Apples to Apples
First snow this week at the CIA.
This week I had to present a group project on the first celebrity chef: Careme. We passed out Napolean samples to honor his creation of the puff pastry and pastry cream dessert. Careme invented this dessert when he was the private chef to Napoleon Bonaparte during the 19th century.
Even though my classes continue to grow more challenging, I find them to be more exciting and rewarding every day. This week in in my fundamentals class we transitioned from making one item at a time to composing a full plated entree. Now instead of bringing our chef our individual completed item we have an allotted twenty five minutes to complete a protein, sauce, starch and two different vegetable components. We are graded on how accurately we replicate our chefs demo plate. The entree is 40% of the grade, the sauce is 10%, the starch is 20%, the vegetables are 10% each and your sanitation and organization skills are 10%. You must keep your station extremely clean and organized throughout your service period or else points will be deducted from your overall score.
At first I was intimidated about the service portion of this class. Before our entire class of nineteen people prepared their items all at once. Now only four people cook at one time. This allows our chef to closely examine our skills and critique our dishes while they are still hot. Our chef is looking for proper use of the techniques we learned about during lecture (this week was poaching), proper doneness in the protein, a sauce that compliments the flavor of the protein and completely covers the entree with the correct nappe (or desired consistency), properly cooked vegetables, correct seasoning, temperature (all items must be hot when they are served), and appearance. The food on the plate must not extend past the inner white rim of the plate and it must be free of drips and pieces of food.
I found the service portion of class to be more rewarding than making a single item at a time. It is unrealistic to cook one item at a time because regardless if you are in a restaurant kitchen or cooking at home you always have to multi-task to get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Although there are more factors to take into considerations with this style of class, like time management, it actually feels more like cooking. The service portion of class prepares us for when we get into the other kitchens at school that produce meals daily for other students and faculty.
Here are some pictures from my week of classes:
This week was a big transition week in my fundamentals class we transitioned from our regular flow of preparing foods one at a time and then bringing them up to our chef for grading to creating multi-component dishes. Now during class we are allotted roughly twenty five minutes to pull together a dish comprised of a protein with a complementary sauce, a starch and two different vegetable sides.
Yummm….fish. My favorite breakfast! This week in fundamentals we focused on fish and poaching techniques.
Everyone’s favorite job gutting fish for fish stock!
Kiss the fish!
Butter….our main staple here at the CIA. Somedays we use an entire stick of butter to compose one dish….yikes!
Submerged poached salmon with beurre blanc, sautéed julienned vegetables, tourned potatoes, and buttered green beens.
Shallow poached flounder with duglere sauce, saffron rice, glazed carrots, sauteed spinach.
Cafe au lait at Apple Pie Bakery
So many people rave about the stuffed pretzels at Apple PIe. I decided that I had to try one Monday since I had the day off. This was stuffed with cheese, acorn squash, chestnuts, and mushrooms.
Udon noodle bowl with chicken, shrimp, snow peas, and carrots.
Sushi and sashimi sampler.
Caramelized onion and mushroom wood-oven pizza from the Mediterranean kitchen.
Squid Ink pasta with a spinach ricotta filling on Italy day. There are lots of delicious fresh pastas to choose from during the Italy unit each block.
The cold weather made this butternut squash soup the perfect lunch.
Deconstructed s’more dessert: graham cracker and caramel bar; chocolate cake truffle with chocolate ganache, marshmallow, s’more ice cream (which melted in this photo) and a chocolate tuile.
A few days out of every block one of the baking and pastry classes does a series of plated desserts. They are always worth getting to lunch early for! This was a lemon panna cotta with a blueberry sorbet and graham crackers.
This week in product knowledge we learned about the different varieties of apples, pears, grapes and herbs. Product knowledge is always a good change of pace from my kitchen class. I enjoy ending the week with this class.
The variety of pears we talked about.
Since there is upwards of about 2,500 apple varieties in the US we only scratched the surface of apple varietals in class.
I learned this week that all herbs fall under the carrot family or the mint family with the exception of chives. Chives are part of the onion family but we consider them an herb.
The carrot family includes: parsley varieties, chervil, cilantro and dill while the mint family includes the bolder flavored herbs like: basil, bay leaves (laurel), oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint and tarragon.
Apple cider during lecture.
We pass around all of the samples in product knowledge that way we understand the size, feel and smell of the product.
After class students who help set up and clean up the demo table are allowed to take the unused produce. Since class is on a Friday it is a great way to stock up on some high quality produce to cook with over the weekends. I took some of the fresh herbs back from class this week.
I found the lecture on herbs to be particularly interesting. I grow a lot of herbs at home but I never knew how they were all related to each other.
We learned about all the flavor notes and aromatics in each herb. It is very helpful to understand what foods pair best with what herbs. We talked about some common pairings like tomatoes and basil along with some less traditional applications.
This was our tasting plate for the day on Friday. We compared green grapes and red grapes; golden delicious apples to honey crisp apples; an asian pear (middle) and homemade applesauce. I can’t wait to go home now next week and have my mom’s apple sauce from the apples we picked this fall.
I will hopefully have a new post up soon about my snowed in weekend at the CIA!