Monday, September 29, 2008

Wine 101 and julienned carrots

The weekend has come and gone once again. Thursday night I had dinner with my good friend Cat. Luckily, she was as ready to drink as I was- it had been a pretty stressful day.

We headed to Mi Cocina for a Mexican remedy. To start, we ordered a couple glasses of pinot and an order of guacamole- delicious. Then I found my new favorite- the Asado de Pollo. It was fajita chicken underneath stir-fried veggies (zucchini, onions, jalapenos, cabbage) served with white rice, pico and (more!) guacamole. It was perfect to split and those veggies are addicting.

Saturday night was supposed to be a Taverna night, but my roommate got the Yucatan taco stand itch. We started with the yuca fries with chimichurri and a Serrano aioli. A little greasy, but crispy and delicious. Megan got the chicken pollo verde chimichanga and I got the plaintain-crusted Mahi Mahi with chipotle mashed potatoes, julienned veggies and a light slaw...I scarfed it down. Not as good as the chimichurri sea bass, but tasty. Megan was sipping on Caipirinha's while I stuck to the margs on the rocks with salt.

Sunday was my grocery and cooking day...I also needed to practice on my knife skills for culinary class. I bought bags of carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and onions and went to town with my beloved chef's knife. I literally sat for 45 minutes with a sack of carrots trying to julienne (1/8 inchx 1/8 inch x 2inches) them and make them perfect while my roommate made fun of me. They actually turned out really's just a matter of time and practice to get the knife skills down.

A little later, I started dinner. A lighter version of chicken and dumplings made into a soup (credits to Cooking Light's October issue). The soup was pretty easy and turned out delicious. Brown some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and set aside. Add chopped onion, celery, carrots...let them sweat out and soften then add the browned chicken, chicken broth, a few parsley sprigs and a bay leaf. Simmer for half an hour. Then it's dumpling time. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and chopped parsley -that's it. The sticky dough is then spooned into the simmering soup and they cook almost instantly. Add some crusty rolls and there's dinner!

I got an iPhone 3G this weekend and I can't stop playing with it. For all of you fellow iPhone users, I found a really cool foodie application that I downloaded last night. It's called wineSnob and it's used to track every type of wine you drink! It also lets you record everything you taste, rate it, describe it and archive it. It also educates you on food and wine pairings, gives information on all wine varieties you could imagine, terminology, wine quotes and wine facts. I can't stop reading it. Perfect pocket-sized wine 101 class.

Last night was week three of culinary class- basic food techniques II. Last week was learning all of the basic methods (simmering, pan-frying, poaching, etc.) This week was applying everything: having multiple dishes ready at the same time, plating design and making the dishes look and taste beautiful.

I was in a group with two really sweet women, Gena and Shauna. Our four dishes were:

Roasted Cornish hen with a wild rice and mushroom stuffing
Red wine, tomato and mushroom sauce

Braised chicken legs with curried vegetables and roasted almonds
Steamed rice

Grilled Salmon with a soy, sake, brown sugar, garlic, scallion and ginger glaze
Mango and Papyaya salsa with jalapenos, garlic, cilantro and tomato

Pan-fried Orange Roughy
Crispy garlic, butter, parsley and lemon sauce

Gena took the Cornish hen and sauce (thank God...something about a little hen just frieks me out), Shauna took the braised chicken and steamed rice and I took the salmon and salsa and the orange roughy and garlic sauce. My roughy turned out great but I had a small problem with the my attempt to multi-task I grabbed a metal pan instead of a non-stick and a third of the salmon stuck to the pan. Luckily, I was able to salvage it with the tropical salsa... lesson learned. Next week is starch cookery!

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