Saturday, June 13, 2009

breakfast tortas and baklava

My life in culinary school has surrounded baking and pastry-making the past two months. Obvious to head chefs and fellow pastry makers...the pastry side of cooking really frustrates me. Although there have been several semi breakdowns- everything has turned out better than I expected. I'm looking forward to upcoming classes including: laminated doughs, chocolates, fillings, syrups, icing and cakes.

Our pastry doughs class was fun because I was somewhat familiar with the procedures and I was able to play around with flavors. In the swift five hours, we:
made meringue and piped meringue shells
mixed pate a choux and baked them off for cream puffs or profiteroles
practiced the delicate art of crepe-making
assembled a huge pan of baklava with phyllo dough
played with flavors and baked popovers

Everyone made their own flavor combination for the popover batter and then we tasted. My combination was: strawberries with black pepper and balsamic. Other yummy flavor combos included: goat cheese, sauteed jalapenos and lime zest and cheddar and bacon popovers. After the batter-mixing was complete, I made some strawberry butter (a la Neiman Marcus) for the warm-from-the-oven popovers.

Later that week, I took my boyfriend to try Aventino after being so impressed the first time I dined at the sleek, revamped eatery. We started with Stella Artois, a Prosecco mojito, the chef's Tuscan shrimp amuse-bouche, pasta fagioli soup with mussels and the caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and black olive salt.

The chef then sent out linguine with concasse tomatoes and mussels. The seafood broth was complex, yet light and the mussels were cooked nicely. For our entrees, we ordered the Chicken Milanese and sous-vide lamb orecchiette with goat cheese and mint. Unfortunately, the Chicken Milanese was dry, tough and lackluster. T
he lamb pasta was far superior. The lamb was robust, tender and delicious with the tangy goat cheese.

Dessert was an array of panna cotta with rhubarb, olive oil cake with balsamic strawberries and a flaky chocolate tart. All were unique and the flavor combinations were intense.

Aventino was a hit once again- the service was impeccable, the menu was thoughtful and the food was refined.

I was also able to try Thai Tina's for the first time this week. Amongst the table, we shared the sampler appetizer platter with shrimp spring rolls, crab rangoons and cilantro egg rolls. My favorite treat was the cilantro egg rolls- so addicting!

To share, we tried the massaman curry with peanuts, potatoes, onion, pineapple and cashews and Tina's grilled steak with jalapeno avocado fried rice. I wasn't crazy about the steak dish but the massaman curry was just what I was craving. The tender potatoes, thin-sliced chicken and crunchy cashews were divine with the subtle, yellow curry sauce.

For dessert, Tina brought us a light and yummy dessert of sliced mango, sticky rice and rice with sweet red beans. I liked Thai Tina's and will definitely stick to the curry dishes next time!

For Saturday brunch a few days later, I tried Paco and John with my girlfriend Crystal, also editor of Fort Worth Foodie Magazine. The place was packed and too warm inside but thankfully, the food made up for it.

We started with fresh guacamole and chips. The guacamole was spicy with nice hints of cilantro and lime but was too smooth of a consistency for my taste. For brunch, Crystal went with traditional migas and tropical fruit (canned) and I ordered the Breakfast Torta with egg, poblanos, bacon, queso fresco, pickled jalapeno and avocado on a fresh torta bun. It was great! After a little salt and a bit of salsa for heat...I was in breakfast food heaven!

The Summer Issue of Fort Worth Foodie also came out this week! The issue concentrates on Fort Worth "hole in the walls" and I'm published in articles about Artisan Baking Company and Aduro Bean Micro-Roasters! Visit a delish on-line version.


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