Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Eleven Courses

After ten months of staging (like mirage-ing) at Uchi, my time finally ended yesterday. I'm on the opening crew of Haddington's - an American tavern with gastropub influences. So with that, and school, I ended my time at Pappasito's, Uchi, and Mulberry. Haddington's will be opening very soon with some ridiculously awesome food, so stay tuned for that.

In addition to yesterday being my last day at Uchi, it was my first meal at Uchi. I had eaten countless family meals there and tried several components to several dishes, but had never had a fully composed plate.....until yesterday.

"Pumpkin Explosion"
That's what the guy that brought the amuse-bouche to our table called it, and that's what it was! Man oh man. There was dehydrated pumpkin, pickled pear, a micro-herb of some sort, it was one tasty bite.

Uchiviche
Their take on ceviche. It had salmon and striped bass sashimi, baby tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, some of that micro-brunoise garlic I was always talking about, and cilantro. Ceviche is pretty much ruined for me forever now. Killer.

Hama Chili
Another winner. Yellow tail sashimi with ponzu, Thai chili, more micro-brunoise garlic and orange supremes. Sweet mother. Delicious.

Hotate

I generally am not a scallop fan. However, when it's on sushi rice, avocado and spicy aoli,wrapped in nori, and topped with black sesame, you won't find a bigger scallop fan. Fied (our server and my good buddy from waaaay back) told us the tail of how he once ate 9. I could do 10.

Walu Walu
Forget mahi-mahi, THIS is the fish so nice, they named it twice! This is oak-grilled escolar (imagine the best halibut you've ever had and multiply that time 1000) that is served in a "pond" of ponzu and topped with negi (scallions cut on a crazy bias), candied citrus, myoga, and garlic chips. Each bite was better than the one before it and had no one been looking, we would've slurped the bowl clean.

Hamachi and Madai Sashimi
Baby yellowtail and Japanese black snapper on perfect sushi rice. A whisper of soy (dip it fish side, not rice side!) and these tasted like the ocean. Perfection.

Bacon Steakie
Stop reading. Drive to Uchi. Order only this dish. You're welcome. What is it? Oh, right. Niman Ranch pork belly is sous vide for TEN HOURS, then ever so lightly dusted and flash fried for a crispy texture. It is served over basil puree and garnished with kumquats, basil, and watermelon radish. IF I am ever wrongly convicted of a murder and sentenced to the chair, this dish will get strong consideration for being the last culinary delight to grace my palate on the way out.

Shag Roll
Salmon is ever-so-skillfully rolled in sushi rice. They flash fry the whole role, slice it into bite-size pieces, top each with spicy aoli, and serve it all over squid ink sumiso. Just great. Really great.

At this point in the meal, Summer and I are getting quite full. Thinking we can't do more, Fied hits the table with.....

Wagyu Niku

Wagyu short ribs. Yea. A lot of you may know wagyu as "Kobe" beef. Well, Kobe is a type of wagyu - more specifically the region that it's from. Anywaaaaaay, this stuff is just ridiculous. Next time you are out and see "wagyu" on a menu, splurge. Split it. Take out a second mortgage on your home because it ain't cheap. But do whatever you have to do to get wagyu into your facehole. It is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. In this case, it had been grilled and was served with charred cauliflower, shishito peppers, and red grapes - that had been cut into cubes and the scraps were pureed with coconut milk and then the grape cubes were submerged in this liquid and vacuum sealed to impart all that flavor back into the grape (all that for a garnish, yea). I would say this was without a doubt the highlight of the night, but that's like asking which Bill Murray movie is the best. There's just no comparison amongst them all. They are all equally amazing.

But wait! We're not done.....

Quail Liver Mousse
Quail livers were pureed into a mousse, which lined the bottom of the plate. Over that was porcini mushrooms, a mushroom gelée (jello), micro-herbs, shaved radish, and a mushroom powder. Full disclosure, I didn't care for it. There was something sweet on the plate that really through me for a loop. There was sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, rich and light all together and it just didn't work for me, but hey, 10 for 11 ain't too shabby!

