Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Festival

Phase 2, Week 5, Day 24

No Class due to the Fall Festival, which of course, I worked. The festival was fun, it had a chili cook off, pumpkin carving, pie eating, ice sculptures, and several demos. I helped w/ the pie eating contest (too funny), cleaning up the kitchens after all was said and done, and I helped at the LCB graduation ceremony that evening. I suckered Jeremy in to helping at both events and we meet a cool girl from the Baking and Patisserie program, Lauren, to boot. Not a bad day.

Here are some pictures from the Festival. LCB raised over $1,100 for the Ronald McDonald House from the various offerings through out the day....

Student Carvers having fun with the fall theme

A few pumpkins by class mates (not as cool at the STL Club pumpkins I would see on Friday)

Jeremy winning the pie eating contest, 1.75 pies in 10 minutes

Artisan breads by a visiting LCB instructor from Ottowa 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

Phase 2, Week 5, Day 25

Crash course in poaching fish today. I'll sum up what I was told for you....

1) Two types of poaching; Deep (submerged, usually a whole fish) and Shollow (1/2 submerged, for fillets, and finished in the oven.)
2)Shallow poach in a liquid called a Court Bouillon (water, fish fume, seasoning, herbs, and an acid), the Bouillon will be used th make the sauce for the fish.
3) Two basic types of fish- Flat (halibut, sole, and flounder) and Round (salmon, tuna, tiliapa)
4) Make friends with your fish monger (sales guy)

And, that was it.....

We filleted some sole which I butchered one side but did a good job on side two.....

Finished dish was a Poached Sole Dora w/ Burre Blanc and  Quinoa Salad.

Perfectly poached fish. Liked the plating, would have put a bit of sauce under each fillet. Quinoa dressing was a bit vinegary.

Shallow Poached Sole w/ Burre Blanc and Quinoia Salad

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stuff it!

Phase 2, Week 5, Day 23

Ok- this is random. Today we made two types of stuffed  or farcie chicken. Not the stuffed kind like a chicken filled with stuffing, but more like a pasta is stuffed with a filling. We completed two types of stuffed chicken:

Chicken Brest Dora is a breast stuffed with herbs, sour cream, and bread crumbs. It is served with tourned cucumber and white wine and sour cream sauce. The breast is pounded, stuffed, and rolled into a tube and deep poached.

Ballotine de Poulet is a stuffed chicken leg and thigh meat. The bone is removed and the chanel it created is stuffed with a mixture of shallot, carrot, celery, and panko. The leg is then rolled, tied and seared. It is finished in the oven (braised) and served with a sauce of bacon, pearl onion, and mushrooms.

It as very good we thought. Jeremy and I teamed up for this on. Instructor comments were quite different.
Dora- Good. Better cucumber tournes and more pepper. I personally loved it!!!!
Ballotine- Good. Needs more seasoning in filling and could have been seared longer.

Ballotine de Poulet

Stuffed Chicken Breast Dora

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken, Pilaf, and Vegetables. Oh, My!

Phase 2, Week 5, Day 22

Le Rotir or to roast. Just like your Thanksgiving turkey. No more puttitng the turkey in at 7 am on Thanksgiving morning and letting it go low and slow all day. That's why it's dry people. Follow these steps to a super moist roasted chicken.

  • After Trussing  and seasoning the chicken pop it in the oven at 425 and let it brown. 
  • Once browned tent w/ aluminium foil and turn down the oven to 350
  • Cook until it's done. About 160 and juices run clear, because the chicken will continue to cook after it's been removed from the heat.
We also did a pan gravy, apparently we are not supposed to use the "G" word, at culinary school it's Jus Lie. Basically, pan drippings and stock heated to a simmer and LIGHTLY thickened with a slurry of cornstarch and water.

The dish was finished off with Green Bean Saute (again) and Rice Pilaf.

Result: Pretty good (I get that a lot). Chicken was barley done. There was an issue with the ovens due to the electrical storm last night and it took FOREVER to cook. Could have been a bit browner skin and you don't want to cover the crisp skin w/ the Jus Lie. Apparently, I didn't learn from the night before...... Oh, well....

One Complete Meal, Pantry to Plate in 1.5 hrs.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday, Monday.

Phase 2, Week 5, Day 21

Mondays are still tough and I seem to have very little energy by the time class rolls around. I started my required tutoring sessions this week for the Ambassador Program. They are from 5-6pm, just before the evening class starts. Since I'm at school anyway, I might as well be useful, but basically I just hang out in the computer lab and do homework.

