Let me rephrase that.
I'm an ESL teacher for a school district that has looted its own adult education program to mitigate budget cuts the state legislature has forced on the district's K-12 program. As a result, there has been a 26% cut to the adult education program, eliminating scores of part-time teaching positions, although not a single administrative position has been cut (despite closing down one school). In order to preserve administrative positions, there has been a Byzantine reshuffling of administrative oversight so that the ESL department at my school is not done by the principal who is actually based at my school, but instead is handled by the principal of the closed down school who is now based at a high school that was closed down several years ago. Honest. Although this principal was successfully sued by a former vice-principal for, in part, asking him to alter data to get more funding, she still wields power in the district. Under her direction, our department has been told to forget the curriculum that has been developed over many years and to focus on EL Civics, a federally funded program that is so poorly managed that it practically invites fraud. So instead of focusing on teaching my students what they truly need to learn, I teach them to pass the assessments. Ka-ching!
In other words, I'm a whore.
But I'm not a cheap whore. As a friend of mine has been heard to say, "You can call me an asshole, but you can't call me a cheap asshole." In other words, I have my standards.
All of this is to explain my entry to be one of six Nature's Pride "Bread Ambassadors." Should my entry be accepted, Nature's Pride will cover the cost of my hotel room and travel expenses to the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco. Although it probably isn't the wisest strategy to announce my entry by proclaiming I'm a whore.
In truth, I bought my loaf of Nature's Pride Healthy Multi-Grain Bread. I do have a coupon for it, but I didn't want to feel cheap, so I bought my loaf. And it was good. It's a very fresh tasting, springy loaf with a natural nuttiness. I made a wonderful chicken salad sandwich with it. Alfalfa sprouts, shredded leftover gai yang with pepper coriander paste mixed with just enough mayonnaise to bind it together, and tomato slices. Truly delicious, but not worthy of an embassy posting.
Still, it got me thinking. So I decided to use some of that Thai flavor to make an appetizer akin to shrimp toast. Instead of frying the toast, I adapted the method Susana Foo uses in her cookbook to make shrimp toast. This produces a tasty, crisp toast that is not saturated with oil as the traditionally fried toasts are. To be honest, I prefer the fried version, but the baked version is very delicious and probably much healthier for you.
I used chicken breast because that seems like what most Americans prefer, never mind that it lacks the flavor of thighs. The breast does make a nice farcé that is easily piped onto the toast rounds. Taste the chicken mixture by frying a spoonful before baking and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Thai-spiced Chicken Toast Rounds
(makes 50 1 3/4 inch appetizers)10 slices of Nature's Pride Multi-Grain Bread or Country Potato Bread
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 egg white, lightly beaten
5 shallots, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 TBS cilantro roots or 4 TBS cilantro stems
2 TBS whole white pepper, finely ground
2 TBS fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 TBS olive oil
6 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and diced
2 TBS diced red pepper
2 TBS finely chopped garlic chives
1 bunch of garlic chive buds, blanched in boiling water for 20 seconds, shocked in ice water and drained
2 TBS black sesame seeds
Using a 1 3/4 inch diameter biscuit cutter, cut five rounds from each slice of bread (you may not get five perfect rounds, but it should be close). Bake the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400º F.
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, shallots and cilantro roots or stems. Add the chicken, pepper, fish sauce, sugar, oil and egg white. Pulse until you have a fairly smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the water chestnuts, red pepper and garlic chives. Fry a teaspoon-full and adjust seasonings as needed.
Brush one side of the toast rounds with olive oil and place on a baking sheet, oiled side of the toast down. Using a pastry bag, or plastic baggie with the corner cut out, pipe the chicken paste onto the top of the toast rounds.
Cut the tops of the garlic chives with the buds to a length of about 2 inches. Tie these into loose knots and place on top of the chicken topped rounds. Sprinkle with black sesame.
Bake in the 400º oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Best served warm, although they may be served cold.
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