Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Silent Hoagie

Third day of Lunch Cookery, third day in my new group with Stella and Earl, third day's the doosy. I call our dish today the silent hoagie because, well, I worked in complete silence for about 3 hours apart from the small amount of interaction I had with Stella on her way to and from the meat slicer. Earl and I, working within two feet of one another, didn't say a word the entire time.
I came into the kitchen to find a Hidden Valley Ranch packet sitting on Earl's cutting board and when I asked what it was for he said he wanted to season our "gaufrette potatoes" with them. Puzzled, I said I would rather make some sort of spice mixture up ourselves since we're in school and I want to learn how to do it. He said there was no way to make this specific "sour cream" spice mixture and that the packet would have to do. I asked if he thought Chef would be okay with it since it didn't seem like something he would condone. "Chef told me in class it was fine," Earl told me, annoyed. With that I took the packet to Chef just to be sure it was okay for us to use a packet like that for our seasoning. Chef said he didn't think Earl was talking about a packet like that and suggested we make two batches, setting aside the one we made from scratch to be plated and served. As I told Earl this Chef came over and reiterated what he had just told me. Once Chef left our station Earl started walking out of the suite and right as he passed me mumbled, "Thanks Vanessa." Feeling like he was taking this a little too seriously I approached him and told him I wasn't trying to stifle his ideas but rather wanted to learn how to do it and be creative with the dish. He cocked his head towards mine while keeping his eyes fixed on cleaning potatoes and said sternly, "I don't want to talk to you, I have NOTHING to say to you." From there he completely ignored me. I tried to ask him something about the mandolin and received a harsh cold shoulder. He wouldn't even look at me throughout the whole day! I felt like he made me out to be the wicked witch from the west or something. Am I really that bad?
I thought he would get better in time but as we left to go home I didn't even see him and we still hadn't spoken. True Earl is 48, came directly from the war in Iraq to the CIA and has an interesting temper. By the end of the day the entire class had heard of his silent treatment either from him or me since I had to talk to other teams about my dish and have them taste things I was making since Earl wouldn't have any part in it.
The hoagie turned out well despite the silence and I hope we'll be back on a positive, communicative track tomorrow. It's crazy over here.
One group made Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff that was to die for and I must give you the recipe.

yield: 8 portions
1 lb. portobello mushrooms, chopped into chunks, gills removed
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, sm. dice
1/2 oz garlic, chopped (about a tablespoon or so)
1 T. brandy
1 c. veal or any other stock (chicken, vegetable...)
1/4 c. creme fraiche (can sub sour cream)
1/4 bu. italian parsley, chopped
1/2 lemon juiced and zested
1. In med. sized braising pan brown mushrooms and onions in olive oil (cook for want the mushroom juices to reduce, making a nice rich mouth feel)
2. Add the garlic and deglaze with the brandy. Add the veal stock and reduce to nape consistency (coats back of spoon and line stays when finger runs through)
3. Finish with creme fraiche, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper
***serve over your favorite pasta!

The women who works in the marketing department at the CIA said she's worked there for 14 years and this was her favorite dish she's ever had!
Despite my not so great day in the kitchen, my spirits were lifted after class when I helped Georgina and Burroughs make pizza dough for their veggie calzones for tomorrow. We went downstairs to put the dough on our cart and found a whole pig. I got a great picture of Burroughs, as you can see, and had a REALLY good laugh out of it.


Lindsay said...

That's hilarious about the Hidden Valley packet. Ha ha ha. Chill out Earl. Aren't you in culinary school to learn stuff, or is that packet so perfect that it can't be topped?

gretalou28 said...

I am so going to try that recipe! Good job Vanessa! Maybe Earl is just a phene for Hidden Valley??? Haha but still, poo poo to him!