Thursday, January 22, 2009

pot au choux and mutton busting

After surviving the weekend with an unpleasant stomach virus, I was finally able to stomach real food. No more Gatorade and applesauce, thank goodness.

Monday night, friends and I met for an early dinner at Fortuna for some Italian fare. Normally, I would have started with some red wine, but I stuck with an iced tea. To begin, we were brought warm, soft garlicky rolls with an infused olive oil for dipping. Between the table of three, we polished off two baskets.

For dinner, we chose lasagna, chicken parmigiana and tortellini alla rosa with a pink sauce...ok, and a small pepperoni pizza. Can you tell we were starving?

I ordered the traditional lasagna with ground beef. It had good flavor, but was a bit runny. The chicken parm was pretty simple and extremely cheesy. My favorite was the tortellini. The sauce was light, the cheese filling was flavorful and the pasta was so yummy. The pizza was good too, perhaps the best of the bunch. Next time I return I'm going to make it a pizza and vino night.

The next evening was a quick dinner and margs at Uncle Julio's then Bulls Night Out at the stock show. Amongst the too-full table of queso, guacamole and chicken quesadillas we sipped sangria-swirled margaritas and a couple shots of Tres Generaciones. After a few hours of bull riding and some XL Coors lights, we finished the night a Poag Mahones (old Shamrock) on 7th.

This week was hors d'oeuvre and canapé week in my culinary classes. We started the class with a few dozen fresh herbs, dried herbs, seeds and spices that we tasted, smelled and were asked to identify. The only thing that tripped me up were some of the seeds...damn you, caraway.
Next, we went to the kitchen and were asked to prepare an array of hors d'oeuvres- tea sandwiches, salsas, fritters, pot au choux puffs and an individual creation using either phyllo or puff pastry.

Our group put a little twist on the tea sandwiches and they were so fun to make! My favorite two were:

Cucumber ribbons atop rounded white bread with a sour cream, marscapone, dill, lemon juice and salt spread
Cream cheese with orange marmalade atop rounded white bread with crushed cocoa beans

For my individual recipe, I knew I would be on a time crunch so I chose to work with the puff pastry- no time to layer and brush 10 sheets of phyllo with melted butter! My dish was:

Puff pastry rounds stuffed with lemongrass and ginger pulled chicken with avocado, lime and fried scallion

First, I began to simmer coconut milk, whole milk, one stalk of lemongrass and grated ginger over a medium-low heat to infuse the milk. Next, I poached a boneless, skinless chicken in the milk mixture by adding the chicken to the shallow mixture and covering it with buttered parchment paper. After the chicken was cooked, I removed it to cool and raised the temperature of my infused milk to thicken.

Next, I shredded the chicken and added it back into the infused milk to marry the flavors back together. Next, I cut my puff pastry into 2 inch rounds, brushed the tops with an egg wash and baked them in the convection for about 5 minutes. While the pastry baked, I chopped some scallion and flash fried them in hot olive oil for a few seconds and sliced my avocado.

To assemble, I split my puff pastry and filled them with a spoonful of the shredded chicken with lemongrass and ginger. Then, I added a slice of avocado, some fried scallion, sea salt and finished it with lime juice.

The end of my weekend was spent with icy cold Dos Equis scooners and fish tacos at the Fuzzy's opening in Arlington (right by UTA). The place looks awesome- same great food but this locale has more of a hip, sports-bar feel- check it out!

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