Friday, September 29, 2006

Day 28 – Heated Day of Testing

By heated I mean we had the ovens going, the stovetops going and the grill. Whew! This was a night I was kind of worried about because of timing.

Let us begin. First the recipes – Rice Pilaf, Mushroom risotto, Ravioli’s with a mushroom/ricotta cheese filling in a creamy sun dried tomato sauce (say that 3 times!), braised artichoke hearts and marinated grilled vegetables.

So how will this time out. The veggies have to marinate for at least an hour so best get the vinaigrette made, BUT I need to slice my veggies up and salt them to draw the excess moisture out. HOWEVER, I also need to get those artichokes going because they have to cook for 45 minutes AND be served with the grilled veggies….Good lord what do I do?!?! Stop, breathe.

Slice the veggies, salt, make vinaigrette, slice the mushrooms for my risotto and ravioli stuffing, pat veggies dry add to vinaigrette put into the fridge. Next slice carrots, onions and shallots for all the various other recipes and start to fabricated my baby artichokes. I get those into the wine and water and let them start to sing they happy song of “Braise me till I’m Tender” (Soon to be released on the CD – NOW! Songs of the Kitchen) I get my rice cooking. While that is cooking I prep my ravioli filling – cook up the mushrooms and get them chilled so I can mix in the ricotta cheese. I also sauté my mushrooms in the same pan for my risotto and put those aside. DING time to take the rice pilaf off and let it set for 15 minutes. While that’s sitting I roll out my pasta dough, check filling almost cool, check rice, yep its done fluff it and present it. Veggies are done marinating and no one is at the grill so I deftly take them out of the fridge and approach. I make no eye contact with the other students as I know this will trigger the “Oh My Gosh I have to grill my veggies too!!” and have them all running for the grill. It’s horrible to share a grill with 4-5 people that is designed for 2. Yes the grill – She is Mine! Ok veggies are looking a might tasty. Back to my station, take the artichokes out and put them on a cool plate. Arrange veggies in an appeasing pattern.

**now this is where I had 2 great ideas, both of which were copied once others saw what I was doing. It’s to be expected and I got a good chuckle out of it**

I asked the Chef if she had any Balsamic reduction sauce in her station that I might use. This was the same sauce we had used weeks back on our Antipasto platter. It wasn’t on the recipe to use for tonight but I thought it added such a wonderful flavor last time. I used it and took it back. No one else was getting ready to grill. Later on in the evening when folks were grilling I heard a couple of them ask “What was that stuff Red put on her veggies?” Someone replied that reduction stuff. “But it’s not on the recipe, do we have to use it?” No probably not. But everyone did. The next thing was how I arranged my veggies. The only person who copied my pattern was the person sharing my station. And guess who that was?! Yep!! Her Majesty the Princess! I about died. She watched me on how I did every dish. But she copied how I sliced my veggies and arranged them on her plate in the same pattern. Um..what happened to originality? TeeHee.

Ok that’s 3 dishes done. My Pilaf, grilled veggies and artichokes. Next is my pasta and risotto. Let’s do pasta. Ok I must say my raviolis came out SOOOO good!! No really I’m not just being fond of my own stuff here. Because when Chef gets done tasting and says “Those are really, really good.” Then nods her head and comes back and says “I’m just going to have to have one more…” and eats another one, that’s good pasta!

Risotto time. This dish is just a bit time consuming and you want to monitor the texture very carefully. But when done right it is one the best rice dishes you’ll ever eat.

I am done with all 5 dishes by 9:15pm. I am afforded the luxury of going over to PCA3 to partake in their finals – baking. They had cookies and tarts and homemade ice cream and chocolate yummy things that just made me happy. I will admit I lingered probably longer than I should of, but I knew my station was clean, my dishes were done and put away. I figured it was the late people who could their own dishes. If I had gone back Chef just would have had me start working on dishes and I really didn’t feel like it. Sue me.

All in all a very good night. Tomorrow we’re doing eggs. Blech.

