Sunday, May 31, 2009

When life hands you samosa filling and salmon . . .

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. I think it can also be argued that having leftovers is also the mother of invention.

After our book club lunch, I was left with quite a bit of the samosa filling, as well as some of the salmon we'd made. Yes, I could just make more samosas or use put the filling into puff pastry sheets to make Bengali-style patties, but I wanted to do something else with it. And so I did.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with tuna cakes or salmon croquettes. Well it's probably not a surprise to learn that we have our versions of those too. Except we call them tuna or salmon kababs. I'm sure to many, the word kabab makes you picture a skewer with meat and veggies on it. That is definitely a type of kabab. But the type of kabab I'm talking about today is patty-shaped and made from a mixture of cooked fish, spiced potatoes, and some binding ingredients. These are usually fried, and I've shallow fried and baked them with equally good results.

After this past Thanksgiving, my mom took leftover turkey, our mashed potatoes, stuffing, and some Indian spices and resurrected the leftovers as kababs. It's a very versatile and forgiving dish, and this was what I had in mind as I looked at the leftover samosa filling and salmon.

This isn't a proper recipe, so there aren't any measurements. Think of this as a template for you to use up leftover potatoes and meat.

I took the salmon fillets and flaked them with a fork. Next, I added some of the samosa/potato filling. With my hands I crumbled the two together in a bowl. I added more potatoes as needed. Then I added some extra spices to punch up the flavor a bit. I added an egg and made sure to incorporate it thoroughly into the mix. Finally, some breadcrumbs to help bind everything.

And then for the fun part. Using both hands, I'd scoop up a bit of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Then I flattened the ball into a patty shape and smoothed the edges so that the kabab wouldn't come apart when it cooked. After that, all that was left was to cook the kababs.

So in a reasonably minimal amount of time I was able to utilize my leftovers and create an entirely new dish. Not a bad trick! Also consider the fact that Mr. Spice was ehh about the salmon in the first place, now that it's been doctored up there shouldn't be any complaints.

May Book Club Lunch

Now if you've read earlier posts, you know that some friends and I have our own book club and try to meet each month. We started last May, so this month's meeting marked our 1-year anniversary! While we haven't met every month due to life getting in the way sometimes, we have met most months. I do have to admit that as time has gone on, the amount of time spent discussing the book has gone down and the amount of time devoted to the food at our meetings has increased!

Since we started our inaugural meeting with a book by a Bengali author, we felt it appropriate to come full circle and center this meeting around another South Asian author. We ended up choosing "The Hindi Bindi Club," by Monica Pradhan. Not only did the whimsical title catch our attention, but the book also contained recipes! How fun to read the book and then make some of the recipes out of it!

So that is exactly what we did. After reading the book (ahem, 2 of the 3 of us, that is), we made a list of all the recipes in the book and picked 3 to prepare. Since we pretty much followed the recipes as written, I'm going to be a tease and not post the recipes here. Plus the book is good and you should read it! We ended up making Preity's Goan Shrimp Curry, Saroj's Famous Samosas, and Uma's Shorshe Salmon Maach. What are all these dishes?

Preity's Goan Shrimp Curry is pretty much what it sounds like, a shrimp curry with a South Indian touch by way of tamarind, curry leaves and coconut milk. Now I'm normally not a fan of curries made with coconut milk, but with all the different flavors going on, the coconut taste was in the background. We made this one without any tweaking.

Uma's Shorshe Salmon Maach was a Bengali-inspired salmon dish. It used paanchphoran, which as I have mentioned before is best described as a Bengali 5-spice mixture. The salmon fillets were coated with mustard oil, another Bengali staple. The paanchphoran was supposed to be ground into a paste with water and dried red chilis, but my mini chopper doesn't seem to like spices, so they remained whole. The fish was supposed to be grilled, but since we needed the stove for the shrimp curry, rice, and making the potato filling we baked it instead. I have to say of all the dishes we made, this one didn't turn out as I'd expected. That was probably because of the spices not being ground into a paste.

