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).