Today we are beginning to test our skills by being given two entire dishes to complete in two hours. This task is preparing us for our two day practical next week and for the next phase. Today, we are making-

Sauted Veal alla Marsala, 
Brown Butter Tourned Potatoes
 Roasted Red Pepper and Green Bean Saute

Grilled Pork Chops with Sauce Chasseur
Glazed Carrots
Bulgar Pilaf with Lemon and Chive

We were still able to help each other out with our prep work and even some cooking of items. We are also having to think ahead about items from one plate to the next. For instance, the sauce in plate #2 needs a demi glace to be prepared and that take time so you have to begin that process BEFORE you start plate #1. Additionally, they have begun combining things in a different way- Brown Butter Glazed Potatoes are new to us but by analyzing it was have the skills to make it.... similar process to the glazed carrots, but using browned butter instead of water and sugar.

Pork Chop- sauce should be more on the side, don't cover up the grill marks of the meat, otherwise good.
Veal- very good, potatoes a bit overdone, otherwise good.

Grilled Porkchop with Glazed Carrots

Sauteed Veal with Green Beans and Brown Butter Potatoes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fish and Chip Friday

Phase 2, Week 4, Day 20

Written Test Results: 91%, now that's more like it!!!!!!

Today was all about Frying or Le Frier. We fried up some pieces of sole and pommes frites, or french fries w/ tartar sauce. I'm more of a vinegar with my fish and chips gal myself, but apparently that wasn't an option. There are two types of frying; battered and breaded. I know. you are asking "what about french fries?" They aren't battered or breaded. And they are the exception to the rule....they do have a little trick to them though. After they are cut, wash them and dry them thoroughly. This will get off the excess starch and help them crisp up. ALso, fries are made in two steps just like other veggies, blanch them in the fryer for 3-4 minutes at 375 and them cook them at 325 for another 3-4 minutes until golden.

Breading is a fairly easy process. But can be messy. There are typically three compartments you need for breading.
1) Seasoned flour, always season your flour-that is what is directly touching your product not the coating
2) egg wash, generally made from egg and milk or water
3) coating, can be anything from bread crumbs, panko, herbs, cereal, cornmeal, crackers, etc....

Results: Nice presentation, good frities and tartar. Fish had nice color, but was not thoroughly cooked. Bonus, the instructors took the blame for it, because it was still partially frozen when we got it. They didn't mention that the fish needed to be fully thawed, because the cooking process of frying would not finish the fish for us. As is the case with many other processes.

Mmmm.... Fish and Chips at 8 am.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Braisier

Phase 2, Week 4, Day 19

No, not like a bra. Like braising. Braising is a two step process that involves searing and then slow cooking in a liquid in the oven. For example, chili is braised. There are two different types of braising au brun (brown) and au blanc (white or no browning). We did a beef stew and a chicken fricassee today to cover both types.

Results: Stew- needed more "sauce" and to cook a bit longer in the oven. The meat was still tough. I thought that implied it was over done, in fact, it's the opposite. The beef needed to cook longer in order to break down the meat and denature it, making it more tender.

Chicken- Not bad. Chicken was good. Sauce was not. I accidently added too much lemon and there was no going back from there. Oops!

Beef Stew

Chicken Friccasse

Thursday, October 21, 2010

F2 Mid-term Practical

Phase 2, Week 4, Day 18

We had a feeling when Adolf said, "You'll have to wait and see." in response to my question, "What are we doing tomorrow, Chef?". We figured it had to be a practical. It was.

Today we were to make Green Beans w/ Roasted Red Peppers on Rice Pilaf and Eggs Benedict sub english muffin for Roesti Potato. Those two dishes covered everything we'd learned thus far, but pasta. He was kind to us and gave us two hours. That was a huge relief, that would enable us to basically work on one dish at a time. The only thing I was worried about was the Pilaf. In our practice session my Pilaf was horrible and I didn't turn it in for a critique. It was the first time I didn't turn something in. So I wasn't sure what it was really supposed to be like. No use worrying about it. Here we go....

No real issues during the preparation process. I was a bit jittery and kept forgetting simple little things. I guess it was test anxiety kicking in. Additionally, with everyone doing everything on their own our table was very crowded and there were a TON of dishes piling up. That was a source of a bit of frustration. My new, and now permanent, table-mates didn't want to take the time to do dishes or clean during the test so things just piled up and there was very little work space. Yuck!!!