I've talked about samosas before on here! So I don't need to explain Saroj's Famous Samosas in great detail. We did tweak the ingredients a bit because we felt it needed a little extra "something." And because we were a bit short on time we didn't make the samosa shell from scratch. I'd wanted to use refrigerated pie crust since it's ready to go, but we ended up with crescent roll dough instead. No matter, I just rolled the dough into circles using a glass as my makeshift rolling pin, cut each circle into halves and we made the samosas out of those, baking them instead of frying them. These turned out great and we scarfed down most of the batch.

Next month's book club pick has to do with zombies, so it'll be interesting to see how we plan our food around that!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One more giveaway!

I don't know how I missed this one. If you love candy bars, then you CANNOT ignore this one!

One Frugal Foodie is giving you the chance to win a box of all natural candy bars from Go Max Go. Who doesn't want to eat Milky Ways, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, etc. guilt-free? Check it out for your chance to enter!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Fun!

Nothing like some giveaways and contests to liven up your Wednesday!

Mara is giving away some fabulously cute food blogger jewelry! Don't miss your chance to win one!

Hangry Pants is hosting an Element Bar Giveaway. Check it out and have fun creating your own bar!

I know it's been a while since I've participated in a BSI, but don't forget to check out BSI Corn, hosted by Burp and Slurp!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Double-header: General Tso's Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein

I think it's safe to say that it's no surprise that two of my favorite things to order in a Chinese restaurant are also two of the most fat and calorie-laden choices. It's nice how things work out like that.

Given those circumstances, it's also fairly safe to say that these two items are high on my list of things to master cooking and to lighten up. :)

As you know, I have the cookbook collecting bug and have recently been trying to make actual use out of the ones I have rather than letting them taunt me from the bookshelves with their glossy pictures and their "someday" potential.

I dug out one of the few Weight Watchers cookbooks that I've actually cooked out of before -- Take-Out Tonight, which is an excellent source of . . . you guessed it, take-out favorites.

There was a recipe for General Tso's Chicken in there I wanted to try, since I had decided I was going to cook dinner for my friends when they got here Friday night. I found the recipe and was promptly paralyzed by the list of ingredients. And then, as if the book had anticipated my anxiety, the "clever cook's tip" box at the bottom of the page told me I had a quick alternative -- bottled stir-fry sauce. Yay! So using their shortcut method and what I had at home, I came up with a version of General Tso's Chicken that meets my weeknight dinner criteria -- quick, versatile, and flavorful.

General Tso's Chicken

Adapted from Weight Watchers Take-Out Tonight: 150+ Restaurant Favorites to Make at Home

Serves 4-5 people

1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup stir-fry sauce -- I used a spicy Szechwan sauce
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 scallions, chopped
2-3 cups of your choice of veggies -- I used broccoli florets and shredded carrots
1-2 tsp. dark sesame oil
soy sauce to taste

Take the chicken pieces and add to 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 3 tbsp. of the stir-fry sauce, mixing thoroughly and letting chicken marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Combine the remaining stir-fry sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a separate bowl and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, once heated add ginger, garlic, and scallions. Cook for a minute or so, then add the chicken and marinade and stir-fry for a couple minutes, until the chicken begins to brown. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until crisp-tender. Now add the sauce ingredients and stir-fry as the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Make sure chicken is cooked through!

And now for the lo mein . . . which is one of my throw some stuff in a pan concoctions

Veggie Lo Mein

Serves 4-5 people

NOTE: all measurements are approximate, adjust for your personal preference

8 oz. angel hair or vermicelli pasta, broken in half
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp ginger paste
3 scallions, chopped
approx. 2 tbsp soy sauce (more if needed)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce (optional)
3 cups veggies -- I used frozen Japanese blend veggies and fresh coleslaw mix
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch

Boil water for pasta. While this is going on, heat the oil in a large nonstick pan. Then add garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir fry for a minute or so. Add the veggies and stir fry for a minute. Add sauces and keep stir-frying until veggies are crisp tender. Set aside.

Cook the pasta, and drain. Reheat the pan with veggies and add the pasta, making sure to combine all ingredients thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Take the cornstarch in a small bowl and add water until you get a slurry. Add this to the pan and stir to coat and heat through. Add the sesame oil at the very end and toss.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Girls Are Back in Town!

Oh, I'm so looking forward to this weekend!

