Monday, January 31, 2011

Forgive me if I repeat myself...

But I am truly having a blast this semester -- 2nd year classes are proving to be much more of what I expected out of culinary school. Students take them a little more seriously, thank goodness, and the expectations of instructors are a little higher. Challenging, yes -- rewarding, YES!!

My first week of World Cuisine we started with French cuisine, which is has been the focus of our training style -- but not so much the cuisine. We learned the basic sauces, cooking methods (sauteing, braising, stewing, etc.), brigade system, and much more from the French basically because they have everything recorded in books. Most other countries do not have the documentation of their cooking methods, so this is why most cooking schools teach the French method.

My first contribution was the poulet saute a la hongroise -- sauteed chicken with onions, tomatoes, and cream. At first I thought it was pretty bland, but once the onions catch into the cream it tasted wonderful. My lab partners made celeriac remoulade and garlic and saffron soup. The remoulade was interesting yet tasty, I have not had celeriac raw before. I did not get a chance to try the garlic soup since I was so interested in the stuffed onions and French onion soup from one of the other groups!! The FOS was FANTASTIC and I can't wait to try this recipe at home!!

The next class I made a blue cheese souffle while my lab partners made coquilles St Jacques, and glazed parsnips. The souffle texture was fantastic -- I was very proud since I had never made a souffle before! The blue cheese we used was quite creamy and got lost in the eggs. Another group used a Spanish blue cheese and it tasted better. It was still too rich to eat more than two bites!! I love scallops, so of course I enjoyed the traditional coquilles St Jacques -- it is prepared with a heavy sauce with the French favorites: heavy cream, butter, egg yolks, mushrooms, etc. My lab partner, R, was not paying attention and burned the parsnips. She likes to socialize and it gets really annoying. I just want to cook, learn, and have good time. She just wants to talk about herself, lol, yea she's 18. Anyway, I also tried escargot with herbs and garlic butter and even though they look disgusting, they taste pretty good!

We are now working with Spanish cuisine! I am learning so much about the culture and the land -- it's amazing how much I really didn't know about these countries! BOTH of my lab partners were MIA on Thursday. I find that in poor taste, but I actually had more room to work and I made two dishes: squid with caramelized onions and veal casserole with broad beans. The squid was "ok" -- I have not worked with it before and I think I may have slightly overcooked it. Chef also told me that it was because the squid was so large (he said he wished we would have received smaller and more tender squid) and I do mean LARGE: the rings looked like Livestrong bracelets!!! The veal casserole was basically browned and stewed veal with onions, sherry and of course the beans. The sauce was excellent, but the veal needed to stew a bit longer. When you cook meat, the muscle contracts and gets tougher -- when stewing, the meat then begins to relax again making it more tender. We didn't have the time in class to get it to the proper tenderness, but Chef complimented me on the sauce.

I also tried romesco sauce, tortilla espanola (basically and egg and potato pancake), gazpacho soup and last but CERTAINLY not least, orange blossom beignets!! YUM!!

We are finishing up Spain tomorrow and can't wait to see what is in store for us! Next week we will be working on the country/region we are assigned to for our big dinner coming up at the end of February -- my group is featuring Middle Eastern cuisine, I can't wait!!

It's time to make the desserts!! Today we start working on items for the bakery case in our teaching restaurant -- I can't wait to start the fun!


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