Dessert Spec
I used to hang out at Uchi for service once a week, shadowing the pantry station. In addition to salads, oysters, apps, starters, and amuses, the pantry position puts out the desserts. Needless to say, I've tried them all: The coffee panna cotta with mango yolk, coffee soil and white chocolate sorbet. The peanut butter semifreddo with peanut brittle crumble, golden raisin puree, apple chips, and apple miso sorbet. The creme caramel with shattered almond glass, brown butter sorbet and ginger consummé. And the lemon sorbet with pistachios, pistachio crumble, balsamic reduction, beet puree and beet glass. So naturally, we ordered the special. A fine choice. A goat cheese mousse was accompanied with honey crumble, pickled cranberry puree, orange tuille, and pistachio sorbet.

What a fantastic end to the best meal I've ever had. Now I understand why we did all the things we did. Why it takes an army all day long to prep for a 6 hour service every night. Why it is paramount that your knife be so sharp, you can shave the hair on your arm with it. Why, when you don't do something perfectly, you're made to do it again. And again. Until it's right. Because it's all about the experience. Would the food taste the same if the garlic wasn't in perfect 1/16" by 1/16" cubes? Maybe. But people sure wouldn't be talking about it the next day. Would anyone notice if you didn't shave the garlic chips paper-thin, blanch them twice from cold water, then in simple syrup, then fry them? Maybe. But then maybe the hama chili wouldn't cause you to audibly sigh when placed in your mouth.

I learned more than I ever thought I could in my time at Uchi. I sharpened my knife and my knife skills. I met some really great people. I made some really great friends. I made some contacts and it got me the job I'm about to start. I will forever be grateful and fondly remember my time there. I do plan to go back to eat, and to do some more time at the prep table. And thanks to Uchi, my friends, family, and coworkers will be forced to endure my "hai!" for many years to come.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Desserts.

For the last week, we've been doing plated desserts. And they went a little something, like this:

Tiramisu













We soaked lady finger cookies in coffee syrup and brandy, layered them with mascarpone filling, and topped it off with a dusting of cocoa powder . Then, we wrapped that in tempered dark chocolate in which we had written "Tiramisu" in white chocolate. There's a tempered chocolate filigree, and cigarette garnish on top and a dark chocolate loop-d-loop with raspberry coulis in the loops. Simply delicious. And quite fancy if I do say so myself!

Lemon Semifreddo













This was, no question, one of my favorite desserts of the class. We made an Italian meringue by pouring 240º melted sugar into whipped egg whites, adding lemon juice, and folding that into whipped cream. Then, it went into the freezer overnight. The next morning we pulled it out and into the fridge about 20 minutes before service so it would just begin to thaw - so it would be semi-frozen (Get it?). Surrounded by raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries. Good grief! It was GLORIOUS!!!!!

Vanilla Panna Cotta













I was not super-pumped about the particular flavor of this dessert, but I can see lots of potential for other flavors. It's just milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatin. Basically, a semi-solid milk pudding. A little boring, but like I said, go crazy with flavors and (like they do at Uchi) frozen fruit puree fillings. This is garnished with, again, raspberry coulis and a florentine shard.

Florentine with Raspberry Sorbet













This florentine cookie is just ridiculously easy and DELICIOUS!!!! It turns out almost just like brittle. You bring sugar, corn syrup, and butter to a boil. Take it off the heat and add pastry flour and sliced almonds. Spoon about a tablespoon onto parchment on a cookies sheet (it will spread to about a 4-5" circle). Bake until golden. When it comes out, let it sit for just a second to start to cool, then place it over a small ramekin and let cool to make a cookie bowl. You can wrap it around all kinds of stuff to make all kinds of shapes. It's a really cool cookie.

Chocolat Mousse













If you've got a special lady friend that likes chocolate, shoot me a message, I'll get you this recipe, and you'll never have to buy jewelry or do the laundry ever again. This stuff is a guaranteed lady killer. We piped it into a tempered chocolate "bowl" (we dipped a balloon in the chocolate, let it cool, and popped the balloon), and garnished it with filigrees, piped chocolate loops filled with raspberry coulis, and a chocolate cigarette. That was all filler, the mousse was the killer.

Bread Puddin'













Remember when we made brioche 4 weeks ago? Well, we froze the extra and today, we thawed it. It got cut into bite-size pieces and soaked with a super rich rummy egg custard. We added golden raisins and baked it for 45 minutes in a convection oven. Served with a side of creme anglaise (which would've been better with bourbon), this was awesome. Be prepared to see a lot of this in the future. It's a great application for left over bread and ...... DONUTS!!!!

