I learned a new bit of information in our Beverage class. Some may be familiar with the term 2 Buck Chuck. The saying came from a wine that the grocery chain, Trader Joe’s, carried that was priced at $1.99 (FYI, it’s not $1.99 anymore). We had a guest speaker from a wine distribution company who explained how it is possible to produce an inexpensive and relatively good wine. There are major costs associated with growing, harvesting, fermenting, aging and bottling fine wine. You pay a lot for the grapes, you pay a lot for the wood barrels that the wines age in (upwards of $1000 per barrel). So someone came up with the idea of using a stainless steel vat but including a plank or two of that good tasting wood in the vat. When that proved okay, it was taken a little further by grinding the wood up into many pieces, increasing the surface contact of the wine with the wood. It all gets filtered out in the end anyway. So purchasing grapes that are not as expensive and using chipped wood, you too can produce a good 2 Buck Chuck!
Our styrofoam cake dummies were still not in as of Monday so we started on Petits Fours. Petits Fours are the sweet equivalent of the savory Amuse Bouche. They are eaten in 1 maybe 2 bites and can range from the simple cookie to the more complex mini entremet type. As usual, we worked on a few items in our groups.
Chocolate Financiers will act as bases for something wonderful later. It is a special batter made with almond meal and browned butter. There is a term for the butter but it slips me right now. Hope that’s not on a test.
We “made” the Pineapple Marshmallows. Did you know that they were originally made from the marsh mallow plant and there is such a thing. Who knew? I say we made them but we actually just scaled the ingredients and our instructor did a demo. There is a lot of that lately. I’m a hands on duck and would want to make things on my own. If I wanted to watch a demo, I’d look it up on youtube. Yeah, I’m not to impressed with this advanced baking class. I don’t feel like I’m learning much. I get talked at but we aren’t doing enough.
I just discovered something really cool and exciting. My wireless extends out to the back yard Tiki Lounge. I can now blog and do my homework here. Today is November 13 and it’s about 82 degrees in beautiful Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. Why shouldn’t I be outside. I think this would be a good spot for cooking classes, don’t you think?
I participated in a couple of hors d’oeuver parties this week. The first one was at school in our Garde Manger class. A local bank had purchased the buffet. There was a huge carving board with cheeses, fruit and vegetables.
This was our action station. Seared Scallop with Pickled Radish and Soy Ginger Glaze on Fried Mochi. What is mochi you ask? It’s a Japanese item usually used as a dessert. The traditional method, usually done around the New Year, is made by pounding mochi rice into a paste. It’s usually shaped into a ball and sometimes filled with red bean paste. It’s pretty yummy. In this case it was made with green onions and fried so it crisped the outer edge but became a wonderful oozy goo in the middle.
The event ended around 9pm so as a bonus for staying late, our Thursday class was canceled. Yippee. On top of that, Friday was a holiday so I’d have a few days of living like I wasn’t in school. I began the day by going to the gym. With school, I’m only able to go twice a week. I was excited about this bonus day. I also took a spin class. It’s indoor cycling for those who’ve never experienced one. Then it was off to abs class. Good times! I spent the rest of the day prepping for an hors d’oeuvre party I was hosting for some neighbors.
Pumpkin Mousse on Homemade Parmesan Crackers. I can’t begin to tell you how easy it is to make a savory mousse. Equal parts of your base flavor (pureed pumpkin) and cream cheese and some whipped cream, then season. The amount of whipped cream is determined by how light you want the finished mousse to be. Blue Cheese Mousse is amazing.
Triple Citrus Shrimp & Salmon Ceviche in Cucumber Cups. I love me some ceviche now. Thanks Chef Craig for enlightening me. Be certain to keep you cucumber cups packed in paper towel to absorb the water that drains. I did it and had no problem with it being too watery.
Well, it was such a relaxing end of my week that I’m dreading going back to a whole week of class. That’s okay, Thanksgiving is around the corner.