Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 8 - Vegetables Begin. Excellent.

I really liked what we learned today. My parents, whom I love, tend to overcook their vegetables. Which, growing up, I didn't know was overcooked and still loved vegetables. But once I started to cook on my own, I realized how truly amazing vegetables can be once they are cooked properly. So I was really looking forward to this day. It didn't disappoint.
Sauteed Mushrooms with Brandy
This was really really good. And involved fire! I had never done this before, and it's actually really easy. You just get one side of the pan really really hot and then pour the alcohol in. And then it just lights up! I always thought you had to tilt it into the flame, but that's not necessary. Chef said I did a nice job on browning the mushrooms - they had a nice golden color.

Carottes Glacees
This was too sugary for me, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth. I had to keep putting it back onto the flame to get the liquid to reduce - this has always been really difficult to me. It just never seems like the liquid reduces in the time it is supposed to. But he said my final product was the correct consistency.The glaze is just butter and honey.

Haricots Verts Provencals
These turned out the just right tenderness. Just blanch the beans, and create a simple dressing of tomatoes, shallot, garlic and olive oil. When I was just cooking for myself at home, I always skipped the blanching step (stopping cooking in ice water) - it seemed like a waste of water and adding another dish I had to wash. But now I totally get why it's important. Someday, when I have a real kitchen again, I will definitely use this step!

We also made Les Petits Pois a la Francaise - which was perfect because I love peas! It's pretty heavy on the butter though, it being a la Francaise (French-style = butter and pork). You swear pearl onions and bacon, add peas and water for about 3 minutes, take off the heat and add lettuce, parsley, tarragon, and salt. Then you 'monter aubeurre' to finish - which means add a pat of butter at the very end. To make it healthier, Chef said you can use vegetable oil (and much less) and turkey bacon - although I imagine it would not taste nearly as good.

We start out class with about an hour-long lecture about the day's topic and then demonstration on how to cook each of the dishes. So by the time I finish my first one, I am starving! That's why at least one photo tends to be missing - I've gobbled up most of the dish by the time I remember my camera in my pocket...

Lessons learned:
I think this was the day I was kitchen manager - basically you assign the different tables duties (dishes, tabletops, and floors). Well, I assigned my group dishes because I prefer that job, but unfortunately did not see the four-foot stack awaiting me. Anyway, when I got back to my table, the tabletop people had not cleaned it, and my towel had disappeared. I know I sounded angry when I (loudly) asked why it had not been cleaned and had anyone seen my towel? But really, I wasn't - I was really tired and just wanted my towel back. And everyone else was just standing around doing absolutely nothing. They didn't do their jobs. Which will be a recurring theme in "Lessons Learned." And nobody fessed up to taking my towel. Oh well, I replaced it with a colorful one from Target that no one will be able to claim is theirs.

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