Friday, December 18, 2009

I did it!

Well, I drove all the way here to be at school for a total of one hour, but it was worth it! I got an A in Baking & Pastry!

Chef asked if I took a picture of my Hello Kitty cookie, and I showed it to her on my phone. She loved it and wished she could have eaten it.

Now Tim and I are going to have a bloody mary, and then I'm going home and going back to sleep.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Practical Day 2: Pithivier, French Buttercream, and Dessert Plating

My secret for plating my dessert: I made Hello Kitty tuile cookies. The bad part: Chef Kelly, who loves Hello Kitty as much as I do, had an emergency and didn't get to give us our grades. Our substitute chef promised she would tell Chef Kelly about my cookies!

I think I only got three points off altogether, so we'll see how my grades pan out. I find out tomorrow. I really hope I get an A in this class.

One more day of basically just fun, then I'm off until January 4th!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Practical #3, Day 1

I made my puff pastry for my pithivier today. I also made my genoise cake and my mini-cheesecakes. Frangipane cream for pithivier is done. Kirsch syrup for the cake is done.

Tomorrow's schedule:
French buttercream (to frost the cake)
Cut cake into three pieces, frost, refrigerate,
Put together pithivier, bake.
Make tuile cookies and concern myself with plating.

Oh, and our written final is tomorrow. I wrote my paper in about 20 minutes, so that's all done. I'm not too worried about this practical. I do really want an A in the class, so I'll put as much work into my three cheesecake plates as is necessary. I will post pictures if they turn out well!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dessert Plating

Today we practiced dessert plating with our tuile cookies and the sauces, plus cheesecake, creme brulee, and creme caramel.

I have decided to do cheesecake for my practical. I made a really pretty plate today, and my tuile cookie idea came out almost good enough. I got some better piping bags to help me out, so I should be good by Thursday when I need to use them. Tomorrow I have to make the white cake, plus the pithivier, and my cheesecake, so I can focus only on pretty plates on Thursday.

My entire class forgot that we have a paper due Thursday! I'm going to do it tomorrow night; I'm not in much of a paper-writing mood right now.

Oh, and I ate a whole creme brulee today. I feel like a pig. A happy pig.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creme Brulee, Creme Caramel, and Cheesecake

Today we made three different things, each in individual serving dishes (so cute!). Cheesecake was the easiest. Creme Caramel is basically just flan, and Creme Brulee has me really excited for tomorrow. Everything we made today is resting in either the freezer or the fridge right now.

Tomorrow we will make our tuile cookies and practice plating. For our practical, we have to choose one thing that we made today, and make three separate plates showing our creative side. I already have one really good idea, but I'm not posting it until it happens!

We got out an hour early again. My class (or at least the majority of it) rocks!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Grandma's Lebanese Recipes: A Tabbouleh Party

Here is my grandmother's breakdown of the oh-so-awesome tabbouleh party.

Our famous dish of Tabbouleh, when served at tea time in the afternoon, is called a Tabbouleh party (see recipe for Tabbouleh).

First serve Tabbouleh and drinks. Then serve sandwiches, cakes, cookies, fruit, tea or coffee.

It is fun to have a Tabbouleh party for your friends and let them enjoy the taste, the color, and the high food value of this dish.

/end Grandma

I have no idea what "high food value" means, but I love it. I'm going to have a Tabbouleh party soon. Oh, and if you don't know, tabbouleh is a salad made mostly with parsley, and I'm not really its biggest fan.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Caramel Sauce and Tuile Batter

That's really all we did today. Caramel sauce isn't hard to make at all! Our tuile cookies will be used for garnish on our final dishes, but we didn't actually bake them today. Chef Wendy said we could leave; we were done after an hour! It's a three and a half hour class.

So we made scrambled eggs and pizza, then we left, still an hour and a half early. Pretty sweet for a Friday, but not much to post about!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pithivier and Palmiers

Today we used our puff pastry dough to make pithivier and palmiers. I had no idea palmiers were made with puff pastry, but there you go. My palmiers ended up in a hot spot in the oven, so half of them were overcooked (well, burned), but the rest were delicious. Palmiers is just a puff pastry cookie-like thing with cinnamon sugar.

Pithivier is puff pastry pie that's made with two circles of puff pastry, stuffed with Frangipane (almond) cream. It's delicious, and Chef said mine was really pretty.


After we made all the puff pastry things, we started our sauces for plate decorating. I got my raspberry sauce, my creme Anglaise, and my chocolate sauce done today. Tomorrow I just have to get my caramel sauce done and make some tuile cookies for accent pieces. I need to make a really cool template for my tuile cookies so my final practical plates look awesome. Maybe I could do a Hello Kitty template! I was thinking about some snowflakes too. I will experiment with them tomorrow and post the results!

Chef Kelly is out tomorrow, so Chef Wendy is going to sub for her. I heard a rumor that she's going to make us jambalaya! Oh, real food, how I miss you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes, really. We made chocolate chip cookies today. I think they needed them for a charity or for the restaurant, so they had us do them. Mine turned out okay; the ones I made last Saturday were better. Tim and I made one giant cookie as well, which I gave to one of the administrators at the school. He was pretty excited about it.

We also folded our puff pastry dough three more times. Tomorrow we will use it to make pithivier, and no, I don't know what it is yet. I know it has some sort of pastry cream in it.

What an easy day! We got out more than an hour early!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Yesterday we made lady fingers for our tiramisu. Today we made the filling and the coffee dip for the lady fingers. The filling is whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, some egg yolks, and that's about it. My tiramisu is pretty, but not perfect. Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of this dessert; at the very most I can only have a small piece.

We started our dough for puff pastry, which I am a huge fan of, so I can't wait for tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Oh man, this cake is going to be amazing. We made chocolate mousse today for the filling, then we made icing and decorated our cakes. I used kiwi, strawberry, and blueberry on mine. I tried a piece of plain chocolate cake, and just that was incredibly moist and flavorful. I can't wait to dig into the full cake!

I have a picture. Maybe I will take a cross section of it when we dig into it later. In case I don't, here is a breakdown of what's inside the cake!
The actual layers start with a circle of meringue on the bottom, which we made on Friday, and then a layer of chocolate mousse, a layer of cake, more mousse, more cake, more mousse, and then chocolate glace icing over the whole thing.
(Ignore chocolate smudges on the cake round; it was hard to get onto that thing!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cake: Day 2

Today we learned how to frost a cake. It's not as difficult or as tedious as I thought it would be. We made French buttercream icing, which is disgustingly delicious, to frost our cakes.

I wanted to try writing with chocolate, so my cake looks silly. I did a heart, and my name, and my name in Arabic, and some cherries. The point is that I can do it! I really didn't know if it was hard to do. Based on my classmates' cakes, writing on cake with chocolate is best suited to girls.

Monday we are making chocolate mousse cake!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cake: Day 1

We made two cakes today; one plain and one chocolate. My chocolate cake turned out really well, but I don't think I sifted my flour enough for the plain cake. It didn't rise as much as I would have liked.

Frosting them is tomorrow, and then I will have cake for the weekend! I'll try to get some pictures if I make them really pretty.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Practical Score and Results

Everything went smoothly and I got done an hour early! My tart was slightly overcooked, so I got docked for that, and the Paris brest filling that I (*ahem* Jose) made was broken. I didn't even know you could break a cream filling.

I ended up with a 40/46. Not bad. Chef Kupper came by when I was in the library and said my tray was the prettiest one. He wrote a 4 on it (remember, we used to get graded out of 4 in his class) and a "Good Job!" That made me feel pretty good. He said something about a future pastry chef... no thanks! I like real food much more.

There are probably seven pies/tarts in my kitchen right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First Day of Second Practical Exam

I got a lot done today. I thought I would be all sneaky and use some of the fillings and pastry creams that we had already made, but they were gone when we got to class. I still got a lot of stuff done.

What we have to make by tomorrow:
Apple Pie
Pear Tart
6 Eclairs
6 Profiteroles
6 Paris Brests

What I have done:
Apple Pie crust
Pear Tart crust and filling
Eclairs (just have to dip them in chocolate)
Profiteroles (same)
Paris Brests are baked, still need to stuff them

That means tomorrow I have three hours for these:
Make apple filling, roll out dough, bake pie
Fill tart, bake
Make filling for Paris Brests, fill
Dip Eclairs and Profiteroles in chocolate

And I have three hours to do just those things! I should be done early.

