Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Liking what you cook, or not!

Today we prepped our rabbit for tomorrow's Braiser Rabbit with Mustard over Carrot Pasta. I also got to make our pasta with pureed carrots. When you look at a rabbit without its fur, it looks sort of like any small animal. A squirrel, possum or even a cat. If you buy whole rabbits, be sure you trust your purveyor. Or skin them yourselves. Poor bunny!

We are also making Sweetbreads in a Maltaise sauce. Thymus glands are on tap for an appetizer tomorrow. Maltaise is a Hollandaise sauce with blood orange juice and zest. Again, alternative meat, thymus, liver, are not Chef Browns favorite food items. Anything with a membrane that needs to be removed makes him squeamish, which makes us laugh. But he always tells us, "Just because I don't like it, doesn't mean I can't cook the hell out of it."

Maybe I'll learn to cook the hell out of Brussels sprouts.
I just won't eat them.

French cooking term for today:
Brasier (bray zay) To braise: cook a meat in a covered dish in or over gentle heat with a little liquid, usually over a small bed of fine diced vegetables.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ehh, What's up Doc?

Today was a production day. We made Calves Liver Lyonnaise with French Fries, or Pommes Frite as the French call them, along with sauteed haricot verts. (Green Beans). And, we made a grilled roasted barder (French term of the day: Barder - bar day, wrapped in bacon)Filet, sauteed artichoke hearts and a blue cheese souffle with a Madeira Sauce.

Souffles are interesting. A very temperamental mixture of egg yoke, bechamel with folded in egg whites. You can make souffles savory or sweet. At one of the OTE's I worked, they served chocolate souffles. Yummm! With blue cheese they sort of taste and smell of dirty feet. I don't recommend them. Unless you like dirty feet.

Chef Brown has a very bad history with liver. Seems while he was in school at LCB he volunteered, because he told us he was a bad ass, to clean a whole calves liver while dealing with a weekend hangover. He attempted to clean the liver but then wretched in a waste basket because of the smell. We were all hysterical as he told his story. He did not indulge in tasting our cooked liver. He just checked for doneness.

All my dishes came out great. I forgot a garnish on my liver plate, damned old age, but otherwise, all tasted great and were served on time. Even my souffle rose up nicely and was cooked perfectly.

Tomorrow, Rabbit. Rabbit served with a carrot pasta. Get it? (we're eating carrots and rabbit)

I thought it was funny!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Doing an OTE, Watching the Calories (Updated)

Le Cordon Bleu has a very respectable reputation in the culinary world. One of the perks, if you will, is the students from Le Cordon Bleu get called to work while they are still in school. These are called OTE, or One Time Events. We even get paid to work them. Ten bucks an hour. Oscar parties, Golden Globe parties, just about any Hollywood event involving film, or theater or TV will include a catered affair. Tonight, is the Emmy Awards. TV's award show and Wolfgang Puck is catering the HBO after party in West Hollywood. I only mention this because I will be one of hundreds prepping and plating the entrees for the celebrity folks who show up.

Two weeks ago I worked an event for the AAJA. That's the Asian America Journalists Association. They liked sweets. The table center piece was all sweets. Chocolate, candy, cookies, caramels, you name something sweet and it was on the plate. We plated 580 Air-lined Chicken Breast's with Risotto in 10 minutes. Then plated 580 Chocolate Soufflé's with fresh berries and topped with White Chocolate. Like I said, Asians love their sweets. I knocked down a cool $52.50. That was before taxes and the $20 I had to pay to park. Good thing I'm not in this for the money.

I'm know that dinner tonight is Rack of Lamb with a Rosemary Wine Sauce. But since it's Hollywood, I would imagine they will be light on sweets. Celebes need to watch those extra 10 lbs TV seems to put on everybody.

