Thursday, November 13, 2008

Final Practical - Black Box

For the final, we were given one protein, vegetables and a starch and told to create a meal. We ran the idea past Chef and then were allowed to start. The last five people were going to have to stay and clean the kitchen, so we were all motivated to work quickly. I was sixth to last - yes!

I had pork, lentils, and squash and zucchini. The only part I was unsure on was the pork - although it was better than getting chicken because I still hate cooking chicken.
I decided on Sauce Robert, which meant I needed to turn veal stock into espagnole without the demiglace step.
This recipe was actually pretty simple, because it just meant searing the pork and then sauteeing to finish. Meanwhile I reduced the stock down to espagnole and cooked the lentils. Then I sauteed the vegetables in the leftover pork juice and oil.

This turned out pretty tasty. I especially liked how the vegetables tasted with the little bit of pork taste. I did decently on this - the lentils just needed a little more flavor.

For the quizzes in class, I got 13/15 on sauces, 17/20 on fish, 12/15 on stocks & poultry, 13/13 on soup, and 18/18 on meat and game.
We also had to do a blog entry. I got teased a lot by the class because I did not want to put my name on the entry - I don't like to have my name anywhere on the internet. It used to take six pages on google to find me. But as you can see, Chef let me just use my initials.

Final Thoughts:
Although I wouldn't really eat much of this food because of all the cream, I feel like I learned a lot about improving techniques. Chef Z was a nice guy, and a decent instructor. He would show us these slideshows of photos of food from his trips around the world, in particular China.

Last Day to Practice

Election Day!! Chef released us early due to his concerns about us getting caught in the excitement of people leaving Grant Park. He kept us updated on the election results during lecture from his laptop, but soon into cooking, it became very clear who was going to win. The city was so quiet when I left - I could clearly hear a speech being given in Grant Park, and my school is almost a mile away. I have never heard the city so quiet. And it wasn't eerie, but completely beautiful. Just peaceful.

This night we made Bouillabaisse, which is a country fish stew. Someone else made the fish stock for the class, which is the base to this soup.
Heat olive oil and gently sweat leeks until they turn translucent. Don't let them brown. Add chopped tomato, saffron, Pernod, and 10 oz fish stock. Simmer until tomatoes have softened, then season with salt and pepper. Add all fish (we used trout, cut in large chunks, halibut, cut in large chunks, shrip, and mussels) and simmer covered until mussels open. Do not let soup boil or fish will fall apart. Take out fish, and stir in rouille (see next). Place fish in vowl and ladle broth over. Garnish with grilled baguette slices.
Process a roasted and seeded red pepper, a quarter of a jalepeno, one clove of garlic, salt, and one baguette slice with no crust. Puree. Transfer to bowl and work in olive oil with wooden spoon.

We didn't plate this, so you know I just snacked on the baguette slices all night...

Moules Marinieres

Sweat shallots, then put mussels in pan, coating with butter and shallot. Deglaze with white wine, cover with another saute pan, cook 2-3 minutes over high heat. Reduce wine by half with top off. Add 2 oz heavy cream, reduce by half. Monte au beurre. Season with parsley, and toss to coat.

For this assignment, Chef told us to work on other tasks, and then he would yell out this dish and we would have 5 minutes to cook and plate it. Stressful, yes? Mine tasted okay, but I had reduced the sauce too much.

Coquilles St Jacques, Beurre Blanc au Curry

Dry scallops and season well, then coat with spice blend (I used Master's curry blend). When oil begins to smoke, add scallops and then sear both sides. Remove and reserve.
Add shallots and sweat, deglaze with wine and white wine vinegar and reduce to au sec. Add cream, curry powder, and tomato paste, and reduce until nappe. Monte au beurre. Strain and adjust seasoning.

Lessons Learned:
Alright. I admit it. Plating matters. That scallop looks much more appetizing when plated like this than if I had just thrown it together. Fine. I guess the chefs win.

More Fish

And we've hit November. At least I'm in the same month for keeping up with posts. Three more posts, and I'll only be 12 days behind... And I'm only posting to avoid working on a project from work that's due tomorrow morning. I'm screwed. Oh well.