Until then!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Day 27 – Day 3 of Finals

Well day is complete. Not a real hard night just time consuming because we had to let our French Onion Soup reduce. Tonight we did….well French Onion Soup, Cream of Tomato Soup, Pasta Dough, Pie Dough and Bechamel sauce (which was needed for the cream of tomato).

I was done by 9pm. At least this evening Chef Knight kept on harping about dishes. She caught a few people dropping and leaving them and would call them out after they walked back to their station “Chris! You have dishes you just left over here, come get them done.”

We all (all but 3) got out about 9:20 tonight which was a treat!

Tomorrow is a big night. We have a lot of dishes that are time consuming. Even now I’m reviewing them in my head to see what I will do and when.

Till Tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Day 26 – Testing Day One Complete!

Well tonight was the first night of testing. We first gathered in the main dining hall to take our written test. This is all done via short answer, there is no multiple choice. The part that was confusing was there were some questions that I do not recall ever discussing or techniques that were even used in class. But I did my best and hopefully it was enough. I feel I did pretty well. Not great but I know I passed the written portion.

Then it was off to the kitchen to begin our cooking portion. Tonight we prepared Pommes Anna, Pommes Dauphinoise, Pommes Roesti, Mashed Potatoes, Chicken Consommé’ and Glazed Carrots. I think everything came out very well.

The mood in the kitchen was very tense. No talking or bantering. All you could hear were whisks, spoons, knife chops and the occasional clearing of a throat.

I prepared my Consommé’ first since it would take an hour and a half to cook once it started simmering. And since all the ingredients have to go in cold that would take a while. Once I had that going I got my potatoes boiling for my mashed potatoes. While they were cooking I was slicing up the potatoes for the Anna and Dauphinoise. Arrange those get them in the oven and the boiled potatoes are coming off. Mix, plate and present. Off to check the two dishes in the oven. They’re coming along nicely. Let’s parboil the potato for the Roesti. While that is starting its process I grab all my dirty dishes and head to the sink. Cleanliness is a must! Come back and my potato is just about ready. Dauphinoise comes out to rest for a bit, Anna will come in 10 minutes just enough time to serve the other first. Peel carrots and cut oblique. Slice and present Dauphinoise, take Anna out to rest. Shred the parboiled potato and add all ingredients and get that on the stove to brown and flip (yeah it didn’t land on the floor!!) and into the oven to finish. Get the carrots cooking, present the Anna. Clean up. Check Roesti, flip carrots, add sugar get to thickening, watch Consomme’ to make sure it’s doing ok. Carrots are done, present, take Roesti out and let set. Clean up. Ok time for the Consomme’. Strain it, again, yet again. No not enough strain it once more. Add salt, strain it, stir a bit, strain it. Oh for the love of Pete Would You Please Be Strained Enough Already!!!!!!! If you’re wondering why all the straining it’s because a consomme’ must be fat free, very clear and flavorful broth. I strained mine 7 times. Time to present.

The worst part about all the presenting is this time we get no feedback from the Chefs. We’re to place the dishes at the end of our station and call out to Chef we’re ready to present and then go back to cooking.

All my dishes are done, time for the big clean up, wipe down my station and even did a few extra dishes. A few other students had finished theirs and went home. I go to Chef and tell her my dishes are complete and my station is clean may I go? “Would you mind straightening up the Chef station a bit please?” Now I know I just blinked at her like “Whaaa?” and then said, with a smile, “Of course.” I got done wiping down their area, putting away all the papers, bags of plastic forks and spoons and other misc., items. I went back over to here and told I was finished. She looks over at the dish station at the other side of the room (not the station I was at) and asks me to start on dishes. EXCUSE ME?!?! I’m sorry this is where I lost it. I did my dishes. I cleaned my station, and theirs. The other students got to leave why didn’t she ask them to do dishes??! So I asked “You want to me to do all their dishes? Isn’t that part of the exam? Cook and clean?” She said yes it was but it had to get done. I’m not one to argue with people of authority. I believe in respect (and she has earned it) but dammit this was over the top even for me. So I went over clearly unhappy about the entire situation.