Monday Morning:
Seems old Wolfy Puck couldn't care less about counting calories. Lots and Lots of sweets. I was in the dessert tent, plating cookies, cutting baguettes on the bias, topping lemon tarts with blue berries (5) each, and stuffing donut holes with cream and rolling them around in raspberry sprinkle sugar. I think I may pass on donuts for a while.
The Soft Shell Crab Sliders were really good. I had a bite out of one. Oh, and we fed 1500 people. Seems HBO is a pretty big employer. I would have to guesstimate that this shindig cost over $2 Million.

That doesn't include the $70 I made last night.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crying Fowl

Yesterday, we prepped for Poe'ler Duck Breast and Turkey Breast Scaloppine. Lots of fowl breast were exposed yesterday and cremated today. We did get to "fabricate" a duck. It's like a chicken, but different. How's that for a statement! I haven't been posting every day due to the class procedure of prepping the day before we cook. Blogging about prepping and mize in place is somewhat boring and repetitive.

But it was a good day for yours truly. I made both windows, my Scaloppine was cooked perfect with a great, I mean great, mushroom sauce. Croquette potatoes and a side salad accompanied the dish.

My Duck Breast was just a tad over cooked although still pink and juicy and the skin was just a little too dark, but the taste was great. It comes with a Sauce Bigarade , which I nailed, and Gratin Potatoes which I also nailed. Chef Brown told me I had the best flavor profile to date. Like I said, a good day.

French Term for the day:
Poe'ler (po e lay) to pan-fry; to cook an element in a frying pan over high heat with minimal oil

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Yesterday, we mized out a bunch of ingredients. Making a Ballontine el Poulo, potato pancakes with a pan sauce w/garnish of mushrooms and pearl onions. Then making Vegetable Curry with Yellow split peas and Lentel . That was served with an airline chicken breast and a mango salsa. Lots of ingredients and spices, knife cuts and herbs.

Today we cooked it. Ever have one of those days were nothing, I mean nothing goes right. Me too. Today actually. Burnt the Yellow split peas, did not salt the lentel. my braised Ballontine just about cooked till dry, I saved it, but it wasn't my best. I forgot two ingredients for the Vegetable Curry and again plated it into a bowl that was too small.

The only thing I did right was the salsa. I brought that home. I ate the chicken breast and the Ballontine. Actually, my pan sauce came out pretty good as well.

I told the Chef that I got frustrated when the Yellow peas burned. He asked what I did before starting school. I told him I carried water. "Did you ever get frustrated carrying water?". No, I said. I knew how to do that! He said, touche.

French term for today:

Touche - (Too-chey) to hit or wound in fencing or an effective point in an argument.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oui Chef!

On Friday, I learned a valuable lesson. It had to do with technique and instructions. We were cooking Angel Hair pasta with Black Mussels in a garlic butter sauce with tomato concasse. It's a great looking bowl of food. Chef plated his with steamed mussels in white wine. Plated with the open mussels placed on top of the pasta. It looked great!

So I made my dish, it tasted great. Pasta al dente, mussels cooked perfectly. Tomato concasse diced and cooked to perfection. I plated my dish and the black mussels I had were huge. So big, in fact, that they hid the pasta and tomatoes. A black pile on pasta is how I would describe it. Thinking swiftly, I removed the mussels from the shells except for one. Place the one on top and put the little mussels around it on top of the pasta. It looked great. I proudly take it up to Chef and his first question, "Why did you remove the mussels from the shells?" I explain what I just wrote above. "If you worked in my kitchen, you would be fired". What! "You do not change plating, you get a bigger bowl".

Lesson learned.

French cooking term for today;

Oui Chef!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Remembering How Food Connects Us

Today was sort of a repeat of what we did during Foundations I. We fabricated a filet of sole in preparation for tomorrows meal of Sole Meuniere (mun yair). This is a classic way of sauteing fish by dredging the fish in seasoned floor and sauteing in clarified butter. We are also doing Mussels with Angel Hair pasta in a white wine sauce with concasse (con cas say) tomato and shallots. Concasse is a peeled, deseeded and diced tomato.