This night we plated Loup de Mer end Papillote with rice and Beurre Blanc.
I got a 40/40! My first one for this class - I tend to lose one or two points per dish, but I got a perfect! yay! And by the way, this is an amazing way to cook fish. I loved this dish. Two fish dishes I like - who knew it could happen?
Anyway. To make this dish:
Cut parchment paper in half, smear butter on the right half of the paper, as big as the fish. Season the fillet (we used lake trout) with salt and white pepper and place on top of the butter. Top fish with eminceed shallots (super thin!), fine julienned red pepper and zucchini, thyme and parsley, then season on top. Remember, when using white pepper, use only a sprinkle! Place the lemon slices on top and add a splash of wine. Only a splash. Fold the paper over and seal - we folded the seal starting at the corner at 45 degree angles. Bake in 425 oven until parchment is puffed and browned - you are looking for expansion of the pouch, about 5 minutes. You serve it in the closed pouch to the customer - and then they open it to open and smell the steam.

A Beurre Blanc is an acid reduction emulsified by butter. You can use any acid, but in this case we used champagne vinegar. (As an aside, I always have trouble spelling that word because I went to school in Urbana-Champaign. So I always have to pause when writing about the drink). So. Melt whole buter, then sweat shallot and thyme. Reduce champagne vinegar to au sec, then add heavy whipping cream and simmer until reduced. Monte au beurre. Pretty simple, really.

Here it is prior to cooking, with all the layers:

Here's the perfect plating!

Saumon Grille with potatoes
This one, we had to come up with our own way to make the potatoes, and give him a explanation of why we did what we did. Nemo and I decided to do a version of "fish and chips." Chef and I had an argument over why salt and pepper was not creating a new flavor. I'm sure I was wrong, but I also love dishes seasoned only with salt and nothing else.
Grill a seasoned salmon fillet. Make potatoes. Serve with sauce.
Um, I can't remember what sauce we used here. I think Nemo created another Beurre Blanc with different flavor. But I could be wrong. Yummy looking, right?
We also learned how to make Hollandaise.
In a stainless stell bowl, combine vinegar and yolks and whisk over a really low flame until thickened and warm - keep moving bowl on and off heat - until 145 degrees. The sabayon with triple in volume. Gradually whisk in warm butter drop by drop at first, then in a slow, steady stream. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a bit of water or lemon juice, this allows all butter to be incorporated without breaking the sauce. Season with salt and cayenne. Serve warm, not hot.
Lesson Learned:
I really don't like these sauces. I hated the mayo, and I didn't like the hollandaise. I just really can only feel the oil and butter on my tongue. And that is just gross.

The First Time I Really Liked Fish

Halloween! Irish brought true Chef hats for us to wear as a joke for Chef Z. He thought it was really funny. But man they itch! I've gotten so used to the baker's cap, I don't like anything else on my head. Yep, that's all the people we had Halloween - everyone else took the night off!

Bisque de Crevettes
In a small pot, melt butter and add bruinoised onions and carrots - sweat. Add shrimp shells and cook until they turn pink. Add herbs (bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems) and sweat until fragrant. Add tomato paste and pincer. Add flour and gently cook a white roux. Deglaze with brnady and wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add 12 oz water and simmer until you achieve a full shrimp flavor. Remove bay leaf. Puree in belnder until smotth and pass through a fine chinois. Reheat and add cream, adjust consistency and seasoning. Garnish with sauteed shrimp. Never never cut up shrimp. Put in the whole shrimp. I didn't really like this - to me, it didn't seem to have any flavor. Maybe I messed up, but Irish said the same thing about her's - she says it wasn't a very good recipe.

We plated Paupiettes de Sole au Vin Blanc a la Nage and Pommes de terre Duchesse

Chef actually did this part: [Process samon until smooth in a chilled food processor. Add the egg white adn pulse to incorporate. Scrape the bowl. Add cream slowly while machine is running. Pulse in cayenne and season with salt and white pepper.]

Place fillets skin side up on plastic wrap - cover with another sheet and gently pound to flatten evenly. Season the fillets with salt and white pepper. Spread a portion of almon mousseline on the fillets and roll starting at the tail end. in a small saute pan, rub 2 tsp of butter on the bottom. smrinkle with minced shallots and place the Paupiettes atop. Add the vermouth and stock to the pan bring the liquid to a simmer adn cover with a parchment round rubbed with the remaining butter. Gently poach until cooked through. Remove and keep warm. Add cream to pan, and simmer. Monter au beurre. Serve "swimming" in sauce.
Puree a Russet potato and fold in butter. Add egg yolk and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Pipe out in desired shape. I think Duchesse potatoes are a waste of perfectly good potatoes to eat as mashed. But that might just be me.
Sole meuniere, Beurre Noisette
Season halibut (because we can't possibly get the ingredients we are supposed to) and dredge in flour. Saute in clarified butter until lightly brown on both sides. Drizzle with lemon juice and finely chopped parsley. Pour out remaining clarified butter, and add whole butter cubes to hot pan. Without heat, it should turn noisette. Pour immediately over fillets and serve with lemon supremes/slices and chopped parsley.
This was fantastic! I wish we had made so many more pieces... the halibut was a great batch, Chef said - some of the best fish they've gotten at the school.
Here's Chef T - he's so fun! I'm going to miss seeing him.

