Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day Four - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day Three of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.
To read Day One click here.
To read Day Two click here.
To read Day Three click here.

    Today, the last day, we moved to a more Indian style of food.  We made Bisteeya with shredded chicken, cinnimon, sugar and phyllo/fillo dough, Tamales with grilled zucchini and Masa Harina Masa, Carrot Pudding or Gajar Halva with carrots, cream and molasses and lastly, Green Beans with coconut and red pepper flakes.

  The Bisteeya were fun to make since we used a few ingredients I had never used before.  Ghee I learned is butter that has the proteins and other by products taken out so that the mixture does not have to be refrigerated and can stay in room temperature indefinitely.  I don’t remember if I have ever worked with phyllo dough before.  I was amazed at the paper thin quality and delicacy of the dough.  It has to be worked with quickly but gently; if left out for a matter or minutes it will become dry and be unusable.  The Bisteeya are made in muffin tins to create their shape, and are filled with a layer of phyllo dough.  Then poached chicken, marinated in many spices and herbs, is put into the muffin tin, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.  This was one of my favorite meals we made, the combination of the spices, chicken and cinnamon sugar was out of this world. 

   Tamales are made from a special corn meal flour specifically made for making Masa Harina Masa.  The Masa Harina Masa and the grilled zucchini are placed into a dried corn husk that has been re-hydrated in hot water.  There are many different folding techniques, some more intricate than others; we opted for a simple one.  They are then steamed until the Masa Harina Masa pulls away from the corn husk when unwrapped.
    The Carrot Pudding was by far the best thing we made during the whole week.  Grated carrots, milk and cream cook for one hour, until soft and the dairy has thickened.  Then spices, molasses and brown sugar are added and it is all cooked until it pulls together and becomes thick.  The mush like texture, spices and creaminess all blend together for an amazing dessert.  Julie and I both agreed that this was the best dish we had made, and was one we would be making again in the future.

    The Green Beans with coconut is a new way to prepare green beans.  Green beans and coconut are separately pulsed in the food processor, and then are combine in a frying pan with spices and red pepper flakes for a kick.  The green beans had good flavor but I think that they could have used more coconut to complete the dish.

    The practicum was a great experience.  I learned many things about Asian and Indian flavors plus new cooking techniques and ingredients, all things I will use in the future.  It was great to work with Julie.  She was helpful, knowledgeable and fun to be around.  We shared similarities in our palates, enjoying certain flavors more than others.  As I have always known, cooking and food is a big part of my life and even if I choose not to follow it as a career, I know I will still cook and bake throughout the rest of my life.  Thanks Julie for everything!

Day Three - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day Three of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.
To read Day One click here.
To read Day Two click here.

    Today we began with Polenta stuffed Mushrooms with thyme, Beef Empanadas with pine nut and ginger and lastly, Rødgrød med Fløde (Danish) or Red Fruit pudding with cream, which included raspberries, almonds and heavy cream.

    To begin we washed the mushrooms under cold water.  It is greatly debated whether to wash mushrooms directly under water or to ‘sponge’ or ‘dab’ them with a damp paper towel.  Julie said that she saw a scientific study that showed that while the mushrooms washed under direct water did absorb more water, the overall amount was minuscule compared to ‘dabbing.’  Making the Polenta was fairly easy, we just had to avoid clumps by slowly adding the corn meal, while constantly stirring.  Personally I do not care for mushrooms, and once they were stuffed with the polenta they were not that bad.  I would eat just the polenta any day though!

    The Beef Empanadas were time consuming, because each individual empanada took time to fill, fold and crimp.  While I thought that the encasing dough was a little dry, it grew on me, and I realized that this was the way they were meant to be prepared.

    The Rødgrød med Fløde was very simple but packed with flavor.  We put fresh raspberries in the food processor and pulsed until smooth.  We put the mixture through a fine sieve to separate the seeds from the fruit.  This mixture was refrigerated and then later topped with heavy cream and sliced almonds.  We both loved the intense raspberry flavor but decided that if the cream were to be whipped, it would add a new light texture which would compliment the dense raspberry pure.

Day Two - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day Two of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.
To read Day One click here.

    We began the next day by looking at more Chinese, and Asian flavors, making Pork Potstickers with a Chinese five spice, Shrimp Showmi with bean sprouts and Spring Rolls with jicama, carrot and cucumber. 

    Pork Postickers get their name because of their unusual cooking method, that if not done correctly will end up sticking to the bottom of the pan, hence their name.  First the filling is made with ground pork, leeks, Chinese five spice and assorted vegetables.  The Chinese five spice consists of cinnamon, anise seed, cloves, ginger and fennel seeds.  Then the filling is placed into a dough like wrap, which is then folded in half enclosing the filling inside.  The Postickers are then put into a pan with oil where their bottoms are fried.  This is where things get interesting, water is added to the pan, almost submerrging the Potstickers.  The lid is put on and they steam.  After a few minutes they are uncovered, and the water is allowed to evaporate, and the bottoms  fry again.  It is during this second frying that they like to stick to the pan so specific timing is important.

    The Shrimp Showmi, is made with the same dough like wrap but this time the filling is made with shrimp and bean sprouts.  The filling is put into the center of the dough, which is pushed up around the filling to encase it, where it is tied with a chive, to hold it together.  They are then steamed in a traditional Chinese steamer.

