Gotta get ready for week 6 so this will be quick. I like being this busy!

So we talked chicken fabrication already. The rest of the week was very protein filled! We used the pieces from the chickens we broke down, chicken piccata, cordon bleu, two chicken leg ballontines – one rolled and one stuffed, one braised the other seared and roasted respectively, both shingled on the plate all pretty like, pork loin schnitzel with poached egg, anchovy, and lemon caper beurre blanc, grilled steak, seared and roasted pepper steak, parsley crusted frenched lamb rack, lamb navarin (lamb stew), beef rouladen (rolled stuffed steak braised). It was all so delicious! There was lots of technique, both sauce and meat cooking, and lots of pounding with a meat mallet. I’ve got so much baking and pastry technique under my belt, but before this I’d hardly cooked a steak and certainly never really braised anything myself, I really am liking it almost as much as the fun and sweet side of the kitchen. I’ve also been getting better and better at seasoning, though there’s still a slip up here and there.

Monday and Tuesday we had wine tastings after class. Monday was Wines of Italy – lots of earthy reds, and Tuesday was Wines of Portugal – sparklies, Madeira, and Port. It was lots of fun, but I was hoping for a little more serious of an atmosphere, maybe some more flavor identification and matching ideas. I volunteered to help the coordinating chef put out some appetizers at the next tasting so we can really make the most out of it. He’s saying he wants to make it a consistent affair, every two weeks have tastings, maybe even by the end offering up a certificate of sorts…here’s to hoping! This is a great opportunity that I am ecstatic to have, the hardest part to getting to be a wine connoisseur is getting someone to pay for the bottles!

This next week is what the school calls “hell week” though I doubt it will be that bad. We have a day of preparation and then on both Tuesday and Wednesday we have to prepare a full meal for the chef and serve it-plated and all warm. Thursday we have presentations of our group projects and a lesson in egg cookery, and then Friday we join with the other daytime basics class and prepare and serve the school a full breakfast including omelets or fried eggs over-easy, bacon, sausage, pancakes, fruit salad, and potatoes. After service and eating we gut and clean the basics kitchen and then go to a classroom and take a comprehensive (the full 6 weeks) final basics exam. Then it’s happy hour with the classmates!

I am loving this school! My classmates rock, the teachers are bad ass and professional all at once, the material is relevant and interesting, best of all I am given the opportunity to make the most of the resources the school has! Our class has already talked about getting a whole pig to roast and setting up a compost pile or at least an agreement with a local farmer, the potential wine certificate program, extra curricular side classes, also working out an aperitif/digestif menu for the school restaurant…and I bet that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I love waking up at 5:15 and being excited to get out of bed.

Advertisements

Monday of last week began with an exam on the sauces, stocks, and food science. Then we began soup lecture and in the kitchen followed through with it. We made french onion soup, cream of mushroom, and egg drop soup. The french onion soup was my favorite, a nice deep flavor from the stock, good crouton and melty Gruyere…mmm, I need to make it again here at home! Tuesdays lecture was a little bit of technique method and introduction to seafood. In the kitchen we worked on consomme, vegetable soup, and a puree of black bean soup. The consomme was wonderful and so intriguing – it’s the clarification and infusion of a stock by mixing it with ground meat, egg whites and other ingredients, then when the mixture begins heating up the whites coagulate and form a raft that will collect all the impurities from the broth underneath and flavor it…in the end it is a beautiful amber (if you use brown stock) clear liquid full of goodness! Wednesday was more intro to fish lecture and cooking methods, then we began the good stuff. We shucked oysters, peeled, veined and deep fried shrimp, watched the chef demo how to poach and fabricate lobster and fabricate salmon, and we poached the salmon and then sauced it with a beurre rouge – a red wine butter sauce. That day was a lot of fun, they were the first oysters I’ve ever eaten, I enjoyed the first few – they tasted like sweet sea water, but they were definitely not something I could gorge on again. Thursday was more of the same in lecture but in class we actually got to fabricate our own red fish, performing a yield test to see how much waste was created, making two fish dishes with the resulting filets, and then shucking and baking clams casino. I wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t try the clams casino, but the red fish was delicate and succulent, am awesome fish (I thought). Friday was more fish and shellfish lecture and also test review, a pretty intense session since the fish knowledge was a little lacking (myself included) but it got me really motivated to actually study this weekend for the test we ended up taking today. In kitchen lab on Friday we fabricated a flounder each and then shallow poached two filets and steamed the other two en papillote (in a paper sack in the oven), and also steamed some mussels. By Friday afternoon my hands smelled quite fishy, next time I need to remember to wear gloves. Honestly I was not a big fan of any of the items we prepared, the flounder was too strong tasting for me, especially in the cooking methods we used where the flavor of the fish is not masked by much else. The mussels were way too fishy and the texture just wasn’t my thing, but I did at least try it all that day and can solidly say that I wasn’t fond of it.

The weekend was fun and busy. I have been trying to keep doing things so I don’t get caught up in how lonely it is at home. My boyfriend is in Macedonia right now and I miss him very much.

Sunday night me and a couple of my school friends studied at Lux downtown, I really enjoy their company. I love that they point out when I’m being snooty, about food, pop culture, or otherwise. I need people like that in my life to keep me humble and remind me that I don’t know everything and my opinion isn’t the only one that matters. However I still hold on to my opinions and am passionate about them so I will not be sorry for expressing them. I’ve wasted enough of my life being insecure about things and not educating myself, it’s good to be sure of my feelings and I’m not letting go of that.

Anyways, today was the first day of Week 5, the week of meat fabrication. Today in class we took the fish exam, I did better than my previous tests and am glad I’m making progress. In lecture we discussed poultry and then in kitchen lab we watched chef truss then fabricate 2 chickens down to wings, supreme breasts (with a wing bone attached and frenched), frenched legs, tenderloins, and empty carcass, then we did the same to 2 chickens. I was a little uneasy with the whole popping of bones out of sockets at first, but I do feel comfortable with where my food comes from and working on their carcasses. I ended up with some really fantastic product at a good yield (almost no flesh left on the bones), I got a few wow’s from the chef who teaches basics and another chef, they genuinely thought I had fabricated chicken before today – I was very proud and hope to keep up the level of product as I get my timing down. I finished in about 45-50 minutes for 2 chickens, for the next class – meat fabrication and saucier – I have to be able to fabricated one in under 6 minutes to get an A on a practical. There will be plenty of practice until then, but still, I’m hoping to keep my game up.  After fabricating and then cleaning up with plenty of sanitizing solution, we made chicken piccata. It was delicious! A lightly floured chicken breast pounded thin, sauteed, then finished in the oven and served with a lemon caper butter sauce, I didn’t think that I would like the capers, but they weren’t as bad as I remember them being from the last time I tried them. I hope the rest of the week is as awesome as today was!

Things I wrote about before