hand roll with the same ingredients. It was so fun; I haven't made sushi since high school! I don't think anyone else in class had made it before, and several of our rolls, including mine, came out really nicely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rice and Grains, and More Wok Time

Today we learned all about grains and rice, and then made stir-fries and curries to go with some. Tim and I were going to work on a Thai red curry, so I got the jasmine rice started right away.

Chef ambushed me and asked me to make the spicy eggplant dish, which meant I got to use the wok at 800 degrees. Scary! It took me a while to get used to it, but it was fun. Almost everyone made a stir-fry or a curry today; we all ate a lot.

Tomorrow we're having fried rice for breakfast and then it's sushi time! I love sushi so much.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chinese Stir-Fry and Tempura

Today we made tempura, which is easier than I thought. We made shiitake mushrooms, my favorite, plus eggplant, zucchini, green beans, and shrimp. Oh, and bell peppers, blech. All of the ones I actually ate were delicious, and I know I ate way too much of it!

Then Chef made three stir-frys. We prepped everything and Chef used the wok to make them. The first was Sichuan spicy eggplant and tofu, which was amazing. I love spicy food! Then he made the Mandarin dish. Mandarin is a classier region in China, food-wise. The dish was delicate, with chicken, tree mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. I've never actually seen whole bamboo shoots before; I've only seen the kind cut into strips and canned, so that was interesting. The last stir-fry Chef made was the Cantonese one. He kept telling us that it was the nice version of the Chinese food we are used to.

As I ate, I recognized the taste of all three cuisines. I grew up in San Francisco. We have all kinds of Chinese food, not just Cantonese. A lot of the kids from Vegas hadn't had Mandarin or Sichuan before.

I always see it spelled Szechuan, by the way. I guess it's a translation, so both are probably correct.

Happy weekend! I have AC/DC tickets for tonight; what are you doing?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Duck Confit, Tapenade and Crostinis, and Yet More Fries

Today we finally got to eat the confit we've been working on since Monday. Remember back when I was in Foundations III and I said the duck confit wasn't good enough to merit it taking four days to make? We must have done something different this time, because it really was great.

I made the tapenade, which is olives, capers, basil, garlic, and oil, blended. We ate it on crostinis and it was salty, salty goodness.

We also had a green salad and some fries. Those kids love their fries, I tell you what.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Indian and Chinese

Today we made curry and some Chinese red chicken. I didn't work on the chicken dish, but it had dark soy sauce and a bunch of seasoning, not much else. They cooked the chicken in a Chinese sand pot on the stovetop and then reduced it to a glaze. It was delicious.

Our curry was great too, except the eggplant wasn't as fresh as it should have been. We had zucchini and chickpeas in it, both of which I love, and lots of onion, garlic, and ginger. The curry spice mix contains an insane amount of different spices, toasted and then ground. I can't even list them off the top of my head.

For some reason, my class has finally come together on the cleaning thing. It used to take us at least half an hour to clean, and now we can do it in ten minutes. I'm not sure if the chef just isn't as strict, or if we've become better at cleaning as we go, or we just aren't cooking as much stuff so we have fewer dishes. In any case, it's a good thing. We've gotten out on time every day so far!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duck, Carrots, Turnips, and Potatoes

Today we focused on bringing out the natural flavors in a dish. We made sauteed duck breasts, caramelized carrots and turnips, and potatoes seared and then cooked in chicken stock with some rosemary.

It was delicious. The caramelization we did today was a lot more subtle that what we've done in the past; we used way less sugar and just let the vegetables taste like themselves. Yum!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cuisine Across Cultures

Today we started a new block, with American and Nevada Government (ugh) and Cuisine Across Cultures. This class seems like it's going to be fun. Today we just had a lecture and Chef let us make lunch, so we made roasted chicken, green bean casserole, french fries, and gravy. Corrinne and I did the chickens and the gravy, which were obviously great.

The best thing? I get out right after my cooking class instead of having to go to another lecture class. That was brutal last block.