Thursday, November 09, 2006
Hot Apps! Get your hot apps here!
Party food is some of my favorite food in all the world...high end or low end. I really do love little bites of yummy goodness, and I could probably eat that Super Bowl staple, Ro-Tel Dip with the little scoop Tostitos, until I throw up. (There's a lovely image, no?) Give me little meatballs, some funky dip and a cracker, and I'm happy.
So, we moved on to appetizers, which are just more elaborate, sometimes larger portioned hors-d'oeuvres (I will be glad when we're done with this stuff, because I'm getting tired of typing "hors-d'oeuvres"...tired, I tell you.), and this bunch is all hot/cooked items.
Le Menu for your perusal:
Deviled Crab Cakes
Oysters Diamond Jim Brady
Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
Paper Wrapped Chicken
Stuffed Shrimp (with crabmeat dressing)
Spinach Crepes with Seafood filling
The Chiclet and I were in charge of the beef carpaccio and the gorgonzola custards. I know it's raw meat, but it was really, really, really good raw meat. We took one of those prime NY strips from that high-end meat company demo and seared it on all sides to get some color. Then, we mixed some fresh herbs, a little garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper with a little extra virgin olive oil and slathered it on the seared steak. Popped that baby into the freezer for about 2 hours, and then sliced it, or rather shaved it thinly and served it with olives, capers, and grated Parmesan reggiano. It was like butter. I figure I'm more likely to have a poodle trip me on the basement stairs and break my neck than get mad cow disease, so I'm just not going to think about it. I make no apologies for liking my steak medium-rare and sometimes eating raw meat. I was proud that everyone in our class tried it, even people who seemed a bit leery about the "raw" part. (Although, I must confess that I am having to learn/force myself at times to eat pork "medium." After a bajillion years of hearing that we need to cook it to shoe leather, it's hard to try anything else, but I'm giving the pink a whirl.)
According to Italian Food Forever, beef carpaccio was invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, which I believe gave us the Bellini. And, what goes better with party food than party cocktails?! Party cocktails = good, very good! (BTW, this Italian Food Forever website looks like a real find. I could waste many hours looking around at all the yummy recipes.)
The key to the carpaccio is to get the best piece of meat possible. Pay that extra buck for prime--you'll be glad you did.
We all took our turn at making California rolls, which turned out pretty good. It was very interesting to see the folks who'd never had wasabi before as they tasted it...kinda like that scene in that dumb Whoopi-Ted Danson movie where he takes the whole plug in his mouth at once.
And, why is it we can never get anything to unmold properly? I did most of the work on the custards. I thoroughly buttered the ramekins, and we followed the procedure of putting them in a water bath and not over cooking them. But, when we tried to unmold them, the bottoms kept getting stuck. Out of the 10 we had, we got 1 that unmolded perfectly onto a plate for our presentation, which was what we really needed, but still! The others sort of half-assed came out and we just piled them together on a plate and stuck a little parsley around them to dress them up. This happens every time we have to do a custard, and we're totally at a loss as to what goes wrong.
This class is still fairly large...we've lost a couple of people, but there's still 12 of us, so I don't have a lot of interaction with Dimmer, since she's on the other side of the room. However, I still get to see her food and sometimes see her in action...like yesterday, with the jalapenos she was chopping WITHOUT GLOVES! Call me a wimp about this, and I'll call you goofy, because cutting hot peppers without gloves is just nuts. Trust me...been down that road before. You will have to stick your finger in your eye at some point before the capsaicin wears off your hands...like right before you go to bed and have to remove your contacts...yeah. And, she should know better than to not wear gloves. I mentioned to her that she might want to be wearing them, and she was like "oh? okay," in a unsure of why I was telling her to do that tone of voice, and then says "we do have to do that at work." Duuuh! And, then, what happens when I get back to my station, and there's the Chiclet about to do the same thing. Gloves, people! We have a ton, and that's what part of your lab fee goes toward!
(And, while I was doublechecking my spelling of capsaicin, I found this interesting article about its uses in fighting prostate cancer. Yes, it is ingested rather than rubbed on.)
Continuing with the appetizer theme, we actually got homework. (shakes head) The assignment is to write about diffferent appetizers or hors-d'oeuvres (last time!) from 5 different cultures and write up 5 or so of each. Personally, I'd prefer to go out to 5 different restaurants and try 5 or so apps each, but that's probably not going to happen...darn it.