Last week we made some real fancy stuff. Pate a choux and hard caramel and stuff like that. Included in that last was lemon mousse pastry swans. "Chef, can we make crazy swans?" was the question asked by a classmate of mine. "No. No freak swans, please." Matt and I made a Lake Springfield swan any way. Meet Merle:

















He's a two-headed, lemon mousse-filled swan. Isnt' he lovely? Natalie Portman ain't got nothin' on Merle!

See ya next time!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gingerbread DKR

When I signed up for school, back in February, I heard about the gingerbread competition. I was intrigued. I thought it might be fun to participate. I told my buddy Greg that when it rolled around, we were making a gingerbread version of Darrel K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. And that's what we did.

Behold:
video


We spent a week on this project. A loooong week that culminated in a 10 hour, 6pm to 4am all-nighter. It's not quite as tight as we would have liked. There was a little bowing, which created gaps. There were a lot of cracks. So many cracks. This stuff was super dry and a quite brittle when it was thin - so our patching efforts can be seen.

That being said, how awesome is this thing? The sheer scope of this project is awesome. 12 batches of gingerbread. Forty pounds! No one else took up the entire 2'x2' board like we did. Everyone else made houses and churches. We made a STADIUM.

We dropped it off this morning on almost no sleep. I returned early this afternoon to find out our fate - we just missed the top 3. According to Chef Jennie, we were the "critic's pick". The judges, the chefs, the people that went to the event, even Chef Herve Charbot - the head of the pastry program at the Ottowa LCB campus - were quite impressed. A few technical errors, which we were aware of and were to be expected, given this was our first from-scratch gingerbread house, kept us out of the medals. But we had a blast and learned from our mistakes.

Here are a few pictures of production. For some reason, it won't let me upload more. I'll put the rest in a folder on my facebook page. Check 'em out!






















Thursday, December 2, 2010

Me Want Cookie!



Ha. Yea. Yesterday and today was all about the cookie.













The top there was of course chocolate chip cookies. They were great. I'm going to reduce the amount of choco chips and replace it with some crazy different stuff to try to simulate a cookie I had from Momo Fuko Milk Bar called the "Compost Cookie". I'll keep you posted on that. Then we made biscotti. I'm a fan of biscotti, but this particular recipe had anise seed. Anise seed has a crazy strong licorice flavor that totally ruined the biscotti for me. I got some other recipes form the chef to try some other flavor profiles, so stay tuned for that as well. The last cookie there is the "spritz" cookie. They probably remind you of those Pepperidege Farm cookies with the jam, except these aren't dry, and the jam doesn't stick in your teeth for days. They are moist and light and there is just enough jam to give you a nice strawberry flavor.














Today's cookies were great as well. We'll start on the left with the checkerboards. We made chocolate and vanilla dough yesterday and let it set up in the fridge. Today, we rolled it out to 1/4" thick, stacked vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, and sliced that into 1/4" strips. Then alternated those to make the checkerboard pattern. We wrapped that with the scraps that we had layered and rolled out to 1/16". Then sliced THAT into 1/4" thick cookies and baked em. Not super tasty, but they look neat! Then we made pecan shortbreads - basically the best pecan sandies ever. We also made "linzers". These are an almond cookie that we rolled out thin, cut out with a cutter and punched holes in the tops. There's a layer of raspberry jam in between, and they sure are purty, ain't they? And of course, there's brownies on the right.

This was a nice couple of days, but pies are next, so I have to stay focused.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Butterfly? Uh Oh, That's Old...

....let me see your JellyRoll! Yea, that's right, I went there. As previously mentioned, I missed the day that we did jelly rolls in class, so I had to get tips and tricks and notes from my classmates and instructors because it was on our midterm. I guess I'm a good listener and they're good tip givers, because I nailed it.

Jelly Roll

















I made a thin sponge cake, pulled it out of the oven and rolled it up in parchment to give it "muscle memory". After 10-15 minutes, I unrolled it, spread a thin layer of strawberry jam on it, and rolled it back up. Some lovely diagonal cuts off the end and a light dusting of powdered sugar - jelly roll. Nothing to it really. Thanks for your help if you helped me and are reading this!

Baguette

















Le baguette. The only thing difficult about this 4 ingredient bread was that it had to be done by hand. Just because they wanted to see if we could do it. Super easy: Mix the water and yeast, add flour, add salt, knead 8-10 minutes. Let ferment for ~45 minutes. Punch, fold into small logs, let rest ~10 minutes. Roll out to full sheet pan length, proof ~30 minutes. Slit it. Bake it. Boom!