After all was done (11:15pm!! And I was done at 9:30 with all my stuff) Chef said “I’m going to fix this tomorrow” I pop off with “How? It’s been going on for 6 weeks! A group of us get stuck doing all the work while the others skate!” Another student said “Chef this has been going for far too long and we feel like we’re the ones being punished not them. They just ditch and go with no consequences.” Needless to say I still had some residual anger. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. What may happen is those that stayed will get to leave and those that left early will have to stay. The part that is even more unfair is that we had 6 dishes and tomorrow we basically have 2. So the dish level will not even remotely compare. But we shall see what we shall see.

As I understand it our next session (PCA-2) has twice as many dishes as our current class. I cannot fathom why it is so hard for people to clean up after themselves and how will it be resolved for the next class.

That’s where a lot of anger in this class stems. We’ve been with each other 6 weeks now. We know who the slackers are, Chef knows as well and yet we continually carry that dead weight around and we’re all frustrated and vent, but get no results. So we continue to stew. I sincerely hope that in our next session this is addressed early and rectified.

One testing day down - 4 to Go

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Day 25 – Chefordy (insert theme music here)

Tonight we just reviewed 2 dishes and then played a game of Jeopardy….oh sorry I mean Chefardy. The game was comprised of topics and each topic had a set of questions.

Knife Cuts

We were divided into 2 teams and had to come up with names for our teams. Our team decided to use me as a mascot (I hope I get a really cool costume someday!) and were Red’s Rockets! The other team, the lamers…oh sorry I mean they couldn’t think of anything so kind of copied us Scott’s Bandwagon. (interesting choice)

Right around the time we were mopping the floor with them the game shifted and became very competitive. We each had our buzzer (a plastic clapper) and because of the echo we would ‘buzz’ in and Chef wouldn’t hear ours but only the other teams. That caused some frustration, but folks it’s a game. There is no prize. It’s just help us prep for the final. Yeah right….no prize. You wouldn’t know it by all of our actions. We were all so into winning it was scary. There came a moment when everyone was buzzing in and Chef Knight, aka Chef Alex, decided you cannot buzz in until the entire answer is given. So I’m holding our buzzer and ‘princess’ is holding the other teams.

**It is at this moment I must digress for a moment and explain that nobody in our class likes this woman. I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say everyone was thrilled to hear she was transferring out of our class to the afternoon class. Can I get a big Oh Yeah?! – OH YEAH!**

So as the Chef is reading the question we both jump the gun and shake our clappers with enthusiasm. She grabs hers and holds it so it won’t make any noise and points and yells “She shook hers before you finished!! She’s cheating!!” Oh hell no she just didn’t call me a cheater. I went over to her team and said “You buzzed in too!” And my entire team (slow motion kicks in and it’s like when the pitcher goes for the batter and the entire team rises up in a giant wave from the dugout to protect their pitcher) begins gesturing and yelling “Yes you did! You buzzed in too!” She starts in with her (get my way) squeaky, protect me voice “I did not. I did not buzz in! You did you’re the one that cheated!”and turns her pouty face to the Chef. As I realized this was going to get ugly real fast I stepped back and walked back to my team and just smiled. My team instantly started laugh at the absurdity of it all. We were joking how it was going to look in the evening news “Riot at culinary school broke out early this evening when a game of Chefardy went bad.” As we look up at Chef laughing she has this look of “ok kids enough is enough”. So we calmed down and got ready to get back to business. Of course ‘princess’ thought we were laughing at her, which made it even more amusing.

At least now we have an idea of the questions that will be on the test. We have 5 recipes to prepare for tomorrows test along with our written, knife cuts, equipment ID and herb ID.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, send me good mojo by dancing naked in your kitchen.
(You can post the images later)

Till Tomorrow!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Day 24 – Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall….Humpty Dumpty made a lot of egg dishes.

