Thursday, February 25, 2010

Argentina, Chile & Uruguay

Gauchos galore!

This week in Latin we made food from these three countries: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Our menu consisted of the following: Pebre Chileno (Chilean Salsa) - featuring a grain which has been used for 5000 years in the Andean Region (Quinoa); Matambre; Tamales de Espinacas (Spinach Tamales); Empanadas Criollas and Cheese; Chimichurri Sauce; Mango Mousse.

Pebre Chileno uses one of the most powerful grains in the world - Quinoa. Quinoa is full of protein and essential amino acids; NASA uses quinoa for the production of astronaut food. You wash the quinoa till clear and boil it for 15 minutes in slightly salted water to cook it. While you are chilling the qunioa you small dice white onion, rough chop cilantro, mince garlic and small dice a concasse tomato. Add a minced serrano pepper, vegetable oil and wine vinegar to the prior mixture of tomato, onion, etc. Incorporate all of the above ingredients, add salt to taste and bang! This salsa is not only tasty, but also packed with amino acids and protein.

Maria made the meat and cheese empanadas. The dough consists of lard, all purpose flour, egg yolk, egg, milk and salt. After combining the ingredients and adding the milk a little at the time; let it rest for 30 minutes. While it is resting prepare the fillings...the meat filling consists of ground veal, white onion, garlic, red bell pepper, oregano, thyme, paprika, olives and boiled egg. The Cheese filling consists of cream cheese, parmesan cheese, mashed potatoes, scallions, parsley, salt & white pepper. After the dough has rested you cut out disks and fill with the appropriate fillings. pinch them closed and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown. Chef said our salsa was good but need more salt...go figure. As for the Empanadas they were very good but could've stayed in the oven a little longer to brown them.

Our Chimichurri was very good! It had body, courtesy of the large amount of parsley and the flavor was spot on. Chimichurri consists of garlic, parsley, slat, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a little water. If you want it spicier add more red pepper flakes.

The matambre was a mission! Mike worked with Loida to finish this masterpiece of MEAT! You take a flank steak and butterfly it to make it thinner...and you thought that was you beat it with a mallet to make it even thinner! Then you rub it down with oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil. Fill the meat in rows with egg, olives, peppers, carrots, asparagus, etc...then roll up the flank steak; truss and braise in a rondo pot with veal stock. Simmer the meat for two hours and make sure to turn after 1 hour. Make sure the meat rests for 10 minutes before serving; take off the twine, etc and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Pour the stock over them and serve! Chef said it was very good and just needed a little more salt.

Loida made the mango mousse and it was awesome! Talk about refreshing...this mousse consisted of mango puree, gelatin and orange juice mixed into soft heavy whip mixture. Then of course chilled and served immediately. Overall we all did a great job, and I think I ace'd my midterm as well...We'll see!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baking Pies and Crusts

The following week in baking was all about Pies, Crusts and French Bread. After our mid-term we made Lemon Meringue, Pecan Pie, French Bread and Pie Crusts.

The french bread is made using the straight dough method and the process is the yeast dough baking process. Our bread was very good in regards to taste but the dough was too wet when I shaped the bread. If this happens again adding some flour while shaping will help hold it's shape. The pie crusts were made using the biscuit method; the difference was the size of the butter "peas" in the flour. We made two different type of crusts; mealy and flaky. The mealy crust was great to use when making the lemon meringue; because it holds the wet filling better. The flaky crust was great to use with the pecan pie because it becomes part of the filling.

The pecan pie was very easy to make. We used pecans, maple syrup, corn syrup, sugar (I KNOW A LOT OF SUGARY SUBSTANCES) and poured this yummy syrup into the pie crust. After it is baked it should taste and feel like was very good and firm.

The lemon meringue was a project; for some reason I think we were using a scale that was off kilter. The corn starch measure was too little and the first custard I made was too runny. After I made another the custard turned out firmer. The custard consisted of tempered egg yolks; whisked into heated water, sugar and cornstarch. After this is put together you add lemon juice and lemon rind. While the custard is cooling you should make the soft white peaks. This done by beating egg whites and sugar until it forms very firm white peaks. You spoon the firm custard into the mealy pie shell and then top with a piping bag the egg whites. Use a torch to toast the peaks too resemble yummy toasted marshmallows. Our meringue came out perfectly and overall the night was a resounding success.

