Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yipee Ki Yay...

Snapper Veracruz!

(Oh, you thought I was going to go all John McClane and say something naughty, didn't you? *That* is one of my favorite movie lines ever.)

Hand is better, much better, and I may not even be scarred for life, although I bet it would be interesting to read my palm now..."I see something hot in your past..."

Saddle up cowgirls and boys, we're off to the Plains and Southwest Regional menu today. Pull on up to the chuckwagon and feast your eyes on this "grubsteak":

Southwest White Bean Stew (very tasty--with bacon and jalapenos!)

Grilled Barbecue Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (not bad, not bad...the black bean sauce was sort of disconcerting with the barbecue)

Corn Fritters (I am so sold on making stuff with fresh corn cut from the cob...OMG!)

Sweet Potato Chips (fried sweet potatoes--what can you say?)

Pan-seared Snapper Veracruz (a lovely garnish of sliced jalapenos, capers, and black olives, although we did have to substitute turbot for the snapper.)

Pan-steamed Carrots (with butter...anything with butter is good)

Lime Cilantro Rice (Our basic rice pilaf with some lime juice, lime zest, and cilantro added at the end)

Cheese and Herb Biscuits (we got a lot of ribbing about biscuits. Both Chef Regional and Introductory Chef mentioned that no Regional class had ever made good biscuits. Most of the time, they were hockey pucks. Guess which team got to do the biscuits?)

Bread & Butter Pudding (simple little custard and bread cubes in individual ramekins, with a creme anglaise (vanilla) sauce)

Team 1, which consists of me and the Cutest Chiclet, got the privilege of doing the Cheese and Herb biscuits. We decided that we were not doing damn hockey pucks, come hell or high water. We also got the cilantro rice and the bread pudding. I can do that rice pilaf thing in my sleep, so I wasn't worried about it in the least.

The Bread & Butter pudding should have been simple, but the damn things would not set up. Not. Set. Up. Aaauuggh! They were supposed to cook for 45 minutes, and I left them in for an hour and a half before they finally did their thing. The sauce was something that the Chiclet had whipped up during the morning baking class and had left over. And the leftovers from our class are sitting in my fridge now as a suprise for The Man, who adores bread pudding.

We actually did manage to pull off the best biscuits of any regional class award...or I should say the Chiclet did. They had height and were not cheddar hockey pucks. We did leave them in a little long and the tops were a little too browned, but they were pretty good. Chef Regional said so, and that's all that really matters.

I was actually feeling some of Big Stuff's pain today in having Dimmer Switch for a partner. She is such a space cadet!!! First off, she couldn't find her fish spatula (she was in charge of the Snapper/Turbot Veracruz). So, she wandered around for 10 minutes asking everyone if they had seen it, etc. She finally borrowed mine, but every so often, I would pass her at the dish pit or around the stove, and she would be muttering about where her spatula could be...and then, she would plant her self in front of the stove and just stand there. You couldn't get to a burner on either side of her, and she wasn't too swift in taking the hints that we were making/doing to get her to move.

Amazingly enough though, he did bring doubles of the stuff needed to set up their stations on Monday...not sure if he did it today, so that is a breakthrough for him. And, get this--he washed dishes voluntarily today. Maybe, just maybe...

We had our mid-term today as well. One of the questions was worded in such a strange way that it was almost impossible to figure out, grammatically. I know what he did was try to rearrange the wording of a question we had on a previous test, but he didn't proofread the finished product. I figured that the answers (3-part question) were the same as the similarily worded test, but it really confused some folks. After the test, he met with each of us for 5 minutes to discuss how we were progressing, and while we waited, we discussed that question and how confused everyone was. I encouraged everyone to tell the chef that they were confused and why. It couldn't hurt, especially if they got it wrong because of the wording.

Chef Regional said I was doing well academically and not too badly in class. He suggested that I get a job in a real kitchen to supplement. I then explained that I did not want to work in a restaurant, wanted to be personal chef, yadda yadda, etc. He then suggested I find some employment with caterers. I'll have to think about that one.

So, I got all cheffy today and decided to make something for dinner that we'd made last week...was it last week or Monday? Who the hell can remember anymore? Anyway, I thought I would be smooth and make the Chicken Legs with Duxelles Stuffing. This would involve de-boning the chicken thighs and stuffing them with the mushroom mixture, trussing them, pan searing them, and then roasting them. I had planned to do this yesterday (Tuesday) on my day off, but I forgot I had to go to a meeting for one of my community service projects (and no, this wasn't in lieu of jail time type of community service!), so I decided I could do them tonight.

I did get a headstart by doing the duxelles stuffing before I went to class. This stuff is off the chain! It makes a loverly mushroom pate thingy and I could just eat it with a spoon and to hell with the chicken thighs! I love mushrooms in all shapes and formats...I could wax poetically for a lot of lines in this blog about my love for the 'shrooms. But I won't. Instead, I will share the recipe for the mushroom yumminess--Duxelles is thy name!

Duxelles Stuffing


6 oz minced shallots
2 oz clarified butter
2 lb white mushrooms, small diced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

8 fl oz reduced heavy cream (this means you start with 16 fl oz and put it a low simmer until it reduces by half)
8 oz fresh bread crumbs


1. Sweat the shallots in the clarified butter for 5 to 6min. Add the mushrooms and sautee them until dry to create a duxelles. Season the duxelles with salt and pepper.

2. Add the heavy cream and simmer until thickened. Add the bread crumbs and combine well. Chill well before using to stuff.

I confess, I used the food processor for the shallots and the mushrooms instead of hand chopping. I figured I'd make up for that when I did the de-boning. And, how! It took me 45 minutes to debone 5 thigh/legs. It was so easy at school...why the heck was it such a pain at home? I swear, it is so totally worth that extra .20 pound for the pre-boned stuff at the store (Heh heheheh, she said "boned!")

I was thoroughly exhausted after deboning, pounding them flat, spreading them with the duxelles, rolling and trussing, and then a quick sear in butter to carmelize the outside of the thighs, and onto a rack in a roasting pan, and then into a 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until the internal temp reaches about 180 degrees. I totally ditched making the supreme sauce to go with them and did frozen corn and peas as my sides. I was sort of feeling like that Julie-Julia woman when we didn't eat until after 9. But, the bread pudding did kinda make up for the peas and corn, I think.

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