I have cooked mussels only once before for our friends Kenny and Lyn up in Washington. I made a Cioppino that was probably one of my top 5 meals made of all time. I will raise a glass for our dear departed friend, Kenny, when I make the mussels tomorrow.

Reposer en Paix Monsieur Kenny.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How was your Day? Pincer!

Today was another great day. After doing most of our mize en place yesterday, we set out to complete two dishes. First up was a roasted pork tenderloin with a pan sauce, pickled red cabbage, bulgar wheat pilaf and sliced apples sautéed in butter and sugar. Then beef stew, again. We did beef stew twice in Foundations II, but it was on the menu again for today. But this time with Tourned (tour nayd) vegetables.

My pork came out great. We had to truss it and then roast it after a quick sear. We cut the roast into chops. The Bulgar wheat was approved by Chef Brown, but the cabbage needed more sugar. He even like my plating. (see pic) The beef stew was ok. Not enough salt, but my tourned veggies were perfect. Chef gave me high marks for them. Again, I made both windows. Very important to make the windows.

French Kitchen Term for the Day:
Pincer: (pin say) To brown or caramelize and dry out, from the French word "pinch". A flavor enhancing technique most often associated with tomato paste.

We use this technique in the making of Beef Stew when we add tomato puree to the browning process of the meat, onions, garlic and flour.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

From Squeal to Tail

This class is going to be great. We have great Chef's and the things we are learning and doing are going to be fun. We learned about fabrication of a pig. The ribs, loin, tenderloin and how to butcher the pig. The use of the pig in cooking is known as "from squeal to tail." We each got a three rib loin roast. We frenched the bones and then we put them in a brine overnight and we will roast them tomorrow. If you don't know what frenched bones are, they are the exposed bones with all the meat removed. Rack of lamb comes to mind when I think of things frenched. I know there are other applications for things being Frenched. Keep it clean you guys. Again, very classy and we can charge more for it. Always thinking of ways to make more money.

French kitchen terms of the day:
Yesterday I mentioned beurre manie (burr-man-yay) in describing Lier. Beurre Manie is a mixture of flour and butter of equal parts by weight to thicken sauces. Like a roux, but not cooked. Cooks keep this handy as it is a quick means to thicken a sauce that is refusing to thicken.

Another request from a fervent follower of my blog (Erin), asked what sous means in regards to a sous chef. Literal translation is (under chef). The Sous Chef works for the Chef de Cuisine and is charge of the kitchen help and production. It is two steps from being an Executive Chef. These were established by Georges-Auguste Escoffier in the 1920's, known as the Classical Brigade in his attempt to organize a kitchen.

All very cool stuff!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Learning French by way of the Kitchen

I was off Friday and enjoyed a weekend with no homework and also celebrated Chris' birthday with Erin and friends. Monday, we were back to class.

We have Chef Brown again. He is always so excited about teaching us, his enthusiasm is great. We also have a second chef, Chef A. That's what she goes by but her name is Ashenbrenner. She is quiet so far. But Chef Brown makes up for it, the man loves to talk about cooking.

So some changes in how we do things in Foundations III. Less homework but we have to hand write all our recipes for the upcoming day. Plus, mega vocabulary words. Le Cordon Bleu is, after all, French. So we have new vocabulary words every night. Pronunciation, meanings and how the words are used in the kitchen. Linda Clerc, are you out there? And, we mize en place the day before we cook. Maybe even pre-cook some things and then put it all together the following day. Every day, two dishes, the five parts to each dish. That's a protein, starch, vegetable, sauce and garnish. Plus extensive time on plating our dishes. So it's getting exciting now.

The other cool thing will be learning during the next six weeks is how to fabricate our proteins. Huh? Cut up the meats.

My dad use to raise chickens and goats for meat. I got some funny stories about him and the goats. No, it's not what you think. Get your minds out of the gutter. A story for another time.