Well the mood today was a bit better. With the eggception no one wanted to cook eggs again. Yep we did our over easy, French omelet, quiche Lorraine, eggs benedict and O’Brien potatoes again.

This night went pretty quick since eggs really don’t take that long to cook. I think we were all pretty much done by 9pm. Well except for 2 who’s mess was so atrocious that this was the one night Chef didn’t make us all stay and leave as a group. Oh we left as a group, just minus 2. They had to stay and clean up.

We only had one injury tonight when Chris cut into his finger and the first knuckle part and opened a big flap of skin. Poor guy is also very squeamish about blood too, particularly his own. So he had to sit down before he fell down.

I think the worst news came from another student in an upper class about 2 incidents. What I cannot figure out is why the school didn’t take a harder line with them. Everything cannot be about the cash flow. At some point you have to say damn the cash and save the reputation.

Seems a couple of weekends ago our school hosted a wine tasting even for Wolfgang Puck. He often calls upon our school and the Le Cordon Bleu school to help with his events. In any case, 2 of the students who were there to help in their chef whites got to partaking of the wine samples and got thoroughly drunk. They were expelled from the event and later came back in the plain clothes and had to be escorted off. I learned that they were NOT expelled from the school but because of their actions Mr. Puck will not be using our school for any future events. Cover your ears young ones…

I am PISSED!!! How dare the school not evict these kids for their outrageous behavior! Now the rest of us must suffer? I plan to talk to the education director tonight if I get a chance to get all the facts. But that is just crazy.

I also heard of an incident in one of the afternoon classes in which 2 gals almost came to blows (this is not good considering we all have sharp knives at our fingertips). There were expelled for the evening and got zeros’ for their daily grade, but come on. At some point you have to stand up and say this is not acceptable! Maybe if they make examples of these folks others will learn. I’m sorry if this is stereotyping but in each of the incidents the students were all under the age of 23. This type of environment requires a certain amount maturity. And most of the younger students do not have it. Sorry if you’re younger and take offense, I’m just calling it as I see it. Even in my class we have a few younger students that just do not have ‘life experience’ and it shows.

Well as you may, or may not, remember next week is finals. Not sure what I’ll post, maybe just a thought on how I did. There won’t be any talking or demo’s or new dishes.

On a side note many here at my office asked me for a recipe I made and brought in and they loved it. So I share with you all now.

Potato/Artichoke Gratin (Yields 2 servings)

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
12 oz russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8” thick (rounds)
3 artichoke hearts
1.5 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 oz heavy cream
Salt and Pepper as needed
¾ cup Panko bread crumbs
1 oz butter, melted
Make in a 6” sauté pan. If stainless steel be sure to spray with a non-stick spray

1. In a bowl, season the potato and artichoke slices with salt and pepper.
2. In the 6” pan layer in the circle potatoes, garlic, cheese, artichokes in an alternate pattern.
3. Slowly pour the cream over the top.
4. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Potatoes should be fork tender.
5. Melt butter in small sauce pan and add bread crumbs.
6. Sprinkle crumbs over top of potatoes and return to over till golden brown.
7. Let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Day 23 – More Reviews

Well today was an interesting day. Not so much in the dishes as we only reviewed again some of the dishes we had done previously. But tonight things got a bit more heated. I’m blaming it on the weather or change in seasons.

We all prepared our dishes and things went relatively smoothly. However it was noted that one student was getting, what appeared to be, extra treatment. I will not mention names as that would be rude to do so here and not afford them the ability to explain. Suffice it to say this particular person acts very much as if they are do any and all extra treatment. So when this person was having trouble with several dishes the Chef was right there doing them over. Now many of us raised concerns as to how this person could be graded on these dishes as they didn’t prepare them, the Chef did. Everyone voiced to each other their utter disgust. I will admit, I too, raised an eyebrow and thought well some of us work for what we have and earn it and others it’s just given to.

