Saturday, February 24, 2018: Dinner No. 107: Saffron Chicken with Pearl Couscous & Goat Cheese Salad
Feb 26th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight we combined forces to each make one of our favorite dishes: Alex made chicken with pearl couscous (which is a lot like paella) and Max made goat cheese/walnut/cranberry salad.

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Saffron Chicken with Pearl Couscous (Alex)

Ingredients are chicken, pearl couscous, tomatoes, onions, garlic, saffron, lemon peel, plum tomatoes, white wine and chicken broth:


The first step is to brown the couscous in olive oil. Then you remove the couscous and brown the chicken (we use chicken thighs because we like the taste).  Then you remove the chicken and sautee onions, plum tomatoes, garlic, 4 long strips of lemon peel and a pinch of saffron.  Once the tomatoes start to burst you add back the chicken and 1/2 cup of wine and once that has cooked down, you add chicken broth and the couscous.  It simmers for 12-15 minutes…sometimes we add more chicken broth if the couscous is a little crunchy.  Finally you add frozen peas.

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Butter Lettuce Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts & Cranberries

The first step is to tear the butter lettuce into bite size pieces.  Then you toast the walnuts (but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).  Then, while the walnuts cool, add goat cheese and cranberries to the lettuce and make the salad dressing (3 parts oil/1 part sherry vinegar).  Finally add the walnuts and, just before serving, add the dressing and toss…yum!

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Saturday, February 10, 2018: Cake Decorating Class
Feb 12th, 2018 by Katekoster

On Saturday, February 10, my mom and I took a cake decorating class at the Institute of Culinary Education. It was really fun and we learned how to make modeling chocolate, swiss meringue buttercream, and chocolate covered strawberries. We also learned how to pipe different shapes and how to work with fondant. The most fun part was decorating cupcakes using all those different techiques.


Modeling Chocolate

To make modeling chocolate, you melt the chocolate (we used white) over water and add corn syrup. Then you mix and spread out thin to harden. After about 2 hours you can color it and shape it into different things.  Ours wasn’t set enough to use in class but we saved it to use later.  We wrapped in in saran wrap and put in the fridge.  Then on Sunday, we softened it up a bit, rolled it out and cut out fun shapes to put on top of our fudge brownies…we didn’t think the fudge brownies could get any better but they did!!

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream is like regular buttercream but much lighter because it has egg whites.  To make it you mix eggwhites and sugar and then heat over water till the mix becomes very liquid.  Then you put in the electric mixer and beat until very stiff and cool.  Then you switch the mixer’s attachment to a paddle and add in butter that has been cut into small pieces.  You mix that on low until the butter is all incorporated, then you add vanilla. You can also add color if you want.  We split our frosting into two batches and colored one blue and then one green.  Then we practiced different ways to pipe the frosting.  We made stars and flowers, rosettes and shells and different types of borders.  Lots of fun and, just being honest here, I am a lot better than my mom.

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Chocolate – covered Strawberries

To make chocolate for dipping strawberries or other fruit, you melt 8 oz of your chocolate of choice over water, and when it is melted, stir in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.  The oil helps the chocolate counteract the moisture in the fruit.  Then you just dip away.  The instructor also showed us how to use cocoa transfer sheets.  They are sheets of plastic that have cocoa patterns on them.  You put them on the chocolate-covered strawberry while the chocolate is still melted and then, once the chocolate has hardened, you peel of the plastic and the pattern stays. (In the picture below, the white dots are a result of a transfer sheet).


The Cupcakes

Not much to say here except that we decorated cupcakes, using all our new techniques, including fondant.  Fondant is sort of rolled sugar: it looks really cool (you can wrap cakes in it our cut shapes out, but I didn’t love the taste. )  Anyway, here are some more of our “masterpieces.”


Sunday, February 4, 2018: Superbowl Sunday: Enchiladas Suiza & Salad
Feb 8th, 2018 by Katekoster

We were hosting a small Superbowl party and decided to make Enchiladas Suiza and kale salad.  We wanted to have Mexican food (since we won the right to host the party when we celebrated Three Kings Day with a Rosca) but also wanted to celebrate our Swiss heritage.  Enchiladas Suiza are chicken enchiladas topped with Swiss cheese…and they are delicious.  Our guests, the Coronas brought tamales, chips and guacamole,and Russ & Erica brought avocado-deviled eggs.  Oh and we also made fudge brownies (of course)

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Enchiladas Suiza

The ingredients for Enchiladas Suiza are pretty straight forward: chicken breasts, green chili sauce, onions, jalapenos, and grated gruyere cheese.  And they are pretty simple to make.  It just takes a lot of steps.

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First we prepared the chicken.  We poached the chicken breasts in water (with salt and pepper) until they were cooked through.  We let them cool a little bit and then we shredded them.  At first we used forks but then we just used our (clean) hands.  (We actually prepared the chicken on Saturday so we covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge over night)

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The next step was to chop the onions and jalapenos.  For the jalapenos we took out most of the seeds (because we don’t like the texture and they add heat). When we were done chopping, we washed our hands really really well.

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Then we chopped the onions, sauteed them, added some chili powder and cumin and finally then added the green chile sauce.  Note we decided not to make it from scratch because we needed so much of it.  At this point we split the sauce in half and added the jalapenos to one half.  (We wanted to make two versions: one spicy and one normal).  We also added a mix of chili powder and cumin to the spicy version.

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Finally it was time to assemble the enchiladas.  We poured a little sauce in our pan and als0 added some of the sauce to the chicken to keep it moist.  Then we set up an assembly line: chicken, tortiallas, pan and cheese.  We warmed the tortillas, put a little chicken in the center, sprinkled a little cheese inside and then rolled up.  Then we put them seam side down in the pan, covered with more sauce and then lots of grated cheese.

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The final step was putting dollops of sour cream on top and baking at a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.


Kale Salad:

We have made this many times so I won’t go through all the steps.  But basically you have to chop kale, brussel sprouts and almonds, then grate and add pecorino cheese and finally dress with a mustard vinagrette.  It’s a good idea to “massage” the kale too (otherwise it’s a little tough).

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And here are the brownies.


It was a fun game to watch, but the food and the company were better!



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