Soups, Seasonings, & Pan Frying

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. Deanna and I went to Seattle a couple of weekends ago, which put me a little behind in my class. I was pretty far ahead of most people, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it did knock me out of the first place position in the class rankings. Thankfully, I’ve worked my way back up. I generally say I am not competitive, but I do find the public class ranking motivates me to keep working hard.

As the last section was all about stocks and broths, the next section built upon this with making soups. I have been in a love-hate relationship with soup for years and really only recently started moving further toward the love side. Around 20 years ago, I was involved in a workplace incident that resulted in me spending 2 months with my mouth wired shut thanks to a broken jaw. It sucked, and although I liked soup, sucking it through my teeth also sucked. It took me years to begin eating soup again. I have to say, I’m glad I did. This section was great fun and I had a chance to try a few new things.

I made vegetarian Pho, entirely from scratch.

I also made a Morrocan Yellow Split Pea soup, with homemade pita bread.

Much of this last week, however, has been spent pan searing things and using dry heat methods. While I am not completely done cooking the practice recipes, I wrapped up the test for the section this morning.

Have you tried sweating garlic and comparing it with burnt garlic? I have. The burnt garlic taste like bitter. That’s pretty much it. No real flavor other than a gag-inducing bitter. The sweated garlic water was far more drinkable and actually somewhat pleasant.

I also had to complete a black box challenge where I was given a few ingredients and had to make something from it, a la “Chopped”. This was fun! Best of all, I got a great score on the grading and I got to eat it afterward! (Well, that’s kind of the great thing about this whole program.). For this challenge, I made bacon and collard green hash with a poached egg.

Finally, for this post, is a pan seared chicken served with tomato and garlic compote. This was seriously delicious. I am continuously amazed at what a difference applying better technique can make.

As I mentioned, I’m still working through the practice recipes for the dry heat section. Tonight is kung pao chicken, which I am going to add some broccoli. Tomorrow is fresh sourdough and beef stew. That should let me wrap it all up and move on to wet heat methods by tomorrow evening or Monday.

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