I think today went really well. The quiz was multiple choice so it was easy. Cleanup was hell, though!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up, and Key Lime Pie

Today we got out of class an hour early! We made key lime pie, which is really easy. We also had some eclair type things from last week that we filled with a pastry cream/praline filling to make them officially Paris Brest. They're good but way too decadent. I ate one and there was no way I could have another one.

So, about Thanksgiving:
We had about ten people, and food for probably thirty. The turducken was obviously the highlight of the meal. I found it to be very heavy on the duck flavor, which doesn't surprise me since chicken and turkey are both pretty bland. The seasoning and the stuffing were both cajun style, which I enjoyed a lot. I think we have about five pounds of it left in the freezer. Our sides were pretty standard- more stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, the usual. The one thing we finished all of was the gravy!

We have our second practical in Baking and Pastry tomorrow and Wednesday. We are making apple pie, pear tart, and eclairs. I'm pretty sure I'll get everything almost finished in one day, but we'll see. I need to look over my recipes and study up on flour for the written test.

Devin and I are going to Strip Steak tonight for our year and a half-aversary (I know, I know). I'm very excited because that's the restaurant where I had the best filet mignon of my life. I hope it's as good as it was last time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sourdough, finally! Plus Eclairs.

Today was great! We formed and baked our long-awaited sourdough wheat bread. It was so delicious and I have lots of it for tomorrow's big dinner.

We also made eclairs and profiteroles, which are surprisingly simple and contained the same ingredients. Tim is going to make the leftover chocolate filling into some kind of cake for tomorrow, as well.

About halfway through class, Chef Mary walked in with a cart and asked if anyone needed cranberry sauce or gravy. It was made by students and left over from the charity dinner they put on. We all jumped at the chance! Those were two things I was a little hesitant to make tomorrow, since I've never made cranberry sauce and gravy eludes me on and off. It's like I can only make good gravy half the time. We were going to use a mix! Sweet break for me, huh?

The only problem was carrying it all out to my car!

Tomorrow or Friday I will post about our feast, featuring the Turducken.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pear and Almond Tart

We are one day closer to having sourdough bread. We made our dough today, so we will bake it tomorrow.

The pear tart was made with the pie shell we put together yesterday, from pate sucree (that means sugar dough!). It has an almond and cream filling with pear slices on top. I tried it and liked it, but I remember disliking it last time I had it. I must have been eighteen at the time, and some of the kids in class didn't like it. Anyway, I like to think I have a sophisticated palate now. I love my tart, and it looks like a sunflower because I used one apricot slice in the middle. I should start posting pictures, maybe!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Pie

The first thing we did today was bake our quiches so we could have breakfast. They were delicious and will probably also be my dinner.

Today was pie day! We made apple pie with a lattice top. It was a lot of fun. I haven't tasted it yet but I'm sure it's delicious.

We added some whole wheat flour and water to our sourdough starters as well. I think we are finally making sourdough tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandma's Lebanese Recipes: Broiled Chicken (Lebanese)

The title is just how it is in the book. I haven't made this before, but I'm sure I've made some sort of variant of it.

And, cue Grandma:
Clean young chicken and cut lengthwise in two pieces. Broil on charcoal fire. Brush with little oil while broiling. Sprinkle with little salt and pepper and serve with the following sauce:
Garlic 10 cloves
Salt 1 t
Oil 2T
Lemon juice 1T

Pound garlic in salt. Mix in oil and lemon juice until you have a smooth paste.
Dip chicken meat in while eating.

My notes:
My only thought about this is that my mom used to make this for me when I was young and a very picky eater. This might be a good solution for picky children or even picky adults. My mom would just make the chicken breast, not the whole bird, but I'm sure it works the same.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today we made pie crust for our quiche, and put together the fillings. We will bake them Monday. I can't believe how easy it is to make pie crust!

We also made sugar cookie dough for Monday.

My parents came by school today and embarrassed me by taking pictures. Argh!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Robuchon Is Amazing

So this isn't so much about culinary school, but I just ate at Joel Robuchon and I need to post about it.

The amuse bouche was a caviar over a crab mixture, and it was delicious. I'm usually indifferent about caviar, but the crab put it over the top. I finished Devin's and my dad finished my mom's, since we both loved it but they aren't big seafood eaters.

A bread cart came through right after our amuse bouches came out, and was filled with probably twenty different artisan breads. We all had a bacon cheese roll, and I had a rosemary brioche, a cheese brioche, and a basil foccacia as well. It doesn't matter that I've been baking bread all week; apparently I don't get tired of bread.

I ordered the two course meal, which includes an appetizer and an entree, plus small desserts and coffee at the end of the meal. I chose the king crab appetizer with avocado, and it was delicious. I had the roasted duck entree, which originally included foie gras, but I requested it without (I'm sure that made the restaurant about $20 richer). It came with a roasted chestnut and some other seasonal fruits, tasted like a steak, and was cooked to perfection.

My dad had the salmon tartare appetizer, which he said was excellent. He loves salmon and pretty much gets it any chance he has. He then had the langouste entree, which is a spiny lobster, and it came with a sauce that contained sea urchin. It also looked delicious and creative. Both my mom and Devin had the steak entree and the chocolate dessert. The steak was perfectly cooked and delicious, and the restaurant was very accommodating to my mother, who doesn't like bell peppers, substituting hers for mushrooms. We each got a dollop of mashed potatoes on the side, which, I assure you, are the best mashed potatoes in the world. The chocolate dessert was topped with a little dark chocolate cup with Godiva white chocolate liqueur in it, which was really a nice touch. The dessert itself was a molten chocolate cake with coffee ice cream and was really nice as well.

The dessert cart was not your normal dessert cart. It was included with our coffee at the end of the meal and had about forty different one-bite desserts, mostly chocolates. The waiter made us two sample plates and put them on the table, and we finished them off. My favorite piece was one with hazelnut chocolate filling, which isn't surprising, since hazelnuts always please me. What a cool way to have dessert without even ordering it!

The actual place was very small, and very detached from the casino, which is really nice. Even at L'Atelier, which is also a Joel Robuchon restaurant, the casino is right there, outside the window. Robuchon is set back through a big double doorway. There were plush purple booths with pillows all over, and probably only seating for 50 people. The wine list was huge, and the beer list was small but respectable. I had two Chimay beers at $15 each, which isn't bad for that particular beer.

As we were about to leave, the waiter brought my mom and me a bag with a nice gift box in it. I guess just the women get this gift, but it's a little box of jelly candies. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm sure they're great.

I would go back. I will go back.

Practical Day 2- Bread, Cookies, Biscuits

Today I re-made my biscuits, and I'm so glad I did! They turned out perfectly, plus we were out of jalapenos so I got to just make delicious cheddar biscuits. All I had to do was those and my French bread. I got a 33 out of 36 points on my practical because I didn't bake the bread long enough- it was cooked but not browned enough. My peanut butter cookies and my biscuits each got the maximum 10 points.

Chef said that everyone did terribly on the quiz yesterday, except two people got perfect scores. I knew who that was- Tim and me. We're the overachievers. I really don't understand why people couldn't remember the 12 steps to yeast production. It was intimidating at first, but then we actually did all 12 steps, and that made it easy to remember them in order.

Want to know what they are? I'll do it from memory. We didn't even have to write explanations for the steps on the quiz, but there's no point in not writing them here so it makes sense.
1. Scaling ingredients- can't have too much or too little of anything
2. Mixing- activates yeast, makes the actual dough
3. Fermentation/Retardation- dough rises. Fermenting is at room temperature and retarding is in the fridge
4. Pounding- getting rid of the yeast bubbles
5. Scaling dough- each loaf must be of uniform size
6. Rounding- this creates a layer on the outside of the dough
7. Benching- dough needs to rest again, at room temperature
8. Forming- into whatever rolls or baguettes you need to make, flour and cut in this step
9. Proofing- final resting spot, high humidity, warm. Dough rises more.
10. Baking- 480 degrees in the deck oven
11. Cooling- must be cooled before cutting
12. Storing- bread can be frozen well but otherwise should be kept at room temperature, not in the refrigerator

We all donated some of what we made today to make Thanksgiving dinner for needy families, which I thought was nice. I absolutely hate having way too much of something and eventually having to throw it away when it could go to someone who needs it. I gave up almost all of my perfect peanut butter cookies and two baguettes for the cause. Tomorrow if they need us after class, we're going to help break down turkeys for the dinner, as well.