So be prepared to learn a french kitchen term each day.
French word of the day!
Lier - If you pronounced it like it reads, you're wrong. (lee ay) It means to thicken. Using a roux, starch, egg yoke or Beurre Manie to change the consistency of a liquid. Wait, that was three french words. Stay tuned to tomorrow and I'll tell you what beurre manie means.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Preparing for Success

I checked on-line for my grades this morning. The written final was dismal. I received 55 points out of 75. I honestly can say, I did not study for the final.

Wednesday's practical, I scored 95 out of a possible 100 points. For Thursday's practical, I scored 97 out of a possible 100. I prepared my ass off for these.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" John Wooden.

I also turned in this blog for my Foundations II Daily Journal. No word on how this was received. It could sink me or they might have a sense of humor and let me come back to class next week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Windows out of my mind!

Today was our last day in our Foundations II class. Given our final written exam, we set out to complete the last two dishes of Poached Salmon, Rice Pilaf with Lemon Beurre Blanc sauce and tourned zucchini. Second dish, Grilled Pork Chop with Sauce Chasseur, tourned potatoes, and broccoli.

Given more time than needed is a real interesting phenomenon. You mize en place, and then prep all your veggies, par boil what needs par boiling, make the Court Bouillon liquid for poaching your fish, get the grill hot for your pork chop and then realize your window is 45 minutes away. Just to clarify, windows are a time frame the Chef's will accept food to be evaluated. Today it was 12:45 for our first dish, + or - 5 minutes, and the second dish was 12:55, 1:00 window closes for your second plate. Miss the 12:50 window and chef will not accept your first dish. No points for you. It's all about timing. Anyone can cook stuff when all you need to do is get it on the table sometime tonight. It doesn't work that way at restaurants. Have you ever been to a restaurant where everyone else has their food and your waiting and waiting for yours? A sure sign of bad kitchen management.

At 12:30 I get cranking. Make sure the poaching liquid is at the right temp. Sauces made and holding. Saute the par boiled zucchini, potatoes and broccoli. 12:38 poach the fish. It takes 5 to 6 minutes for medium rare fish at 165 degrees poaching temp. 12:39 put the chop on the grill. It's a thick chop, should take 12 minutes cooking time and 5 minutes to rest. 12:41 turn chop from the 10 o'clock position to 2 o'clock position for those nice grill marks. 12:44 take the first plate out of the oven, hoping it isn't too hot to handle the Beurre Blanc sauce so it won't break when you sauce the plate. Plate the rice, place zucchini on the plate and pull the fish from the poaching liquid. 12:45 put the fish on the rice, sauce the plate, clean finger prints off the rim, remove any spills on the plate. Turn over the chop (nice grill marks) 12:46 take the plate to the chef. (first window made) 12:48 heat the Sauce Chasseur. 12:50 take the second plate out of the oven. 12:51 remove chop, place in oven to rest. 12:54 make sure your sauce is seasoned properly and ready to go, remove the chop from in the oven. 12:55 plate the potatoes and broccoli. 12:57, plate the chop. Put the sauce in a pretty fashion on the plate and on the chop. Wipe off the rim, no finger prints, take it to chef at 12:59. Second window made. Whew! What a rush. Score 97 out of a possible 100 points.

Now do this 1oo times a night.

You wonder why there aren't more cooks jumping out of windows.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To Our Chef's, Thank You

To Chef Toomey and Chef Wang who were our teachers, our scolders, our praisers and our fountain of culinary fine dining information. We leave Foundations II very prepared for our next leg of Le Cordon Bleu.

Thanks so much.

More Peas Pleez

Practical number one, done. Beef Stew with Polenta. I'll say this now, the Claim Jumper is not my speed when it comes to portions. They are way too big. You would think that when I turned this dish in I would remember where the heck I am. Learning fine dining. Small portions, beautiful plating. Mine was more like Polenta with a little beef stew served at a cattle ranch. Saving grace, Chef told me my polenta was the best he tasted that day, and my beef was very tender and seasoned perfectly. Oh, and I forgot the peas on my beef stew. Missing an ingredient is not good. Ever!

