So this is the real first week of my culinary adventure, the ice is broken, students mingled and familiar, 3 students dropped out already, skill building has started. The instructor has the lesson plans worked out and we have begun to really get into the text book, and full-on projects. Week 1 was just an ice breaker to ease everyone into the kitchen and so she could see what she is working with.
overall week 2 topics covered; Basic principles of cooking and food science, heat & food, carbs, proteins, fibers, fats, flavor components, heat transfer methods, heat management, cooking methods & all their temperatures, poaching, simmering, boiling, steaming, braising, roasting, baking, broiling, grill, griddle, pan-broil, saute’, pan-fry, deep fry, pressure fry, sous vide cooking, molecular gastronomy, building flavor profiles, difference between seasoning & flavoring, Spice & herb profiles, knifes, knife skills, styles of cuts, stocks, sauces, spice sachets, bone blanching.
The Main focus this week:
The Chef Knife - We viewed two videos about chef knives, selecting the perfect chef knife for the right tasks, how they are constructed, different styles and materials, and how to maintain a sharp edge.
We also worked on KNIFE SKILLS, different styles of cuts, there procedures and uses, and safety during cutting.
We were given a sheet pan full of vegetables; tomatoes, onions, green onion, garlic, leeks, carrots, potatoes, parsley, celery, etc. and we were instructed to execute the different styles of cuts we learned then present them to the chef. A task much harder than one would think.
we presented the six basic vegetable cuts
Julienne ( 1/8 x 1/8 x 1-2 inches), Fine julienne ( 2 x 1/16 x 1-2 inches),
Rondelle (round cuts/bias, varied diameter), Large dice (1/4 x 3/4 x 3/4),
medium dice (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2), small dice (1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4), bruinose ( 1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8),
tourne (2 x 1/4 x 7 sides, flat end, football shape)
I also tried the following cuts for practice: Fermie’re (quarter circle irregular cut), Lozenges (diamond shape cut), Oblique (also called the roll cut, for long cylindrical vegetables such as carrots)
So having a full class of 12 students cutting up all those vegetables, what to do with them? make STOCKS & SOUPS!
we reserved all the cut vegetables and we learned the basics for all our stocks & soups. Of course starting with Mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery). We were each assigned a soup to construct from a recipe and using the basic stocks and vegetables we cut up the previous class. I was assigned Consamme’ and I was pretty excited because I have heard about this a lot but never cooked or eaten it. This was a long grueling process, the Mise en place (meez on plahss) alone was tedious. But with a little guidance from the chef I was on my way. I had 3 hours to make something that normally takes all day, so after I got my mise en place ready I had only 1 hour to simmer. I prepped, cooked, simmered, and strained the Consamme’ 6 different times to release the oils from it, finally realizing that I had to use a fatty beef in the recipe because lean meats are not on the class budget! but overall it came out great, and the Chef was impressed. I decided to saute’ up some chicken that I cut into small bias pieces, with asparagus & carrots. Normally Consamme’ is brought out to the table at a restaurant and poured over a vegetable and protein right in front of the customer for presentation purposes. In my case I just wanted to have a nice clean presentation, that was tastey and executed perfectly. which for my first time cooking this recipe I believe I accomplished.
Another great class, great experience and further recognition that cooking is truly what I want to do. Creating something, and something delicious, out of nothing is amazing. I am a creative, curious person and It’s part of a good cook’s personality: to be curious. and curiosity-coupled with a streak of perfectionism-is the road to developing your own style.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for next weeks post. This week we are studying and crafting salads, dressings, and more!