I believe we are finally making sourdough tomorrow. We have had our starters going since Pastry day 1, which was the Monday before last. I'm going to make a bread bowl!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First Day of Practical Exam

Today I made the dough for my French bread, made my peanut butter cookies, and made a batch of biscuits that was crappy, so I'm going to redo them tomorrow.

This practical is incredibly easy, and the quiz was totally aced. Chef says the next practical is a hundred times harder than this one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Croissants and Danishes

Today we rolled out our croissants. We made regular ones and chocolate ones. They were so good. I have lots of food at my house again.

We also made danishes with traditional filling, which surprised me. The traditional filling is cake and jam! We rolled them out and learned how to twist them in a few different ways, and then we topped them with different jams or a cream cheese mixture that we made. They're pretty good, but we put this glaze on them after baking that makes them really sweet, which I'm not a huge fan of.

Tomorrow is our first quiz and practical exam. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 16, 2009

French Bread and Croissant Dough

Today we made French bread from the dough we made on Friday. We each made two baguettes, a batard, a boule, and some rolls. The boule and the rolls were supposed to stay at school, but we dropped one (yes, it was actually an accident) so I took it home. I'm going to have soup in a bread bowl soon! French bread is yummy.

The dough for croissants and danishes has a pound of butter folded into it. Class should be really fun and really delicious tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandma's Lebanese Recipes: Hummus

I know hummus is pretty easy, but I've seen all kinds of weird variations, all of which are unnecessary. The recipe we used at school called for oil to be used within the hummus, which is just wrong. Here is Grandma's recipe as it appears in her book, and my easy take on it.

Dry hummus or chickpeas 2 cups
Tahineh 1 cup
Lemon juice 1 cup
Garlic 2 cloves
Salt 4-6 t

[This recipe, as it is in the book, is a little silly, because it assumes you use dry beans. Just buy a can of chickpeas and use that.]

Soak hummus in cold water for 12 hours (you can use canned, boiled chick peas if available).
Boil dry hummus in enough water to have it well done. A Presto [no idea] is the best thing to use for boiling.
Pound garlic and salt in a big bowl. Strain and pass boiled hummus thru a fine vegetable grinder and add to the salt. Add tahineh, mix well and add lemon juice. Beat with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste. Add more lemon juice and salt if desired. Serve in a big shallow dish and decorate top with pieces of radishes, pickles and chopped parsley. Cover dish with olive oil if desired.
You can use boiled potatoes instead of chickpeas, adding some water when mixing to have it smooth enough.

My notes:
"Easy Hummus" (by Eve) takes less than five minutes to make and you can find all the ingredients at a regular grocery store.
Use a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans are the same thing), a couple tablespoons of tahini, some garlic (I like lots so I use maybe four cloves), and throw them in a food processor. Taste it and add salt and lemon juice as desired. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with either paprika or cayenne.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brioche Day

Oh, how I have been looking forward to this day! We made our brioche dough into loaves, pull-apart rolls, a king cake type thing, and, of course, brioches. Chef also brought us some Hebrew Nationals so we could make pigs in a blanket.

I didn't make a loaf myself, but Chef told me I could take hers home. I'm going to make French toast with it tomorrow.

That was a lot of food that I just ate, and I have four bags of different forms of brioche at home with me now. Yum.

We also started our French bread dough today. It needs to be kneaded for at least half an hour, longer for me since my arms aren't very strong. It was actually pretty fun to do, and Chef complimented us for doing it without complaining, because her other class whined about it. We make French bread on Monday, I believe.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brownies and Brioche Dough

I just realized how boring it is to say, "Today we made brownies and dough for the brioche we are going to make tomorrow," so I need to figure out something more exciting to post about during Baking and Pastry class.

Really, we just made brownies. Tomorrow will be much more fun; brioche is one of my favorite things in the world. Not just one of my favorite foods, but one of my favorite things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Almond Cookies and Jalepeno Cheese Biscuits

Today we made more cookies! They're almond cookies that are piped into small pretty stars on a baking sheet, topped with a little raspberry jam, then baked. I'm sure most people have had similar cookies; I know I have. They're awesome but again, I have probably 80 of them. I made one in the shape of my name in cursive, too. That one is for me!

We also made biscuits with jalapeno and cheddar cheese. Mine turned out okay, except they didn't rise as much as I would have liked. I either worked the dough too much or warmed the dough too much with my hands. Don't worry, I learned my lesson and the next batch will be perfect. I think I have about ten biscuits left.

Devin is really going to have to start taking these things to work, because I do not know enough people to give all this food to!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pound Cake and Peanut Butter Cookies

Today we made marble pound cake and chocolate chip pound cake, and then some peanut butter cookies. This isn't as interesting as regular cooking, and measuring stuff is a pain in the ass, but actually putting stuff together in the mixer is pretty fun.

I have a ton of food right now, though- two whole pound cakes and 30 cookies. What am I going to do with all this food?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grades, and Day 1 of Pastry

Sorry I skipped the Lebanese recipe this weekend. I was really busy having a blast.

I got my grades. I got an A in Foundations III and in Nutrition. I got a B in Cost Control, which I think I might fight. We'll see. I don't want a B; I just got a certificate for getting a 4.0 in all my previous classes!

Today I got up at 10, which was wonderful, and went to Baking and Pastry. We talked about flour, made a sourdough starter, and got out early. Tomorrow will be much more exciting, I promise.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm off to Baking and Pastry!

I don't know my grades yet but I will post them when I do. I'm afraid I got Bs in both Foundations III and Cost Control, but we'll see. I got a certificate and a pin today for having a 4.0 in my first two blocks, and I want another one after the next block, dang it!

Anyway, today we just took our written final in FIII and made lobster and shrimp. It was actually a pretty sweet day; who gets to eat lobster at school? I think I did okay on the final, and I know I did well on my Cost Control final. Like I said, I will post my grades when I get them.

I am nervous. I feel like a brat being nervous about not getting straight As, but that's what my parents instilled in me, and for some reason, it just stuck with me.

Getting up at 10AM for the next six weeks is going to be so, so sweet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Steak and Chicken

The rest of the class had their practical exams today, so while they did that, my half made steak and chicken. The steak was grilled and then roasted for a few minutes. I made a marinade for the chicken that consisted of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, a very Eve thing to do. Everybody in the class thought it was great, so I was proud of myself. We also made fries, which is always good!

You know today must have been really easy, because that's all I have to say.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Practical Exam for Foundations III

I am so glad I got to do my practical exam today; half the class has to do theirs tomorrow and now mine is out of the way! I didn't get my grade yet, but I did well. I finished exactly on time. We had to butcher a chicken, start a chicken stock, and make a dish. I made a roasted airline breast, rice pilaf with mushrooms, sauteed carrots and broccoli, and supreme sauce for my chicken. Supreme sauce is made with veloute, heavy cream, and lemon juice. My dish went over well; hopefully I get the A that I want.

Yesterday was just practice for today, so I didn't post anything. All I did in class yesterday was butcher half a chicken and make pilaf. On top of that, last night at home I roasted a whole chicken and butchered another one for the freezer. It looks like practice was key to butchering my chicken perfectly today. I was going to cook the leg and thigh, but Chef came over and raved about my airline breast looking perfect, so I cooked that today instead.

We took our Nutrition final today, and I'm pretty sure I knocked that one out, too. All I have left is a written final in both Cost Control and Foundations III, plus a three day weekend, and then I'm off to Baking & Pastry!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Catering with Chef Lauer

Today I went to school at 8 AM to help Chef Lauer cook for a party he was catering for some friends. There were to be about 80 attendees, and it was a celebration for a guy who had a successful heart transplant- a pig's heart! We made a roasted pork leg and jerk chicken.

It was pretty fun, other than the fact that it was Sunday and I was at school. Once we got to the actual party it was a lot better. We just threw the chicken on the grill and ate some food. Overall, it was a good way to spend a Sunday, plus I got 7 more volunteer hours racked up. Now I have 12; 28 more until I get my certificate and medal.