That same night this persons task was to restock the tools needed for the students the next day, i.e. spoons, whisks, spatula’s etc. As my job was to clean I was up at the front of the class cleaning the Chef’s station and just happen to look up as this person was stocking a metal spoon and dropped it. They then proceeded to pick it up and begin to put it into the container. I guess I went into full “mom” mode. I yelled out ‘Susan!!’. (Susan is not this persons name just using a name for affect) This person turned and looked at me and said “What?!” It was at this moment, you know the one, the moment when you realized you’re committed to something that you probably shouldn’t do, but you feel compelled to do it because it’s the right thing to do. It was also at this moment (in the space of the eternity of 3 seconds when everything goes in super slow motion) that I heard all cleaning stop, and then all heads turned to look at me and then at Susan all without appearing to do so. You could see it in their eyes “OoOooo Denise is gonna get it on with Susan…” and they just paused everything they were doing. One person cleaned the counter they were cleaning when it started till the end. That was one clean spot. Another washed the same dish. I replied to Susan “You CANNOT put that spoon in the container to be used tomorrow!” Susan wrinkles up her forehead “Why not?!” I was in utter shock. I took the tone of addressing a petulant child “Because you dropped it on the floor! It’s now dirty and you need to take it to the sink to be washed and sanitized that’s why!” She huffed of muttering “Whatever!”

Oh the drama!

The students are also commenting on the tension between our two instructors.

I guess finals won’t be so bad since it means moving on to do something new. Maybe we’re all getting bored with carrots, brunoise, mirepox, rouxs and soups. It’s all we’ve been eating for dinner for 5 weeks. After finals we start our meat fabrication. I’m hoping the protein will do our brains good or at least our moods.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Day 22 – The Reviews Continue…

Well tonight we just did recipes over that we’ve already done. This is because they will be on our final exam.

Tonight was French Onion Soup, Cream of Tomato Soup (Bechamel based), Crepes Suzette and Pasta Dough.

Our exams next week will consist of preparing X amount of recipes, herb identification, spice identification, equipment identification and a writing exam. That is day 1 and we have 5 days of testing (cringes under her desk).

Nothing too exciting except the ‘air’ was different. Since there was no communication from the Chefs, as we had done these and didn’t need to see another demo, the mood was very focused. Hardly any chatter going on, just everyone turning out their dishes.

Prior to cooking, the Education Director came in and asked us the review the Chef Instructors. Concerns were raised as to what would be done with the reviews once we turned them in. Would the chefs actually read them? What if the comments weren’t good, how would we know if they didn’t take it personally and lower a grade? Even though our names were not on the review, our handwriting was and could be recognized. Let’s just say this was the most heated part of the evening. The Chefs left the kitchen and the chatter started – “What did you put down for question 3? I gave her a 1, she was awful at that.” And so on from there. It must the change in seasons, the fact that we’re so close to the end of session 1 and the fact we have a weeks worth of finals coming, that has everyone right at the very edge of insanity.

As you have read in my previous posts we’ve had a problem with dishes. Well mainly people doing them. Took 5 weeks and all the other stress involved that finally people are being called to the mat. One student took his dishes over and saw a mess of them in the rinse sink and yelled out “If you have your dishes done don’t leave them in the rinse sink! Get over here and put them away!” Yeah … we probably should have done that on week 2.

At the end of the evening we each have our assigned tasks. One of the student’s tasks that evening was to combine all the left over ingredients and put them away, which he got started on right away. As he opened the ‘box’ that contains everything he saw the mess in which people just threw their extras into. He commented out loud (but not yelling in any way) “What the hell?” and Chef Knight exploded “You will not use that language in my class. That is disrespectful and immature!” I was actually aghast at her comment. I mean he didn’t yell it, and yet the other chef drops the F Bomb at least 3 times a night. And she’s the professional. I think everyone was shocked at that because it got really, really quite and everyone was looking at each other shrugging their shoulders mouthing “I don’t know…?”

