Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sweetbreads are NOT Sweet!

Phase 3, Week 4, Day 18

OK, this is a fun one. Obviously, sweetbreads are not sweet. They are the thymus gland of a cow. The texture alone is enough to make you hurl, and those of you who know me know I don't really have much of a texture issue. But this one got to me. So, why do they call them sweetbreads? A brief internet search concluded that no one really knows why they are called that. I can't believe the internet didn't come through on answering something, I think that's a first for me. Apparently, I can't eat them but I can rock them in the kitchen.

Menu for today:

Veal Stew Vol au Vent
Tourned Potatoes

Sweetbreads with Sauce Maltaise
Pureed Butternut Squash

A couple of weird things for today. We are serving our sweetbreads with a sweet flavored hollandaise sauce, gross. During the demo the chefs commented how the sweetness of the orange cut down on the alkali flavor of many offal or varietal meets (cooking terms for stuff you wouldn't normally eat). I made a mental note.... Second weird thing is the vol au vent or puff pastry. It's not too weird but puts a different spin on presenting stew. Third, how the hell are we going to incorporate pureed squash with either of these dishes?

Production of both dishes was fairly easy. The fact the I always eff up stew has become a standard for me, and I just roll with it now. I have now added stew to the list of things I can't do well. The sweet hollandaise was a bit challenging to get it to the right consistency, although orange is an acid, it didn't quite act the same as vinegar or wine. Puff pastry, easy. Pureed squash, easy. Putting it all together, interesting.

Remember the last day of F2 when Adolf and Ava said you have to plan your entire dish ahead of time. I've tried to do this during F3 as best I can, and this is what I came up with this time around. A taste of seared sweetbread and candied orange peel w/ a quenelle of sweet squash puree w/ sauce malaise. Mini vol au vant filled with veal stew and tourned potatoes.

A taste of Sweetbreads

Veal Stew Vol au Vent

Sweetbreads- Both chefs liked the presentation, a bit too much sauce in the dish. They enjoyed the addition of sugared orange peel I added as garnish to cut the sweetbreads. But my sauce could have had more flavor...

Stew- Nice presentation, sauce was too thick and the potatoes were not quite done. Oops...

Grade for last two days, 87%. Not great, but not bad.

New Opportunities

Phase 3, Week 4, Days 16 & 17

Basically, these two days consisted of lectures about lamb and pork, three demos, and one cooked dish of Lamb Shank and Risotto. Nothing worthy to note, besides trying to plate an entire lamb shank was ridiculous! Talk about a truck stop portion of food, it might as well have been a turkey leg. Geeze!

I'll take this time to fill you in on some other stuff that's been going on. In the span of one week I got two new part-time jobs in the culinary industry. I got a job as a free lance writer for a St.Louis based online news periodical, calling it a news paper doesn't seem right. It's called Patch.com. It's is actually a collection of local online sites focusing on "local" news. Mine is based in Ballwin and Ellisville Missouri. I've written two stories so far and hope to have more published soon. I also got hired on as a demonstration cook for Your Commercial Kitchen in Springfield. I'll be teaching cooking classes on the weekends. So far I have started a Little Chef Culinary Series targeted to kids and of course, the first class is Holiday Cookies. I'll be scheduling more classes in the near future.

To keep up with all this stuff I attached a Twitter link to the bottom of my blog as well as starting a "fan" page on Facebook called Always Taste Enough. Feel free to follow either one to get the latest updates regarding my new ventures.


A ridiculous portion size....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Late for an Important Date

Phase 3, Week 4, Day 14 and Day 15

Looks like I have a little catch up to play here recently. Last Monday, was the half way point of the class, and I attended my regular class time since I had had the long weekend at home. In class we reviewed for our midterm written test and watched a demo on pork carnitas and strip steak. Seems lately the class has had a much more leisurely pace to it. We are only cooking every other day. Lecture and demo days are enjoyable, but tedious at the same time. Three and a half hours is a long time to stand and watch someone cook or discuss the primal cuts of different types of meat. And the cooking days move along pretty well but are much less frantic than they used to be, which is a great feeling to have!

Tuesday morning started off badly! I awoke when I hear my Uncle down stairs (I'm staying with my Aunt and Uncle while I attend school). This was not good! When I opened my eyes I saw light streaming through the window. Also not good! I looked at the clock, it was 6:20 am! NOT GOOD! Class started at 6:00 and we had a test and a practical!!! I shot out of bed, threw on my uniform and rushed out the door. I got to school in 25 minutes, in what was typically a 35 minute commute. I walked in just as the class was beginning the prep for the practical. I had missed the written test.

Ok- I just had to calm down and focus on the task at hand; which was:

Pork Carnitas
Salsa Cruda
Avacado and Sour Cream & Cilantro Quenelles

Grilled NY Steak
Maitre d'hotel Butter
Duchess Potatoes
Butternut Squash Gratin 

Working with Jeremy we got all of the dishes knocked out in record time. I couldn't believe it! It was actually pretty easy. Even the Duchess Potatoes, you'll remember from last phase, were pretty easy. Our only issue was I almost dropped our squash gratin when rearranging all the pots in the oven, but I saved it. Whew!

Steak- Great job, medium rare (who would have thought I would like mine that way now). Potatoes good color and flavor. Squash could have been dices in larger pieces and had a bit too much liquid in them. Otherwise very tasty.

Carnitas- They loved the presentation (took it's picture, always a good sign). Chef Bruce said it looked like the St.Louis Club was rubbing off on me. Good flavor over all. 

No Grade Yet. Good come back from a crappy start to the day.

I got docked 25% of my daily grade for being late, but Chef let me take my test right after class. Scored and 83%, not great but apparently par for the rest of my classmates. They keep sticking some zingers in there to keep you on your toes. What the hell is a Fourth anyway? I still don't know.

Sexy Carnitas

I'm hooked on the d'hotel butter