In conclusion we need to make sure our french bread fermented dough isn't too sticky. The pie crusts and pies were perfect so no change there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week Two Brazil

I was sick most of the week leading up to class; so I dragged into this one. Unfortunately I didn't take on the tough dishes like I usually try to achieve. This time I made coconut rice and Brazilian cheese rolls.
This night was crazy; we started out great and were on our way to the finish line to finish on time. However we hit some snags and the African influenced dishes began to take longer than expected.
We made a crab cake, chicken in nut and dried shrimp sauce, shrimp with yucca sauce, rice flour pudding, coconut rice and yucca starch cheese bread.

Mike made the crab cake and it was made perfectly...I made the relish to go with it and small diced the red pepper, green pepper, serrano pepper and used lemon/lime juice. Chef thought overall most of our food was done great.
The chicken in nut/dried shrimp sauce was good and a main ingredient is dende oil (palm oil). This dish was a process and was done by Henry. A lot of the dishes we made this evening all had some coconut in them. This dish had coconut milk and was colored with turmeric.

The coconut rice was very easy, but I forgot to add more salt to the water before I cooked the rice. If this happens again chef said to dissolve some salt into a little water and incorporate it into the finished rice. My cheese balls needed to be cooked longer; but I thought they would've dried out. The whole thing started because the recipe is flawed. You can not weigh out dry ingredients using volume measurements; and the recipe asked for 2 cups of yucca flour. It should've pinpointed the measurement in weight. Which then caused my dough to be to dry. This process delayed us throughout the night and I had to go to the baking room to use the mixer.

Maria's shrimp in yucca sauce was looking as if it may take a wrong turn with using too much yucca, but chef loved it! Overall the evening was a success and I wish I wasn't a drag this week due to being sick...oh well there's always next week.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week One of Brazil

This is the first of two weeks with Brasil...
We made hearts of palm soup, feijoada, couve a mineira, yucca frita, platano frito (fried plantains), farofa, shrimp with catupiri cheese sauce...for dessert; coconut pastry and honey bread.

Maria made a very good hearts of palm soup...which consisted of a base chicken stock. The base of the soup other than the chicken stock are hearts of palm and leeks. Cream is then added after straining and brought to a boil/simmer. The soup is then seasoned and garnished with a dash of paprika...I fried some julienned leeks and placed them on top as well. The julienned leeks added another dimension to the finished soup and it was great.

The national food of Brazil; Feijoada was made by Mike and it is a bean concoction of different types of meat. The black beans are cooked with Brazilian dried beef, beef sirloin roast, smoked pork loin, lean bacon, pork ribs, smoked sausage and fresh sausage. It was very good, thick and MEATY!

I made the Brazilian greens (collard greens); the color was great and my chiffonade cut was perfect. The only problem which is rare for me is over salting the food. I over salted the greens today...oh well it happens. I tried using a boiled potato to extract the salt and even rinsed the greens, but it was still to salty.
I helped to plate the awesome Shrimp with Catupiri Cheese Sauce...we didn't have catupiri cheese so we used a blend of provolone and marscapone cheese. After you sauteeing the onion, you add the shrimp and saute them; then add the flour, hearts of plam and cream. Stir all of the ingredients and add the cheese; adjust the seasoning, garnish and tada!

Out Yucca Frita was made perfectly and crispy. I wasn't a fan of the Brazilian fried bananas/plantains. I thought they were too dry the way you are suppose to make them. The Farofa was good but I thought kind of pointless...almost forgot an orange is sliced and placed to the side to clean your pallet after eating all the meat in the feijoada and the farofa.

The hit of the night was our display of the Honey Bread...Henry spelled out Brasil over the top of the cake pieces. We should've however covered the cake pieces completely in chocolate, but chef loved the presentation on the green plate. I thought the coconut pastry was a little too sweet but overall very tasty...that's the pic that looks like an egg yolk; because there are eggs in the dish along with coconut.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baking week FOUR

Baking week four was a BIG Success!

We made a great deal of things; butter cookies, spitz cookies, orange cranberry muffins, herbed cheese biscuits and whole wheat rolls.