I started with the green beans and rice. I had done the green beans first in the Monday night class, there were some differences between the procedure instructions between the two classes. I did my best to get on board with this class as these were the instructors that were grading me. On the rice, I miss read the white board. I  thought Adolf had written 1/2 of the entire recipe, when he actually meant 1/2 cup of rice (I didn't see the c. after the 1/2), but I caught it in time and added enough liquid before placing it in the oven.

Eggs Benedict procedure was great, my Hollendaise got a bit cool so I changed out my water in the double boiler to warm it back up. Otherwise smooth sailing.

1) Overall, good presentation.Very nice green beans, bacon not crispy enough (Chef Kim had told me it was too crispy the first time). More seasoning in general. 4/5
Rice, was not done. Good flavor, but some grains were tough. 2.5/5 (ouch!)

2) Eggs Benedict, nice presentation. Roesti could have been a bit larger in diameter in order to be seen a bit better. Nice flavor, perfectly poached egg. 4.5/5

84%, not bad, and on par with my other peeps in the class. So I'm happy with the result. We'll see how the written test goes on Friday.

Green Beans w/ Rice Pilaf

Eggs Benedict w/ Roesti Potatoes

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg

Phase 2, Week 4, Day 17

Eggs. Finally, some breakfast food at 6 am and not risotto or green beans! Egg cookery is actually a pretty difficult thing to master, additionally everyone is so particular how they like their eggs cooked it's kind of like you are fighting a loosing battle before you even take the field. A few tips and tricks from Adolf:

  • Add vinegar to your poaching water to help speed up the cooking process of the white
  • There should be no brown on your finished egg product (including fried eggs)
  • Take your time cooking eggs, to high of heat will brown your egg.
  • Hard Boiled eggs should actually be simmered, not boiled.
  • If the yolk in your hard cooked egg is green, it's over cooked. The green coloration is sulfur-dioxide.
  • The different grades of eggs have different applications.
    • AA- Poached or Fried
    • A- Hard cooked
    • B- Baking
  • Don't crack your egg directly into your pot/pan, always open it into a bowl or other container.
  • Teflon is an omelet's best friend
  • French omelets are rolled and American omelets are folded..
  • And yes, omelets are supposed to be runny....
Today was fun. We were to make a single fried egg-over easy, a parsley and scallion 2 egg omelet, and eggs benedict.  I was psyched! I LOVE eggs benedict. It is my total favorite breakfast food and I get to make it from scratch. Well mostly, we didn't make the english muffins.

It was a good day from the judges too! I am expanding my use of culinary vocabulary and by doing this I am able to have a valuable critique that I can build upon.

Fried Egg: Very good, slight browning on 1/4 of the edge. But overall good. Key, take your time.

Omelet: Very nice flavor, too much garnish. (sorry, no picture)

Eggs Benedict: Egg cooked perfect, hollendaise good. "Overall, very tasty. However, DO NOT put a garnish on a dish just for color. It is not functional and therefore a waste of time!" Ok, I think I got that bit of advice down....

Fried egg w/ brown along the top right edge.
Eggs Bene w/ non functioning garnish

Monday, October 18, 2010


Phase 2, Week 4, Day 16

Oddly enough we had no lecture we just made stuff. I was a little out of sorts and couldn't quite get a hold of what was going on. I didn't have the recipes from Friday so I was kind of playing catch up there. It always helps to read through the entire recipe and ingredient list before you make anything. We just kind of jumped in and I never really got my thought process and timeline in order. Luckly, one of the girls at the table  helped me along.

Not much to report here- we produced three basic salads. Potato Salad, White bean salad, and Salade Nicoise. Salade Nicoise is what you might call a deconstructed salad, where all the components are separated and the customer puts it together. This concept is becoming popular and can be drawn out to great lengths, so much so the customer might as well go to a salad bar or their own refrigerator from some of the salad presentations I've seen (example).

Potato Salad: Very Good, looks very nice
Salade Nicoise: Ok, Could be fuller on the plate, "Don't sprinkle pepper over something like this."
White Bean: Nice

Potato Salad w/ Pimentos

Salade Niceois

White Bean Salad

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Step One: Make Pasta

Phase 2, Week 3, Day 15

Yup, that's what we were told. To make fresh pasta it is just three easy steps.

 1) Make Pasta,
 2) Roll it out,
 3) Cut it.

Gee, thanks! Luckily he decided to demo it for us, or we may have had some issues. I'm beginning to get the idea that Adolf just likes to push our buttons. Actually, I know that's a fact. When you know it, it's easier to call him on it and he likes that too.

