Monday, November 10, 2008

no spatulas allowed

I can’t believe it is already November. The past few months have been a whirlwind. I’ve been busy at work, out of town almost every weekend, busy blogging and trying to learn as much as possible in culinary school. This past week, I was given a wonderful opportunity to be the sous chef for a private chef in Fort Worth- I could not be happier. Although extremely excited and happy, I’m very nervous too…our first event is an engagement party for 50 this Saturday! More details after the event…

Along with my exciting news, this past week has been one of fun, new restaurants, inventive recipes and a weekend in Arkansas to see the boy. Last Tuesday afternoon on my day off, I discovered a really delicious Vietnamese restaurant off Belknap and Race here in Fort Worth. The restaurant is a definite dive in between a doughnut shop and an Ace Cash Express…a little daunting at first. Despite the first impression, the dishes were fresh, tasty and uniquely Vietnamese.

I started with the egg rolls…golden-fried filled with pork, cabbage and a mild ponzu-type dipping sauce. I then went for the flash-cooked beef and vegetables over crispy vermicelli. The sauce was mild and subtle with a beautiful bunch of bright green, spicy cilantro- perfect lunch for less than 10 bucks.

My afternoon continued with a hot-rock pedicure (my monthly guilty pleasure) and an election watching party at Wine Styles on Camp Bowie. Amongst bottles of buttery Merlot, we noshed on gourmet meatball pizza and enjoyed the friendly, political banter of the evening.

Wednesday night, my girlfriend made dinner at her place. The menu was a pea soup with cayenne, grilled chicken stuffed with pureed olives and capers in a mustard marinade and a red apple couscous with smoked paprika. It was the perfect pantry and freezer meal to make in a flash!

Friday afternoon, I packed my car, grabbed a café au lait and headed to Little Rock for a relaxing weekend with the boyfriend. Unlike our last trip of gourmet finds, we were completely content with a pizza delivery, wine and movies on USA. For our Sunday lunch, we did discover a quaint, Irish Pub in North Little Rock with really delicious and authentic fish and chips. The batter of the cod has a subtle beer aftertaste and was perfect with the creamy tartar sauce, slaw and malt vinegar.

I arrived Sunday night with a delicious dinner simmering away on the oven. Megan was making a chicken stew with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, lemongrass, coconut milk, turmeric, ground clove and cilantro. It was light and hearty at the same time with the wonderfully fragrant and spicy aroma of the lemongrass.

Tonight was culinary school week 11- egg cookery! It was actually one my my favorite classes we've had second to veggie cookery. At the beginning of class, we started on the line with two pans each and had to make made-to-order omelets, eggs sunny-side up, over medium, over easy, etc. The trick was, we weren't allowed to use spatulas- it was really fun and easier than I expected.

Next, we split into groups and were required to make:

Zabaglione sauce made with Champagne and Marsala

Shirred (another word for baked) eggs with ham and Swiss cheese

Scotch eggs (a disgusting concoction of hard-cooked eggs blanketed in ground sausage, dredged and then deep fried....hello, heart attack!)

Cheddar and grit soufflé

Orange chocolate soufflé

I was in charge of the orange chocolate soufflé and I was excited because I love to entertain and wanted to master the technique. The recipe called for orange juice, bittersweet chocolate and Grand Marnier for the overall flavor. I added coffee and cinnamon to give the chocolate a richer taste...unfortunately, I went a little overboard with the cinnamon.

But, the good news is my soufflé rose perfectly and was the right consistency. My soufflés are to the this stage, they needed about four more minutes to be cooked through and get the perfect height.

Egg cookery was so much fun and next week we learn the art of soup making!


sammyss said...

Your blog is terrific and your writing superb. Your talk of eggs brought to mind the recipe below. It a combination of two of the top foods ever eaten by man: the fried egg and Mexican salsa.

As in many Mexican recipes, there is a playful personification at work here: The eggs are "separated" by their salsas—one is topped with fiery red, the other with jealous green.

Yield: Serves 4
Active time: 45 min
Total time: 45 min

For red and green salsas
•1/2 lb plum tomatoes
•1/2 lb fresh tomatillos, husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed
•2 fresh jalapeño chiles
•1 (1-inch) wedge of large white onion
•2 garlic cloves
•2 teaspoons salt
•3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
•1/4 to 1/2 cup water

•4 to 8 tablespoons corn or vegetable oil
•8 large eggs
•8 (6- to 7-inch) corn tortillas

Make salsas:
Heat a comal (griddle) or a dry well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until a bead of water evaporates quickly, then roast tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeños, and onion, turning with tongs, until charred on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Core roasted tomatoes. Discard stems from jalapeños and discard half of seeds from each chile.
For red salsa: Coarsely purée tomatoes, 1 jalapeño, 1 garlic clove, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor, then transfer to a bowl.
For green salsa: Coarsely purée tomatillos, remaining jalapeño, remaining garlic clove, remaining teaspoon salt, cilantro, and 1/4 cup water (add more if needed for desired consistency), then transfer to a bowl.
Cook eggs:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small nonstick skillet over moderately low heat until hot. Gently break 2 eggs into a cup, keeping yolks intact, then pour into skillet and cook, covered, 5 minutes, or to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper.
Fry tortillas while eggs cook. Make more eggs in same manner, adding oil as needed.
Fry tortillas:
While each serving of eggs is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in another small nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Stack 2 tortillas in skillet. Cook bottom tortilla 30 seconds on first side, then flip stack with tongs. While second tortilla cooks on bottom, turn top tortilla over with tongs, then flip stack again. Continue until both sides of both tortillas are cooked. Tortillas will soften and puff slightly, then deflate (do not let them become brown or crisp). Fry more tortillas in same manner, adding oil as needed.
Put tortillas on plate, overlapping slightly, and top with eggs. Spoon a different salsa over each egg.


MM said...

I'm so proud of you. Obvious that you found two of your passions, food and writing. I can't wait to see the Christmas Eve blog. Love.

Maybe you can invite that sammyss character to our house for Christmas.