Lessons Learned: To make an herb broth, use equal parts mirepoix (as opposed 2:1:1 onion:carrot:celery) and sweat. Add salt and white pepper. Add small amount of herbs then 8 oz water. Simmer 10-15 minutes.

"Wild" Game

Tonight we were supposed to cook venison, but we of course didn't get what our chef ordered, so instead we cooked rabbit. Luckily, it was already quartered for us. But have you ever seen a skinned whole rabbit? Not to gross some of you out, but I always tell people it looks like a cat. But it was weird, when Chef talked about it, he described the bone structure as similar to chicken - the front legs are much shorter than the back.

Tonight we made Corn Chowder, Lapin a la Moutarde, Sauce Gastrique, and Lentilles Vertes

Corn Chowder
Render bacon fat from lardons (do not brown bacon), reserving lardons for garnish. Add onions, celery, carrots and leek to bacon fat, sweat until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sweat until fragrant. stir in flour to make a white roux. Add stock and bring to a gentle boil; soup will thicken. Lower to simmer and add potato, corn and herbs, and cook until potatoes are tender. Finish with a few tablespoons of cream. Adjust seasoning and garnish with red pepper coulis.

Lapin a la Moutarde, Sauce Gastrique, and Lentilles Vertes
Season rabbit with salt and pepper. Toss the pieces in mustard until well coated, then dust with flour. Sear both sides, remove and reserve. Saute onions until soft and translucent, then add garlic. Deglaze with white wine and reduce by half. Return rabbit pieces to pan, then add enough stock to cover 2/3. Cover and maintain a low simmer until tender. Remove rabbit to a plate and keep warm.
Serve with Sauce Gastrique: Heat sugar and water until caramel is a rich amber color. Deglaze with wine and vinegar and add orange juice concentrate, red currant jelly (optional), and dried cherries. Reduce by half while stirring to dissolve caramel. Add the veal stock and simmer until nappe. Monter au beurre if desired.
Cook lentils. Basically, boil in water until tender.

Lessons Learned:
Rabbit is tasty. And so are green lentils. I love lentils. Especially lentil soup. But eating them this way, as a starch alone, is really good too! Just make sure you season well, or they are really dry.
Oh, and just in case you were concerned, these are not the same bunnies/rabbits you buy in pet stores. These are raised for eating, they aren't soft, fluffy, and fat (or smelly and mean if you ask me) like the ones in the store.

Sick Day

This was the first day of lamb, but I missed class due to illness. I can't remember if it was another migraine, a sore throat, or severe congestion. I've come down with so much this year with my stressful schedule and lack of sleep I can't even keep track anymore what illness I have when...
Someday, when I have time, I'll practice on my own making:
Cotelettes d'Agneau Duarry, Cotelettes d'Agneau Persillees, Haricots Blancs a la Bretonne


Today we made an asparagus soup, stuffed pork chop, apple sauce, and braised fennel. Yum! Now that I'm looking at this, it's basically a complete meal at a restaurant - all that's missing is dessert.
Creme d'Aspereges
-melt butter and sweat onions over medium heat
-add chopped asparagus stalks and a pinch of salt, sweating slowly to extract flavor
-add flour to make a white roux
-add stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until asparagus pieces are cooked through
-puree soup in blender until very smooth ans strain through a fine chinois, then adjust consistency (no thicker than cold heavy cream)
Soup should taste of asparagus, not cream

Entrecote de Porc Farcie, Compote de Pommes, and Fenouil Braise
To make the stuffing (farce), heat the butter in a small saute pan and sweat the onions and celery until soft. Add the sausage meat and break apart using a wooden spoon. Add the sage and cook until fragrant and sausage is no longer raw. Season with salt and pepper and cool slightly. Add breadcrumbs and just enough stock to bind it all together (about 1t). [want to be able to gently ball up the stuffing]. Adjust seasoning. Cut a pocket in the pork chop [do this opposite of bone] - fill with farce but do not overfill! Season chop with salt and pepper. Sear chop on both sides and finish in hot oven (400) until 145 degrees (about 10 min).
Melt butter in a small saute pan, add apples and saute until soft. Sprinkle a litte sugar over apples and a litle water to help apples break down. Check for sweetness and add a little more sugar if desired. Let apples gently cook down to the consistency of chunky apple sauce. Stir in vanilla and spices if desired.
Trim and clean fennel. Melt butter and add fennel pieces, cut side down, in an even layer. Cook over low heat until fennel is ust beginnign to soften. Turn fennel and add enough stock to cover by about 2/3. Season.
We also had to make roasted potatoes - our choice how to serve them.
Lessons Learned:
Learning how to have all the food ready and warm at the same time has been a really great lesson for me to learn - it's teaching me better organization skills. Plus I'm learning those obvious kitchen tricks of a low oven to keep food warm, or foil tents. Fun!