Making pasta actually it not that difficult and doesn't have many more steps than the three above. I've posted some pictures of the fresh pasta making process below, minus the rolling. We made a "volcano" on the table, yes, the table. No bowl here. and using a fork we incorporated the ingredients slowly adding flour as the hole of the volcano expanded. Very cool! We used a simple pasta roller, you can find them at Feller's Fixtures. We just bought another one for the restaurant last Monday. TO cut the fettuccine we used an accordion cutter from Baking and Pastry.  Everyone should try making fresh pasta at least once. It's actually kind of fun!

In class, we were supposed to make fettuccine (the French version, yes, there are multiple versions) and mushroom ravioli. But, we made the pasta in steps as a class, it was such a lengthy process. Thus, we didn't get to the ravioli today, maybe on Monday? Too bad, I LOVE stuffed pasta!

Factoid of the day:
Northern Italy is known for using more fresh pasta and cream sauces because eggs and cream are more readily available given their climate. Southern Italy uses more dried pastas and tomato sauces given their humid climate and growing conditions.

Fail! Apparently our half of the class missed the memo about making the French version of fettuccine, reduced cream sauce with white pepper. We ALL made the Italian version, basically parmigiana, pasta water, and black pepper. Eva flipped her wig on us!!!! Ooops! To top it off, my noodles were soooooo thin, they cooked in 2 minutes, so they were way over done by the time I sauted them while making my sauce. They turned to mush.

Kneeding "Look, Ma! No Mess!"
Preparing the "volcano" before kneeding

Cutting using a pastry accordion cutter

Gluten Glob


Phase 2, Week 3, Day 14

Potatoes are my favorite vegetable and starch for that matter!!!! Many of you know that potatoes are a "new world" find, but did you know that they come from Peru? They are also part of the nightshade family; when they were brought to Europe in the 1500's they were originally thought to be poisonous. That is until a French pharmacist, Auguste Parmentier, came to their rescue. Or rather they came to his. While being held captive during the Seven Years War he subsisted basically on potatoes. Upon his return to Paris he used his influence in the French Royal Court to introduce the use of potatoes as an edible vegetable. It took a few years and the dire striates of the Revolutionary War to "encourage"  the French to embrace the potato, but once they did Parmentier's name became synonymous with the vegetable.

Today, we made Anna Potatoes, Roesti Potatoes, Duchesse Potatoes, and Pommes Dauphine These are all French classical preparations of potatoes. I had never had Pommes Dauphine, here is a cheesy Video on how to make it. It was funny that I had been dealing with Pate a Choux at work last weekend in the pastry department and here it popped up again a few days later. I really love how my job and school are complimenting each other so well.

In general, things are getting much easier each day we do cook, so nothing earth shattering to report today. We are still getting moved around each day to form different groups. I worked with another girl, Rachel, today and we seem for the most part to be on the same learning curve, so it is helpful to have someone who you can ask questions to and not feel dumb. It is getting easier to move around, basically if we can help out someone who is struggling with a procedure we do. If they don't catch on or aren't trying sometimes they just get left behind and we'll go back and pick them up if we have time at the end of class. Thus is life in the kitchen.

Here are my results and finished product.

Anna- Flavor, very good. Could have been more brown on top.

Roesti: Very Nice size and shape (Ava was very surprised that I knew this as I was the only one who got this part right. I saw Christoph make them a few weeks ago at work ;0)- it is not supposed to be a hashbrown...).

Duchesse: Forgot the nutmeg and needed more egg wash to have them brown appropriately.

Dauphine: VERY Good! Nice color & texture. Light and airy, but a bit more salt. I was one of three people to complete this project and was very proud of the result, they were amazing. Sorry no picture, I was rushing to finish them and forgot.

Anna Potatoes
Roesti Potatoes
Duchesse Potatoes

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We Eat Grass!?

Phase 2, Week 3, Day 13

A good thing going  for Adolf is he generally teaches a class called CAC. I have no idea what the acronym stands for, but the class covers a lot of history of foods and their migration around the world. He adds a lot of history and factoids from CAC to our lectures. I find a lot of it very interesting. For example, the top four producing grains in the world are rice, wheat, corn, and barley. All of which are part of the grass family. Yup, we eat grass just like a cow. Cool, eh?

Our grain dishes today will be Cous Cous Salad, Tabolilli Salad, Polenta (my personal favorite) and Quinoa with Red Pepper. I have to admit, I had not heard of Quinoa before. Quinoa is a psudo-grain that comes from South America. It contains more protein than soybeans and has the potential to become very popular in our ever growing health conscious society.

