Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spicy Tomato Stew

First a quick life update... As you all (hopefully) have read from my previous post, things have been a little hectic for me. In addition to starting culinary school I also recently moved to a new apartment. It was hard to say goodbye to my wonderful apartment in Williamsburg, but Astoria has been treating me nicely (for the most part) too. As a result of moving we just got our internet connected a few days ago PLUS my cell phone wasn't really getting reception in my apartment (but of course it decided to start working perfectly out of the blue Monday...), which meant my connection with the outside world has been sparse.  All this to say sorry for the lull in updates. Hopefully they'll get back their somewhat more regular frequency, but I'm not making any promises. (P.S. Thanks to the random person who's wireless I was able to "borrow" occasionally!)

For those long-time readers, you might remember me making a spicy tomato soup some months past. Well here's another version that has a similar concept, but also yields a rather different result. Instead of pasta there's potatoes and I substituted chicken for the Italian sausage. I used less liquid in this recipe as well, which places it more in the stew rather than soup category.

  • potatoes cut however you want (you already know I don't remember exactly how many - I think I wanted to practice my tournage again for some strange reason)
  • 1 jar of fire roasted tomato sauce + 1/2 jar's worth of chicken stock
  • 1 or 2 diced chicken breasts
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar (I wanted the sauce to be a little sweet)
  • red pepper flakes
  • chili powder
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • garlic powder
  • diced scallions
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • sour or heavy cream (optional)

Procedure: Essentially just throw everything in a pot. Start with the liquids and potatoes (remember the larger they are the longer they will take to cook). Next you can add the chicken and once that has cooked (nobody likes salmonella!) you can then start tasting and adding the seasonings. The amount of seasonings of course will vary depending on the flavor that the sauce already has, but seeing as how this is meant to be spicy it is unwise to skimp on the red pepper flakes. I saved the scallions and peas for last because I wanted the scallions to add a little crunch and the peas only take about two seconds.  If you would like to cut some of the heat in addition to adding a little richness, then feel free to add some sour or heavy cream to the recipe.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pommes Rissolee / I Started Culinary School

I know, I know... It's been a while since my last post. Luckily there's a good reason for that and it's called culinary school. I had been going back and forth in my mind about whether I would actually enroll, but in the end I decided to take a leap of faith and just go for it. I started a couple of weeks ago and it's been going pretty well, although this full-time job plus part-time culinary student gig is not for the faint of heart/stomach/feet (you very rarely get to sit). I'm attending the French Culinary Institute and was able to start at level 2 because of the class I took previously. However, as my earlier course was technically "recreational" I needed to take a test to make sure I actually learned what I was supposed to. This led to the dish featured here: pommes rissolee (they're basically glorified french fries if you ask me). I needed to practice my tournage and thought I should at least have a delicious treat when I was done.

To prepare, you begin by parboiling (partial-boiling) the potatoes in water so that they are just cooked through. This is done by placing the cut up potatoes in a pan and covering them with cold water. Then bring the water to a boil and lower to a simmer until done. Next you drain the spuds and allow them to dry out - placing them in the empty hot pan helps to speed up this process. After they are dry, you then fry them in the oil of your choosing until golden, brown, and delicious. Finally, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any herbs you think might go well and toss the whole pan in the oven along with a pat of butter to finish the dish off. Drain on paper towels and get ready for your trip to carb county.

If you're not in culinary school or don't want to waste good potato scraps, then don't bother cutting the potatoes into these shapes. Also, the last step of finishing them in the oven isn't completely necessary either, but I'll leave that decision up to you.