Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the one thing I can't resist...

Yes, you named it, the one dessert that keeps me constantly glancing over to the dessert station each day to hopefully find a beautiful piece of it waiting for me to consume. It's light, it's fluffy, it's sugary and delicious. It's angel food cake.
Tonight on the way to dinner I spoke with my baking friends about how much I needed some; How much I missed it. It had been so long since I had seen it on that glorious dessert table. Then, when we arrived, to my delight, there was a beautiful (not as beautiful as mine pictured, but still pretty) angel food cake with strawberries ushering me towards it...sort of like a magnet, if you will.
I went over and got myself a nice piece and ate it as a delightful appetizer while waiting to order food. Then, after dinner I consumed yet another piece, not knowing when I might see it again. Then, I finished my friends piece she had on her plate. I don't know what it is, but I LOVE the stuff. Good thing there's tons of egg whites in it rather than butter. But really, if the ratios were switched I still don't think it would stop me. Maybe it's a good thing it's rare for it to be baked at the CIA.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant...

Isn't that a mouth full to say? I even think it's cumbersome and confusing to remember "WSGR" for writing it shorthand. whew.

I'm officially out of the teaching kitchen and floating through rotations within the restaurant connected to our school. Despite my initial feeling of chaos and confusion of having to learn a new kitchen it's been pretty cool for the most part. My life at school is completely different. Instead of eating with everyone else we make family meal and eat with other staff within the restaurant which means we basically never see the rest of the school. We now get off on the second floor from the elevator, which, for my time here up until now, to be extremely intimidating with non-Chef Instructor Chefs walking around doing their thing in the real world. Now though, its all normal...funny how your perspective can change so drastically so fast. The other day the elevator opened far across the room, past the dish-station and hallway from where I was chopping in the back kitchen. It opened just as I decided I needed to go upstairs to get something so I looked up and semi-yelled (yelling's not looked highly upon in kitchens unless you're the Chef) "WAIT!" while shuffling swiftly over to the elevator where students from classes behind mine were staring, just as I had before, at the foreign place. I think I ruined any sort of wonder or glamorous thought of the restaurant they had from my desperate plea.

The picture I have posted is of the day I worked the "temptations" station. Temptations are small bites or snacks before your appetizer and I love them. They're the perfect little taste to have with a drink while not making you too full. Pictured from left to right is a lamb chop with fava bean puree and mint, lavash with hummus, caramelized shallots and paprika oil, green garlic soup with extra virgin olive oil, crostini with egg salad and bocorones, and finally beef carpaccio with a salad of parsley, shaved parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil.
The other picture is Karl holding up the little lamb chops we were about to grill up to the window. We thought it looked like beautiful stained glass. Perhaps only if you like the look of raw meat, which, apparently we do.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Charcoal" Cherry Gastrique

Current Class: Banquets and Catering
Current Chef: Chef Tom Wong
Current Group: Georgina, Brittany, Ryan
Current Mission: experiment with recipes and plating for the Greystone Wine Spectator Restaurant
Last Failure: Balsamic Cherry Gastrique

This week in class we are plating up different dishes to be made in the restaurant once we start in it next week. Chef Patrick, our Chef Instructor in the restaurant, developed a menu that he wanted to try introducing within the next few months. This week he instructed us to produce what we thought the dishes should look like. For example, yesterday we produced three different starter plates and today we will produce three different entree plates. Though we are all in groups of four or five, each individual has to form a unique plate of the starter and entree to make 17 different unique plates (17 people in my class) of each for Chef to analyze and consider.

One of the starters yesterday was a Smoked Lamb Loin Carpaccio with Lambs lettuce and olive oil poached cherries. Because these olive oil poached cherries didn't come out as delicious as we had hoped (bottom line, they were pretty bad...most of the flavor was sucked out and they ended up going from fresh beautiful ripe cherries to dull, canned-looking cherries) Georgina and I decided to make a separate balsamic cherry gastrique to tie in these not-so-good cherries to the rest of the dish. I grabbed the tiniest pot I could (about 5 inches in diameter and five inches deep) to make the gastrique and right after I put this tiny pot on the big burner that could essentially heat up a multiple gallon pot, Chef called us over to chat. When I walked back over about ten minutes later after Chef's demo I saw Chef Tucker Bunch (my Skills 1 Chef Instructor) holding our tiny pot laughing and saying he'd never seen anything like it. Inside was a miniature coal fire with charcoal bits so hot they were blue and bright orange. It was unbelievable! Right after we saw the little scene Chef Bunch threw the pot onto the counter and jumped back as he yelped at how incredibly hot it was even through the side towel he held it with. The burning cherry coals stayed a smidge orange for me to run and get my camera but it's almost completely out. We ended up not having time to do it over and making instead a balsamic reduction and drizzling that over the cherries. I have no idea if all the components went well together. Something about lamb carpaccio just really turns me off...even if the lamb was slightly smoked.

gastrique= a thick sauce made by reducing vinegar or wine, sugar and sometimes fruit. (wikipedia.com)
carpaccio= a dish of raw beef or other meat VERY thinly sliced.

Me and Gina reacting to the charcoal cherry gastrique we destroyed.