Monday, July 21, 2008

Les Menus for the week of July 19, 2008

Our first full week of cooking and the Saturday before (the 12th)... I GOT TO DO MY FIRST ASSISTING PROJECT AT THE FRENCH EMBASSY FOR BASTILLE DAY! First the food, then the embassy.

Le Menu for July 15, 2008

This is the one I got to serve. I don't eat runny eggs so I made mine fully cooked. Bryan laughed because one green bean is out of place in the shot. NEXT TIME!!! I can now make a mean Hollandaise sauce though. There have been two exciting thing about taking this course I hadn't exactly expected. Well, take that back. One I did, the other I didn't. My list of foods I like is growing. I'd never had quiche until we made it that first week. And now I'm a huge fan of the stuff. I'd never tasted Hollandaise sauce until I made it for the Eggs Benedict and think it's marvelous now. Still not getting down the runny eggs but that's fine by me. The other thing I've discovered is that there are so many things I can do for myself in the kitchen, the lost art of cooking, that I wish I could show everyone what they're missing.


This little bugger is going to be on my first exam and I have to get it right. It's a dough called PATE A CHOU where the issue is the amount of eggs to put in. It's not the same every time. It depends on the wind, the moon the stars, and a good eye to know when the dough has had enough. Too much and you get a runny dough that wont pipe correctly. These above are pretty darn good but I made them too small so they're more gumball size than jawbreaker size. They're thin filled with my old friend... pastry cream. Not bad but still not right.

Le Menu for July 16, 2008

I can roast a chicken with the best of them now! OK, maybe not the best but I can do it all by myself and with great results. I can also make a very good rice pilaf just don't go by the giant mound shown on this plate as to how it should be plated. I was serving to someone who really likes rice and requested a larger serving than originally called for. Worked for me since I love rice too and made a huge helping on my plate (this one) as well. I under estimated the amount of spinach to cook which I shouldn't have since I cook Swiss chard at home and it shrinks in a similar fashion. I gave the proper amount to my "customer" so I only ended up with the little amount here. And yes, this is my plate since it's got the drops of sauce and out of place rice on it. Can't serve a messy plate, now can I? =)



OK, this is the best one of the bunch and I'm not going to blame anyone on the results. I can't tell if I did something wrong or the oven we used was at the wrong temperature. The little holes you see along the edge are from bubbles made while the custard was cooking. It cooked too fast rather than nice and slow. I'm not a fan of this dessert but I will make it again for practice purposes.

Le Menu for July 17, 2008
No pictures because I forgot to grab my camera before it got sent out. It looked really, really good and tasted even better. The leg meat from the previous day's chicken, sauteed mushrooms, a sauce made of chicken stock and roux all rolled into savory crepes, covered in more sauce thickened with a bit of cream and topped with Gruyere cheese (my uber-favorite cheese of the moment). This is then all put under the broiler to brown and then... DEVOURED! Though I don't need a crepe pan, maybe I might treat myself to one anyway. That and I definitely want to add some gratin dishes to my arsenal.

No pictures of this dish because I was terribly disappointed in it. I fillet the flounder just fine but I can only think I overcooked it because it completely fell apart while trying to plate it. That and my team never got to making the little potatoes (I'm getting ready to practice those once I finish this post because that particular cut is on the exam) so there really wasn't much to look at.

These are little meringue-like cookies that are delicious. We didn't get to use the prettier molds so they look like little corn muffins at first but they taste delicious. These will definitely be made at home. No pictures because I want them of how they're suppose to look. Just trust me, they're good!

Le Menu for July 18, 2008

OK, ignore the combination of items since I didn't pick the menu. I need to work on folding my omelet in the pan, it's definitely not easy, but it tasted great. Again, I cooked mine completely because I just don't do runny eggs. Making the pasta and the sauce was really amazing and dare I saw... DELICIOUS! Buying pasta in the store will have to do until I get my own pasta machine because this was fabulous. We'll be learning how to incorporate veggies and stuff in it at a later time to get colored pastas. As for the sauce, I need a food mill! Or be content with a chunky sauce. Either way, this was a great experience. Oh, and a neat little thing you can do with your own pasta. When boiling the water, throw in some garlic cloves, thyme, and bay leaves when you add the salt and olive oil. Right before you cook the pasta, skim that stuff out. It will add extra flavor to the pasta and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want that!



Once again I meet my nemesis, PATE A CHOU. Miscalculated the eggs and ended up with too thin dough. What you see should have been two rings on the bottom (one inner, one outer) topped by a third ring that sat on top between the two bottom ones. Instead, I ended up with a doughnut shaped pastry. Tasted fine, looked all wrong. *sigh* I nailed the pastry cream this time, even had no problem adding in the hazelnut cream. I had a team mate make the whip cream and I should have noticed that it wasn't very thick before I added to my pastry cream. So, the mixture ended up too thin and collapsed during piping. GRRR! More practice on my part. And of course, pastry cream and the PATE A CHOU are on the exam coming up.
As for the French Embassy, it was an intense and amazing night. Before we move on to the third phase of our program, we have to perform at least 3 assisting jobs through the school. These can be benefits that the school is asked to provide help for, in the various recreational classes the school offers, or whatever else the school posts as opportunities we can sign-up for. In this case, the French Embassy has been working with the school for some years and apparently we regularly have a series of cooking demonstrations during their Bastille Day festivities. There were also several local restaurants that provide the buffet meal. I was one of 14 students (between the pastry and culinary programs) that were able to attend the event and assist our chefs in the demo plating and passing out samples, assist the other chefs from the restaurants as needed, and talk to the guest about the food as well as our school. It was an amazing night! I met some fanastic people, got to network with some with the other chefs and guests, and see what it might be like in a catering atmosphere. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It was a long afternoon and night, but it was worth it.
My next assisting project will be this Saturday where I help one of the chefs in an all day Thai Techniques class. The neat thing about assisting in the recreational classes is that we get to learn while we're working. SWEET!


Louise said...

Goodness sweetheart. I had no idea that you had to work so hard. I can't wait to taste all the good things that you have learned.

Love Mom

TeAntae said...

Hi Mom!

Yeah, it's picking up steam as far as the work we do. Today (7/22) we made a veal dish served over rice pilaf, pea soup, and a pear dessert. Sounds simply but all had multiple parts.

Afterward, we started the marinade process for beef bourguignon. Chef Patrice tells us this is helping us be prepared for the real world. I'll get it! I'm determined.

As for when you're back in town... DO I HAVE A DINNER PLANNED FOR YOU! =)

Love you!

Janice said...

Oh my word!!! There is now drool all over my keyboard!!! I think I want to go to chef school!!!