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Students Serving Buffet

The Westside Wanderers had so much fun dining at El Centro in February that when space became available, the group grabbed at the chance to return in April for another superb culinary experience. The Wanderers are a group formed a few years ago from members of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to explore the best local deals and short day excursions around Dallas.

El Centro’s Food and Hospitality Institute offers a terrific dining experience Thursday at lunch and  Tuesday at dinner during the spring and fall semesters.  The students in the Culinary Arts Program prepare the meal, creating a wonderful dining experience from décor to service to gourmet food.

This month’s theme is Mexico and the menu, an artfully presented Mexican buffet, featured chicken mole, carne asada, shrimp, rice, beans and fruit. The simple combination of cucumber and orange amazed everyone.   The ceviche appetizer was fresh and beautifully presented.  Desserts included a Mango Mouse, truffles, anise butter cookies and Mexican Wedding cookies.  All of the desserts were delicious and had guests returning for more.  

The food and service were excellent and the culinary students did a stellar job in creating a fine dining experience.  And all for only $12.00!

El Centro is located at 801 Main Street in downtown Dallas in the former Sanger Harris Department Store building, a Dallas landmark on the National Registry of Historic Places. Many of the degree plans offered at El Centro specialize in the medical and technological fields including nursing, culinary arts, fashion design and marketing.

Lunch or dinner at El Centro should be on the list of “things you must do in Dallas.”  But call ahead for reservations as they fill quickly. 

Mango Mousse

½ tsp. lemon juice

½ cup mango puree

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. water

¾ cup heavy cream

Marachino Cherries for garnish

Sprinkle gelatin over half of the mango puree and let soften about 5-8 minutes.

In a sauce pan over medium heat cook the mango puree, sugar, lemon juice and water until all the sugar has dissolved.  Add the softened gelatin mixture to the warm juice and whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved.  

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment whip the cream until it holds medium peaks.  Fold 1/3 of it into the mango mixture.

Gently fold the rest of the whipped cream in until no streaks remain and has ribbon like consistency.

Pour in serving dish or individual sherbets and chill overnight. Garnish with cherry before serving. The mousse would be a delightful addition to your summer fajita cook-out.

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