I won't even mention the written part of the final as it was quite simple. Tomorrow and Thursday is cookies! Friday and Saturday (yea school on Saturday) is 3.14159 (pie)! Should be a fun, fat week.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Second Helping of Cake

We finished up cakes this week with a couple fantastic cakes and some new techniques!

Strawberry Bavarian Cream













This cake has everything! It's got a light, fluffy sponge cake on the bottom; fresh strawberries around the side; a gelatinized strawberry créme anglaise; and strawberry glaçage on top. It's light and fruity and creamy all at the same time - not to mention festive! We got to make a créme anglaise and use gelatin and make a glaçage all for the same cake.

Pralinette



























Wow. Don't be surprised if you find one of these in your stocking, because they are not near as difficult to make as they look, and they are tasty! These little mini cakes consist of that same light, fluffy sponge cake from the Bavarian, but only 3" around. In between the layers of cake is a praline cream that is just ridiculously delicious. We stacked and froze the cakes, and they still turned out great. That's where the "easier than they look" part comes in - the cakes can be done way in advance. Once they were defrosted, we melted milk chocolate and spread it thin on the bottom of a sheet pan and put it in the fridge. When it set, we let it warm up to just pliable and peeled it off with a putty spreader, then wrapped the chocolate around the cakes and folded it on top. We made little chocolate shard cones for the top and ta-da! - fancy little cakes.

Midterms are tomorrow. We'll see how good I can follow verbal directions because I missed the day where we made the jelly roll that I'm supposed to make tomorrow. My classmates better have given me good tips! I'll also have to make baguettes and take a written test (which I'm not too worried about). After that.........COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cake

This is my salute to cake. Also appearing this blog, my pal Law - welcome to the big show buddy!

















This was the week that I've been waiting for all my life. Cake week in Bake Shop. We started with an old standby:

Chiffon Cake with Swiss Buttercream













I was not in class on Friday - I was in Florida for Chase's wedding - Congrats Chase! - so my buddies Matt and Greg hooked it up by making an extra chiffon cake. That enabled me to decorate a cake for a grade. The Swiss Buttercream is fantastic. We heat up some sugar and eggwhites over a double boiler, whipped that in the KitchenAid, and added a ton of butter and a little vanilla. We got to use those cool spinning cake decorator platforms. We piped on a lovely border and wrote on it. This cake was great and I can't wait to use it outside of class. Who has the next birthday?

Sacher Cake













Next up was the Sacher cake. It's named after some famous German baker. We made the cake on Monday and put it in the fridge to set up for Tuesday. The cake was pretty dense, but still great. It has apricot preserves between each layer. Then it's coated with ganache and then coated again with a shiny ganache. Then we made little piping bags out of parchment and did that fancy double pass that probably made you say "ooooo" when you first saw it and the "Sacher" on there as well. Another winner that I will be able to use when someone asks for a "really chocolaty cake".

Cheesecake













My pal Law and I teamed up yesterday and today to knock out these next two awesome cakes. This isn't a NY Style cheesecake or an Italian cheesecake or anything like that. It's just a plan old cheesecake. And it's great. It baked for 2 hours yesterday and set up over night. It's got some vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice, so it's got that nice twang that comes with citrus and cream cheese. We hit it with some apricot glaze - not for flavor, just for sheen. We were then allowed to decorate the cake with fruit as we saw fit. Of course, we went with the American flag. What else is there? Does anyone else here Lee Greenwood in the background?

Carrot Cake













What's up Doc? This cake was also baked off yesterday. It's got a TON of carrots in it, so it was super moist. We cut it into three layers and slathered each with cream cheese frosting. There's chopped walnuts on the outside. Cream cheese roses on top and Law's killer marzipan carrots - nice job buddy! This cake was great and is yet another addition for my cake-etoire.

