Albany Cooking, Part Three

Our third day at the Summer School, while normal for me, was a bit more intense than usual for the students – simultaneously hot and sweet, a bit like drinking hot sugar syrup. I am not talking about the food, but the actual cooking itself.

We duplicated the flavour of a busy restaurant kitchen by pushing our crew a bit beyond their comfort zone to present some very good looking items for the lunch menu, correcting them and coaxing them to do it as efficiently and professionally as if they were working in a real kitchen-under-pressure. I hope they excuse me! It was all part of the learning experience.

I explained that the look of a dish is as important as its taste, since the first step in the wholistic experience of eating is seeing the food, smelling it, then touching it, even before the food actually enters the mouth. We spoke also today about the actual elements of taste, of how it is the sense of smell that actually enables the taste experience, far more than the taste buds. Read more about this…

So today we cooked:

Curried Malay Noodles (Laksa)
Melting Mozzarella & Eggplant “Sandwiches”
Melange of Japanese Sushi Rice with Vegetables (Bara-zushi)
Israeli Chickpea Croquettes (Falafel)
Chickpea and Sesame Paste Dip (Hummus bi Tahina)
Italian Fried Corn-Bread (Polenta)
Pistachio Milk Fudge (Pista Burfi)

Here the ever-patient Ian grinds chunks of palm sugar for the laksa. Ian is eager to dive into a little-experienced world of kitchen-ness and took quite a beating from my culinary ‘coaxing’. But he handled it like a true gentleman.

Ian grinds the palm sugar:

Here are the laksa ingredients. The vegies in the foreground are what went into the stock. Can you recognise them all?

laksa:

Below is the finished laksa, almost a meal in itself.

laksa finished product:

Katrina and Helen stirred the 3 litres of boiling milk, cardamom and sugar for 2 hours to produce an authentic batch of real burfi. “Not something I would probably cook at home ” said Helen…

pistachio and cashew fudge:

There’s something deeply satisfying about the sounds of silence at lunchtime – just the gentle sounds of meditative laksa slurping.

the sounds of silence:

The girls did a marvellous job of the hummus, and submissively removed every chickpea skin as all good Lebanese housewives would do for the creamiest, most authentic product.

creamy hummus:

The entree plate was another taste explosion.

taster plate:

“It just gets better”, said Annette mid-bite, molten mozzarella oozing from her battered eggplant sandwich. “Just when you think this is the tastiest, along comes the best lunch so far.”

Roll on tomorrow!
Posted by Kurma on 12/1/06; 6:39:06 PM

Life and Travel

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