Between Meals: Never Ending Voyage

Erin and Simon, the truly wonderful couple Sam and I met at Casa Saltshaker's vegetarian dinner last week, are living proof that life doesn't have to be collies, colonials and 2.3 kids.

Here's their awesome blog in which they recount their adventures as they travel around the world...forever!: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/. In addition to the beautiful photos and snappy writing, the sections on how they saved SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT of their income and travel budgeting are fascinating.

Let's all live vicariously through them!

Lesson 9: Rolls!

I don't think I've ever eaten rolls outside of a restaurant or gluttonous holiday. A piping hot basket of multi-flavored rolls at an everyday dinner would be quite the show-stopper, but these rolls took less than an hour to bang out and are infinitely variable. 

What's kewl about these is that you start with two separate doughs- one with yeast and one without. Then you combine the two and knead the dough with the palm of your hand, which the adorable Amy demonstrates so cheerily here:

 Next, you separate the dough into little balls like this:

All to create these pillowy delights. We flavored ours with rosemary, ham and cheese. Go wild!:

FYI: Next week, I'm taking a break from school. Fortunately, you can look forward to more exploration of Argentina with a special guest photographer...


Between Meals: Tigre

When you realize that the exhaust fumes in Buenos Aires are making your boogers black, it's time to escape to Tigre.

For about 60 cents and a 45-minute train ride, we were transported to a tranquil river delta named for the jaguars that used to prowl the river banks (!!!). My friend Sam was in town, and he's a big deal, so we splurged and headed to an "eco-spa." I'll be eating ramen for the rest of my time here, but it was definitely worth it. Here's Sammy riding the water taxi to our oasis:

Crumbling vacation homes and docks lined the river delta:

After a 20-minute jaunt, we arrived at our splendid hotel. These pics speak for themselves (it was kind of like a Zen polygamist compound):

Map of the compound:

Flora and fauna:




Before I left for culinary school, anyone who watched Top Chef or Iron Chef tried to warn me with tales of boot camp and tears. But I thought that only applied to the wimps!

Last week, however, I got a taste of the intensity they were talking about...

At times, the kitchen was so chaotic that I couldn't pull out the camera. We made a variety of meat plus potatoes dishes and tomato sauce, "salsa española" (a roux-based tomato sauce, almost as amazing as this [I miss you, Eve]) and a béchamel-based pasta dish. My french fries were not uniform (time for a cutting review...the ellipse, the ellipse!), and my steak wasn't cooked fully through.

But don't worry- there was plenty of time for a little joshing.

In pasta class, we made a delicate pasta flower:

Red pepper tagliatelle (we made it by creating another flour corona, adding egg, puréed red bell pepper and salt!) plus parmesan cream sauce:

Spinach tagliatelle (with a "traditional American sauce" of chopped carrots and peas):

Next, we made a bunch of French veggie dishes. 
The lovely Rachel (double shoutout!) making some French potato dish (that was basically complicated latke):


I made potato croquettes by making mashed potatoes...

, chilling, putting them into a pastry bag, squirting/rolling them into little balls, dousing in flour/egg/bread crumbs...

and frying! (some boys made these; ours were daintier and not squirting out the sides, aka better):

Potato gratin (baked potato slices, cream, butter, CHEESE) and the extremely complicated latke. Clearly, a big lesson of the day was that putting things into round silver ramekin-like vessels makes them look way more professional:

Guilherme with the finished products:

And a celebration of youth/Buenos Aires/culinary school on my roof:

More photos from our weekend excursion to Tigre (where the beautiful people summer) to come!


Lesson 7: Refined Carbohydrates

About 2 minutes into class yesterday, we made "una corona" of flour (a crown, not the beer), and I thought, "This is going to be trouble."

And I was right. Because although I faithfully plop those seed-laden, whole grain loaves into my reusable bags at Whole Foods...most of the time, all my engrained (hehe) ideas about fiber, stable blood sugar and rock hard abs go out the window, and I just want to slather a hot-from-the-oven baguette in butter and eat it ALL. And so I did.

But first, I succumbed to my inner yuppie and tried to make my carbs complex...

By braiding them...

Snipping them with scissors (to make the leafy things), jabbing holes into them and then spreaaaading them and mounding them into plump peasant loaves.

Ta da!

I also tried to quench my INSANE craving for bagels with this guy...

Which, obviously, was not boiled etc. but still tasted pretty doughily delicious (if you're keeping score at home- that's 1 baguette plus 1 bagel...AHHH!).

Almost as fun as munching on the bread was making the bread. We added yeast and butter in the middle of the corona and salt around the edges. We dumped in a bunch of water and then slowly incorporated it without breaking the corona until we had an elastic dough. Knead, knead, knead! Then we let it rest for 10ish minutes. Then shape and bake!

Panadería class: every Monday from now on. With these thugs. Trouble. But the good kind.


Lesson 6: Green Eggs and Ham

We rounded out last week with sauce mania: beurre blanc, béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise (perfect for this Utah delicacy, which they call salsa de golf here), tarter sauce and various vinaigrettes. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but suffice it to say it was a fat overload just before the beach. And today, we made chicken, fish and beef stock- a good basic to know but pretty boring.

Tragically, brunch doesn't really exist in Buenos Aires. Poor things, deprived of God's perfect meal.  On Tuesday, our Argentine classmates got a taste of American diner heaven with...eggs galore!

Fried eggs: in order to prevent those pesky bubbles and charred bottoms, we poured about two inches of mixed (olive/vegetable, but you can use whatever) oil into a frying pan and cracked an egg into it. You would think this would be obscenely unhealthy, but they told us the egg is actually less absorbent when it's submerged in sizzling hot oil. Believe that if you want to, but the technique definitely makes pristine fried eggs (like the one below except without a broken yolk, whoopsies!).

This may be my new favorite food: scrambled eggs with ham, parsley and shoe string french fries. Absolutely amazing.

A tip re: scrambled eggs- you have to get the pan very, very hot, drop in your already muddled-up eggs and then RAPIDLY scramble them around with a wooden spoon. This keeps them from burning and produces creamy, non-watery perfection.

A sampling of our other egg dishes: 
poached egg- boil water and add a dash of white wine vinegar; use a whisk to stir the water and create a vortex; once the water slows down (a lot), carefully slide in the egg and MAGICALLY, the white swirls around and you get a cute, neat package around the creamy yolk.
tortilla española- one of my favorite meals of all time (which I discovered at Spain's equivalent of Subway) is slices of tortilla española with a little mayo on a baguette; we made this by adding sautéed onions and thin, round, briefly deep-fried slices of potato to scrambled eggs, pouring this mixture into a frying pan, and masterfully flipping it (using a pot lid!) once it had set to brown both sides.
omelette- the omelettes they had us make are very different from the pancake-style we're used to in the U.S.; to make them, we briefly scrambled the eggs and then crowded them over to one side of the pan; once one side had cooked, we half-flipped, half-rolled it to brown the other.

Our egg extravaganza was the perfect cure for brunch-sickness and might even make Dr. Seuss proud.

Between Meals: Punta Del Este

Punta Del Este, Uruguay in the off season.
Giant, buried fingers!

The port:

We went on a tour of the houses of the rich and famous. Like the ethnocentric swine we are, we had no idea who most of them were; here's the house of the president of Brazil, though!

Casapueblo: the artist Carolos Páex Vilaró's really cool, Dalí-esque house/museum.

Anddd the AMAZING sunset there (from start to finish!):


The breakfast of champions for a lazy weekend: a cortado, which has to be the most delicious coffee drink ever invented, and caramel corn.

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