A Change of Plans

We didn't do day 7 - pork. Chef instead assigned us to create appetizers for a party of 50 people from the student-run literary magazine. After a lengthy brainstorming session in which he told us to come up with recipes from the ingredients we had in front of us, we (or, really, Chef) came up with the following: mushroom tart, caramelized onion tart, grilled vegetables on skewers with sauce, pork skewer with sauce, pork sandwich, veg sandwich, rice pudding balls
My table made the mushroom tarts, pork skewer with sauce, and rice pudding balls. I did the mushroom tarts, or, more specifically, I made the tarts. 50 triangular puff pastries. Which means: cutting out 50 triangles, cutting out 150 edge pieces, then "gluing" on the edge pieces with water. This took a really long time.
Chef said we did a pretty good job, but it would have been faster if I had made all the tarts for both teams - he said a circular shape would have been easier because it would have cut down on time. I would only need to have cut the original circle, and then another smaller one to line the edge, x50 of course. But 100 is a lot less than 200. The other group made squares, which was even more work.
Here's my completed tray:
And a close-up:

Then we had a lecture on meat cookery - mostly repeated from Meat Fab. But it never hurts to review.
And it was Tennessee's birthday! Irish actually had me and her over to her apartment on Sunday for a formal dinner -but this is the cake Master brought for Tennessee - standard Jewel yellow cake because that's what Tennessee loves best!
There's this guy Peanut next door - he's given all of us nicknames. I'm Smiley because, well, he thinks I didn't smile enough when he first talked to me. She's e-dub because it's an abbreviation of her real name. Anyone of us that interacts with him has been given a nickname. It's kind of sweet actually.
Lessons Learned:
Maillard reaction: caramelization of carbs in protein.
Rare meat 130 degrees, medium 140-145, and well at 160 degrees.

Because you can never have enough veal

This day Chef put us on time limits. He had each table turn in the plated dish by a certain time. This worked out really well - we weren't all scrambling at the stoves or for the ingredients at the same time. I wasn't due until the last group, so I worked on the other dishes first.

Potage aux Poireaux et Pommes de Terre
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and leeks until soft - do not brown leeks. Then add mirepoix and salt. Add potatoes, stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Pass through a food mill, then add cream to adjust the consistency. Do not boil - the cream will curdle.
As you can see, I broke the cream. Whoops. But mmm chives.

Escalopes de Veau a la Viennoise - scallops in the style of Vienna
Pound veal into thin medellions, about 1/4 inch thick, season. Use SBP (standard breading procedure) to bread cutlets. Heat oil in pan, then fry cutlets, then remove and keep warm. Discard oil, and add butter to pan off heat. Add lemon juice and reduce. Pour over veal and decorate with the classic Viennoise garnish: anchovies, chopped simmered in shell egg, capers, and lemon supreme.
Veau Cordon Bleu with Broccoli a l'Anglaise and Sauce Tomate
Pound veal to 1/4 inch thickness, season. Place the slice of ham on one escalope and then lay the cheese on the ham. Leave an open ring around at edge so it can seal. Place the second escalope on top to form "sandwich." press down to ensure the layers are stuck together, season. Use SBP to bread the veal making sure it is evenly coated and sealed tightly. Brown both sides in oil.
Sauce Tomate:
Heat diced salt pork to render fat, remove pork, then add mirepoix and saute to get a little color. Add the tomato paste and pincer, add flour to make a roux. Deglaze with white wine and let alcohol evaporate. Add tomato puree and stock and bring to a simmer. Add herbs (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary) and peppercorns and hold at a very low simmer for about 30-45 mins, Pass through food mill thren strain througha fine chinois; adjust seasoning.
Blanch broccoli.
Um, yeah, mine is raw on one side. Whoops. The cheese is supposed to melt when cut into. Clearly, mine is still solid. Ha.
Lessons Learned:
Standard Breading Procedure: what we've previously called 3-step breading. Flour. Egg wash. Bread crumbs.


