Sunday, 28 June 2009

Things to Do in Houston: Central Market Cooking School

Central Market is a special, up-market version of our local H-E-B supermarket (roughly a Coles or Tesco equivalent for those not in the US). We probably visit Central Market, which is located downtown, about once a month, for special things our local H-E-B doesn't stock - we can get Bonne Maman jams there, for instance, and fresh lamb, as well as a huge variety of cheeses and breads, along with all sorts of marvellous fresh produce. It's not particularly cheap, but it's great fun to visit, and worth it for treats.

Throughout the year, the Central Market Cooking School offers all sorts of culinary courses - from sushi to soufflés, cupcakes to tapas. Dave and I spotted a fantastic looking class on Whole Grain Breads, but when we tried to register it was already full. However, on Friday the organisers called me and said they'd had a cancellation, so Saturday morning saw us out bright and early for a breakfast of quiche and potato latke in the café downstairs before heading up to the cooking school.

We sat at tables of four - our table partners were Jill and Heather, both great fun - and were instructed from the front by our instructor, Marian. The class was a mixture of do-it-yourself and learning skills, so one recipe was made from scratch, the second used dough prepared earlier that morning, and the third was a demonstration (though we did get to eat the results!)

(Don't you love it when a camera catches a split-second expression you'd never normally see on someone's face?!)

My hands were too doughy to take any photos earlier in the process than this, but this is my loaf of Rye Sandwich Bread, sprinkled with caraway and a tiny bit of salt, and ready to go into the oven.

Here are our table's Currant Brioche Braid Coffee Cakes - somehow I got the lion's share of currants in my piece of dough, and as they'd been soaking in rum it was a heady experience! Plus it made the dough quite hard to form... the result was excellent though so I think worth the extra effort.

Our loaves at home... we stopped on the way to get some things at the hardware, and as we've had record-breaking heat here this past week, the car was literally like an oven when we got back into it; not only were the bread containers almost as hot as when they'd been removed from the oven at the end of the class, but the car was filled with the most heavenly smells!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

A visit from Edgar

Edgar has been paying us a few visits lately... it hasn't rained for quite a while, so everywhere is quite dry, and I suppose the regularly-watered sweet peas seem like quite a lovely damp haven to him! I've managed to save the borage - his first haunt - by putting it up on the table, but the sweet peas can't be moved because of the netting behind them. I don't mind him except when he digs the plants up - a few of them are a bit battered from his treatment, and I've saved others only by good fortune, when he's left them all scattered about with their roots exposed.

Now, all of the above could be true, or perhaps Texas has magic earth from which toads randomly sprout... you decide.