Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cooking ABC: July

Seeing that my mutilated thumbs are not good for much of anything else except for typing, I decided to catch up on some of the things that I’ve been meaning to post on this blog. First on the long overdue list is the monthly installation of cooking ABC for July. I know I said I was dead tired from the Tibet trip but I did drag my sorry ass out of my house a couple of times to the cooking school as a way to recuperate.

I think I went for a cooking lesson first. The menu was chicken rice. This is not to be confused with the Hainanese chicken rice. The ABC chicken rice hails from Amami Island, a group of islands situated between Kagoshima and Okinawa.

The rice used was a mixture of white rice and germinated brown rice, believed to be highly nutritious. After chicken and takana are cooked together and heaped onto the rice, a clear broth is poured on top, so in the end it resembled ochatzuke (rice in tea). The two side dishes were sesame tofu made from soymilk and sesame paste, with a yuzu sauce; and deep fried ball of shrimp and mountain potato paste. For dessert, we made macha Bavarian cream parfait with corn flake and red bean topping. I think my favorite thing out of this entire menu was the fried shrimp and potato paste. Japanese mountain potatoes are more like yams and very sticky when you grind them up raw (the beloved neba-neba and tsuru-tsuru quality in Japanese food). Combined with fresh shrimp paste, it produced an almost airily light texture when fried.

Next, I scheduled a bread lesson and a dessert lesson back to back. The bread was a challah that I chose to shape into a heart.

I’ve made challah before, but none so soft and eggy. I was really truly surprised at how elastic and stretchy it was. It felt so good tearing off little pieces and putting it in my mouth that I think Jason only had a chance to eat one little section before I devoured the whole thing by myself.

I then made these beautiful little tartlets filled with caramelized walnuts. Great care was taken to ensure the tops come out flat, but I thought it would’ve actually looked nicer if it had a little dome, don’t you?

Although small, they contain 520 calories each, because besides the incredibly rich pate sucree dough and the walnuts that you can’t see, it’s filled with almond cream. It was so good I could see a repeat of the challah incident, so I made Jason take the rest to work. Word has it that everybody loved it. Yesss!

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