I'm sad that cake week is over, but cookies, pies, and fancy confections are on the horizon. Stay tuned for Friday's blog, because tonight, I'm smokin' a whole pig for our Thanksgiving tailgate party tomorrow. You won't want to miss that!!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anti-Atkins Class

Well, one full week of Bake Shop is in the bag and I know my fate: not a pastry chef. This stuff is sooooo tedious. Of course, the bread is delicious, but getting all the stuff together at the beginning of class is insane. Everything must be weighed out to the tenth of an ounce. One bread used three different flours for crying out loud! All that being said, I've already used what I've learned in school, at home. I made focaccia bread on Sunday night to go with herb roasted chicken minestrone. Good stuff. And now, for the photographic evidence of my baking prowess:

Pain Au Lait










These were some tasty rolls. They were pretty easy to make too: milk and yeast mixed in a mixing bowl with malt syrup, sugar, and a beaten egg. Then the flour goes in and the KitchenAid dough hook does its magic. Some salt. Then butter a little bit at a time. Once it's all combined, the dough goes into a sprayed bowl and into the proof box (a climate controlled box that is quite warm and humid) which aids in the fermentation process. Over the next 30-45 minutes, the dough will double in size. Then we punch it down, separate it into 2oz portions, ball it up, and sort of shape it into oblong shapes. We let it sit for about 10 minutes, then roll it out to 8" ropes and shape it into different shapes. Then it goes into a steam deck oven at 350º until GBD. See? Easy! For brevity, I won't go through the process of making each of these breads because most of them were the same method, just with different ingredients.

Multigrain Bread














How gorgeous is this bread? It's got walnuts, honey, brown sugar, buttermilk, oats, rye, and wheat bran. Once out of the oven, we brushed it with simple syrup to give it that oh so tasty-looking sheen. You'll all probably be getting this for Christmas.

Olive Sourdough Bread













I am not an olive fan. I absolutely hated this bread. We nailed it on the grade. In fact "gorgeous" was the word used by the chef. The vultures outside the kitchen lab seemed to think it was quite tasty ast well.

Margherita Pizza













Pizza. How could this not be excellent? That's all. It was just great.

Pretzels













Killer, killer, pretzels. I liked these a lot because they didn't require a second fermentation or a steam deck oven, so I could easily make these at home.

Hollaaaaa! (Challah)













Challah is a traditional Jewish celebration bread. It's made for Passover and other Jewish holidays. The dough is made and proofed and rolled out to several ropes. Those ropes are then braided. Those braided ropes are then eggwashed and proofed again. Then eggwashed again and baked. And then it gets eaten. Real tasty stuff.

Brioche Cinnamon Rolls













We made brioche breads - tetes, parisienne loaves, and then we had extra. What to do with extra brioche? How bout make some cinnamon rolls? YAYUUUHHHH!!!!!!!!

We're making crescents and danishes tomorrow morning. Then cakes next week. I'm going to get so fat in this class.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crevettes L'Orange

I actually managed to get off my lazy butt and make some tasty food today!

Almond Gorgonzola Salad













This turned out to be a pretty tasty salad. I used Romaine lettuce, toasted sliced almonds, gorgonzola, and a vinaigrette of fresh OJ, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and S&P. I garnished it with orange supremes. It was light, crunchy and refreshing!

Crevettes L'Orange













This was delicious and I will make it again for sure, with some tweaks. The idea came from Miss Jane (formerly of Sanitation, currently of Wine). I sautéed some shrimp (a little more than 1/2 way cooked), removed them, and deglazed the pan with Bauchant orange liqueur (originally I was going to use sherry, but ridiculous Texas liquor laws prevent the sale of fortified wine on Sundays). It reduced very quickly. I then added heavy cream and let that reduce just a bit. The shrimp went back in. By then, the fresh linguini (from Central Market) was done (about 3 minutes to cook). I tossed that in with the shrimp and sauce to finish the shrimp. The "tweaks" I referred to include actually using sherry as originally planned, more sauce, and maybe a little red pepper flake.

So there ya go, two blogs in one day. Hopefully that can somewhat make up for my laziness over the last couple weeks. Stay tuned!

Those Tacos Were......Aaaasian!

Honestly, I just haven't really eaten or learned or cooked enough interesting stuff to write about over the last couple weeks. Until yesterday. We were unsure about the number of tailgaters we would have, so I decided to go with tacos. Tacos can be stuffed or packed lightly to stretch for more people. However, I didn't want to just do the same ol same ol fajita tacos so I decided to go Asian.

Korean-style Beef Tacos













I used a beef top round roast and sliced it in about 1.5" "steaks" and marinated it in soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic and scallions (like bulgogi) for a few hours and grilled it. These were served with grilled scallions and red bell peppers, lettuce and sriracha mayo. I had corn and flour tortillas available and they were killer.