My girlfriends from back home in Kansas are coming to visit me for a much-needed girls' weekend!

After I moved to Atlanta, they would try to come out to visit me for a few days once in a while and of course I would see them when I went home for visits.

This year we were trying to do something different and all of us would meet somewhere for some fun, but with schedules and life getting in the way we decided to do the tried and true thing and just have them come to visit me!

Where will Mr. Spice be during this estrogen-fest? Well, he will actually be away at a computer geek conference starting this Saturday for a whole week. So it all works out. :)

We've already got lots of fun thing planned -- we're getting massages tomorrow, then going to Agatha's, which is a murder-mystery dinner theater. Very excited about that! There has to be some shopping involved, as well as some junk food and movies.

I do hope to post a little during this long weekend, but if I don't I will see you next week! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A berry good breakfast!


I was goofing around this weekend and saw a recipe for a low-carb cheesecake that looked decent and thought I would try it out. I'm not much of a baker, but felt compelled to try it out. The end result is not low-carb, but makes for a decent substitute for those Cheesecake Factory cravings. Of course given a choice I would go for the real thing, but if I consistently chose the real thing I would be the size of a cheesecake factory. :P

Anyway, I thought this would make a fun breakfast this morning -- especially with some fresh berries on top to up the healthy quotient.

I'm going to tinker with the recipe a bit more before I feel comfortable posting it here, so sorry to be such a tease!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Keeping it simple and sane

I'm very good at complicating things and making them into bigger issues than they really need to be. This applies to most facets of my life, but especially when it comes to food.

If you ever saw the madness that is my cookbook collection you would think that I cook many different things. I aspire to do so, but I think having so many options has resulted in a paralysis of sorts. Instead, I flip through cookbook after cookbook, drooling at recipes but rarely trying one. Someday, I think to myself, when I have all the ingredients on hand and all the equipment. And a bigger kitchen. And more time.

Trying to be healthier doesn't escape either. I frantically plan out meal plans that would make a nutritionist proud. I collect exercise dvds so that I always have options if I can't go to the gym. But when push comes to shove, I don't stick to any of it. I might stick to my rigid eating routine for a couple days but then something will always trip me up and it all comes crumbling down. As for the exercising, I'm lucky if I get 2 days in a week. Those dvds sit collecting dust.

This need to have it all right all at once is my downfall. I make it all so perfect and complex in the beginning that I think there really is no where to go but failure. It's not realistic to expect so much at once. I'm beginning to realize that it's okay if I don't plan and eat flawlessly healthy meals every day. Just making an effort and doing better than eating junk food and fast food is a step towards progress in itself. So maybe I rely more on healthy convenience food like veggie burgers, frozen meals, etc. in the beginning. So what? If it helps me get in a good groove, then that's great. Once I've built a foundation, then I can add on and improve on it. The same thing with exercising. I don't have to get 5 days of cardio and 3 days of weights right off the bat. Just walking outside in the beautiful weather a few times a week is better than me sitting on my ass watching tv.

So what I've been trying to do the past few days is to keep it simple. Instead of having 5 billion options for breakfast and lunch, I've been sticking to 1 or 2 options. I've been trying to be active in some way at least 2-3 times during the week. And when I faced temptation a couple times and gave in, I wasn't as hard on myself like I usually am because I hadn't set up ridiculous expectations for myself. I can't fail if I don't set myself up for failure. The less insane I make things, the easier it is to accomplish them. What a revelation, right? :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lightning Fast Fried Rice

I was STARVING after I got back from the gym today. I knew I needed something fast and filling or else I'd start gnawing on limbs.

Having leftover rice ready to go is the key to keeping this recipe quick and dirty. We had Chinese takeout a couple nights back, so this was a great way to use up leftover rice.

Why lightning fast? Well, it goes together just like that and we've got some nice thunderstorms going on right now. Way to take advantage of the situation! :)

Lightning Fast Fried Rice (1 big serving)

1 cup leftover cooked rice, straight from fridge
1 cup shredded cabbage (I used bagged coleslaw mix)
1 cup raw broccoli florets
cooked protein of choice (I used a cut-up 97% ff hotdog. Don't judge, the Chinese use sausage in their fried rice!)
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
minced garlic (I used jarred)
ginger paste (I use the jarred or kind in a tube)
soy sauce to taste
any other seasonings to taste (I used Szechwan stir-fry sauce)

Take veggies, place in bowl with about 1 tbsp water. Microwave for about 3 minutes. While this is going on, heat up a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Heat the canola oil, then add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a minute.