For today, our dishes were really quite easy. At the last minute Adlof pulled polenta out of the line up. I hope we get to make it later. Most of the dishes required soaking or boiling the grains and a ton of knife cuts.

Result: Tabolilli Salad- Good. We were requited to put in way more parsley than I like. After a while I stopped tasting it as I added more parsley, salt, pepper, and EVOO. Key, mince the parsley!!!!

Quinoa W/ Red Pepper- Best Vinaigrette of the class. We added lemon and a touch of sugar that was not in the recipe, shhhh. Our quinoa was a bit too wet. We had tried to rectify the issue, but was only able to get out a bit of extra moisture. Key, strain the quinoa before cooling.

Cous Cous Salad- Didn't get to it because issues w/ quinoa. Used Jarrod's for the picture below.

On another note, our instructors are beginning to warm up to us. Just 3 more weeks to go!!!

Clockwise: Tabolilli, Cous Cous, & Quinoa

Beans, Beans,The Magical Fruit

Phase 2, Week 3, Day 12

Legumes was the word of the day. In English vernacular legumes means dried mature seeds. In French it means vegetables. So it definitely has different meanings, depending on to whom you are talking. There are three basic categories of legumes; kidney beans, peas, and lentils. From these groups we will be making Lentils and Cream, Hummus, and Cranberry Beans with Asparagus. Adolf demoed Hummus for us, I was amazed at how many of the students had never had Hummus before. Occasionally I am truly floored a the lack of exposure to food our class has had. I count myself lucky to have afforded the many unique culinary experiences I have had in my life.

Today was very similar to yesterday. We got moved around to different groups and I landed with a group of girls who had worked together often. They were complaining that they never got to complete all the dishes, there just never seemed to be enough time. Come to find out, they were not working their prep together. It is nearly impossible to prep all the dishes and cook them to completion in our alloted time frame. So, I took charge, gently at first. Making suggestions and saying things like "Hey, you don't need to chop that. Here, I did it for the whole table." The girls were kind of shocked. I suggested they do the same with other ingredients. Two of the three girls got with the program, one just couldn't understand the concept and kept complaining she didn't know what was going on or she was lost. I suggested if she was confused she could organize the ingredients by dish and that would help us all out. She didn't. A few minutes later the same conversation occurred. She still didn't organize the ingredients and she was still confused. I wrote her off and continued on.

One negative about all prepping together is if someone doesn't do their task correctly, the whole group suffers. This was the case today. One of the girls was to cut bruinois celery, she like rough chopped it. In other words the pieces were three times too big. I didn't say bad. Another girl put all of our cranberry beans in one pot. Which was fine, except the pot was not big enough and we needed more water in it. Again, I didn't say anything.

Result: Lentils and Cream- Very good flavor, cut smaller celery, and add more cream
Cranberry Beans with Asparagus- Beans were not completely done, it was a bit bland, and I should have cut the asparagus.

Now, let's talk about the Cranberry Bean dish. I was frustrated beyond belief with the critique I was given by Ava. First off, no where in the discussion of the preparation of the dish was it mentioned to cut the asparagus. I thought it looked better to keep them long. Second, I thought the dish had flavor. I could taste the main ingredients, red wine vinegar, and salt. I had added the parmesan cheese into the dish instead of using it as a topper, but apparently that wasn't a big deal to her. So, I was utterly  confused. That is until I tried my friend Jarrod's dish. He always seems to season things well. Once I tasted his dish, her comments made sense.

Without demos, we are at a disadvantage. The lack of understanding how these dishes should look and taste is a complete frustration, I'd overheard many other students express this same sentiment. So, towards the end of class I asked Ava if I could speak to her. I expressed my concern and used the example of the Cranberry Bean dish to prove my point. To my surprise, she was very understanding. We agreed that I would ask more questions about the dishes and she would be more descriptive in her critiques. She also mentioned that from watching me in the kitchen she though I had more industry experience than I actually did and it was here mistake for making the assumption that I would understand where she was coming from. Wow! To say the least, I felt pretty good about the conversation. And to top it off at the end of class, both she and Adolf addressed the issue to the class. Wow, again. Maybe things are turning around.

Cranberry Beans w/ Asparagus
Lentils w/ BIG celery pieces

Monday, October 11, 2010


Phase 2, Week 3, Day 11

On to vegetables!!!! We had no lecture about veggies, but Chef Kim did demo Green Bean w/ Roasted Red Pepper Saute, Brussles Sprouts Paysanne, Carrots Vichy, and Eggplant Parmigiana. All of which were different cooking methods for vegetables; Saute, roast, poach, fry, and blanch. A lot to cover in one day but we were going to give it a try.

