Monday:

The exam went smoothly. I knew I was strong on the material and I made it out of there with a high score.
We worked on vinaigrette’s, emulsions, salads, and dressings in class. In lab we made a classic Caesar salad with croutons, a warm bacon dressing over spinach, and we had to present a basic vinaigrette. What classifies a dressing as a vinaigrette is that it is a temporary emulsion (homogeneous mixture of two liquids that do not normally come together) of one part vinegar or acid with three parts oil. Basically you whisk vinegar like crazy as you slowly drizzle a bunch of oil into it. My Balsamic vinaigrette came out great, I am going to have to work on using it at home! Also the Caesar salad was fantastic, way better than any dressing you could buy. And lets not go into how incredible the warm bacon dressing spinach salad.

Tuesday

During lecture we got into intense conversation about organic, sustainable agriculture, irradiation, hydroponically grown, and GMO topics. It wasn’t so much argument as informative since most of the students in the class had know idea the amount of information about these different agricultural methods and what’s good about them and what’s bad…I know my stance already and was glad that it seems that overall the school takes a similar view if not as strict a view as I do. In lab we did real mayonnaise in a chicken salad and two potato salads – a European one with a vinaigrette dressing (we used the warm bacon dressing – Sweet!) and an American potato salad with our own mayonnaise. They were all pretty great, I think the only criticism about my salads was that I put too much warm bacon dressing on my potatoes (Oops!).

Wednesday

We talked about being jerks to our purveyors (distributors). Always have more than 2 per item in your kitchen, always check your product before signing the invoice and make sure they take off of the invoice whatever you don’t accept. We discussed seasonality and using product as it is in local season and how it is usually a better, fresher, product for less money and it supports local community growth. We discussed variety and trying new things. Also we got a talk about mushrooms where we all ended up going off on a big truffle tangent…I really want that truffle salt now, it’s about $26 for 6 oz. but it sounds so heavenly! Also I really want to try rehydrating some wild mushrooms to taste them (I know it’s crazy to think I could get good fresh chanterelle’s, porcini’s, or morels out here.  In lab we cooked potatoes and lots of them! We made potatoes au gratin, anna’s potatoes, duchess potatoes, and sauteed some tourneed potatoes. The potatoes au gratin were fabulous and really quite easy, just boil potatoes in a milk/cream liquid, then layer with cheese, pour some liquid on top, top with bacon and bake until brown and molten and gooey. Yum! The anna’s potatoes were significantly harder, very thinly sliced potatoes layered in a flower shape into butter, sauteed until golden on one side then flipped and browned on the other side, it took me two tries to get the flip, but I did it! Duchess potatoes are basically mashed potatoes piped and then baked, I think I mixed mine too much and I also added too much nutmeg, they were not happy potatoes, but they looked pretty. I still need to work on my tourne cut, but I cooked the tournees well.

Thursday:

In lecture we talked more about potatoes and about grains and legumes. In lab we made risotto, polenta, and rice pilaf. Risotto was not as intense a process as I remember it to be, mine came out just a touch too thick but that was easily fixed, my pilaf was “textbook”, but my polenta was too salty. There was a mix-up on the stove where the guy next to me seasoned my polenta liquid by accident, and I knew and saw it happen and still, I added what would have been the normal amount of salt myself – I tasted it and knew it was too salty but still presented it to the chef and he confirmed it. I should have started over and redone it, it would have taken 7 minutes, if something like that happens again, I won’t serve it if I don’t have to, I didn’t like the feeling of knowingly taking an inferior product up to the chef. Then we all made pasta dough so it could rest over night. I loved working a dough again, it’s been awhile, I like to feel how it responds to just tiny amount of flour or working, I can’t wait for baking! Then were ribs and italian wedding soup for lunch and that made everything even better.

Friday:

We talked grains and nuts and legumes again. Then we talked pasta. Fresh, dried, sizes, sauces…I miss real roman carbonara! Others like casseroles (put lasagna in dry, let rest for a few hours or a day ahead, then bake – perfect lasagna), gnocchi, pirogi’s, and spaetzle. And then played a review game for the next test on Monday. Then we made fresh pasta in lab! Fresh Fettuccine to go with a smooth creamy Alfredo sauce, and not fresh pasta to go with a pesto and a tomato sauce. We baked penne with some cheese on top…so good! Awesome way to end the week!

Today I plan on going up to Flapjacks to visit since they’ve been so slow I haven’t been able to take a shift for awhile. I need to tell them about how great it’s going! Then a bunch of the class is meeting up for ‘study group’/ribs/cake/beer tasting…I’m bringing a case of kiltlifter and a growler of four peaks peche beer. I hope it’s fun! My partner has turned out to really be a great person and I hope she can pick it up just a little more so she can pass the class! Also the guy I see as my competition for best in class is pretty great, he picks me up so we carpool, he’s already had an impressive life of real service and is changing gears, he’s a good guy. There’s one guy who is younger and fairly inexperienced, he is kind of a know-it-all, I just hope he matures a little and realizes that criticism isn’t mean-spirited, it’s just so he improves and doesn’t make an ass of himself again. I’m excited for next week already!

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