New Quarter

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Well, today began my 6th quarter here at AI Jax. I am scheduled for Latin, Food and Beverage Operations, and American Regional this quarter. I already have all my Mexico recipe cards typed and my first week of American Regional, as well. I couldn't help it. I like to get ahead on things to make it less stressful later.

I got all my stuff ready last night. I got my toolbox reorganized, packed up all my books, notecards, etc, and laid out my clothes. I got up and had my coffee and left with plenty of time. I get to school thinking, "Awesome! I'm 10 minutes early. I can grab a great table and get set up..." and then I walk into the lab and think, "Crap." The schedule said 6:30AM but labs never ACTUALLY start at 6:30! They always, ALWAYS have started at 7! So, half hour late, new teacher, augh!!!

The class gets underway and it's a very small (only 10 people!), very quiet, very calm class. I love it. Chef Heidi is OCD about being clean and organized. I love it! It's not so crazy that you can't experience the ingredients. I LOVE IT! We even finished cleaning at 10:45 and got to leave! I had to stick around for my next class, but hey! I get to do my blog now! Did I mention I love it?

I made a Chicken, Corn, and Lime Soup today, as well as corn tortillas. The soup was fairly easy to prepare. I was a little hesitant about how spicy it would be since it had two jalepenos in it, but it didn't have the seeds so I figured it wouldn't be too bad. It was actually very delicious, not too spicy, and a very flavorful soup! It literally took less than 20 minutes cook time. I really enjoyed the sour notes from the limes and the sweet from the corn, plus the little punch at the end of the jalepeno. I cut one of the tortillas I had made into strips and fried them up to garnish the soup with.

The tortillas I had a little more trouble with. I must have mismeasured something, probably the water, because when I mixed the masa harina (basically fine cornmeal) with the salted water, it was still a loose, not quite batterlike consistency. I incorporated more masa into the mixture until it was more dry and able to be formed into balls. Then I rolled the balls in more masa and pressed them between deli paper in the tortilla press. This enabled me to flip them directly from the paper into the skillet and then gently peel the paper back so they didn't fall apart like they would have if I tried to pick them up individually with my hands/spatula. Once they cooked, they were a good texture. I experimented with brushing them with a little oil before cooking, too, and I actually liked how that turned out better. It made them a little softer, and since I was topping them with Mole and Rice, I liked being able to roll it up like a soft taco.

The Mole was delicious. I didn't prepare it, and I had never had it before, but it was really good! I, surprisingly, wouldn't have minded a smidge more of a kick, but other than that, the meat was tender and the flavors melded really well. So far, Mexican cuisine has been healthy! I am definitely enjoying that aspect already.

The only really unhealthy thing on the menu was Flan. This Flan was odd. It called for ground almonds which gave it a very odd texture. We discovered that all the almonds sank to the bottom, though, and just ate the top part which was delicious.

Overall, I think it will be a great class and I am excited to learn more and cook more Latin food at home.


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