The groups in the night class were also split up to pair weaker students with stronger ones, like ours were during the morning. So I actually worked with another visitor from the mid-day class. We chose to do all of our own prep for the dishes. I truly felt I was on an episode of Chopped. Four complete dishes from pantry to plate in 90 minutes? Plus the carrot recipe required 7 tournes, Good Luck! I mean when in the "industry" are we going to have to make something from start to finish like that? Never. But it's still kind of fun to do it. However, there is a catch 22. If you don't complete each project you may not get a chance to practice it again before the test over the section. So if you take your time and do everything right, you will be missing out on some techniques and may have to do them for the first time for a test. OR you can rush through the projects getting the basic idea and getting some feedback from the instructor and hope you can improve when you have more time...the choice is yours.

I successfully completed the Green Beans, and Eggplant. I dropped my Brussle Sprouts on the ground as I was plating them (really too bad because these were GOOD! No, really. I swear.). My carrots were cooking down when she pulled the plug on them. Wah, Wah.

We did get to start plating the dishes today in this class, although we haven't discussed it much. I believe this will be coming up pretty soon in class. Might as well get some practice in. :0).

Sprouts before they hit the floor.
Green Beans (Haircot Vert)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Caught With My Pants Down

Phase 2, Week 2, Day 10

We had our first written test today. Let's just say the results were less than favorable for me and for many of my classmates. Many of us scored As on our tests last phase today, Bs and Cs. 'What happened!?', you ask. Well our instructor did not prepare us for the information on the test. He doesn't make up the test, but he is responsible for making sure we get the information we need. Now, don't get me wrong, I've had tough teaches before and that's fine, but don't blind side me. Telling us that our test will be over soups, stocks, and sauces encompasses a lot of information. When you have a "review" for a test in class, maybe we should cover the topics of the questions that are going to be asked more in-depth and not just read 10 questions from the test and call it good. Needless to say, I was shocked at some of the questions on the test and at my final score. That will not happen to me again. I now understand, that I will need to get all of my information for this class from the book. I'll just have to guess at the pages we will be responsible for since chapters or reading is never assigned, but I'll be damed if he'll make a fool of me twice....

After the general merriment of the test was over we moved on to the topic of Rice.

Today, we got our first chef demo of the Phase. I hope Adolf begins to do more demonstrations. They help in explaining a few things as we move along and also fill in some of the gaps we have about processes. We made Rice Pilaf and Rissoto alla Parmigiana. Both of which are more of methods than specific dishes. The Pilaf method is made with a long grain rice where water is added to the rice and covered and the dish is then baked. There is very little agitation done to the rice during the process because you don't want your end product to be stuck together but rather fluffy so you can see the individual pieces of rice. The Pilaf method is opposite of the Rissoto method. Rissoto uses a short grain rice, typically Arborio. Short grain rice has more starch which is necessary to get the creamy texture of Rissoto. Instead of adding all the water at once, like in the Pilaf method, you would add your liquid (possibly a stock) to the rice a ladle at a time until it is absorbed and repeat the process string consistently. The end product should be creamy and moist The process should take about 30 minutes.

Result: My Rissotto was "very good". I did not submit my Pilaf because it was too oily and not quite done when our submission time ended. I'll have to try again next time. If there is a next time....

Finished Rissotto alla Parmigana

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Soufflé Cup Decree

Phase 2, Week 2, Day 9

We are moving right along through soups. Our little group or "the Gang" as we have been termed by Eva is doing quite well. We work very well together and split our tasks and prep up amongst each other and then cook on our own. This method seems to make a lot of sense and is quite efficient. We are the only group to consistently gets all the recipes done from day to day. You may remember from last week the post with the picture of our mise en place and all the little cups. We had been chided by the Foundations III instructor about the cups. Yesterday another comment was made by Adlof about the cups, "We'd have more cups left if everyone didn't need their own damn cup for everything." And he may be right. It's for sure that in the "real world" we won't have soufflé cups. But we are also not prepping for 16 individual dishes in the "real world" either. You would be prepping ingredients for the day and line cooks or buffet chefs would be pulling from that product as needed. I could see what was coming next (although no one believed me).

