So today is my "Friday," and a glorious one at that! I had my first ever practical exam in culinary school and I got an A+ :) Those taking the practical exams each day need to prepare for four recipe possibilities and then randomly choose two of them to prepare for a grade in class. I chose Chicken Cacciatore (which I had already made once in class before with my group) and a Greek Style Beef Stew called Stifado or Stefado (hence the way clever title of this blog entry, haha). You are supposed to work alone and not even speak to your classmates. I made every effort to be super organized (what I'm pretty much known for in life) and focused and although my dishes took a bit longer to finish than I had hoped, they were both really good, the meat was fork-tender, the sauces were yummy, and I ended up with a rockin' grade!
I'd like to just share a few more words on Stefado if I may... when you look at the picture it looks almost like any typical beef stew with a dark sauce, but this one is spiked with cinnamon and a touch of cumin and then topped with crumbled Feta and baked briefly. I personally LOVE cinnamon in certain savory dishes. It's prevalent in other Greek cuisine such as Moussaka, a traditional dish of eggplant cooked with layers of cinnamon-laced meat sauce and bechamel, as well as some versions (my own included) of Bolognese sauce. Cinnamon and meat can make beautiful music together when done right, so although it might sound strange to some of you, don't knock it till you've tried it.
Chicken Cacciatore, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, and Green Beans in Tomato Sauce
Stewed Veal with Peppers, Sausage and Mushrooms, Potatoes in Parsley Sauce, and Spicy Braised Cauliflower and Potatoes