I am very nervous about my finals this week, but happy to have another four-day week ahead of me at the same time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Grandma's Lebanese Recipes: Kibbeh

This is the first of my weekend posts, which won't talk about my life at school. I will post one recipe from my grandmother's cookbook each week. Feel free to make requests in the comments section, and I'll do my best to honor them. Keep in mind her cookbook is specifically Lebanese.

I will post the recipes exactly as they appear in her book, with any notes by me in brackets. The numbering is mine as well, to make the recipes a little more clear, at least I hope so.

2 lb Beef (ground very fine) [some people make it with lamb]
4c Burghul [a cracked wheat]
1 small Onion (chopped)
3T or more Salt
1.5 c Pepper
1 t Shortening for baking [only needed for second preparation method]

  1. Wash burghul and mix with meat, onion, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pass thru smallest blade of meat grinder. Mix well with your hands adding water little by little until you get a soft smooth dough.
  3. Work dough into small balls. With your finger, make a hole inside balls and stuff with kibbeh stuffing [recipe to follow]. Fry in deep oil.
[second preparation method- follow steps 1 and 2 above first]
Another way to make Kibbeh is to take a piece of the dough, spread a thin layer in a well greased tray and smooth with your fingers.

Put stuffing on top. Cover with another layer of dough.
Smooth top, dipping your fingers in water.

Cut top layer diagonally twice with a thin knife. Insert knife around Kibbeh in tray to let fat go in. Cover with butter or shortening. Bake in a hot oven until firm and brown on top. Serve with any green vegetable or salad with leban. Serves 6.

Kibbeh Stuffing
1 lb meat (chopped fine)
1/2 c onion (chopped fine)
1/2 c pine nuts
5T fat or butter
Fry chopped meat and onion in fat until well done. Add pine nuts and fry for two minutes. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Cool before using. Makes 1/5 c stuffing.

My Notes
  • If you don't have a meat grinder a food processor will work.
  • The balls usually taste better and are more fun to eat than the baked kibbeh. Make sure you make the outer crust of the balls very thin, so it gets nice and crispy. Making the outer crust thin takes practice.
  • If you are watching your weight, obviously use the baking method, rather than the frying one. You can omit the butter/shortening that is supposed to go on top of the kibbeh and it will still be good.
  • This dish is really good with plain yogurt and is frequently eaten this way in Lebanon. Alternately, you could serve hummus with it, but yogurt really complements it perfectly.
I hope everyone gets something out of this segment of my blog; I'm really excited about it. Again, let me know what you think, or if you have any Lebanese recipe requests!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sausage Day

Today we made lots of sausages, breakfast sausage and pancakes, Italian sausage with peppers and onions and garlic ciabbata, lamb sausage, veal sausage, you get the picture. We didn't get graded today, and we all had a really good time. I am really, really full right now, by the way.

The innuendo was flying, of course. Stuffing sausages is pretty hilarious.

New Equipment: Cryovac and Meat Grinder
Today I was sous chef, so I was pretty much everywhere. First I ground up some meat and made burger patties, then I cryovac'ed those and some bacon that we made last week. I learned how to use both those machines today, which I'm happy about. I pretty much had my hands in everything today.

Some Flattering News
Chef Lauer, the head chef of the entire program, tracked me down today to ask me if I would work at an event this Sunday. I was a little grumbly about it, not to his face of course, because Sunday is race day and I wanted to go to the NASCAR cafe, plus it cuts a day off my three day weekend. I'm doing it, though. Once I have forty volunteer hours I get a certificate and a medal. I have five already from the last event I worked.

New Segment
I am starting a new segment for this blog called Grandma's Lebanese Recipes. Each weekend, or tomorrow for this week, since I have the day off, I will post a recipe from my grandmother's Lebanese cookbook. There are copies of it floating around, but it's rare and usually expensive, so I figured this would be a good way to get her recipes out there. These are the recipes I plan to modify and republish in America, as my first cookbook, and as a tribute to my grandmother.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Big Lamb Day

Lamb Stew, Glazed carrots, Salad Lyonnais, Pommes Anna, Rack of Lamb (5 out of 5!)
Today I worked with Ethan and Tim, just three of us. We had a pretty extensive menu planned for the day, so we blocked it out in 15 minute segments. By the third segment, we were pretty far ahead of schedule, so that was nice. We made Lamb Stew (Navarin de Agneau), which was basically braising lamb, adding some vegetables, and making egg noodles. Tim added bones to the stew, and we got points for building flavor. I made the noodles and cooked them; Ethan did the vegetables.

I made the pommes Anna, which is a sort of potato cake made from very thinly sliced potatoes and butter. It's delicious, but it was undercooked because someone turned an oven down. We didn't get points taken off because it wasn't us that did that. I prefer to make it in a pan, but we were trying a new method today. I will not be adopting this new method.

The salad was pretty good, actually. It was frisee lettuce, onions, homemade bacon, and croutons, with a poached egg on top. Tim made the vinaigrette and I did the rest of it. Apparently poaching an egg is difficult; no one ever sent me that memo. I've never had a problem poaching an egg.

Ethan made the glazed carrots, including tourneing them, which is a huge pain. While the lamb stew was braising, Tim threw in a couple of the racks of lamb that we frenched yesterday. I'm glad he did; none of the other teams got far enough ahead to do it. Now I have dinner for two for tonight- the rack of lamb as well as the stew. Yum.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rack of Lamb

Today we each had to cut and french a rack of lamb. Frenching is hard, tedious work. Making sure the bones are completely exposed with no skin or meat is a huge pain, but I got mine done. We also made sauteed zucchini and some more little potato croquettes, which we will fry tomorrow. Since frenching the rack of lamb took so long for all of us to do, we didn't eat today.

We found out about our practical exams today. We will have to prepare a chicken dish in one of the cooking styles we've been taught, as well as demonstrate some knife cuts, prepare a rice or potato dish, and prepare a vegetable dish with carrots and a green vegetable of our choice. On top of that, we have to break apart the chicken ourselves and make chicken stock. We will have two and a half hours to do it, so I don't doubt that I will finish, but it will be very tedious.

I'm trying to decide how I want to do my chicken, whether I want to make potatoes or rice (leaning towards rice pilaf), and what vegetable I want to make (leaning towards broccoli). We're allowed to use notes, but not books, which makes sense. I need to have my recipe written out by Monday, which is the same day that my big project for Cost Control is due. There goes my Friday off!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sole Meuniere

Today we each had to make sole Meuniere, which is fish sauteed in butter with butter sauce. It's really easy and I cooked my fish perfectly. We also made couscous, which we really should have added more stuff to- it was so bland. We made stuffed tomatoes and braised celery as well. I made up the recipe for the tomato stuffing and it was pretty good, but our tomatoes were undercooked.

I have no idea why anyone would want to braise celery. I like it raw or cooked but still crunchy.

Hopefully tomorrow will be more exciting. Today was relaxed because we had our midterm first thing. I got an 84%, which I am just fine with. We had a math test today too. That's pretty brutal for a Monday.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mussels, Oysters, Osso Buco, Calamari, and Filleting a Flat Fish

We finally ate the Osso Buco that we've been working on all week. I'm not sure it was worth that much time, but it was good. Today the whole class worked together, and I took the lead on the mussels. We cleaned them, steamed them in wine, lemon juice, garlic, and onion, and ate a few of them. Then we cooled the rest down to save for Monday. I have no idea what we're doing with them on Monday, but I do love mussels, so I bet it'll be delicious!

I didn't eat an oyster because I know I don't like them, but I shucked one, and I filleted a flat fish (flounder? I don't know what fish it was). We made a fish stock with the bones and saved the fillets. The calamari was delicious; we all had Norma and Jamie to thank for that.

We formed the leftover risotto into little balls stuffed with bacon and cheese, breaded them, and fried them. Those were the highlight of my day, I gotta say.

Oh, and to elaborate on what I said at the end of my last post:
Pico has left the building. He had something come up and had to move back to California. Everyone was really sad to hear the news; Pico was the most well-liked person by just about everybody in our class. I miss him so much already, and like I thought it would be, class is totally different without him. I need to pick a new favorite person in my class, I guess. We're hoping that he'll come back, but if he does he'll be at least one block behind us. I'd hate him having to take Foundations III again, plus our other two classes right now are incredibly dull.