Sure 'nough, today, no more soufflé cups. It was deemed as too wasteful and too expensive. Yes, the cups were not very green, that's true. But hey, I'm paying $124 a day to go here. So if I need soufflé cups to help me get a grasp of portioning and ingredient guesstimation then I'm gonna use $124 worth of product. Sorry, off my soap box (again). That seems to be happening a lot this phase....

We needed a new game plan. We began to combine ingredients and portion out as we were cooking, this worked out ok, because everyone was cognizant of their amounts, thus no one got shafted. Though on a hectic day I could see that happening.

The result: A Shrimp Bisque with very nice color (yeah) and a "good" Caldo Verde. Sorry no pictures today.

The Soufflé Cup decree officially circumvented.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Simple Ingredients Done Right

Phase 2, Week 2, Day 8

Soups or Potage are typically fairly easy to make. Being so simple, they often truly reflect the quality of the ingredients you use to produce it. They key to good soup is to use the best ingredients and to do the procedure correctly.

Soups come in three different types; Clear or Un-thickened, Thick like a cream or bisque, and specialty which encompasses everything else. Below are some specific definitions for different soups you might see on a given menu.

Puree- A soup that is naturally thickened  by pureeing one or more main ingredient
Cream- A soup that is thickened with a roux, beurie manie, or liasion.
Bisque- Must be made from shellfish and cream. (A tomato bisque is not a bisque but a puree)
Chowder- Typically made with shellfish, but not always. Must contain potato, dairy product, and pork product.

Today we made French Onion and New England Clam Chowder. Mmm...mmm...Good.

French Onion is super easy and cheep to make!!! The key is the thinly sliced onion and cooking them  low and slow to get their full flavor out.

Onion you can almost see through  

My two soups for the day.

Sauce Practical

Phase 2, Week 2, Day 7

Week took our sauce practical today. Let's just say I won't be applying for a Saucier job anytime soon. We were counted off into threes and each number was associated with three sauces. I had, Sauce Robert, Bearnaise, and Merchand de Vin. We were given a two hour time allotment to make the three sauces. I was comfortable with my draw of sauces. My Robert last night turned out pretty well, and I thought I new how to fix my Bearnaise if it was runny again. So let's get to it!!!

Everything fell into place and I had no issues in the production. Of course we all were required to do everything ourselves, no teamwork today. You just have to remember to take your time, think things through, and yet still move with a since of urgency and purpose.

The result: An effing C+! My Sauce Robert was "nice"-an 8. The Merchand de Vin was over reduced, but still Napee, and had nice flavoring otherwise- a 7. The Bearnaise began down the same road as my practice run. I knew NOT to cook it. Someone told me last week to add more butter; that didn't seem right. So I whisked the crap out of it and it thickened up. Go figure. I was told it was "excellent, but could use a bit more...cayenne."- an 8. Really!? A hint more cayanne was worth two points!?

Well, at least this test is only like 3% of my grade and we are moving on to soups tomorrow. Rock On!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Blue Neckie

Phase 2, Week 2, Day 6

A few weeks ago I submitted my application to be a Student Ambassador for the school. There is a few criteria, attendance, GPA, professionalism, and you have to submit an essay and have an instructor recommendation. I found out today that I was accepted! Being apart of this group is kind of like student council. We plan community events, school events and fundraisers, and attend other events as representatives of the school. Apparently this last perk is very worth while and allows you to network and learn from chefs in the industry. You also get a blue neckie or cravat. This makes you stand out a bit in class, everyone else wears white. When I put it on, it almost felt like a target, not a distinction. But, I was very  happy and excited to join the group at our first meeting before class began Monday evening. We immediately began discussing the new "regime" as the past president just stood down this week because he made it onto the LCB Competition Team. Apparently, the team requires a ton of out of school time for studying and practicing. Who  knew?

Class was pretty good as well. I like Chef Kim a lot. She's tough, but a great teacher. I told her I wanted to change to her class, and she was flattered. She demoed for us the three Demi Glace sauces my class made a few days ago. But, this time I actually got to taste them and see what they should look like. This demo especially important to me because the consistency of a sauce is so critical. I had not been able to understand the concept before. To be a Saucier is very difficult. Possibly the most skillful position in the kitchen. Not all chefs can master the nuances of taste, texture, and mouth-feel of sauces. For instance, most sauces should be Nappe or coat the back of a spoon. This consistency allows for the sauce to drape the food nicely, it's not too runny nor to thick.

I got another run at the three Demi sauces before our sauce practical tomorrow. Which was awesome.However,  I am bit concerned about the written test this week. Jeremy told me earlier today that our written test would be tomorrow, but Chef Kim assures me it will be Friday. I hope she's right!