Veal Scalloppine all Marsala with Roesti potatoes and Green Beans went better. My veal was a bit over cooked. But the plating was much better and the green beans were just right. Note to self, never try to brown something in a non-stick pan. Takes forever.

Tomorrow is our final written test and the last two cooking practical exams. Poached Salmon and Grilled Pork Chop. Two different Le Cuissons. It should be another fun day.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First of many FIRSTS!

Today was our FIRST of many tests before we close out Foundations II. Our vocabulary test was actually easy. I was surprised that there were only 2 or 3 questions I didn't know right off. So, we'll see how it I did.

Then we got to practice what will be our four dishes over the next two days.
Beef Stew over soft Polenta, I made neither, and Veal Scalloppine alla Marsala with Sautéed Green Beans and Potato Roseti (hash browns). On Thursday we're doing Grilled Pork Chop with Sauce Chasseur, tourned potatoes with broccoli and Poached Salmon with Rice Pilaf, Sauteed turned zucchini with a Lemon Beurre Blanc sauce. We are also taking our final exam on Thursday.

I made the hash browns. Pounded and pan fried a chicken breast, as they wouldn't let us cook veal, and made the Marsala sauce for that and practiced that ever so troubling Lemon Beurre Blanc. Made the Sauce Chasseur since this was the FIRST time we ever made it. And, it's part of our final practical exam. I also attempted rice pilaf. Again I over cooked it. But, I worked on the times and I think I got it down. All these must be turned in within a 15 minute window. We have longer to cook it, but only 15 minutes to get it in on time. Chef Wang gave me some pointers on how to go about getting all this done on time.

Chef Wang is leaving us and going to Pasadena next week.

We were his FIRST class, I think he did well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Le Pocher (po shay)

Monday, Monday!
Our last day for demo's from the Chef's as the remainder the week is all testing. A vocabulary test, all those French words, and two days of practical testing. Four distinct dishes all using different Le Cuissons and to top it off, our Final Exam! Friday we are off.

Today's le cuisson, Pocher (poaching). We poached sole two different ways. En Papillote (pa-pee-yote), in paper. Fish seasoned and placed on lemon slices, shallots and parsley and then wrapped in heart shaped parchment paper. It's really steamed, but it's considered le pocher method. Then doing fillet of sole in a Court Bouillon. That's in water with large dice mira poix, bay leaf, herbs, peppercorns and parsley stems . Also known as a short stock, used only for fish. Le Pocher has a specific temperature range. Extra credit if you know it. (160-180 degrees). Because the fish is very tender, and small, it only takes a few (2) minutes to cook. So I overcooked my fish done in court bouillon, but my fish done en papillote came out perfect. The poached fish was served with rice pilaf and tourne zucchini with lemon beurre blanc. Again with the beurre blanc sauce. My rice pilaf was overcooked, the sauce cold and the zucchini undercooked. Final tab, one dish done perfect. One dish needed lots of work. Guess which one is on our final? Except we'll pocher salmon.

Not a good day doing Le Pocher.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Filet-o-Sole, Broken Sauce

Friday was fish day. And duck day. They threw a duck dish at us at the last minute. But we got to scale, filet, prepare and cook filet of sole. Lightly breaded served with a Lemon Beurre Blanc (burr blanc) sauce. It was really cool to do.

Beurre blanc is a sauce done with shallots, white wine, a bit of white wine vinegar, reduce to almost nothing, add cold cubes of butter and finish with lemon juice. You have to emulsify the butter in the reduction.It's kind of like making a Hollandaise without egg. It breaks easy and is very temperamental. Its key is to have it done when the fish is ready. You have to strain it through a chinoise (chin waw) into another pan, not too hot, not too cold or it will break. Trying to keep beurre blanc is next to impossible. Timing is everything.