Add the cooked veggies and protein and stir-fry a couple minutes. Add the rice and soy sauce and stir-fry to warm rice through. Once everything is cooked through, add the sesame oil and any other seasonings. Combine thoroughly and dump in a bowl.


Note -- I didn't use an egg because I'd already had one for breakfast, but feel free to quickly scramble one beforehand and then add into the mix with the rice.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekend plans?

HUGE confession: all the partners at our firm have been gone since yesterday at a retreat and I haven't done much since then. Most of us have been sneaking in late and sneaking out early. Shhhh!! :)

Well this morning I had a good reason to be late, I was at the dealership getting 2 new tires for my ZoomZoom and then they had to replace the cabin air filter. Those tires were already going to cost me many a pretty penny and then the air filter just added to it. Bleh. At least now I don't have to worry about my tires blowing out while driving around Atlanta. If you've driven here, you know how much that would suck.

I did manage to get some work done and finally made some progress on this return I've been working on for what seems like forever. But now I'm seriously thinking of leaving early . . .

What's going on this weekend? We're planning to see the Star Trek movie tonight. Tomorrow I'm supposed to meet my trainer and that's all I had planned. I really need to clean up around the house and clean out my car. Some girlfriends from back home are coming to visit me Memorial Day weekend, so this is all in preparation for then.

What are YOU up to this weekend?

I've been good about not buying tons of cookbooks lately, but was lured by the low prices at Costco the other day. I think I'm the only person who goes in solely to buy cookbooks there. I got some looks as I walked around with my 2 cookbooks. Oh you want to know what I bought? I ended up buying the 10th anniversary edition of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and got suckered in by all the buzz about the new Hungry Girl cookbook. I have the original version of How to Cook Everything but heard the new one had new recipes and had been reorganized -- and I don't mind having 2 versions of a good classic. I also have the first Hungry Girl cookbook and was a little underwhelmed by it, to be honest. It just seemed like pretend food. So I was skeptical about the second, but when I flipped through it I saw it had more "real" recipes, if that makes sense. I'll let you guys know if I make stuff from them. :)

Well, it seems like there's just 4 of us left in the office, so I think that's my cue to get out of here!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My first "green" smoothie!!

I finally did it! I've seen these all over blogland and have been intrigued from day 1 but never got around to trying one. Until today.

Why "green" vs green? Well as you can tell from the pictures, it's more of a mauve smoothie. :) I took baby steps and didn't go too crazy with the spinach this first time, but I'll keep adding it as I make more of these.

Raspberry Mango Spinach Smoothie

1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened mango chunks
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

Put ingredients in blender in order listed. Pulse until blended to your liking. Enjoy!!

Verdict? This was great! I did have to add a little Splenda to sweeten it, but I most definitely did not taste the spinach. If anything, I tasted the protein powder, so I might nix that next time, since I'm already getting protein from the milk. The consistency was very thick, almost like a milkshake, so I've been eating this with a spoon.

Now I definitely know what I've been missing out on! This is a great way to get some dairy, fruit, and veggies knocked out, so expect to see these more often.

What's your favorite green smoothie concoction?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back from the in-laws and a giveaway winner!

Hey guys!

We are back from our weekend with Mr. Spice's parents in Florida. I have to say, this weekend wasn't bad at at all -- got lots of relaxing and I got to shadow my mother-in-law in the kitchen. I didn't take pictures like I wanted to, just because then I'd have to explain about the blog and I really didn't want to get into it with them since they wouldn't get it. Anyway, lots of good eats and we got a huge big bag of food sent back with us! :)

Anyway, I'm feeling a little under the weather today -- I think it's from being on the plane -- so I took today off to recuperate a bit. Can't wait to catch up on some blog reading and get some alone time.

But I did promise you a winner in my 1ooth post giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered!

As promised, I used the random number generator at www.random.org to select the winner.