This day we plated Escaopes de Veau Marsala, Riz Blanc, and Asperges a l'Anglaise. Like my plating? Don't you want to eat it? This is a really good veal dish.

Begin cooking rice - just plain rice - 1 part rice to 2 parts water. This gets easier each time I make it.
-Pound veal cutlets flat to 1/4 inch thickness. Season then dredge in flour.
-Heat a large saute pan, add oil, and fry cutlets to desired doneness (about 30 sec per side). Remove and keep warm
-Discard oil and add shallots to hot pan (10 seconds)
-Deglaze with Marsala (au sec) and add thyme and stock
-Simmer until nappe, remove herbs
-Monter au beurre and adjust seasoning
Meanwhile, cook asparagus - blanch them. So simple! Season vegetables by heavily salting the water, not the vegetables themselves.

We also made Blanquette de Veau.
I don't know why I don't have a picture of this, but it might be because it looked so disgusting. When I turned it in, Chef asked me how it tasted, and I said I didn't know because I don't really like cream-based dishes, and have no schema (ha! psych! education!) for what they are supposed to taste like. He says I need to get over it - but he doesn't know I don't plan on being a chef, and so don't really need to get over it...
-Blanch cubed veal
-Put blanched veal in pan with enough white stock to cover, add bouquet garni, onion pique, and salt
-Bring to a boil, skim foam, lower to simmer until tender about 90 minutes
-Meanwhile, prepare white roux and reserve
-Make liaison by whisking yolk and cream together in bowl. reserve
-When veal is tender, remove and keep covered. Strain liquid through a chinois and discard the garni and onion
-return stock to saucepan and reduce, whisk roux into reduced stock in small amounts (this is a veloute)
-In a new pot, temper liaison into sauce: temper 1/2 veloute, stir, temper other 1/2. stir constantly
-return meat to sauce
-season with a few drops of lemon juice, nutmeg, salt and white pepper

Lessons learned:
An onion pique is an onion pierced with a clove and bay leaf. We were making such a small serving of the veal that we only used a quarter of an onion, but I would imagine if you use a whole onion, you would pierce it with more than one clove

Day 4

Wow it's been a long time since I posted - sorry, people! it's been a busy few weeks.
Way back, we made the following dishes:

Boeuf Bourguignon
-reserve beef cubes and vegetables from marinade separately
-render fat from bacon, reserve bacon
-saute mushrooms, remove
-dry beef cubes, season, then brown until well caramelized, add vegetables and saute
-add flour to beef and vegetables (make a roux) and cook 1-2 min
-add stock, cover with foil and simmer until very tender
-remove beef from pot and reserve; strain braising liquid through a fine chinois and discard vegetables. return liquid and beef to pot and add bacon and mushrooms
-simmer to heat through
-garnish with pearl onions and finely chopped parsley, serving with buttered noodles
Bavette de Boeuf Grillee
-dry and season flank steak with salt and pepper
-brush lightly with vegetable oil
-grill both sides, rotating to create quadrillage
Here's the story of what happened: each table was given one giant flank steak to season and grill. Our table got two, because we had the biggest table. Guys at each table decided to do this task - and then, ha! Every single one of them was raw when Chef cut into them. So they had to put them in the oven. And then - this drove every one else nuts - Army was the only one who shared "his" steak with the class - every other one of them wrapped that huge steak in foil and walked off with it. Chef was not happy. Seriously, selfish? Why do you need an entire flank steak all to yourself?
Sauce Espagnole into Bourdalaise
-heat oil and brown beef trim
-add mirepoix and saute
-add tomato paste and pincer
-add stock, bring to simmer, add 2T of roux and whisk
-add herbs and simmer for 30 minutes
-strain sauce through a fine chinois
In our case we strained this into the wine reduction here:
-heat pan and sweat shallots, then add thyme and peppercorns
-deglaze with red wine, reduce to au sec
-take 4 oz espagnole, stir, reduce to nappe
-turn heat off, monte au beurre, strain, and season
Lessons Learned:
There are three types of roux: white (the most thickening power, less heat, gelatanizes more, cooked 1-3 minutes); blond (cooked 3-5 minutes); brown (cooked 5-10 minutes, less gelatanization power, more caramelization). Always add a hot roux to cold liquid, or a cold roux to a hot liquid. Stock can be reduced three times to create three new sauces: stock takes one day, then you can make brown sauce (which takes a couple hours), then demiglace (another couple hours), then finally boardalaise (about 15 minutes)