Mexico- week 2

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Let's just start this week out by saying that this is, aside from Pastry and Baking, one of my favorite classes. It's probably tied with Classical at this point on my list of favorite classes. The food is absolutely delicious and it isn't a class in which you have to run around like a chicken with it's head cut off to get everything done. This means, to me, that I have more of an opportunity to really experience the dishes, new ingredients (mostly chiles), and cooking.

This week we were still in Mexico. I made Pico de Gallo to go with the Yucatan style steamed turkey, Churros, and Mexican Hot Chocolate. One thing that happened this week was that the turkeys all too a little longer to cook than planned so everyone else had everything ready and then it had to sit for over half and hour while waiting on the turkeys. This definitely affected the consistency of some items.

I've made Pico before at home, so this wasn't too much of a challenge. I did need a little more lime juice and salt, though, in my final seasonings. The Yucatan style turkey was amazing. We ate it in fresh corn tortillas with Mexican white rice, a delectable salsa one of the table mates made out of his own repertoire, pico, and grated gruyere cheese. Some people also ate pickled onions with theirs, and we also had a cactus topping that was available but I didn't really enjoy the flavors of that dish.

The churros were a little bit of a challenge. I've made churros before with no problems. This recipe seemed to produce "stickier" churros. The outside fried up nicely, but the inside never fully dried out as much as it was supposed to. I made the dough and piped lines onto a sheet pan and popped them in the freezer to set up enough to cut into smaller lengths to drop into the fryer. I set the fryer on 350 degrees and gave it ample time to heat up (2 hours!). I tested a tiny length of the first churro and the oil didn't seem hot enough. Chef turned it up all the way to 400 and we gave it a little longer to heat up again. My second churro began bubbling immediately, but was still extremely tacky in the middle when it was golden on the outside. Another table was having the same problems, so we decided to try and fry them twice. This seemed to help and my last batch finally seemed to cook enough that the inside was just SLIGHTLY tacky, and by placing them in a 200 degree oven to hold, managed to get them dried out enough to be delicious, although not quite as crispy as we would have liked due to the holding.

To go with the churros, I made a Mexican chocolate dipping sauce. I've never eaten Mexican chocolate before, and I was missing out!!!! I love the spicy cinnamon flavor, and I even like the grainier texture. I could have just sat there and eaten a whole bar of the chocolate. I made a basic ganache by melting the chocolate in a double boiler with a little butter and heavy cream. The texture of the Mexican chocolate made a stickier ganache instead of a smooth and creamy ganache than "normal" chocolate does. I then whipped some heavy cream and folded a little of the chocolate mixture into it to make a topping for the dipping and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was simply milk, vanilla beans, and Mexican chocolate all melted together. It was thick and delightfully rich, and I stirred a little into my coffee to make an amazing late morning pick me up. The whipped cream melted almost as soon as it hit both items I piped it onto, so the presentation pictures are a little...rustic...but that's the food's style anyways.

I was able to take leftovers home to Marc and he thoroughly enjoyed it, as well. I am finding that as I eat more and more spicy foods in my classes that my palette is slowly becoming more accustomed to higher heat. I am able to tolerate spicier foods without having to guzzle huge amounts to cool my mouth off. I didn't think that would ever happen!

Next week is our last week in Mexico. I am anticipating more delightful foods, especially since we will be making GUACAMOLE, which is one of my favorites!


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