Congratulations to . . . . NICK aka The Peanut Butter Boy!!

Nick said...

I have also linked to the giveaway in my latest post here:

Beer Braised BBQ Chicken

Nick, if you will email me when you get a chance, I will be more than happy to send your prize!

Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day Weekend and I will see you soon!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cutting it close

Man, last night was all about rushing around at the last minute.

I had some time after I left work before I met my trainer, so I headed to the mall to New York & Company since I had some CityCash to use up. I found a lot of cute stuff but lost track of the time. For some reason I thought my training session was at 7:30. Mr. Spice called while I was trying on clothes to remind me he was doing a podcast that night. I checked the time and it was just after 6:30. I then remembered my session was at 7. Crap!! Luckily I was able to put everything on hold and was able to make it to the gym in time.

After getting tortured, I headed back to the mall and was very pleased to find out how much I saved. I had CityCash to use, which was $15 off every $30 in purchases, plus a lot of the stuff in the store was on sale buy 1, get one 50% off. I ended up spending just under $80 total taking all that into account -- not bad for 2 dresses, 1 skirt, and 5 tops! I looked at my receipt and it said I saved over $128! My kind of deal!

Then I had to make it home before LOST started. I made it, don't worry. :)

We're flying to Florida tonight to visit Mr. Spice's parents -- we've become very bad over the years about not packing until the last moment. Last night was no exception. I think we weren't even positive about the time our flight was, so we found that out then had to decide how to coordinate getting to the airport. I hadn't even thought of what to pack by then. So I spent another couple hours frantically making a packing list and getting stuff together. It's only for a couple days, but I get anxious about my clothes since they're on the conservative side and even a normal v-necked shirt might look too slutty to them. I solved the problem by packing ethnic kurti tops, which look like these (that is NOT me in the pics). Once the clothes were done, I had to figure out jewelry (my MIL likes me to get dolled up for her) and books (I read voraciously, especially on trips). Done and done. Phew! Time for bed finally!

This morning I just had to pack toiletries and shoes and now I'm set for our trip. I'm actually looking forward to it because this time I plan to shadow my MIL in the kitchen and take notes on what she cooks so I can hopefully recreate it later. She and my mom are similar in that they're intuitive cooks -- they don't really measure stuff, they just add stuff and know when to put it in and how much. So as you can see, trying to get a recipe is a bit challenging.

And that my friends is how I spent the last 16 hours or so. Rushing around and around. Basically my life story! :)

Remember, tomorrow night is the deadline for entering my Cookbook and Spice Kit giveaway!

Hope you guys have a great weekend and a Happy Mother's Day for all the moms out there!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Digital camera recommendations?

Hey guys!

Currently Mr. Spice and I share custody of our digital camera, but since I've been blogging and taking pictures more often, we've been talking about getting a camera just for me. This way if he has computer geek plans that require the camera and I'm cooking something I can still take pictures for the blog!

The one we're sharing right now is a Canon PowerShot SD1000, which I'm pretty comfortable with. There's a newer version of this camera out, so that is our default pick, but I thought I'd ask you guys for some recommendations. I'd prefer a point and shoot camera so that I can be more spontaneous and plus I'm kinda lazy. :)

Sooooo what kind of digital camera do you use and do you recommend it?

Thanks in advance!

And don't forget, my 100th post give-away is still going on! You still have until this Friday to enter to win my Cookbook and Spice Kit!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tangy Salmon Cakes

Remember the Lemony Salmon with Yogurt-Dill Sauce I made a couple weeks ago? If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out. Anyway, I had plenty of dill leftover afterwards. It's kinda been hiding out in the veggie drawer of our fridge, awaiting an uncertain future. Since we know how well dill pairs with salmon, I wanted to find another way to combine the two. Then I remembered I'd bought some canned salmon recently and came up with this:

Tangy Salmon Cakes

1 15-oz can salmon, skin and bones removed
1 egg
2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh dill
2 tbsp. chopped onions
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp canola oil

Place all ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly. Form mixture into 9 balls, then flatten each ball into a patty shape.

Take a nonstick pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat.

Once oil is hot enough, lightly fry salmon cakes 4-5 at a time until golden brown on both sides.

As you can see, mine got a little more than golden brown, but they still taste good!

