Culinary School, Here I Come (14) Week 5


Culinary school will kill me! I’m exhausted from standing on my feet all day, running up and down stairs, to and from station to station. Not to mention the slight pain I have in my left forearm from hoisting large stock pots full ‘o stock. I will survive.

Aside from that, it was a pretty productive week. But first, let’s test your knowledge. What is the difference between an omelet and a frittata? An omelet is a single serving scrambled egg type of dish with some kind of filling. A frittata could be a single serving or multi serving and cut into pieces. The ingredients in a frittata are incorporated into the scrambled eggs and cooked in a pan on the stove, then finished in the oven or broiler.

Tinfoilduck entertained an out of town guest this week and I’ve succumbed to the lure of triple-cream cheeses. On the menu; Chicken Roulade with a demi-glace (see previous blogs if you don’t know what that is), my version of Beef Wellington, done with Mahimahi. So I call it my Mahi Wellington. I sliced it and topped it with a compound butter made with shallots, roasted garlic, parsley and lemon juice. I made a Spanish side dish called Garbanzos con espinacas, or garbanzos with spinach. That was very tasty and included garlic, onions, tomatoes and saffron.

Oops, I forgot the garnish!

But the night belonged to the cheese course and dessert.  I discovered a cute little cheese shop called “Who Cut The Cheese” and paid them a visit. I was hooked on the St. Agur triple cream blue cheese from France. Butter is 85% milk fat, this cheese was about 80%. It melts in your mouth. I also got a Mango Ginger Stilton from the UK. That was quite tasty as well. I served it with slices of apple and peach with toasted walnuts drizzled with honey.

Oops, no garnish again!

It had been a while since I served Bananas Foster so I decided to break out the rum and my matches. It was equally as good but with all the excitement, I forgot to take a pic. You can be sure I forgot the garnish.

As Hillary says, “It takes a Village”, so does preparing a banquet. The stock people prepare the stock for the soup people, the prep people prepare the ingredients for the banquet people who combines all the ingredients to make the main dish. We don’t do desserts yet, so we rely on the baking department to provide the desserts. We all work together in one harmonious group…well, most of the time. We have been serving some groups that range from 30 – 45 covers so we have to calculate the specific amount of food needed. Did you know that a standard portion of soup is 6 oz. and a standard portion of a sauce is 2 oz.  Well neither did I until I became a culinarian. So, if you were serving 40 people soup, how much soup would you need? (6 X 40 = 240 oz). Okay, so what does that mean? Well, a gallon equals 128 fluid ounces so I would need approximately 2 gallons of soup to serve this function. You always want to err on overage as it’s harder to make a soup if you run out. If you overestimate you could always re-purpose the soup later. The whole point here is that you must be able to correctly plan the amount of food needed instead of “winging it.” We served a lovely Vichyssoise (cold potato leek soup) with an Eggplant Lasagne on a Tomato Cream Sauce and sauteed Green Beans.  It was tasty.

We also prepared a Hollandaise sauce which was quite easy. I won’t go into the details. The highlight of the week, however, was our version of Iron Chef. It was actually a test to see how creative we could be with a given ingredient.  The magic ingredient was a chicken leg. We had the run of the kitchen. Anything was available to use but we had to serve the protein, a starch and a vegetable. I decided to take my leg, chicken that is, oh yeah, I do have a chicken leg! I gently pulled the skin down and wrapped sage leaves around the meat and seasoned with salt and pepper. I pulled the skin back, floured, egg washed and breaded in a seasoned panko crumb mixture. I browned the leg on the stove and finished it in the oven. My sauce was a pan sauce with chicken stock, shallots, garlic and marsala wine. It was all reduced and would be spooned on at the last minute. I decided to show my knife skills by slicing fingerling potatoes that had been par boiled and pan frying them as well as making a simply steamed julienned carrot dish with a sage and parsley flavored bechamel sauce (I had been working on that sauce earlier so I set some aside). I took a carrot disk that I hollowed out and used it like a napkin holder to insert the julienned carrots. I thought it was genius but the jury is still out.

Sorry the pic is so small but my computer skills aren’t as good as my culinary skills.

Week 6 ahead is the final week in our Skills module. I expect another Iron Chef, but I’m thinking about what I can create now.

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About tinfoilduck

I had this wacky idea to go to culinary school, while maintaining another full time career. I will be blogging about the program and how it affects me as I try to manage my daily life and how I try to keep everything together.
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