Sunday, May 9, 2010


I was a little out of my comfort zone with this cusine. Luckily for me I have two very good, hispanic chefs in my group (Al and Maria). Our menu was very tropical, and sounded delicious. Conch soup, hearts of palm salad, coconut fried grouper, pork tenderloin with a mango mojo, spicy orange glazed carrots, cuban steak with black beans and rice, white bean salad on a bed of field greens, corn custard, keylime pie, tostones and golden gazpacho.
To have a quick look at my class and what we were making check out this little video that our chef put together. Thanks Chef Bill!

The conch chowder was great! It had an awesome flavor with a nice kick. Potato's could have been cooked a little longer but other than that the soup was good.

The golden gazpacho was amazing. Nothing short. I'm not a big fan of cold soups, but this one may change my mind. It had an awesome roasted yellow pepper flavor. Maria spiced it up a little by mincing some jalepenos into the soup. It was amazing. We also made some puff pastry straws to go along with it. They were seasoned with some slat, pepper, cayenne, and paprika.

The hearts of palms salad was...different. It definately has its own unique flavor. Anyone who has never had it, it is worth a taste. It was good, had a nice vinegarette on it. Simple but delicious.

The grouper we had was a little thin, so instead of searing it, I decided to make a nice coconut breading. Easy to make just panko breadcrumbs, shredded coconut, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. I then pan fried it to a nice golden brown. It came out great. We shredded some pineapple and placed it on top of the grouper. We served it with a nice mango chutney. A lot of flavors that mixed perfectly.

Al took care of the pork. He made a nice jerk rub (his secret that I will not disclose without his permission, to check his work out or ask him about it, head to and cooked the tenderloin in that. When it was done, he sliced it, and added a very nice mango mojo to the top of it. He made the mojo by cooking and then pureeing jalepeno, cilantro, mango, and white wine. It was delicious. We seved it with the mango chutney aswell, and with black beans and rice.

The keylime pie had good flavor. It did not cool long enough and was not set. It was more of like a keylime custard. Good flavor but was the only downside of our night.

Al and Maria stole the show with their tostone's. Al made two types of tostone's. He made traditional one's that were served with a ketchup, mayo and lime dipping sauce (his puerto rican coctail). Haha. The second kind he made he poured a garlic mojo over the top of them. Both delicious. Maria made spiders out of her plantains. MMM they were very good! To see how the tostone's were made check out the video above.

Overall Florida cusine was excellent. A lot of tropical and fruity flavors. Great Week!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The South

This week we headed down south, for a good southern style barbeque. Most of the dishes that that are considered "southern dishes" were made during the civil war times, and by the slaves that were brought here from Africa. The menu was excellent, I could not wait to start. It consisted of grilled quail with spicy eggplant relish, tomato and bib lettuce salad, pecan encrusted catfish, slow-cooked greens, peanut brittle, pulled pork, Hoppin' John Salad (black eyed peas, green beans, field greens, and a vinaigrette), potato salad, onion tart, shrimp pilaf, and banana pudding.

The pecan crusted catfish was excellent. It was breaded with breadcrumbs, cornmeal, pecans, and parsley. Use the traditional breading process, then pan fry it until it's golden brown. Al did a great job with this it came out great. Had great color, and a great nutty flavor.

The quail sat in a brine for about an hour. Then we split it rubbed it down with olive oil and seasoned it with a little salt and pepper. Then it was grilled and plated on top of squash and zucchini cut in spaghetti like strips. We made a spicy eggplant relish to go with the quail which was delicious.

The greens were very good. Had nice kick to them but not overwhelming. Then we finished of the meal with the bib lettuce and tomato salad. Nice equalizer for this pretty spicy meal.

Now for the pulled pork! It was absolutely amazing. Chef Bill smoked it for hours the night before, so when I finally got to it, it was already falling apart. I created my own little dry rub and rubbed it on as best as I could. It was so tender it fell apart even more when I tried. So I ended up just sprinkling it on to the pork. I also made a BBQ sauce. It was the base of a North Carolina BBQ sauce (runny and vinegar base). I love the flavor, but I like my BBQ sauce to be thick. So I started out runny, added some molasses and ketchup to it to thicken it up. Now it had a great mix of sweet and sour. Right before pouring it on the pork I added a little pinch of cayenne to give it a nice hidden kick when you ate it. It turned out great!

The shrimp pilaf was a little bland but that's an easy fix, just a pinch more salt and pepper. Still delicious.

We were all a little hesitant when it came to the onion tart. I mean..."onion tart," just doesn't sound all to appealing. But we were wrong. It was made with Vidalia Onions, it was very sweet and surprisingly good. I had seconds.

Then we finished the night off with Banana Pudding. It had great flavor, the only thing I would change is...It needs 'Nila Wafers...not pound cake. It was still very delicious, but threw off the texture that I am used to.

Mid-Atlantic Week

For Mid-Atlantic week, we definitely had a lot of fun and I was really looking forward to the menu we had. Our menu consisted of a spicy crab soup, that was amazing, which we served with crab puffs. We had a variety of egg, cucumber and tomato salads. Buffalo chicken wings, applesauce cake with caramel. Vichyssoise, along with a beets endive and feta salad. Scallops with mushrooms and asparagus. "Shaker style" turkey cutlets with a very good gravy, served with potato croquettes and spaghetti squash. Then for desert a very good, yet different, ginger pound cake with cranberries.

A lot of food I know, but we did cover a large area, and as "American Cuisine" goes, it is the oldest cuisine in our history. The food came out excellent.

The first day consisted of the spicy crab soup with the crab puffs. The soup had amazing flavor, but wasn't to spicy. The puffs were good, but were overcooked slightly making them a little dry. We also had the cucumber tomato salad, and it was good, a little boring, with not a whole lot of ways to "spice it up." The roast duck was absolutely perfect. The moist duck along with the glaze that was made, there couldn't have been a better combination. The buffalo chicken wings were good, the bleu cheese dressing went great with them. And finally for desert we made the applesauce cake, which also came out perfect. Great flavor, wasn't dried out. Overall a great day with some very tasty food.

The second day consisted of vichyssoise, which is a very classic soup. It was a lot better than I expected. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about it, but it was surprisingly good. The beet, feta, and endive salad was very good. It had a lot going on with the feta and beets mixing amazingly. Then the walnut vinaigrette with the endive was great. We also made the "shaker style" turkey cutlet, which we pan fried to perfection and the gravy we made went great with it. The spaghetti squash was good, I'm not a big squash fan, but I wouldn't mind eating it again if it was served. The potato croquettes were amazing, perfectly fried mashed potato's. MMMMMMMM. Then we finished the night off with the ginger pound cake. It was great. The mixture of the sweet with the ginger, and the cranberries on top was to die for. Great night, and a great way to finish off the week.

New England Week

This week was New England week...we had New England Clam Chowder, Gingerbread with whipped cream, New England Boiled Dinner (corned beef, cabbage, carrots, turnips, onions, potatoes), Cod Cakes, Clams Casino, Roasted turkey with sweet potato mash, glazed turnips and stuffing, and blueberry/peach cobbler! .

On the second day we had a lot to do...

Overall good week and I look forward to the Mid-Atlantic this week...please see the pictures below... Also I give all this credit to Al Cacace, I am..."borrowing" this from him until i get caught up with what I have done. so big thanks to him.