Chef Kim Demo

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Longest Week Ever!

Finally, it’s FRIDAY!!! We discussed emulsion sauces (think Hollendaise) and the different types. Permanent, like mayo or  Hollendaise; and Temporary, like a vinaigrette. We are making Beurre Blanc, Beurre Rouge and a Bearnaise today.

Things went pretty well, considering we have no idea what these sauces are supposed to look like or taste like. So your guess is as good as mine. I guess it’s kind of like when you make a new recipe at home, and you don’t know how it’s supposed to turn out. But, at home, 2 chefs aren’t critiquing your end product either.  I had no problem with the Buerre Blanc or Beurre Rouge and received favorable comments. However, my Bearnaise was super runny. It is supposed to be a derivative of a Hollendaise. So it should be fairly thick in nature. Mine wasn’t. When I presented it to Adolph, he asked what I though was wrong with it. I said, "It's runny". "How would you fix it?", he retorted. "Reduce it?", I said. He responded, "You have time, go do that…."

I did.

Do you know what happens when you heat eggs above 140 degrees? They cook and your sauce breaks.

Ok, I should have known this fact and was not thinking along those lines…. But, I did not feel he was using this as a learning experience. But more, something for his amusement.  If he wanted me to bring it back to him or let him know what happened after I cooked my eggs,and explain the process that would be one thing. But, I felt like I was set up for failure. BTW, I was not the only one he told to heat their Bearnaise. URGH!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me

Phase 2, Week 1, Day 4

We opened up today with a lecture on time management. Apparently everyone was not able to complete all 5 sauces from the day before. Therefore Adolph stressed the importance of mulit-tasking, preparation, planning a head, and Mise En Place. We then discussed secondary sauces made from a Demi-Glace or Demi. Demi is classically derived from Espagnole (a mother sauce) and brown stock reduced by half. Modernly, it is just brown stock reduced by half. The sauces we will make with Demi in class will be Sauce Robert, Merchand de Vin, and Sauce Chesseur.  Similarly to yesterday we will be responsible for making the Demi and the three sauces derived from it.

The twist? Our half of the class was assigned to make Classical Demi. Which meant we had to make Espagnole first, then add the Brown Stock, and then reduce by half. Espagnole sauce requires a two hour simmering point. Let’s do the math…. We have 2.5 hours of class left. It takes two hours for the Espagnole. That leaves us with 30 minutes to reduce the Espagnole and Brown Stock and make three secondary sauces. Huh, what was he saying about time management?

We pointed out this little issue to both Chef Instructors privately. Ava referred to Adolph, and he said we’d have time. So….we continued to prep for our sauces we’d never make (see picture below).  The amount of waste made me a bit sad to be honest.

With one hour left in class Adolph told us to move a long with our Espagnole and add our Brown Stock. We let it reduce for 30 minutes. The other side of the room had reduced theirs for one hour. With about 35 minutes left in class to cook and clean!!! We rushed through our three sauces. In some cases cooking them all at the same time. I just got to two of them, Sauce Robert and Merchand de Vin. Cleaning as you go definitely helps but you can only do so much in a certain time frame. Needless to say my half of the room was P.O.ed by the end of the day. I haven’t been so mad/frustrated in a long time. Today was definitely an exercise in POOR time management , and not on our part.

Ingredients waiting to be used

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

Phase 2, Week 1, Day 3

First off we discussed the procedure for chicken stock and then moved on to thickening agents. Thickening agents obviously thicken your sauces, they might include roux, reduction, puree, potatoes, or other starches. There are a lot more than you would think. A minimum of 12, that I could count.

We discussed the recipes and procedures for the mother sauces and secondary sauces that we were going to make for the day. Bechamel yields Mornay and Veloute will yield Aurora and Supreme. And with that we were cut loose! We had 2 hours to make 5 sauces and clean the kitchen. GO!

AHH! Well luckily I had learned a great deal about taking your time but moving quickly both from FI and my job. So the boys and I divided tasks and set off to make out Mise En Place. Things were a bit chaotic and very fast paced. We where making sauces that we’d never seen made or even tasted so it was anyone’s guess as to how they were going to turn out. I felt like I was left to the dogs.

Results; My Mornay was pretty good and cheesy. The Aurora, was so-so. My Supreme was a bit lemony, oops.

Positive note;  Ava asked if I was currently working in the industry and I responded “a little bit” and she said “you can tell“.

Daily Recipe Cards