Vietnamese-style Pork Tacos













In a similar fashion, I used a pork loin roast and sliced it into "steaks" and marinated it in soy sauce, lime juice, lemongrass, garlic, and brown sugar and grilled it. These were served with sriracha mayo, cilantro and carrots, daikon, jalapeño, and red onion that I had pickled the day before (see the shrimp salad recipe I made a few weeks ago for pickling technique). These were even better than the beef tacos. Really good.

I'm planning to make something real tasty for dinner tonight, so hopefully I can write about that. This week I have finals in Cost Control and Wine and then next week starts the Baking Block. I should be back on blogging on the reg for that (even though I'm not looking too forward to that block).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ensalada de Camarones

Decided to do a little cookin this evenin'.













Cilantro lime shrimp. Fried corn tortilla strips. Jicama. Tomato. Queso fresco. Jalapeño-lime vinaigrette. And house pickled red onion. All served on escarole. This salad was killer.

I marinated the shrimp for a good hour and a half then sauteed them. The vinaigrette was the juice of two limes, twice as much canola oil, jalapeño, garlic, s&p and a scoatch of honey and I just shook it up in a container. I used escarole because it's a slightly bitter green - my thought was that the sweetness of tomato, shrimp, jicama and pickled red onion would counter the bitterness - (SPOILER ALERT!) I was right. "Hold on there! Did you say pickled red onion?" Why yes I did, thanks for asking! I simmered toasted spices (bay leaf, coriander seed, fennel seed, whole allspice, whole clove, cumin seed, black peppercorns) in equal parts white vinegar and water with sugar and a touch of salt. I poured that over sliced red onion and tossed in some smashed garlic and jalapeño just for grins. You're my faithful readers and I don't want to lie to you. These are great. I think I will forever now have something pickled hanging out in my fridge. I know this is a "quick" pickle and that is because I don't want to spend 1/4 of my life sterilizing jars and waiting for stuff to get tangy.

Overall a real learning experience, and a winner. See ya next time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's All Gravy!

As explained in the video, my cousin Julie asked for a video on how to make gravy. Good ol Southern-style, white cream gravy. I was happy to oblige (and only 1 week later!). Sorry it's so tiny, I had to turn the camera vertically to get the shot. Please to enjoy!

video

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fried Goodness

We hit up The State Fair this weekend for the game (I don't want to talk about it) and to taste it's many tasty, fried wares. Let me begin with saying that there were four of us, we only purchased one of each of these to taste. I didn't eat all of these by myself. Plus, they'll be graded on a scale of 1-10. Let the games begin:

Fried P.B.J.&B's (Fried Elvis)













Yep. It's a peanut butter and banana sandwich that's been battered, fried, topped with jelly and powdered sugar. Amazing! 8

Fried Oreos













Batter-dipped and fried Oreos topped with powdered sugar. What more do I need to say? 9

Fried Margarita













Yep. You read that right. They toss some margarita mix into funnel cake mix and fry it up. Then they pour some actual margarita on that and top it with whipped cream. The rim of the glass is salted and served with a lime wedge. 9

Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough













I know right? Why did we have to wait until 2010 for this to happen? Tasty, but I really needed some milk for this one. 7 (could've been a 9 with milk)

Fried Butter













God Bless Texas! Fried. Butter. I guess they freeze butter pats to be able to batter them and fry em. They topped it with cinnamon-sugar and honey. It ends up tasting like a sopapilla. Great. 8

Fried Beer













No question, I was most excited about this item. I mean, come on, it's fried beer! What's not to love? Well it turns out that fried beer is what's not to love. This was truly awful. Just really, really bad. 1

Corny Dog













You can't go to The Fair and NOT get a Corny Dog, right? Honestly, I've had better. The batter was a little thick, so the cornmeal was gritty, but still, it was a Corny Dog. 7

Fried Frito Pie














They took Frito's Scoops and filled them with chili and cheese. They battered those Frito's Scoops filled with chili and cheese. They fried those battered Frito's Scoops filled with chili and cheese. We ate those fried, battered Frito's Scoops filled with chili and cheese! And they were delicious! 9

Chicken Fried Bacon













10. That's it. Just "10".
I've got a video on "How to Make Gravy" just about finished and will post it tomorrow, hopefully. Also, I started Cost Control and Wine classes last week, so I will hopefully have some interesting factoids to share. Furthermore, with the knowledge now of two kitchen labs and 6 months of staging, I should start coming up with some fun stuff at home. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let's Play Ketchup

No, I have not disappeared off the face of the Earth. I've just been super tired and too lazy to blog. All you've really missed is chicken. That's also part of the reason I haven't been blogging. The last week and a half at school was chicken. Boooooooorrrrriiiiinnngggg. Coq au Vin = Beef Bourguignon with chicken instead of beef. Literally, it's the same exact thing. We also made fried chicken, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce, curry chicken, chicken chicken, and chicken chicken chicken chicken. We did do fish last Thursday and Friday. That was alright, filleting fish and frying it, grilling it, and sautéeing it. No big. Today was shellfish. Super easy stuff.

