I left off last week realizing that school this semester was going to kick my ass. Fresh from that realization, my counselor told me that she had to work at getting my scholarship funds released as I was not considered “full time.” WTF is said! I’m only carrying 11 credits and I think that the full time threshold is 12. Couldn’t be because I was spending way too much time at school for me to be part time. So I added up my weekly hours:
Adv Baking – 8 hrs
Menu planning – 2 hrs
Beverage – 1 hr
Garde Manger – 8 hrs Total hours = 19 But wait. I have to factor into my Fellowship hours with Chef Tom at Class Act. That would be an additional 15 hours. Now it all makes sense. It would be an easy semester without my fellowship…Rats!
Anyhoo, the second week felt a little more comfortable. I’m getting to know the other students and finding the rhythm of working in them. Adv. Baking was another week of breads.Scaling whole wheat walnut dough750 grams of benched dough.Baked off walnut whole wheat rolls. Yum!We did a lot of baking and some tasting. We sampled some awesome Sourdough, Olive Sourdough and Walnut Wheat. More bread next week.
We had our first quiz in Garde Manger. I got an 89%. First time ever I got below 90% for anything. How am I going to make up for that? You’ll see later. The topic for this week were salads. On Tuesday our groups were assigned to make 3 salads. Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables, Beluga Lentil Salad with Fennel & Tomato and finally Tabbouleh. There wasn’t much organization in the group but we all somehow found a task to do and did it. The Beluga Lentil Salad was mine to make. These “grain” salads, I learned, are divided into a body (whatever grain or main ingredient), a garnish (what I would call filling; roasted veggies, sauteed veggies) and a dressing. The best ratios would be 2 parts body and 1 part garnish. The amount of dressing would be up to you. Check our salads out.Thursday was our first practical. We were required to make 2 composed salads using chicken breast and shrimp and mystery pantry ingredients. First, a composed salad is one that is carefully arranged, instead of being tossed. It usually has a focal item and is colorful. Each component should stand on it’s own but shouldn’t be out of place. With that said, our first salad was a Roasted Chicken, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart with Apples, Figs and Arugula topped with a Lemon Vinaigrette. Our second salad was a Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Shrimp, Spring greens and a Roasted Red Pepper Coulis Vinaigrette.Chef Craig doing the evaluation.
Our dishes both looked really good and our evaluation couldn’t have been much better. Our Tart Salad was picked as the best salad of the day both in terms of taste and visually. Our review for the Napoleon wasn’t as glowing. It seemed that the shrimp was not carefully incorporated. Our first plan was to slice them thinly and layer into the Napoleon but we pitched that idea. Oh well, you can’t have winners every time. We got 48 points out of a maximum of 50. Go team SLNK!
As a “Fellow” in Class Act, I help Chef Tom out with the students and sometimes get assigned a task to complete for our service. My task on Friday was to make a potato chip garnish. It wasn’t your ordinary garnish, It was 2 paper thin potato slices with a fennel frond in between. Not as easy as it seems. All the air pockets must be pressed out of the envelope or it won’t crisp. It was very laborious and time consuming but it added a special touch.This was a very stressful week as Saturday was my sisters wedding at my house. I was initially asked only to make the cake, to which I responded “Um, I’ve only decorated 1 cake in Beginning Baking and you want me to make your wedding cake?” I reluctantly agreed and must have been drunk when having this conversation because I then said “Since I’m in culinary school, it makes sense for me to cater the food as well.” As a result of that, I’ve been prepping for the past 3 weeks and stressing for 6. I started working at 8:30 am and didn’t stop until the guests left a 9:30. If you think you’ve prepped it all, don’t worry, you always forget something. Here are some of the goodies served.Polenta with Roasted Red and Green Peppers, Parmesan Cheese and Pepper Oil.Tofu with Ginger & Soy Glaze.Vichyssoise Shots with Green Onion Oil.Roasted Red Pepper Coulis Poached Shrimp (the natives were restless so I forgot the garnish.)Asian Chicken Skewers with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce.Fried Ahi, Okinawan Sweet Potato and Yam Nori Rolls with Ginger Soy Dippping Sauce.Pulled Pork with Caramelized Maui Onions, Dried Cherries and Mango on Homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread Rolls.
What I wasn’t able to photograph was the Pohole Fern Shoot Salad with Cherry Tomato Salad with Li Hing Vinaigrette. I do have a tip if you are using tomatoes in a salad. Always salt and drain overnight if possible. It releases a lot of water and doesn’t make your salad soggy.I suppose I could reduce this tomato water down and use it for something.
Oh the cake. Butter cream had become the thorn in my side. No matter what version I tried, it always had some solid bits in it. Oh well, I did the best and it tasted really good. The cake was a Butter Sponge and the Butter cream was made with a Swiss Meringue. Both recipes were from Martha Stewart. My sister insisted on orchids and she also got a cake topper that wouldn’t have been my first choice or any of my choices for that matter.Shaping the cake layers to the proper width. Check out my ghetto set up…lazy susan on a box. Nothing but the best with the duck!Since my floors are not level, my cakes are no either. I have to find the lowest point on all 6 cakes and that becomes the height of all 6 layers. I thought it was rather ingenious of me to bust out a ruler instead of winging it. This process took me a long, long time.I used this amazing lilikoi curd as filling between the layers.Oh butter cream, please be good to me. Swiss meringue to be exact.The final product.
The cake made it without falling over. The support straws even held up. The only thing this cake was missing was band aid. So before you judge, just remember this was my first one ever.
What a relief it was to wake up on Sunday with not a care in the world. No prep, no planning, just some homework. Until next week, see ya!