Friday, October 30, 2009

Notes From a Burn Victim

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Yes, I'm officially a burn victim :) Yesterday in a moment of sheer panic and an incredible rush, I grabbed the handle of a saucepan without using a side towel. Ouch. It's not a horrible burn, although it's blistering in a few areas, but for what it's worth, I know it will heal fine. I knew this day would come while in culinary school. I suppose it could always be worse!

This week in class I made Vichyssoise (usually cold potato leek soup, although we served it hot), Espagnole Sauce (which is half of what goes into making a Demi-Glace), and I started to make both a Mornay Sauce and a Bearnaise Sauce before I burned my hand yesterday. I had half an hour to complete both sauces, with few burners and even fewer pans and other kitchen equipment to choose from, hence my frantic state. Failure was inevitable, but I've made those sauces in the past and plan on practicing them later today to work on the specific methods that the chef showed us, and hopefully next week I'll be back on track and acing my practical exam with a mostly healed hand :)

Also this week we enjoyed lunch daily in the senior dining room. Tuesday my table ate at from the Special Functions kitchen. Although I was disappointed in the chicken I chose as my entree, the fried oyster on the salad completely made up for it! On Wednesday, we had a choice of where to dine and after perusing the show plates from each of the three kitchens I made an executive decision to dine from the Special Functions kitchen, and it was pretty amazing! We enjoyed a five-course fall-inspired tasting menu! It's almost impossible to pick a favorite dish from this meal. They were all really enjoyable! Also, on Wednesday the dining room had been decked out in a Hollywood theme, with DVD cases adorning the tables, a film projected onto a screen and popcorn served instead of bread. Finally yesterday, after my burn tragedy, my friends and I decided to dine from the Asian kitchen which had featured foods from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. My favorite part I think was the Chicken Curry Soup with Noodles. I could have eaten several bowls of that!

Vichyssoise

Espagnole Sauce

Tuesday Special Functions Kitchen: Leek and Pea Soup

Salad of Field Greens with Fried Oysters and Applewood-Smoked Bacon (my starter)

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Morel Mushrooms (my entree)

Poached Salmon with Warm Clam Vinaigrette

Three-Chocolate Hazelnut Tart (my dessert)

Wednesday Special Functions Kitchen: Popcorn and DVDs

Special Functions Menu
Salad of Carrot, Beet, Valencia Orange, and Goat Cheese

Cauliflower Ginger Soup, Georges Bank Scallop, Maitake Mushroom, Scallion

House-made Pumpkin Ravioli, Duck Confit, Summer and Delicata Squash, Sweet Potato, Bacon

Domestic Rack of Lamb, Rutabega Two Ways, Mustard Greens

Pumpkin Semi Freddo, Cranberry, Cinnamon Shortbread

Thursday Asian Menu

Chicken Curry Soup with Noodles (my soup)

Skewered Chicken (my appetizer)
Curried Shrimp with Shrimp and Vegetable Fritter, Vegetable Curry and Rice (my entree)

Rice Pudding (my dessert)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Soup's On

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Today was our first day of production in Soups, Stocks, and Sauces. My group of three focused on making a Vegetable Soup, Asti Style as well as a White Veal Stock or Fond Blanc de Veau in our fancy French lingo. I mostly worked on the soup, and I must say it tasted really good once it was done, even with the small taste I got. I had to render a piece of pork fat, which took forever it seemed, but then once I finally managed to get enough fat out of it, I cooked my veggies in it, then added stock, and eventually cooked potatoes and beans. Cooked pasta will be added to each serving so it doesn't swell up and get mushy. It's nice to focus on the simplicity and the basics that are required in creating more complex dishes later in the scheme of things. You must walk before you can run. Here are some photos from class today as well as some appetizing photos from the dining room for today's lunch (from the Special Events class and the Asian class).

Vegetable Soup, Asti Style


Thursday, October 22, 2009

No One on the Corner Has Swagger Like Us...

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Yesterday was my last day of New World Cuisine. It was also the date of my final exam and my practical exam. I got a 98 on my written final (go me!) and I'm not sure yet what I got on my practical, but I'm sure it was good. Each of us had to truss, roast, and carve a chicken, make a pan gravy, grill four vegetables, one of which had to be a fibrous vegetable which was blanched first, grill a pork chop and make french fries using the two step frying process for fries (blanch in oil, then fry). Everything but the pork chop was to be plated together with the pork chop on a separate side plate. Below you can find some photos from yesterday's class!

Also, today was my first day of Soups, Stocks, and Sauces! My chef is really funny and her humor reminds me a lot of Ellen DeGeneres :) She even said "word," "swagger" and "mad cool" today and also would quiz random students who stopped by the kitchen to get stocks for their other classes with stock or sauce related questions before she would allow them to go into the walk-in and get their stocks. It was really funny. Some of them couldn't remember how to properly make a stock even though they'd taken the class the previous year! I'm really excited about this class. Although making stocks is a slow and quite boring process, I'm looking forward to learning the inner workings of all the mother/leading sauces and their "babies," the many variations of each (note: babies is not an official term for these sauces, I just think it makes sense, haha). Also we'll be learning basic techniques for creating various kinds of soups as well, including thin, thick, clear and specialty. Finally, and maybe most importantly, this class will have a focus on knife skills as well, where we will be honing in on our various knife cuts and will later be tested on producing all the various cuts along with making a couple sauces and soups for our practical assessment on the last two days of class.

In this class we also have the luxury of dining every single day in the dining room for lunch, and in our case we are especially lucky to dine in the senior dining room, which is not only staffed by seniors but also seniors from three different kitchens cook all the meals, so you know the food should be of a higher caliber than in the other dining rooms. The decor is a lot nicer as well, and our drinks were even garnished much better than they were in the other dining rooms :) The three kitchens serving this dining room are a European cuisine class, an Asian cuisine class, and a special functions cooking class. Today my table dined from the Asian class, but I took some photos of the Italian foods as well since they had show plates on display before you entered the dining room. Check out those pics below as well :)

My beautifully carved chicken, in 8 perfect pieces :)

My final plate for my practical exam, minus the pork chop I had to make

Minestrone Soup

Calamari

Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

Grilled Veal Tenderloin

Penne with Chicken

Caprese Salad

Menu for the Asian Kitchen: Day 1

Iced Tea

Szechwan Soup

Wonton Soup (this is what I had)

Appetizer: Mongolian Fire Pot Table Side Service (I partook in this as well)

Mongolian Fire Pot

Barbecue-Style Roast Duck with Mandarin Pancakes, White Rice, and Braised Eggplant with Dried Shrimp (my dish)

Braised Eggplant with Dried Shrimp and Shanghai Fried Rice (side dishes for...)

Crispy Sweet and Sour Fish (shared between two diners... I tasted this too, really good!)



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