I do have good news, so there won't be a depressing end to this post: I brought in my transcripts from University of Washington today, and it turns out that I do get out of taking English next block, which is a two hour class that starts at 8:45AM. This means that next block I will have one class, Baking and Pastry, and won't have to be at school until 10:55. This means I get to sleep until 10AM every day if I want to, and I'm sure I will. Looks like all those English classes in college weren't that useless, huh? I'll also save $1200 or something on tuition just for the class I don't have to take, plus I won't have to stress about papers and studying for a whole six weeks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Veal Blanquette, Veal Cordon Bleu, Glazed Celeriac, Vegetable Saute, Risotto

Veal Blanquette, Veal Cordon Bleu, Glazed Celeriac, Zucchini and Asparagus Saute, Risotto (4.5 out of 5)
We had a pretty good, busy day today. The veal blanquette is like a veal stew, and was the most complicated thing we made. Carl actually made that one. The veal cordon bleu was a team effort; it's just like chicken cordon bleu, so breaded, pan-fried thin pieces of veal stuffed with ham and cheese. Yum! The glazed celeriac turned out decently, as did the saute, which I did by myself. It always worries me when I do things like that alone because I tend to add a lot of garlic. Chef loves garlic too, and told me it was perfect, but on the verge too garlicky for some people. We cubed some ham and threw it in with the vegetables, and Chef loved that. Our half point off was because our risotto was too thick and not soft enough. I think it's because we made it too early and tried to hold it by covering it with foil, so it continued to cook.

Anyway, I have a busy night, plus I have to study, so I should end this here. I got some disappointing news about one of my classmates leaving the program, but I'll wait to post who it is until everybody knows. I'm very, very sad about it, though.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finally Ate the Duck Confit! Yesterday's Dishes Included.

The duck confit was salty and delicious. We also made rice pilaf today, as well as a salad and some garlic butter for some bread that the Baking and Pastry kids made. No grades today, but it was fun.

Brussels Sprouts Paysanne, Braised Fennel, Steak with Maitre d'Hotel Butter, Cauliflower au Gratin, more freakin Duchesse Potatoes (4.5 out of 5)
We'd made the brussels sprouts dish before, so that was fine. The fennel should have been easy, but it's the only thing we got knocked down for because it was still undercooked even though it was basically transparent. The steak was cooked perfectly, thanks to Pico. I did the potatoes at the end in about five minutes, forgot the egg yolks, and they were still good, and seasoned well. I made the cauliflower as well, because believe it or not, I love cauliflower. You can't really go wrong with mornay sauce (Bechamel with Gruyere and Parmesan) and doing a dish gratin style. I was mean and took all the small gratin dishes first thing, but hey, I got to them first and there are only five of them!

Not too bad. The rest of the week is a lot of veal stuff and some risotto.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mexican Food Day

Today we didn't get graded, but it sure was a fun day! I was team captain and we did a round robin to pick our teams. I still got Pico and Jose, with the additions of Victor and Carl. Not bad.

We marinated the pork for carnitas over the weekend and made them today. The marinade was lots of orange juice and some spices; I will have to find out which ones because it was delicious. We also made guacamole, salsa, corn tortillas, black bean cake, corn and poblano, and a dull potato dish. I swear, we make some form of mashed potatoes every day. The black bean cake was the hardest to make because it required a really light touch and a perfect consistency. I think everyone in class messed it up. I made the guacamole, which is a lot harder when I can't use garlic powder, Tapatio, and Tabasco, like I do at home. I had to rely on creating my own flavors with crushed garlic, onion, jalapenos, and tomato. It came out really nice. Victor made the salsa and the tortillas, and Pico and Jose made the corn dish.

Mmm, Mexican food. And the white girl made the guacamole!

Friday, October 16, 2009

One Wild Day

Wednesday and today were both kind of random cooking days. I don't even remember what we made on Wednesday, and today Chef told us we were making pork roasts that had been cured, which could be done by two people, and then each one of us was to make a few tortillas and a vegetable saute. My vegetables turned out well. Of course Chef said I added too much garlic, but they weren't for a grade; they were for me to eat with my pork, so that was on purpose. I made carrots, leeks, fennel, and celeriac. I even did the carrots in little flower shapes. The cured pork roasts were delicious and juicy, and I love undercooked tortillas, so I made mine barely cooked on purpose. It's sitting in my stomach like a rock right now, unfortunately.

Yesterday was crazy, though. Here we go *deep breath*
Consomme with ravioli, julienne of celeriac and leek garnish
Mashed Potatoes
Creamed Spinach
Roasted Beef Loin
Horseradish Cream Sauce
Onion Rings
(3.5 out of 5, blah)
I got kinda stuck that day making boring stuff. Pico called the Consomme and then promptly boiled it, so it was completely messed up. I'm pretty sure one of the other teams turned our burner up, because I was watching it simmer for a good five minutes, and the next thing I knew it was boiling. Boiling a Consomme makes it cloudy, and on top of that, it was burned tasting. I really don't think it was Pico's fault, though.

The mashed potatoes and the garnish for the Consomme were my job. No, I'm not kidding, that is what I made in the course of two hours. I finished the mashed too early and we didn't heat them up enough for Chef, so I was grumpy about that. I did get to fill the ravioli, and come to think of it, I made the pasta dough, but that took all of five minutes once I got the hang of it. Jose had to help me because it was my first time actually making the dough. We filled the ravioli with a ricotta mixture, and they were delicious. I personally wouldn't want a plain ravioli in a Consomme, but that's what Chef asked for, so we did it. I wanted to make a sauce for the rest of them, but opted to start cleaning instead.

I had nothing to do with the creamed spinach, which turned out like spinach soup. The onion rings turned out well, and our beef was cooked so perfectly that the Chefs were really impressed. The horseradish sauce served with the beef was delicious, think about the sauce you get when you order prime rib. I love horseradish, which apparently is strange for a girl, I'm told.

What a wild day, though. Still, it wasn't as daunting as I thought it would be, and we were the first ones done. I enjoy my team and I hope we get to stick together, but Chef said he plans to shake the teams up a little next week, so we will have to wait and see.

By the way, I am now halfway through Foundations III. It is really flying by.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chateaubriand, Potatoes Dauphine, Linguine with Pesto, and even more Ratatouille

Chateaubriand, Potatoes Dauphine, Linguine with Pesto, Ratatouille (4 out of 5)
We grilled and then roasted the Chateaubriand, which is a nice thick cut of steak from the tenderloin, and we chose to make Ratatouille as our vegetable dish because it was the dish that would use the most stuff from the walk-in, which is what we were instructed to do. We had the idea to serve the Ratatouille in a portobello mushroom, so we grilled that too. Another team copied our idea, which was annoying. The potatoes Dauphine are breaded and fried potato croquettes, but the potatoes have to be made in a very specific way, mounting in butter and adding egg yolks one by one. They are delicious. The pesto was good, but we undercooked our pasta and slightly overcooked the steak. We need to figure out when a steak is done by instinct instead of using our thermometers; I said it, then Chef said it, so that's what our problem was today.

Overall, it was a fun day. Tomorrow we have a quiz and it should be another somewhat random day. We're going to cure some meat and I think we'll finally have the duck confit.

Oh, and I burned myself today for the first time since I started. It's small and just on the end of one finger, but it hurts. I'm sure it'll be fine by tomorrow. I was trying to get a pan out of the oven with a towel, and it burned me through the damn towel. Oh well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cheese Souffle

We didn't get graded again today, because Chef said it wasn't really fair to grade us on something we'd never done. I had a great team today- Tim, Ethan, Jose, Pico, and Gustavo.

