Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week 3 - Soups

Day 1 - Cream of Potato Soup with fresh Bread and Pesto

Day 2 - Minestrone
             Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup

Day 3 - New England Style Clam Chowder

**Update Coming**

Week 2 - Stocks

This was an interesting week for me.  We have four days in class and one day is spent on Sanitation and Intro to Food Service classes.  That leaves just three days in the kitchen.  But they are amazing days!

Now I have to be honest, I ended up missing the first day in the kitchens this week as my car broke down and I was trying to fix it to no avail.  The first day we spent making stock, obviously.  It's interesting to learn when it comes to stocks you can do ANYTHING.  A white stock or brown stock can be made with anything.  You can make a brown chicken stock same as you can make a white veal stock.  It's all in the preparation.

The first day we made a brown veal stock and a white chicken stock.  We have huge vats that we can make these in.  However, we used both of them to make the veal stock.  Running out of time we made the chicken stock on the stoves and literally threw the bones, mirepiox, bouquet garni and water in at the same time.  The stock ended up turning green and really looked bad.

The next day we took both stocks and reduced them to demi-glace (which is a 50% reduction).  They both smelled so damn good!!  This is sort of a long, tedious process, but the outcome is so worth it.  As the stock is simmering, it needs to be skimmed off all fats, grease, and impurities to make a clear stock.  After the demi-glace was finished we rewet the veal bones and simmered that overnight.  This rewetting is  otherwise known as remouillage - French for rewetting and used to describe a stock produced by reusing the bones from another stock.  Because the stock from the remouillage had nothing extra added to it, the initial flavor is not so great.  The obvious thing that we would need to do with this is to reduce the stock to bring out the flavors that are still there.  This remouillage is reduced by 90% to make a glace.

Day three was about making the glace from the remouillage and while that was cooking down we made a vegetable fumet.  Fumet is basically a concentrated stock usually made from fish bones and/or shellfish shells and vegetables.  It's the first week in the kitchens with our groups that we will be working with for the rest of the semester.  Our skill sets are very different and well...lets see what happens!

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 2 - Knife Skills

The challenge - 12 potatoes.  6 hours.  Perfect allumette cuts.  Oy!

I  have to say, when we started out I wasn't very nervous.  There were a lot of people in my class that were and you could see it on their faces and in the way they held their chef's knife.  Some tragic cut were bound to happen today.  A few cuts happened throughout the day, but nothing too major.  I am surprised that I didn't cut myself.  *Knock on wood*

Any way, we really spent more like 4 hours actually in the kitchen peeling our potatoes...horribly slow if I might mention - that is until we were shown a way to do a rough tournĂ© cut that peels the potato in 9 cuts. For those of you that don't know, a tournĂ© cut is an oblong shaped cut used on carrots and potatoes with 7 even cuts around the vegetable.  The end result is a football-like shape with flat ends.

As crazy or easy as that might sound, it isn't.  Honestly, that became the easy part of the day.  After we peeled the potatoes in the first few hours we cut them down into slices about 1/8" thick.  Again, not so easy at first.  With the last cut, we cut them down one more time into matchstick sized allumette cuts.  Allumette cuts are about the size of a matchstick or generally 1/8" x 1/8" x 1" to 2".  Starting off I thought I was doing well, but my initial cuts ended up being about 1/2" x 1/2" which is a sizable difference to what we were shooting for.  A few potatoes in I was able to be a little more consistent with my cuts and getting them fairly close to the size asked for.

After our lunch break we were shown the tournĂ© cuts and then from there we squared off the potato to make a nice rectangle that greatly improved the consistency of our cuts.  I was happy to say that by the end of the day and 12 potatoes in I was fairly consistent with my allumette cuts.  Not every one was exactly square, but I had a few that were cut very well.  For the most part they became very uniform and I was happy with the outcome of my day.  Now if only I can keep up the consistency I will not be worried when the day comes that Chef Tim gives us 10 minutes to cut as much brunoise as possible in the time frame.  (Bruniose is a dice and is basically taking your allumette cuts and cutting it down further to 1/8" x 1/8" x 1/8" cubes.)

All in all, it was a great day!  I have no cuts and I am already beginning to feel comfortable within the kitchen (not that I am a stranger to it).


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 1 - Orientation

First day of culinary school and I am SOOOO super excited!  This year I have chosen to follow my passion and start culinary school at the Washburne Culinary Institute - part of the City Colleges of Chicago at Kennedy King College.  Didn't follow that?  It's okay.  I barely get it myself, however, the important part is the Washburne Culinary Institute.  Got it...?  GOOD!

So, like any first day of classes you have to go through orientation.  Duh!  You just have to.  Now when I signed up I had the choice of being on the Kennedy King campus, or at an extension location at the South Shore Cultural Center.  What a difficult choice...  I could either be on campus on the south side of Chicago in an area that doesn't seem to have much going on around it anymore, or I could go to the South Shore Cultural Center that is on the lake with the kitchens on the third floor...wait for it... wait for it... OVERLOOKING THE LAKE!
Did I say that this was a difficult choice?  Maybe in retrospect it really wasn't.  Of course I chose the South Shore Campus.

Anyway, it was a normal first day.  Spend hours reading over the syllabus, going over rules and policies, but the best part of the day that really got me excited for this journey was when we finally got our uniforms, books and our knife bags.  It was a magical moment - for most.  Not everyone got a knife bag.  I think the same thing happened there that happened with the medium sized pants that were part of our uniform.  They were on backorder...  Sucks for those who didn't get it considering we are starting out tomorrow with knife skills!

Bahh!  Anyway, this isn't going to be a long post, as nothing happened today.  However, I am excited to be taking this journey and documenting it and I thank you for following along with me!