So I put up some pictures of my sole for your enjoyment and I'll be working on beurre blanc sauce this weekend and forever more. If you look closely, you may see my sauce is broke. But my soul is intact.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Don't Bogart that Caul Fat, my Friend!

We did two exciting chicken dishes today. Ballotine de Poulet Grandmere and Stuffed Chicken Breast Doria. For the Ballotine de Poulet Grandmere we deboned a leg/thigh combo and then stuffed it with sautéed onion, celery and portobello mushrooms. Then you roll it and then wrap it in caul fat. More on caul fat later. You sear it and then remove and deglaze with white wine, add mira poix, tomato paste and then chicken stock. The key is beurre manie (beurr man-yea). That's equal parts butter and flour just combined but not cooked. This thickens the sauce and makes it shiny. BTB ( bring to boil) and into a 350 oven to poach for 20 minutes or so. Or as we are told, "Till it's done." Picture included.

The Stuffed Chicken Breast Doria is also rolled, but is poached in 165 degree water. The stuffing is called Forcemeat. I'm sure that part is left off the menu. You make a chicken mousse with egg whites, mixed herbs, creme fresh and bread crumbs. That gets rolled up in a pounded chicken breast, rolled even tighter with plastic wrap and then rolled again in foil. I felt like I was back in the 60's. Then poached in water for 20 minutes. Or, like I said earlier, till it's done. No picture of this one, sorry.

Time was running out, so I didn't sauce the Doria. Or saute the tourney cucumbers. I did put raw cucumbers and chopped chives to finish the dish. Chef was impressed with my stuffing and degree of doneness. Seasoning was good too. Just needed to finish the darn thing with a sauce.

The Ballotine de Poulet Grandmere was really tasty. I ate that one. Then I remember what caul fat is. The squeamish may want to stop now.

Caul Fat: The lining of a pigs intestine.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Never Truss a Game Hen

Today was our day for le rotir, which means 'to roast'. We roasted a cornish game hen. These little suckers that have found ways to confound me for years. When you buy them, they are frozen. Like a rock. When you cook them, they dry out rather quickly or never seem to cook enough. So we learned how to cook them the classic French way. We stuff them with mira poix, (onion, celery and carrot) and then truss (tie) them up. I had to laugh as our Chef was talking about the hen and trussing it, the innuendo's that were flying around were funny. Locker room humor does exist in the kitchen. Even our Chef was laughing. So I truss up the hen after stuffing it with mira poix. Place it in a 350 oven along with another bird at the same time. Take it's temperature and see that it's 155 degrees internal temp. Take it out to rest and get on with fabricating a whole chicken.

Buying cut up chickens is expensive. It takes about 2 to 3 minutes to fabricate, or cut, a chicken into parts. Ah, but the secret is to know where to cut and what not to waste. We also had to airline the breast ( french the wing bone to the first joint) and make a breast supreme (boneless). Cut a leg thigh combo and separate leg from thigh. The interesting thing about fabricating a chicken is you never ever cut a bone. The joints are in locations that make fabrication rather easy.

So my game hen has rested. We roast (le rotir) a bunch of root veggies and make a pan sauce. The girl I'm working with takes her hen up just before me for the Chefs critique. Her game hen is cooked perfect. Mind you, our hens went in together and came out together. Mine, was so under cooked, it looked like it was still able to give blood to the Red Cross.

I just can't truss them hens.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Dished Made into Three

If you have been keeping up with these blogs, first of all thank you, then you know that today we were doing our first attempt at two complete meals. They include a protein, a starch, a vegetable, sauce and garnish. Complete meals are composed of these five items. We made Veal Scaloppine alla Marsala with Tourned potatoes and Green Beans with roasted peppers and bacon. Our second item was Grilled Pork Chop with soft Polenta and Glazed Carrots in a reduced demi glaze sauce w/butter and garnished with chopped parsley. {Side note: oil your grill with half an onion that has oil placed on the flat side. It oils the grill and gives it a nice bit of flavor.}

