Monday, September 11, 2006
(Sort of) Down on the Bayou
Week before last seems about a thousand years ago...but I would be remiss in not blogging about the last regular day of class.
Team 3 (Dimmer and Big Stuff) presented their cajun and creole stylings to include things like fried green tomatoes, red bean soup, and some sort of crawfish in a creamy sauce thing. These were the dishes that the Chiclet and I were assigned for the day.
Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but the presentation that the Chiclet and I gave was hands down the best one in the class...it might even save us from the total impending doom of that ill-begotten requisition list, and Chef Regional said it was the best one that any of his classes had ever done. Nothing quite like setting that gold bar standard, is there? (I know, I know, don't break my arm patting myself on the back, but some days you just gotta build yourowneself up, buttercup!)
Team 3's presentation was, how can I say it? Oh hell, just suffice it to say that when you have a slide with Bryant Gumbel on it as part of the presentation, you can just take it from there. I think it was the phrase, "Again, Creoles are varied in their culture as they range from country to worldly types such as celebrity, journalist, Bryant Gumble." This is directly from the quotes on their handout, which if I had the time and energy, I could probably Google and find on Wikipedia or something like that. Not that I'm saying I didn't crib heavily from the "Innernet," but I'm just better at disquising it.
Unfortunately, I can't find the recipes that we used for class that day, and my brain has rebooted a couple of times between now and then. Suffice it to say that it turned out okay, with no major disasters...and, we managed to finish way ahead of the baking class, so they had to clean up the dish pit. A small victory, but nevertheless a victory. They had gotten into the bad habit of leaving their sheet pans for us to clean and put away, which irritated us as a class to no end.
The crawfish thing was pretty good--it involved crawfish tail meat, some onions, peppers, celery, and cream for the sauce, and we put it over fried green tomatoes, that I, with my own two hands and tongs, fried. It may come as a great shock to many of you, but I have never ever fried green tomatoes myownself. I have eaten a gracious plenty of them, but all have been fried by other people. I learned the key thing to frying them is not to let the oil get too hot...the first couple were sort of fried black tomatoes, if you get my drift.
On a road trip last year, I also had a fried green tomato BLT at Tamarack, the West Virginia Welcome Center, and it was pretty damn tasty...bacon, fried things, on sandwich--whee! If you are every traveling through WV and end up near Beckley and Tamarack, make sure you stop. It is well worth the side trip. The dining area is managed by the Greenbrier resort, who create the menus and run the day-to-day operations.
Tamarack is also unique in that it seems to be the only state-run welcome center that brings together all the indigenous crafts and products of a state. WV is famous for coal mining and glass blowing, as well as being the home of Fiestaware,
and all of these things are represented there, along with a ton of other stuff. Why there is nothing like this in other states, I have no idea, because it seems like a no brainer to me. (If you know of any other state welcome centers resembling Tamarack, let me know!)
At southernfood.about.com, there is a little bit o' history about tomatoes, green tomatoes, and links to quite a few green tomatoe recipes. The one that I'm finding kind of interesting is for baked green tomatoes:
Baked Green Tomatoes
4 large firm green tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup coarse buttery cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut green tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices; arrange green tomato slices in a greased baking dish. Season sliced green tomatoes with salt and pepper and spread each with about 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar. Cover sliced green tomatoes with crumbs and dot with butter. Bake at 350° until green tomatoes are tender but still firm, or about 25 to 35 minutes. Recipe for baked green tomatoes serves 6.
In the far dim reaches of my mind, I think I remember something from one of the Little House on the Prairie books about Laura's Ma making a mock apple pie out of fried green tomatoes, too. [UPDATE: It was a green PUMPKIN that Ma used...thanks to Kittybean for clarification. It's sad when you can't remember things anymore because you're old!!]
Mr. Big Stuff made pralines, which turned out pretty good...the trick with them is to work quick, because that stuff will set up faster than hydraulic cement and you will be stuck with your wooden spoon in the bowl and unable to remove it without a jackhammer...just a word of warning.
This past weekend was pretty busy work-wise, as I needed to make up some time from having been off for quite awhile. This was the first time I had worked with the new menu for the month, and let's just say that we had it really easy for the last 2 months. The Super Supper summer menu's premise was to keep customers from turning on their ovens, so everything was geared toward grilling and was simple and quick to assemble. This month, comfort food is back with a vengeance, with each recipe requiring 2 bowls to mix up and assemble. We spend practically all shift/every shift taking turns at the dishwasher and then some. I swear, I spend all my time cleaning other people's kitchens and can never seem to get to my own...which I am procrastinating on cleaning at this very moment by updating my blog. Clever, aren't I?
But, clean I must...or at least make the attempt. : )