Thursday, October 1, 2009


We enjoyed a pleasant morning save a few glass breakings here and finger slicings there. It is entertaining to observe the slow rise in bandaid and gauze wrapped fingers. I am currently sporting a bandaid clad pointer finger. The look is "in". I began with a loaf of the infamous white soda bread (I am starting to get the knack of it! Repetition is key). They really love their soda bread over here, and swear that if you can make it you will never grow hungry again. I then roasted an eggplant for the baba ganoush (pictured below!). Finally, I started the spice-packed sauce for a chicken entree. Inspired by Middle Eastern flavors, the sauce called for coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic, red pepper, onion, etc. I finally got to use a mortar and pestle to grind up my toasted coriander and cumin seeds. As far as grinding herbs go, it is much more enjoyable and rewarding than an electric grinder. Speaking of mortars and pestles (how do you pluralize that?), I mentioned the Mexican molcajete earlier, implying that these lava rock artifacts are hard to find. Well, right after publishing my post, I googled "molcajete" and found one at Williams Sonoma AND Sur la Table. It just goes to show, don't believe a word I say.

MY Baba Ganoush!

I slow cooked the chicken right in the sauce, resulting in really moist strips of meat. When it couldn't help but boil under the lowest heat, I placed a heat diffuser under the saute pan to keep it from continuing to do so. For the baba ganoush, sometimes the smokey flavor of the eggplant overpowers the dish. Adding a little lemon juice diffuses the smokey taste, and freshens up the flavor (as do pomegranate seeds!).

During the afternoon demonstration, we focused on the art of filleting a fish. Rule number one: use a filleting knife! They are flexible and maneuverable. Rule number two: cut slowly- there are bones in there that you will have to pull out by hand if you slice through them! Rule number three: buy the fish already filleted. Just kidding! But seriously, I can hardly begin to do it myself, let alone talk through the steps - ask me later.

our teacher's perfect fish fillet

Some tips on buying fish:

- The eyes should look glassy and bright rather than sagging

- The fish should feel firm

- It should not smell too "fishy"

Other tips:

- Try cooking your fish fillet "en papillote", or in parchment paper. Place the fish in the center of a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon, and a few herbs, and fold the paper to wrap the fish. Do not wrap it too tightly to allow it to steam in the oven. When you open the parcel after cooking, your fish will be nice and moist.

- A yummy side dish to fish? Sauteed cucumber with a sprinkle of dill! Try it!

Another dish we learned this afternoon was the age-old lemon meringue pie. The teacher had extra pastry after she had rolled it out, so she fitted petit four tins with the scraps and made bite size ones as well! The fancy designs in the meringue are the result of a few twirls with a pastry bag. They are easy to make and look really professional.

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