monicaSPEAK

Chef Monica Pope writes about eating & cooking where your food lives

The S – E – X – Y Food Class… April 6, 2010

We Call It Food Porn....Not Much That's Sexier Than That.

Green Plum Cooking School – March 27th

This morning, I have a group of fifteen women who have come early for Breakfast with the Pope (one woman in the group bought an auction item that includes breakfast with me, a tour of the market and seats in the cooking class).  Most of the women had not been to the market before.  I try to give them a little history — mine, the restaurant and the market.  One woman keeps asking questions, so I just turn the whole hour with them into a little Q & A.

In class today, I am doing Buttermilk Panna Cotta, something that usually takes two hours to set and I am going to do it in an hour or less. I’ve got to get going!  I love panna cottas, of all kinds:  goat’s milk, toasted almond, mascarpone, crème fraiche, you name it.

I place the cream in the pot (the buttermilk doesn’t go in yet to get cooked; it goes in after I pull the pot off the stove).  As the cream heats up, I measure fourteen tablespoons of sugar in my hand.  I use my cupped palm to measure tablespoons, that’s how we roll upstairs.  I grab a half-pint to go container to measure cups when I need to.  I split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the seeds out and place both the sugar and vanilla beans in the hot cream to infuse and for the sugar to dissolve.  I then remove the pot, add the gelatin leaves (I add an extra leaf because I’m worried about this setting up in the shorter time period, but we definitely don’t want to end up with a rubbery product like we get in most restaurants).  I use a whisk to bring it together and then add the buttermilk. I strain the whole mixture and have Nicole pour it into our clear cups.  I like using a see-through cup to see the white mixture as I don’t usually turn the panna cotta out, I just top it with a simple compote or syrup — today we’re using local strawberries.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

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I Say Dumpling, You Say Empanada… April 3, 2010

Potato Lentil Dumplings

Green Plum Cooking School – March 20th, 2010

Anything fried is pretty darn good, right?  Like the fried Oreos or fried Coke at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.  I do admit that Lili and I did have a fried Oreo at the Rodeo a few years ago.  I’m not some food extremist but novelty food isn’t everyday food and it’s certainly not something I need to eat again.

That’s all to prepare you that we are frying today in class.  We are making Potato Lentil Dumplings – which is more like an empanada, really.  I start the class on time but June and Karin walk in late.  Humph.  They were sitting downstairs since 8 am.  I say, “After all that, you’re late!”   Lili prances by and says, “Mommy, don’t be too hard on them.”  Humph.

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