Our team made half of our souffles with cheddar, half with blue cheese. I gotta say, I wasn't a fan. They needed something else- some meat or spinach or something other than just egg yolks and cheese. At least we cooked them right, though. I made the Bechamel sauce myself. We had skirt steak as well; it had been marinating over the weekend, and it was delicious. Chef made Bearnaise sauce, which I'm also not a huge fan of. We're making it ourselves tomorrow and I'm going to bring in some Tabasco to add to mine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Day from Hell, and The Complete Opposite

I didn't post yesterday because I was really frustrated, so here's yesterday:

Poeler Duck with sauce Bigarade, Pan Fried Duck, Turkey Scallopini with Shiitake with Veloute, Spinach Timbales, Roasted Shallots, Glazed Turnips, Gratin Dauphinoise, Potato Croquettes (4 out of 5)
This day went well and we were the first ones finished, but my frustration was because we had to re-plate our dishes twice and listen to a lecture on plating while our food got cold. Anyway, the duck was delicious, both ways. I made the Bigarade sauce, which starts with caramel, then vinegar, then reduces with stock. The Scallopini was okay, but I'm not a huge turkey eater. I loved the mushrooms. The spinach dish was made in a mold and came out almost like Jell-O. I was told by my teammates who had some not to even try it, so I didn't (bad Eve). The turnips were okay, shallots were great, Dauphinoise was great as always, and the potato croquettes were fun. We made balls of potato and instead of bread crumbs, we used Parmesan cheese, and fried them. Yum. And yes, that's the most we've made in one day.

Today we listened to Chef talk about different cuts of beef, and he demo'ed some of them. He is a former butcher, so it was pretty impressive. Then we pretty much had free reign, Chef told us to make a salad, fries, and steak, so we did, then we ate. We made eggs, too, for the hell of it. It was fun. No grades today, which is nice for a Friday where I had tests in both my other classes!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Duck Day Teaser , and Random Meal Day

It turns out real Duck Day is tomorrow, but today we broke down the ducks, complete with *ugh* innards, so we can do two dishes with them. We did the breasts plain but the thighs and legs are getting cured until at least Friday, possibly Monday. Then we made our turkey medallions, and then we all started wondering what we were going to do for two more hours.

Chef called me up and said, "Go find out what starch people want to eat and get to work on it." The consensus was mashed potatoes, so I got cooking with Norma and Jamie on those, along with a pan gravy. We added bacon and chives, and had Parmesan on the side, which of course I sprinkled on top of my portion! Who knew Parmesan was good on mashed potatoes?

Matt ended up poaching some chicken legs and thighs and finishing them on the grill. Chef made ratatouille, and some of my other classmates made turkey meatballs with the turkey scraps we had left over.

Eventually Chef brought out a chocolate cake that the baking and pastry kids had given us, so we had quite the impromptu feast today. I'm not sure what the plan for today was, but it turned out well. I guess I don't have to mention that we didn't get graded today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chicken, and More Chicken

Yesterday wasn't that thrilling. We each had to break down a chicken into quarters for yesterday and today. We took an airline breast, which is a breast with part of the wing still attached, and just seared and roasted them. We didn't get graded on that but it was pretty tasty.

Ballotine de Poulet Grand Mere with Bacon, Lentils, Fruit Salsa, and Chasseur Sauce (4.2 out of 5)
The Chasseur sauce is one of my favorites because it has mushrooms in it. We poured it over the chicken, which was a leg and thigh stuffed with pretty much whatever we wanted plus bread crumbs. We made the stuffing with standard mirepoix, lots of butter, mushrooms, and bread crumbs. It was delicious. "Grand Mere" is French for "grandmother," so it's a very simple style of cooking, using what you have around your kitchen, like leftover bread.

The lentils were already cooking on the stove, so we had free reign with those. We decided to do those in butter with mushrooms and garlic, and then we topped them with Parmesan cheese, which turned out to be a really good move (my idea- go me!).

I made the fruit salsa with mango and papaya, and a little red onion and tomato. The only problem with my salsa was that I needed something green in it; I should have thought of cilantro or something. I just hate green bell peppers so much that I couldn't ruin my delicious salsa with them, and we were out of jalapenos. The fruit salsa didn't go with anything we made today, but it was really fun to make. Papayas are hard to work with, I learned.

I'm just happy we got to pick our own groups today! I worked with Jose, Ethan, Victor, and Pico, and we were the only team that finished on time.

Tomorrow is our first day working with duck.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Salmon, Bass, Fennel, Sweet Potatoes, and Quinoa

First off, it's Saturday. This post will be about yesterday's class, but let me start with this. I never thought I'd see the day when I wake up at 2:30 PM after a fun night of bowling and drinking, and think to myself, "I really want eggs Benedict." Well, it happened. And it was delicious. Also, when I make Hollandaise for myself, I am always adding a ton of Tabasco, because it is perfection. I still have some left if someone wants to come finish it off before it breaks!

Grilled salmon, Bass Vin Blanc, Fennel Au Gratin, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers (4 out of 5)
The sweet potatoes and the salmon were my babies on this day. I love sweet potatoes so I just had to take the lead on them. The glaze turned out really well, and I made them Dauphinoise style, so they were really thin, and I layered them with the glaze. They turned out really well, but I guess the chefs got a piece that I cut too thick or something, because one chef said some of them were undercooked. Bah.

The salmon was served with Choron sauce, which is Bearnaise with a bit of tomato paste mixed in. Bearnaise is Hollandaise with shallots, tarragon, and vinegar mixed in. I didn't make the sauce, but I did grill the salmon (this is related to why I wanted to practice my Hollandaise today). It was delicious, by the way. The bass vin blanc was nice; it was rolled up and stuffed with a salmon forcemeat mixture, and served with a derivative of Veloute sauce.

The quinoa salad was okay, but it was overcooked and underseasoned (we figured once we'd overcooked it, screw it) so that's why we got the 4 instead of a 5, I think. We'd made it back in Foundations II, so it wasn't that thrilling anyway. The fennel au gratin was awesome, and we were all surprised eating it, because fennel is usually really strong. We braised the fennel, then threw it in the oven covered with Parmesan cheese and baked it. I should have known that nothing can be bad braised and covered in Parmesan.

I like the kitchen we're working in now because there are actual plates to serve our dishes on! We had little gratin dishes, big serving platters, everything. It makes it so much nicer to look at, and way less cheesy than serving on crappy foam plates.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Filleting a Fish

Today, we learned how to fillet a fish. I totally filleted my own whole striped bass, including taking the skin off and all that, then poached it in butter, and ate it with a brown butter sauce. It's called Maniere style, or "The Miller's Wife Style." It was delicious. As a class, we made rice pilaf and fennel salad for side dishes, and Chef actually let us sit down and eat for fifteen minutes. It was a fun day, and I like this class a lot. I even have some leftovers from today that I've brought home.

No grades today, but Matt and I brought up our fish (we all made our own), and Chef said, "Good." So I guess we did well.

I know my posts have been short, but again, that's because we've been making whole dishes and not always getting graded. This class is more about learning how to really cook, vs. my last class, which was about following precise directions. I'm more proud of myself for filleting a whole fish than I am for making a perfect risotto (not that that wasn't awesome, too).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pork with Apples and Gravy, Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Lemon, and Braised Cabbage

Today was our first day being graded in Foundations III. I worked with Lem Lem, Matt, and Lazaro.

Pork with Apples and Gravy, Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Lemon, and Braised Cabbage (4.5 out of 5)
*Note on grading: I'm not sure how the new system is going to be, but today we presented an entire plate and got graded on everything together.
I feel bad because I did the braised cabbage, but it only wasn't perfect because we timed things a bit wrong. We all underestimated how long the cabbage would take to cook perfectly and get the seasoning right, but I totally take the blame for it. 4.5 out of 5 isn't awful, though. Our pilaf was great; I love bulgur wheat, and the pork with the gravy was out of this world. We ended up roasting it even though we were supposed to braise it, because we were in a different classroom/kitchen with maybe eight burners and just two ovens. We had to use those portable burners on the countertops because there were too many of us for such a small kitchen. Everyone either got a 4.5 or a 5, though, and yet again, my team finished first.

Tomorrow is fish and a couple of side dishes. I think we have five things to make tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First Cooking Day in Foundations III: Beef Stew

We braised beef stew today, and I got to see how the kitchen that has 24 burners is going to work for 21 people (two people were missing today). It's not great, but I guess it will have to work. The stew is delicious, but we aren't getting grades yet for that class.

Chef wants us to be a little more creative for Foundations III, which is a nice change of pace from the II class where we had to just do exactly as we were told. I can't wait for glazed sweet potatoes, which is Friday, and I should have a more exciting post by tomorrow. We're still just starting out in this class, after all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My New Classes

I get to school at 8:15 now instead of 8:45, which is lame because we don't get out any earlier. Nutrition seems like it will be super easy, as does Cost Control and Purchasing. Our kitchen for Foundations III is way smaller than the other one, and we have three extra people. I'm really wondering how we are all going to cook on just 24 burners; in fact, 23 people on 24 burners is next to impossible, even for a one-dish meal.