REMINDER!! My Cookbook and Spice Kit give-away deadline is this Friday!

"You have some knife skills!"

Recently, a good friend and I have been trying to take cooking classes here and there. Nearly all have been demos, like the ones at Williams-Sonoma and at Cook's Warehouse, but we wanted something hands-on.

We finally found some classes that are held at a couple Whole Foods stores in the Atlanta area and booked one for yesterday where we would be preparing a New Orleans Brunch. On the menu were Pain Perdue (French Toast) with Berry Compote, 3 different types of Eggs Benedict -- one on a mushroom cake and tasso hollandaise, one on a grit cake with shrimp and asparagus and a veloute sauce, and the last on a corn cake with ham and a mornay sauce -- and finally, fried green tomatoes with a crab ravigote. Oh and how could I forget the cafe au lait and mimosas? Doesn't all that sound sooo yummy?

Anyway, when we got there we filled out some paperwork, then everyone got aprons and name tags, we washed hands, and were split up into 3 stations. My friend and I were assigned to the mushroom cake station, where she was tasked with slicing fresh herbs and scallions and I got to slice mushrooms. Ahem, not to brag (although I already did in the title), but we were complimented on our knife skills! Thank you, Food Network!

Once all of us finished prep work, we all came to the cooking area where we were going to start off making the fried green tomatoes and the pain perdue. We all got to take turns coating the tomatoes and frying them, and then we moved on to the pain perdue. Once we finished those, we got to take a break and eat the first round of our creations. The fried green tomatoes were good, the crab sauce that was on them was okay though -- there was something in it that I didn't care for. The pain perdue was to die for. Literally, because it had whole milk and cream in the batter and we cooked them in honey butter.

After we were done eating, we got started on assembling and cooking our bases for the eggs benedict. Note that so far we had done zero clean-up. There were assistants helping out that took care of all that. Now if I didn't have to clean up I would most certainly cook every day. Anyway, so we divided back up into our groups and set to work. Our mushroom cake mixture smelled and looked divine with all the fresh herbs and vegetables in it. We had some trouble forming the cakes and having them keep their shape because the mixture was a bit on the too-wet side, but they ended up doing fine. We also got to make the hollandaise sauce -- we took turns whisking the eggs and lemon juice over a double boiler, and then melted butter was added in at the end. I don't know if I could do it on my own, but it was cool to see it being made.

So all the groups made the sauces first -- we were busy with our hollandaise, so I didn't really get to see the other two being made. I just know they both used roux, and that the veloute had broth mixed into the roux while the mornay sauce had milk and cheese mixed into the roux.

Once all the sauces were done we cooked up the bases. The mushroom cakes somehow held up and smelled great. Once these came out, I added sauteed spinach and a dollop of our hollandaise on top. For the grit cakes, the grits were spread out onto a sheet and refrigerated to firm up, then they were cut into hearts using a cookie cutter and these were then dipped in flour and fried up. On top went some poached shrimp and grilled asparagus, then the veloute sauce. The corn cakes were cooked just like pancakes and the grilled ham and mornay sauce were put on top.

The assistants had already pre-poached eggs, so these were revitalized with some boiling water, and then we were ready to eat!

We ate SO much. I already told you about round one with the fried green tomatoes and pain perdue. Now we got to try each of the eggs benedict bases and then got 1 egg. I hadn't been able to finish the first round and most certainly couldn't finish this second plate. I would say my favorite by far was our mushroom cakes. Not necessarily because we made it, but it just seemed to have the most flavor of the 3. The cakes had fresh oregano, basil, and thyme, as well as fresh chopped peppers and garlic to add lots flavor. The hollandaise was creamy and tart, and the spiced sausage we used in lieu of the tasso gave it some bite.

I don't mean to tease you by telling you all about it and not having recipes or pictures to show how great it was. We got a packet in class that gave us the recipes for each of the dishes we made. Now I don't know if we're allowed to post them, but be assured you will see some variation of the mushroom cakes in the near future!

All in all, I had a great time. I really loved the hands-on aspect of it and it was just great to have this communal sense of accomplishment as we all finished our parts and then ate together. And I will definitely keep practicing my knife skills for next time! :)