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!

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