I guess I'll let you know. The chef instructor seems cool, but I need to be in real class before I can say for sure. Today we introduced ourselves and watched a gross video about beef production.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Practical Exam, The End of Block 2, and My Grades!

We do school in six week blocks. Today was the last day of Block 2. We had our culinary math final, which was easy; I got an A in the class. Foundations II is the class I was nervous about.

These aren't 0-4 grades; our practical exams are graded out of 100.
Fish en Papillote, Green Beans with Peppers and Bacon, Rice Pilaf, and Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce (90!)
I freaked out when I got my assignment; it was exactly what I wanted: the fish, a rice dish, an easy side, and a fairly simple sauce. The fish was perfect last time I made it, but I was rushing. I didn't have to rush since I finished with an hour and a half to spare, but I was so glad to be done with it that it didn't bother me. Both the fish and the rice pilaf take 20 minutes in the oven. The fish and vegetables could have been cooked more, but I'm guessing it's because I kept opening the oven to check on them, which was dumb. Anyway, I said I'd be thrilled if I got a 90, and I am! I got 140 right out of 150 on the written final today, and was one of the few that ended up with an A. I still have straight As in school, go me!

I felt really bad for some people; five people (we work solo on practicals) each had to make a roasted chicken, ratatouille, risotto, and a sauce that I forget- something kinda simple, but after those three all on one person, that's rough! I didn't feel that the assignments everybody got were of equal difficulty, so I feel bad for them, but hey, I lucked out. I'm impressed the people who got that set of dishes didn't complain, but I guess I would have held back too. No one wants to hear that.

Everyone passed both classes, which makes me really happy, because we're all a team at this point.

After the practical, and I can't believe I agreed to this, I went straight to the event downtown to volunteer. I ended up working with Chef Vincent, the Executive Chef at Aureole, which is a Charlie Palmer restaurant. I prepared appetizers and talked to people at their booth. It was fun, and Chef Megan, who is actually the head pastry chef for all Charlie Palmer restaurants, asked me to work with them at another event next Friday! When we left (I was with Robert and Tim from my class) after five and a half hours of work, they gave us all Charlie Palmer hats and cookbooks!

It was a long day. I haven't worked a 12 hour day in a very long time. We get three day weekends in between blocks, so here we go!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Last Cooking Day in Foundations II: Stuffed Chicken Thigh and Breast

Today was the last day in Foundations II that we learned a new recipe. Tomorrow is my practical exam and I am totally nervous. We'll be assigned one protein with a cooking method, a starch, a vegetable, and a sauce. It could be anything we've made so far, from lamb chops to Eggs Benedict to gnocchi, and we're working individually with a two hour time limit. I'm really nervous that I'll end up being assigned a dish that has components that are either time consuming, difficult, or a combination of both.

I will freak out if I have to make Espagnole sauce or one of its derivatives. I almost hope I get Eggs Benedict, but I really doubt I will, since "cooking" the Canadian bacon just involves heating it up. Something with Bechamel or Veloute, or heck, even Tomato sauce would be fine. In fact, I hope I get the Fish en Papillote, since I made that from start to finish last time and it worked perfectly. I am over-thinking this.

My friend Tim is coming over later to watch cooking shows with Devin and me, and to go over recipes. We're also both working at that event that I mentioned last Friday after the practical exam, so tomorrow should be a rough one, but satisfying.

Stuffed Chicken Thigh and Breast (4)
This was a really nice dish. I made the stuffing for the chicken while Gus and Lazaro hollowed out the pieces for stuffing. The stuffing we made was ground chicken with cream, cayenne, and nutmeg. Today, since we only had one dish to make, we had free reign to make side dishes. I made the Gratin Dauphinoise again, because I'm good at it, Gus made Rosti Potatoes, and Matt made fries and chicken wings by the time our chicken was done. It ended up perfect, so we got the 4, which makes me feel good about tomorrow, for sure. The sear on the chicken made the skin crispy and it tasted almost fried, yum.

We got out half an hour early today, which is always nice.

Monday, September 21, 2009

San Gennaro Festival, Greek Food Festival, Poeler Day

Today has been a rough one, since the weekend was so wild. Devin and I went to the San Gennaro Festival on Friday night before our bowling league. It was awesome; we had a sausage and Italian beef sandwich with onions, which was exactly what we wanted. We had one at Lollapalooza last year and it was so delicious; this one was even better! Then we had a meatball sub and a funnel cake. We got both our sandwiches from the same small shop, not the big huge one that gets tons of business.

The Greek Food Festival was pretty good too, except that I was a little drunk (had just been sitting at home watching NASCAR). We had pastichio and some lamb sausage, which was good, but not as good as the Italian one. I'm not the biggest fan of lamb to begin with.

Today was poeler day (supposed to be two dots over the o in that word), and it went pretty well. Poeler is like roasting, except the dish is covered and basted every 15 minutes.

Poeler of Chicken Rossini (3- overcooked foie gras)
This dish was pretty simple; roasted chicken with a sauce made from mushrooms, white wine, and tomato, with a piece of foie gras on top. I am against foie gras so I didn't eat it, but I did have some chicken and I tried a bite with the sauce, which had the fat from the foie in it as well. I love mushrooms and couldn't resist it. Jamierose got the oyster from the chicken this time; I had to find it because no one else could. I can't believe what a well-kept secret the oyster is! If I have my own restaurant, I'm serving chicken oysters as an appetizer. Anyway, we had never cooked foie gras before, so we ended up overcooking it. Whatever.

Pork Poeler (3- sauce too thin)
We didn't have time to reduce the sauce; by the end of the two hours, we had started it but couldn't finish completely. It was still good, just not as thick as it needed to be. This dish was similar to pork roulade from Friday. We butterflied the pork loin and instead of a mushroom stuffing used garlic and herbs. It was delicious; I love pork so much. This was my baby today, at least until it went into the oven. I prepped it and trussed it.

We had lots of time to wait for things to cook today, so we actually cleaned as we cooked and got out ten minutes early! Tomorrow is the last day we work in groups, and then we have our practical on Wednesday; our written final on Thursday. Math is just all reviews right now, so I skipped it today in favor of two more hours of sleep. I'll go for the next three days, though.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pork Roulade, Lamb Chops, and Chicken with Pan Gravy

Well hello there. Class was good today, and I got an exciting offer- both Chefs pulled me aside and quietly asked me if I work in the afternoons. I said no, and they proceeded to tell me that they needed three talented people to volunteer at an event next Wednesday at the Plaza hotel, and they had chosen me first! I was totally flattered and of course I said yes. I'll be making appetizers and small dishes, and working with an executive chef from one of the upscale restaurants in town. I wasn't sure the chefs liked me that much, or thought I was that good or that hard of a worker, but I guess they do! I'm stoked. It'll count towards my volunteer hours, which aren't required at my school, but we get medals and certificates for volunteering, and it looks good on a resume.

And now, on to the food.
Lamb Chops (2- I know, ugh. It was overcooked)
Lamb chops didn't seem hard to make. Once we're done Frenching the bones, brush with oil, season, wrap the bones in foil, cut, and serve. Thing is, we thought they were undercooked when we cut them, so we put them back in the oven cut open, and they cooked too much. Our port wine reduction was delicious, though.
Chicken with Pan Gravy (4)
This is a fairly straightforward chicken dish; we trussed and roasted a whole chicken on a bed of mirepoix, and then used the pan to make the gravy for the top of the chicken. Our chicken was slightly undercooked but we popped it back in and got it perfect. Mmm, gravy.
Pork Roulade (4)
This is a big stuffed pork roast, so I took the lead on this one - I love pork. I made the filling (mushrooms, onions, shallots, bread crumbs, butter), rolled it up, trussed it, watched it in the oven, and sliced it. It came out perfectly and was so delicious. We had five perfect slices, and there are five people on our team. I did not bring home any pork roulade. This is a dish I will make again, though.

Look for a post soon about the San Gennaro Feast and the Greek Food Festival, both of which I'm going to this weekend.