In my earnest attempt to do each dish, I got a bit confused. As I was grilling my pork chop, I went ahead and started my Veal Scaloppine. Butterflied the veal, dusted it with flour and cooked it in a bit of oil. Then I deglazed the pan with Marsala wine. Added some demi glaze and reduced it. I went over and took my pork chop off the grill as it was done. I placed the polenta on the plate, placed the chop on top of the polenta and added the carrots. Then I promptly put the reduced Marsala sauce on the Pork Chop and garnished with chopped parsley. I was told my carrot were too small and the sauce was too sweet and needed more salt. (no kidding)

If you were able to keep up with that then you know that the Marsala sauce was suppose to go on the Veal Scaloppine. Not to be detoured, I got more Marsala wine, reduced some demi glaze, added it to the pan, put in the Veal cutlet to heat, plated my potato tourney, green beans with roasted peppers and bacon. Then placing the veal on top of the green beans I spooned the new Marsala sauce over the veal and garnished with chopped parsley.

Chef told me my plating could be better. Stack the veal a bit higher on the green beans. Also my potatoes were way over cooked.

What, no extra credit for Grilled Pork Chop alla Marsala?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Workin' the Frier

Today we worked on Le Cuisson, Frier (Fr). Or if you must, deep fat frying. We made Fish and Chips and, one of my favorite foods, Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura. It was our first attempt in using the deep fryer. Funny, there are probably 10 million teenagers out there that have done french fries at McDonalds or burger joints all over this country. I never have. Le cuisson is the same for both dishes. The difference is the fish is breaded using the classic egg wash technique and tempura is a batter. We made tartar sauce for the fish, mine was excellent, and the wonderful dipping sauce of Dashi, soy sauce and mirin. You put in grated ginger and daikon radish to dip your tempura food in. My batter had too much egg yoke and did not crisp up like it should. Chef Wang told me my frying was excellent. Need to work on my batter. So today was relatively easy and fun. Tomorrow, two completely different entree's and lots of prep work and tons of dishes. Veal Scaloppini Marsala with Tourned potatoes and green beans AND Grilled Pork Chops with Glazed Carrots and Soft Polenta.

Naturally, I'm on dish detail tomorrow.

Sunday was fun as Chris and I went to a fellow students home in Hermosa Beach, where I helped make risotto. For 8 people. It came out great. Nancy, our host, made a wonderful mushroom ragu that we added in. Good people and fun times. Even better was showing off that we know that risotto is a cooking technique and not a dish. Ooohh's and Ahhh's.

Some folks are easily impressed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Campbell's Beef Stew, it Was!

Friday ended our fourth week in Foundations II. For the first time, we were able to cook with proteins. That's right, beef and chicken were on the menu. Using one of Le Cuissons to cook our proteins, we made Beef Stew and Chicken Fricassee. Can you name le cuisson we used to cook these dishes? If you said braising, then you can move forward. Otherwise, back to Foundations I for you and no fricasseed chicken. Fricassee? It almost could be used for a swear word, "ah, go fricassee yourself!" But instead, it's a great way to do chicken. Making a liaison sauce (cream and egg yoke) reduction and adding it to the stock used to braise our chicken, it would be great over the homemade fettuccine we make on Wednesday. Yumm!

Beef Stew is what we had as kids when Thursday night rolled around. Left overs piled up in the fridge meant everything went into the pot, make some gravy, add a Bisquick crust and you had a great meal. This was very different. Classic beef stew made with seasoned seared chuck meat, add flour to make a roux, a little tomato paste, aromatics, cover in beef stock, and cook covered in the oven for 60 to 90 minutes. You need to check your stew, cause if the liquid evaporates, you get burned beef. Now how would I know that? Thinking swiftly, I added water to bring up the liquid level. Plated the stew, garnished with peas and parsley and presented it to my chef.

He told me, "It Tastes like Campbell's." You've got to love Chef Wang!