     The Spring rolls were made with jicama, cucumber and carrot tossed in a bath of cherry vinegar.  Then this mixture is placed inside a Chinese Spring Roll Skin along with a spoon full of Chinese noodles that look like angel hair pasta.  All the ingredients are wrapped and then rolled into logs.

Day One - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day One of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.

    I arrived at Julie Gale’s house, after following her by car from school, nervous but intrigued.  First of all Julie lives on a beautiful country road, with very little traffic, that is the perfect mix between the convenience of a paved road with the beauty of nature.  Her house is a sage green and pastel yellow, and is perfectly situated on the lot, which has been recently tilled and will soon be covered in grass.  Lastly she drives two gorgeous cars that some day will be sitting in my driveway. 
    As I get out of the car I am greeted by Julie’s small bulldog named Sadie, who comes awkwardly waddling up to me, huffing and puffing.  We walk down to the second building next to the house, which I guessed to be her teaching kitchen, followed by Sadie. 
    Inside I am slapped with the care put into this kitchen.  The walls are a hazelnut brown, while the peaked ceiling is covered by a green metal, that has been pressed with designs.  Natural light shines in from the two walls of windows, that overlook the new pond, and sky lights.  Baby plants are nestled in the corner under the supervision of a dim light.  Antique carts and a black antique shopping cart, are filled with cooking tools and machines.  The speckled concrete island sits in the middle of the small but cozy space, with a built in sink.  The grand stainless steel, two oven, six burner range sits in the corner.  Behind it that wall is covered in tin siding, also imprinted with designs, which protects the wall behind it from splatters.  The small freezer and microwave and checkerboard butcher block all sit next to the range.  It was perfect.
    We began the morning by making, Fresh Mayo with organic eggs, Pannacotta with strawberries, fresh black pepper and balsamic vinegar and lastly Pain de Mie, a dense French bread. 
    The fresh mayo took a lot of time even though it was fairly simple ingredient wise.  It took a lot of patience to slowly, I mean slowly, add the olive oil to the eggs and wait for the two to emulsify.
    The Pannacotta was amazing once finished.  Pannacotta is made with cream, yogurt and a thickener like gelatin.  We let this cool in muffin tins, in the fridge, overnight.  The next morning we made the topping which consisted of strawberries, balsamic vinegar and black pepper.  We soon realized that the pannacotta did not set up properly and was more of a custard consistency but with the strawberry marinade topping it was just out of this world. 
    Lastly the Pain de Mie, which is a French bread that is allowed to rise three times before being put into a pan.  Special pans are used when making Pain de Mie, to suppress the dough from rising while baking to make a dense bread.  Since we did not have these specialty pans we used a baking sheet over the pan, weighted down with a wok.  Once it was finished we both decided that it had a good texture and a somewhat neutral taste for a sandwich but may not be worth the work to make it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My One Week Internship with Julie Gale

I know we are trying to stay gluten free here but this was one experience that I just had to share.  Even though these recipes are not gluten free, some of the ideas and techniques could be helpful.

I was planning on posting this months ago but forgot, now here it is!     
     As the sight of summer vacation became visible over the dark horizon, my high school internship was coming up.  As part of this years requirements every student must go and find a profession, job, career, whatever you want to call it, that each individual finds interesting.  For one week every student is supposed to work with their "mentor" and learn about their career.  Now usually when school projects come up I am less than thrilled to partake in boring events but this was different.
      So a few months before the set practicum week, I began to think about what I was interested in.  Obviously I love food (in case you could not tell), and besides a new obsession with cars (does every teenager go though a car stage or is this real? :)), I could not think of anything else I wanted to pursue. 
      I have always been fascinated by wine making and since there is a winery somewhat close to my home, I wanted to check that out and see if I could do my internship there.  After contacting the owner of Chatham Hudson Winery and sending multiple emails back and forth, we realized that the practicum week was not the best time to visit because it would be the wineries "down time," and nothing would be happening.  The owner Dominique De Vito was very nice and understood that I was there to lean, not get wasted.  Dominique invited me to come for the internship in early fall, when school begins (I don't even want to think about school starting again, I'm just trying to get through this year!).  So I will post again about that adventure when it comes.
     Back to the real story, after contacting many other people and either not hearing back or them not having the time, I was left one week before the practicum without a practicum!  When this finally dawned upon me, I almost had a cow... wow that sounds a lot more disturbing in writing than it does out loud... anyway... I went back to the drawing board.
     With the help of my mom, yes I turned to my mom for help, we found a woman named Julie Gale in Hillsdale that owned her own teaching kitchen called At The Kitchen Table.  In the beginning I was not sure if this was going to work out because Julie was only teaching on specific weeks, and just my luck she was not teaching on my practicum.  I though this meant a no go, but I decided to contact her anyway.  And to make a long story short, it worked out!  After the tenth email everything was worked out and we arraigned to meet every morning at 8:30am at her house to test recipes. 
     As part of the requirements of the practicum we had to write a journal of our days work.  I am going to copy and paste my journal, each day as a different post so you can see some of the amazing things we made!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it.  Thanks Julie for everything!

To read Day One click here.
To read Day Two click here.
To read Day Three click here.
To read Day Four click here.