Saturday, March 7, 2009

Keep On Toque-ing

For a few hours today I got to emerge from the lecture-writing dungeon to attend a class in pasta-making at the local culinary arts school. (I also got to go to the supermarket for some over-due food shopping, but that was only interesting when I heard a guy insisting to a clerk that he knew oranges were buy-one-bag-get-one-bag- free, but how much for just one bag?. So help me, I 'm not making that up.) This was good stuff, and not all that hard: three eggs, two cups of flour, a little salt and a little elbow grease making that wonderful dough that somehow magically becomes fettucini, linquini, ravioli, and so many other members of the sixth major food group, comfort food. Ok, so the $1800 pasta rolling and cutting machine kept overheating and shutting down. Hand-rolling the dough gives it a better texture anyway, a rougher surface that retains more sauce. (While the pasta dough was resting - apparently it gets tired being rolled around like that - we also learned how to make a delicious vodka sauce. Major yum-o, and really cool when it flames up during cooking.) I ate about a week's worth of carbs by the time we were done.

Across the hall from our weekend-food-warriors class was a pastry kitchen the matriculated culinary arts students use to study cakes and such. There was no class in session at the time, but several of their projects were on display, demanding to be shared with an international audience. They sure beat the bicarbonate of soda volcano projects the people I knew did in school.

Tomorrow I'll be doing some cooking myself, including a feat of culinary daring never before attempted: making a Paula Deen recipe (in this case, a peach cobbler) with butter substitute. (We love Paula, but there are times I'm convinced she should be tried for crimes against humanity.)

Time to go to bed now. Let me say, for the record, that losing an hour tonight sucks big-time. Why don't they pull this daylight-savings-time stuff at a more convenient time, such as during the work day or when either "The Bachelor" or "American Idol" is about to start, when losing an hour wouldn't be such a bad thing?


Anonymous said...

I'm on a diet. Damn you, Ben. My Dad's friends all still make their own pasta, only on machines they buy in Italy & bring back here. Their kids(ha not me!) do it also.

Deen is the only one(to me, not hate letters folks) who might be drunk like Julia used to be for some of her instruction, but never pretentious or phony. However, butter substitute goes just to far along the "common man" path.

oldhousegal said...

Be careful with that butter substitute! I know Ms. Deen's recipes are usually a ticket to an instant heart attack, but sometimes there is no substitute for butter.

I did some cooking myself today. I am springing homemade granola on the group tomorrow, with vanilla yogurt. It tasted good to me, so I feel confident about serving it to my co-workers. And of course you know that there are no calories in food you make yourself!

miss alaineus said...

i see those cakes and all i can think about is peeling off the frosting and eating it....


DB said...

Interesting post. You remind me that my local Italian restaurant, Caesar's, makes a vodka fettuccini that I can't resist.

In fact I think I'll go down there right now.


Angie said...

Thanks Ben for those lovely cake pics. For some years I have been making wedding and celebration cakes and sugar flowers. but they are much more adventurous across the pond than we Brits. Cakes there tend to be more elaborate, more colorful, more flamboyant. I love them. It's just a shame that the end result of our art is inevitably its destruction.

Love, Angie, xx

Lori said...

I always wanted to make my own pasta. And the vodka sauce sounds interesting, to say the least. Loved the pics of the akes, especially that last one!

John said...

hello now im hungry.
take care


Cathy said...

O Ben did u have to post those incredible pix? I'm fighting this "I WANT CAKE" thing and it's after 2 a.m. yikes.