As I write this, I’m lounging at home recuperating from the end of semester cramming and finals. First things first, Student Day menu. Our final assignment was to pick a type of cuisine and design a protein, starch, vegetable and garnish to serve on our final days of production. We would have to plan out our food order, plan out our prep list and do all of our prep work. We were also responsible for setting up our stations, the line and basically it was all up to us. The class was divided into 3 groups. 2 groups went on Tuesday and 1 group served on Wednesday. My group decided to feature Moroccan cuisine. I had originally wanted to do Indian but others preferred Moroccan. That was okay with me since I’ve never prepared any Moroccan food before. We chose the following menu:
I have to elaborate here because it was a very complicated menu. First, Chermoula is a marinade made with saffron, garlic, ginger, olive oil, cilantro and hot red peppers. It is also used to flavor the sauce. The sauce was made with diced potatoes, carrots, onions, black olives, tomato concassee, preserved lemons, fish stock and chermoula. The eggplant was amazing. We worked on a paste called harissa a few days before to allow it to come together. The harissa give the dish it’s spicy flavor. Harissa is a mixture of garlic, cilantro, roasted red pepper, saffron, hot red pepper, cumin and coriander seed all processed into a paste. The eggplant was peeled, sliced and grilled, then cooked with some ginger, garlic, lemon juice, ground cumin, lots of honey, seasonings and the mysterious harissa. The eggplant was amazing. We decided to keep the couscous simple by stirring in some moistened dried fruit and toasted almonds. I will do this menu again!
This challenge wasn’t graded on sales. It was graded on flavor and all groups were averaged in so that everyone got the same grade. I supposed that encouraged us to be helpful to others….I’d rather see what our groups score was and comments were our comments from customers.
With that out of the way, I could study for finals and do a “dress rehearsal” of the 2 dishes that we were going to be graded on for our kitchen practical. We would have to mince garlic, chiffonade basil leaves, small chop onions, batonnet a carrot, concassee a tomato, butcher a whole chicken into 8 pieces and use the 2 deboned breasts for our dish.
Ok, I’m an ex dancer so practicing is in my blood. I was not going to wing this one so I decided to spend Sunday evening working on what I’d be doing on Monday morning at 7 AM sharp. The dish was called Chicken with Garlic, Onions and Basil. We had prepared it once before in class but I was unhappy with the results. I followed the recipe exactly and knew that it was off. The recipe stated to sautee the onion and garlic together but if you do that, the onion will not be soft enough by the time the garlic begins to burn. It also says to deglaze the pan with wine and lemon juice. I think you need to add the 2 ingredients separately. The wine first, let the alcohol cook out, then add the lemon juice. I was right. When I made it on Sunday, it was absolutely delicious. Simple, yet lots of flavor. The vegetable we were required to prepare was Carrots with Maple Syrup. The recipe was easy enough, just carrots, butter, maple syrup and seasonings. We, however, had to parboil the carrots before cooking the dish. My dry run proved useful as I needed to parboil them a little longer than I thought.
So 7AM on Monday came pretty quickly. I was a lot calmer than I thought I would be. My cuts were okay. My chicken butchering was good. My chicken entree and carrots were really good (I got a taste). It must have been good, I got 91 points out of 100. That translates to an A for the practical. Off to the written exam. I won’t spend much time here. I scored an 85 out of 100, which translated to a B. All in all, I was pleased with the day and more excited that the semester was over and I can have my life back again….for 3 weeks.
Continuing in my overachiever ways, I ordered my books for next semester and got delivery of them today. I got some reading to do!