I feel really bad that I'm excited for this class to end. I was really looking forward to it, and it was a blast at first, but it's starting to get repetitive and I feel like I know what they're going to say before they say it. It could just be the exhaustion talking though. I've definitely learned a ton and have been applying the knowledge. Of course, I haven't learned anywhere near everything there is to learn, so I could probably tone down the cockiness a bit before I get put in my place.

Something that was super exciting was our first tailgate last week. I got a little excited. Our menu:

Breakfast: Omelets with hickory smoked pulled pork, onions sautéed in chorizo fat, cheese and tomatillo salsa. Killer. The combination was ridiculous.

Snack: Jalapeños stuffed with venison, pork sausage, and cheese, wrapped in bacon. I smoked them for about an hour and a half and they were tasty.

Lunch: I smoked 10 whole chickens. Yes. 10. I brined them in a sugar-salt solution for 18 hours, then smoked them for 4 hours. The skin was crispy. The meat was juicy. It was just fantastic.

THEN, we went nuts at Pluckers for my birthday last Monday. THEN we went to Vespaio for dinner on Tuesday. What a great meal! Carne crudo - steak tartare basically; really good. Caprese Salad - with mozerella that had been made THAT DAY, celebrity tomatoes, balsamic, and killer ciabatta. Prosciutto pizza - thin crust pizza with prosciutto, fontina, arugula, egg, and white truffle oil. Possibly the best pizza I've ever had. Mandilla di saea - hand-torn pasta tossed in pesto. Also quite tasty. Filet with panzanella salad - Rare+ Niman Ranch steak with fresh made croutons, blue cheese and tomatoes. Great. Chocolate semifredo - killer chocolate "mousse" with macerated cherries and chocolate cake. Sooooooo delicious. We finished with South Austin Speedballs - vanilla vodka, khalua, and espresso, shakin til frothy with a lemon twist. A great end to a truly great meal.

I know I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'll do my best not to get lazy again. Feel free to drop me aline if I start slacking.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pork N Bourbon

As promised, here are photos from last week. (click for larger images)



















Now, on to "Monday Meaty Madness". Yowzers. I made Pork Lollipops:
I cut a pork shoulder into bite-size pieces and soaked i in apple juice, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and bourbon. I rendered some bacon and used the fat to sear the pork. While the pork finished in the oven, I made a glaze of brown sugar, butter, and bourbon. I skewered the pieces of piggy tastiness, and dipped them in the glaze (yea I did). Then I sprinkled them with the bacon pieces that had been aforementioned rendered. They were a hit. Especially the glaze, which will be a new staple of mine. Tasty.

Chef Zack Northcutt (of Mulberry) is the esteemed host of this glorious event. He always goes big. This time, he went about 55 pounds. He dropped a 55 pound pig in a cooler with a brine. For 2 days. Then he dropped an immersion circulator into that cooler and brought the pig up to 160º (the required temp for pork) for 2 days. Then he put the pig on the grill for 2 hours. Then this happened:













This was absolutely, without a doubt, The. Most. Tender. Pork I have ever tasted. It was so crazy good that I'm just gonna stop writing about it here and let your imagination run wild.

Every Meaty Monday, these two pastry chefs show up. I wish I knew their names and where they worked, because I would praise their works to everyone I come in contact with.










Yep. That's a dead pig cake. It was great. Red Velvet with a Swiss buttercream. The other? Jack Daniels chocolate mousse on a chocolate touille with chocolate-covered bacon skewers. Drink it in. Soooooooo goooooood....... *drool*




This week in class we're breaking down chickens every day. I may not post much about the dished (tomorrow is BBQ chicken with corn on le cob). But what the next few days lack in blogging, will be made up for over the weekend. Why? This weekend is the first home game and I'm bringin it BIG TIME! Stay tuned.