Chef thought all of our dishes were great; the butter cookies turned out a little too dry (needed more fat). Our spitz cookies were awesome, the muffins had no tunneling and were very moist. The herb biscuits needed a little bit less time in the oven, but overall they were flaky and tasted great! The whole wheat rolls I was in charge of and they turned out GREAT!

I started with the straight dough method and combined all of the ingredients; wheat germ, milk powder, whole wheat flour, egg, yeast, honey, salt. After I had the dough starting to combine I added the butter and let the mixer do its job. I greased a bowl and placed the smooth dough into the bowl, covered with plastic wrap and in the box to ferment. After doubling in size, I punched it down, portioned the rolls and put them on a sheet pan to proof in the box. After doubling in size I then egg washed the rolls and placed them in a 375 degree oven to bake. Chef said they were soft on the inside, good color, good texture and tasted GREAT!

The cookies were done using the creaming method and the biscuits are very similar to the muffin method. However, when making biscuits you use cold hard fat (butter) and break it up into small pieces. The muffin method for the orange cranberry muffins were done using liquid fat (melted butter).

Overall our team kicked butt...we just need to focus on making sure we get the creaming method down pat. For some reason our cookies are always dry; except for the spitz cookies that we made.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Big Al's AWESOME Tomato/Basil Sauce

This recipe is super easy!
Just make sure you taste the basil...which means ONLY ADD IT IN AT THE END...if you put it in the heat too early you will kill the herb and lose the flavor.
16 oz can              diced tomato (no salt added)
1 cup                     fresh basil (chiffonade)
1 ea                        head of garlic
½ cup                    white wine
1 Tbsp                   butter
2 Tbsp                   Olive Oil
TT                           White Pepper
TT                           Sea Salt
Prep your ingredients…
·         Chiffonade your basil and set aside; mince/slice your garlic and sauté in the butter and olive oil (DO NOT BURN).
·         Pour full can of tomato in to garlic and fat…stew until color changes.
·         Add wine and cook off alcohol content.
·         Finish off with basil, salt and pepper…ENJOY!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Latin NORTHERN Mexico

This week we killed it!

We made the best food of the night and had great presentation of our food.

We made pozole, tequila lime pears, green mole, mexican rice, stuffed poblano with walnut sauce, and pork.
Chef said everything tasted great and the pozole was seasoned perfectly. The pozole was made by utilizing chicken stock, adding hominy and blending guajillo chilies. You top the soup with shredded lettuce, thinly sliced radish, dried oregano, lime and avocado for garnish.
The stuffed peppers with walnut sauce was very tasty and was very creamy. The dish consists of a roasted poblano pepper filled with a sweet meat mixture and then topped with a nut sauce. The nut sauce consists of walnuts, milk, creme fraiche, queso fresco and sugar. This dish is baked for 10 minutes to make the pepper easy to cut and the flavors are developed.
Our fried pork (Chilorio) was awesome! Mike braised the pork for over an hour and used ancho chilies to make the sauce. I thought one of the best dishes of the night was our Guatape Shrimp. The shrimp are cooked in a puree of poblanos, green tomatoes, parsley and hierba santa. The Pears in molasses and tequila were very tasty and took a long time to make. Mexican rice was made by Henry and the taste was perfect. It didn't taste burnt or over-cooked. Overall a very good night and we missed Maria this week.

Monday, February 1, 2010

WEEK "2" Baking Class

Baking Week "2"

This week we were kind of behind the 8 ball. We had a week off because of Martin Luther King Day and I think it threw us off. Maria and I had two new partners and although Angela was great; our other partner was not exactly trying to help us finish on time.

Nonetheless we worked really hard and produced most of our products. We had to make Lemon Bars, Zucchini Bread, Banana Bread, Almond Bar Cookies, and Italian Rolls.

Our Zucchini Bread (muffins) came out great and were made using the muffin method. Nice and fluffy, sweet, and crispy top. Our best work all night. As for the Italian rolls they were good but we forgot to score them on the top...before final proofing. Nice color however and the taste & texture were great.

Our Banana bread was one of the last things to finish in the oven and they turned out great but never got a chance to try any of them. As for the Lemon Bars same thing; they took long and almost burned on the top. This was not a good night for us and I hope to look past this week and remember the quiz...that's all!

The following pictures are from our attempt to bake this week...

Banana Bread

Italian Rolls
Almond cookies

Zucchini Muffins

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