And finally, I'd like to say hello to my readers, who make me so happy and make posting this all worthwhile, especially the chicks from my board, one of whom has a fun blog too. I'll let her post a link to it as a comment if she wants. And hello to Devin, my supportive, awesome boyfriend, who is very excited that I am learning all the fancy cookin's.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicken Fricassee and Beef Bourguignon

Well, I got my new team, and didn't get left with anyone I didn't want to work with. I'm also at tables 5 and 6, which are farther from the Chefs, closer to the walk-ins and all the equipment, and on the side with the good sinks, none of which I've had before, so I'm thrilled about that. My new team is Matt, who I was really happy to work with, Lazaro, Jamierose, and Gustavo. None of them are bad news, and Gustavo is a really hard worker and keeps our space really clean.

Now, to the recipes! We made a beef dish that I was really excited about, and a chicken dish that I had never heard of or eaten, so I was slightly wary of it. Here we go.

Chicken Fricassee (3-sauce was under-seasoned, dammit)
This is a braised chicken dish. First, we had to break down whole chickens into 8 pieces each. We only used the legs and thighs today. I'm happy that I know how to break down a chicken now. We started on the stovetop with a pan and seared off our chicken with some onion, then made a roux in the pot by adding flour, then covered it with stock. It went into the oven for about 45 minutes, and when it came out it was fall off the bone perfect. We had to take the chicken out, reduce the sauce, and strain it, and then add the creamy liaison consisting of egg yolks and milk to thicken it further. This is where the sauce could break. Lazaro and I did this step, and we didn't break it. Several teams did, I think. Adjust sauce with lemon, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Anyway, chicken on plate, sauce over chicken, and I've written way too much for something that turned out so simple. The sauce just tasted really chicken-y as the end result.

Beef Bourguignon (4)
I loved this dish. Braising a tougher cut of meat is a way to make it more tender and delicious. Bourguignon means that a dish comes from the Burgundy region of France, famous for its wine. There are five ounces of red wine in our recipe, which probably feeds about eight, as well as mushrooms, bacon, onion, garlic, some tomato puree, and pearl onions. The meat and sauce is served over a bed of egg noodles, which are delicious as well. Matt took the lead on this one, so of course it was great. He's really talented and has worked in a kitchen before, plus he's 23 so he's not exactly a child like most of my classmates! Side note: I can't say the name of this dish without pronouncing it in my head like Julia Child.

We made bacon, eggs, and toasted English muffins because the food was cooking, everything was clean, and we had half an hour before we even needed to check our dishes. Plus, we wanted breakfast.

I figured out my role on the team. I'm the person who keeps track of what's going on with everything. At any given time, I'm aware when we're ready to start a dish, and I'll say so. If something is done being chopped, I'm the one who says, "Hey, let's start cooking," and people listen. Sometimes I'll take the lead on a dish, sometimes I'll hang around and see what needs to be done, and remind people of small things or answer,"What's the next step?" I think it's a good role for me, and I wasn't the only one who noticed. Lazaro told me, "It seems like everyone just listens to you; you say, 'Let's start cooking,' and we all start cooking!" I'm pretty sure I'm the one responsible for getting things done on time. We had an hour and 45 minutes today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicken and Seafood Day

Chef Kupper is so incredibly long-winded. I know I've said this, but I want to reiterate it because today was a shining example of what I'm talking about. He literally says everything three times before moving on, and these aren't things we need to retain, just things like, "You don't want to do that, right? No, you dont. You don't want to do that? Do you want to do that? You don't, right?" I am not exaggerating, as much as it sounds like I am. Today he told us to de-vein our shrimp, and then proceeded to talk about why and tell a non-funny anecdote for 20 minutes, as if we were disagreeing with him about de-veining. He drives me insane! He talked for an hour and a half this morning about things that should have taken ten minutes to tell us. In a nice contrast, Chef Mary made us zucchini bread today.

It turns out we are switching teams tomorrow, which doesn't matter much since we're near the end of the class anyway.

We made four dishes today. I'll start with the chicken because it's boring (but delicious!).
Battered Chicken Fingers (4)
Tim and Ethan made these. It's just chicken breast strips in a batter of egg, milk, flour, baking powder, and spices, deep fried. I'd have liked a little more cayenne in it, but I figured we shouldn't mess with the seasoning too much for serving to the Chefs.
Pan Fried Chicken (3- not enough seasoning)
I didn't taste this one before service because Chef Kupper had me chopping 40 lbs of vegetables for a stock we're making*, so I had nothing to do with it being under-seasoned. I didn't even taste it after our judging, to tell you the truth.
Butter Poached Shrimp (4)
Let me tell you right now, Norma is a rock star. Yet another sauce that is breakable, and it turned out perfectly. I wasn't a huge fan of the dish, because I'm not a huge shrimp fan, but the amount of lemon we used made it pretty delicious.
Salmon en Papillote (4)
I was a rock star too today! "En Papillote" is a cooking method that involves cooking something inside foil or parchment paper so it cooks in its own steam. The seasoned salmon went on a bed of fine julienned onions, celery, and carrot, and was then topped with more of the three, then lemon slices, then white wine. We used parchment paper today and I made sure to seal it really well around the fish. It came out really well; salmon is far from my favorite fish, but it was delicious.

*Even though our team has four people on it, one team has five, and two teams have six, Chef Kupper told us that we were chopping the mirepoix for a veal stock we'll be making tomorrow. Since I was done and just waiting for my fish to cook for 20 minutes, it fell on me. Only one person needed to be on chicken at that point, but no one came to assist in chopping. I can see why; it was a pain. I got through ten pounds each of celery and carrots (which I also had to peel, grr). I was going to do the onions last, but it was time to clean the kitchen, so Chef thankfully told me to wrap the vegetables up and we'd finish them tomorrow. I still need 20 pounds of onion, but I think he'll either have the night class or the morning class do it (we're the middle class, and the best class). I came home super tired today.

Our chicken fingers were amazing (we ate them with Frank's Red Hot, of course, with butter), and the salmon with the onions was also really, really good. I'm proud of myself yet again today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Veal Marsala, Steak Diane, and Asian Glazed Pork Chops

Today was absolutely awesome and our food was delicious. Chef didn't make us switch teammates so I'm still with Tim, Norma, and Ethan, which is, to me, a great team.

Veal Marsala (3- broken sauce, wasn't me)
Veal is already tender, but pounding it thin makes it even more so. The veal is then dredged and seared, and removed. Then the sauce starts. It's Marsala wine, which is a fortified wine from Tuscany, and it's finished with butter, which is why the sauce can break. Ours was fine when we plated it, but broke as we arrived at the tasting table. It tasted pretty good, but I'm still not sure how I feel about veal. Norma has the same issue with veal that I do, and no, I don't want to discuss it further.
Steak Diane (4- it was the best in the class; we have Norma to thank for that!)
Steak Diane is steak medallions, so you know it's going to be good. It has a similar sauce to the Marsala except it includes mushrooms, so it's even better! Our steak was cooked perfectly, and the Chefs ate almost our entire sample, which they never do, so yay!
Asian Glazed Pork Chops (3- pork undercooked)
This was my baby; I called that I was making this dish before class even started. The glaze is so amazing that I'm going to post the whole damn recipe here.



Pork Chops


fl oz

Pineapple Juice

2 ¼

fl oz



fl oz

Soy Sauce

1 ¼









Fresh Ginger


1 ½






Cornstarch Slurry






Finely Ground White Pepper

1. Combine the pineapple juice, water, soy sauce, sugar, scallions, ginger, garlic, and pepper to make a glaze. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce by ¼. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook for 10 additional minutes. The glaze should have a syrupy consistency.

2. Season the pork with salt and finely ground pepper. Grill the pork on both sides until medium temperature is achieved.

3. Finish the pork by brushing it with the glaze.

4. Serve hot.

You should have seen the gorgeous grill marks I got on my pork chops. The only reason it was undercooked (not inedible, but not to specifications) is because our other two dishes were done, and they don't hold hot well, so we had to turn them all in. I took the rest of the glaze home and made chops for Devin and me, and put them over rice with butter, soy, and sugar, which was also awesome mixed with the glaze.

Now what am I going to do with these lame store-bought marinades I have sitting around?

Tomorrow is chicken and seafood day.