Why I didn't post much last month

So, I know I'm an excuse factory when it comes to not keep up with the blog. Here comes another excuse. The Food Pimp's job is with Big City Chefs - http://www.bigcitychefs.com/ . It's a national company that hires out chefs as independent contractors or personal chefs. They do catering and teach classes at apartment and condo communities and what not. So one of the local chefs was on vacation last month, so the boss asked if I could teach some of the extra classes.

Class 1 - Patriotic Picnic

Appropriately, this class was at one of the military housing communities here in SD. This is usually a large class and the residents tend to heckle the FP when he teaches there. It's all out of love, but it makes for a stressful job for him. I taught here once, and it was kind of a nightmare. The topic was indian cuisine with some fried bread and vindaloo, lots of ingredients and very time consuming stuff and it took the full 2 hours. So this time, I wanted to prepare ahead of time. Part of why it takes so long is because there will be between 20 - 25 people there sometimes. So the logistics of doing a demo and dishing it out adds on the minutes.

So how it works is that there are different topics that whomever schedules the class can pick from. It has a menu, but there is a disclaimer that sometimes the class will not have the exact menu due to availability of ingredients...etc.

So with this class, I used the menu. It was red, white & blue pasta salad, purple potato, fennel & red bell pepper salad, and tricolor trifle.

So I prepped a lot ahead of time. I cooked the pasta and potatoes and everything else I could do. Which was a good idea because the stove sucked. A lot of these places have fancy clean and new looking appliances that end of sucking. This was one of those electric stove tops with the element below so that its a flat surface. It looked like it was hot, but the water took an hour to boil, no lie.

The FP has his own teaching style - he really is more entertaining than educational. I would say that I'm more educational than entertaining. So, my intro that I developed is to ask how many people know the Food Pimp. Well, I actually use his real name. Only a few people seemed to know him. So I said anyway, I'm his wife, and I'm sorry I'm not as funny as him, but maybe you'll learn something from me. Or something like that. This class ended up having 23 people total, so it wasn't that great of a venue for cracking jokes anyway. I'm not really good with the mainstream humor, so I can't play to a big crowd of moms and kids. The ladies- the moms and the grandmas and the younger women, those are mainly the FP's target audience. The ladies love him. I'm not jealous..you can't be when you are married to a food pimp - it goes with the territory.

So I started by demoing the trifle, then to the kids' disappointment I put it in the cooler to chill. Then I did the purple potato salad, which was kind of weird because I sliced the red onion and fennel so that it was kind of chunkier than I prefer. Then I did the pasta, which I think was the best. After that I looked at the kids and I said, thanks you guys for coming, that's it. And they looked at me in puzzlement, then I said, oh, yeah, there's one more. Then I brought out the trifle. That was my one decent joke. The class took about 45 minutes. It was definitely a little too short, but it didn't involve much cooking. Here's the recipes:

Red, White and Blue Pasta Salad

1 lb cooked penne pasta or macaroni
4 chicken breasts, cooked and medium diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ bunch parsley, chopped
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 red bell peppers, diced
4 oz blue cheese crumbles
8 oz sour cream
2 oz mayo
½ T mustard
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 oz extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

To make the dressing,mix the lemon juice and zest and mustard in a mixing bowl. Then add the bue cheese, sour cream and mayo. While whisking the mixture, add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken breasts in a portion of the dressing. Then gently mix all the rest of the ingredients in a big mixing bowl with the rest of the dressing. Add the chicken and toss until it is evenly distributed. Let chill for a few hours before serving.

Purple Potato and Fennel Salad

3 lbs purple potatoes
2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled and julienned
2 bulbs fennel, shaved or thin sliced
1 red onion, sliced thin
fennel tops, chopped
½ bunch parsley, chopped
2 oz white wine vinegar
2 oz rice wine vinegar
1 t dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz olive oil
salt and pepper

If the potatoes are big, cut them in halves or quarters. Put them in a pot of cold water on the stove to boil. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until fork tender.

While potatoes are cooking, make the dressing. Mix the vinegar in a bowl with the Dijon. Add the garlic. While whisking the mixture, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the potaoes are done, strain them, then place them in a big bowl with lots of room. Let them cool for about 5 minutes. Toss the dressing with the potatoes until they are all dressed. Then add the bell peppers, fennel, red onion, fennel tops and parsley. Gently toss it until it is all incorporated. Add salt and pepper as needed. Either serve the potato salad warm, or chill in the refrigerator 2 hours or more prior to serving.

Tricolor Trifle recipe

1 pound sponge or angel food cake
1/3 cup blueberry, strawberry or raspberry jam or pie filling
3 tablespoons cream sherry or sweet sherry
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup cream and 1 pound marscapone cheese
½ c blueberries
½ c raspberries
½ c strawberries
Cut cake into even slices or layers about 1 inch thick. Spread with jam or pie filling. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Put into large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sherry and toss lightly. Clean berries; reserve 1/2 cup clean berries for garnish.
Arrange cake cubes in individual serving bowls or champagne stem glasses. Add about 2 tablespoons pie filling over cake. Pour marscapone/cream mixture over cake and add about 1 tablespoon fresh berries. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
One hour before serving, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Garnish trifle with fresh berries. Top with whipped cream. After topping with cream, serve within a few hours as whipped cream will make the cake become soggy.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.