Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From Europe to the Middle East to South America in One Week

The past few nights in class we have been learning about cereal grains from across the globe. Specifically Europe and the Middle East. We learned the differences between winter wheat, and spring wheats. It's one of those common sense things that you just never really think about. Winter wheats are planted in the summer and harvested in winter, are a harder wheat, have a higher gluten content, and are more rich in protein. Whereas spring wheats are planted in the winter and harvested in the spring, and are a softer wheat with less protein. Therefore winter wheats are best for bread, and spring wheats are best for baking and pastries.

We also learned about, and made, Paella!! A traditional Spanish dish, there are many ways to make Paella. But it most always consists of the "sofrito", the Spanish mirepoix, made of onion, garlic and parsley.

Grabhar Biabhog
We made a few Irish dishes, one was a dessert called Grabhar Biabhog. It is a rhubarb crumble type of dessert. I added strawberries to the mixture for any added flavor. Very yummy!

I also made a broccoli salad with a homemade French dressing. The salad was simple, but I was most happy to learn how to make French dressing. Again, it's one of those things that you don't really think about. I have always liked French dressing, and now I know how to make it!

Moving on to the cereal grains of the Fertile Crescent... I was happy because I enjoy grains of this region. On the menu was a rice pilaf with currants and pine nuts (the way I usually make it at home), pita bread, gosht pulao (lamb stew), grilled vegatables, and baba ganoush.

The menu was fairly simple for the night, and I ended up making some very interesting pita bread, and the grilled veggies. I was quite embarrassed about my pita breads....everything was coming together fine, and I was working on them across three different kitchens. The proofing box was in a kitchen down the hall, my station was in our kitchen, and an available working oven was in yet another kitchen. So I think between all the running around, and working on my vegetable dish, I forgot one major component to the makings of actual pita bread....I forgot to roll them out before I baked them!! Doh! So they came out to be pita dinner rolls! Tasty though! And I conveniently forgot to get a picture of the pita rolls....bummer!

Grilled Vegetables

Gosht Pulao

Tonight we worked our way down to Central America and Southern Mexico. On the menu was tortillas! Oh yeah! One of my favorite foods since childhood. My grandma used to make fresh tortilla's every morning. I remember she would be in the kitchen before the sun came up, rolling out tortilla's. And I could never get enough of grandma's tortilla's. The ones we made in class tonight were not "grandma's tortilla's", but nonetheless they were fresh and handmade tortilla's, and they were delish!

Ecuadorian Quinoa and Peanut Soup

One of my classmates made a very tasty soup called Ecuadorian Quinoa and Peanut Soup. I will definitely be making that at home soon, it was healthy and delicious, a warm cozy soup perfect for fall and winter.

I made Arepas for the first time. Arepas are a latin dish, similar to a tortilla, but made of masa or arepa flour, and are thicker and smaller than a tortilla. They can be topped or cut open and filled with any number of things. The dough was certainly tricky to work with. But I got the hang of it after my first batch. They were just like making that first batch of pancakes, where you need the skillet to be seasoned and at the exact temperature for them to come out just right. For my arepas dish, I made a ground beef mixture with bell pepper, onion, tomato....very, very yum!!

We also had a number of other items on the menu tonight: guacamole, salsa, cheesy grits, corn bread, corn pudding, and a huge batch of chicken and andouille gumbo.... tonight's meal was my very favorite so far!
Chef Steven drizzling warm honey butter on our skillet corn bread

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