Tomorrow will be interesting. More recipe reviews, the big question of “Did the Chefs read the reviews?” and what will the mood be like? All this and more tomorrow on - Loves Cooking Blog! We now return you to your regularly scheduled web browsing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Day 21 – It’s the New and the Review

Well tonight brought us 4 dishes. 2 old to review, 2 new where one of the was very similar to another dish with just 2 extra components. And there was the “Sorry we didn’t tell you something and your dish came out like crap, but we’re going to mark you down anyways.”

So we re-made Glazed Carrots. My cuts were small bite size and yet I could not get those buggers fork tender if my life depended on it! We’re to cook them in butter and chicken stock, then add sugar to make the sauce nappe’ (thick). It’s the sugar that does it. Well my darn things went nappe’ before I added the sugar because it took so long to cook the buggers. It wasn’t until almost the end of class that we find out why. The carrots had been frozen. Oh they were room temperature when we got them, so we were clueless, but the freezing changes a compound in the carrots thus making them harder than hell to cook properly. That was fun.

Next up, Rice Pilaf. Pretty easy dish, just time consuming on the wild rice. At least this time my brunoise carrots were good. (*shudders at the word Brunoise*)

The next two dishes were similar to ones we’ve done, Potatoes/Artichoke Gratin. These were very much like the Pommes Dauphinoise in which you take a potato, peel and slice into rings. You also take 3 artichoke hearts (nothing easy here, these tasty little tidbits make you work for them) and slice them the same way. You then layer them, with slice garlic and Gruyere cheese and top with cream and let them bake. Not for the 35 minutes it suggests, but for the reality time of 1 hour 30 minutes. Top with Panko bread crumbs with melted butter and let that cook again till golden. Let’s just say that while this dish is time consuming it is very, very good.

Last, but not least, Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes. I love roasted garlic and make it a lot. Add it to some butter and you have a really nice spread. It’s also good on pizza’s, salads, pasta...but enough about me. We roasted the garlic and boiled some red potatoes. Those then get ‘smashed’ with a fork so they are not mashed. You take cream and butter and scald it and then add the garlic. Pour all of that over the potatoes and season. Folks if you don’t like this dish you’re insane. And don’t get all “it’s too many carbs…” on me. You need carbs, they need you, adjust accordingly!

I got my weekly grades back 98.80! And I got a 95% on my written/knife cut test. If I hadn’t messed up on that one knife cut I would have had a 100%. Oh I will be kicking myself for that one for a while.

Tomorrow we’re back to basics and more review. I hope to improve on them. I tried to keep notes on what the chefs told me when I presented the first time. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Day 20 – Gnoc Gnoc? Who’s there? Gnocchi!

Yes tonight we made Gnocchi. That I’m kinda like pasta, but I’m not, but more like a dumpling, but I’m not dish. They’re a very hearty dish. First you must bake your potato, then rice it, add some flour and egg yolk, mix that up, roll it out and cut into, well basically giant chicklets. Let those freeze up. Once they’re frozen you can cook them, just drop them into some salted boiling water and let them sink When they rise to the surface let them cook for about 2 minutes. Take them and put them into the refrigerator till you’re ready to add your sauce. For our sauce we did a browned butter with fresh chopped sage and garnished with Parmesan cheese. Very tasty indeed. I think when I next I make these at home I’ll cover them with marinara sauce and perhaps add some type of sausage.

Next on our plate – New England Clam Chowder. One word for this dish YUCK!!!!! I don’t mind cooking the clams, cleaning the clams but please don’t make me taste it…please, please, please…oh nuts..I’m gonna have to do it to check for seasoning. All I could do was put a bit to my tongue to see if it was salty enough. There was no way I was going to take a full spoonful.

The most interesting thing of the evening was watching a few of the students turn green while the chef demo’d cleaning then little buggers. I hope they don’t freak out more with the lobsters, baby pigs, lamb and steer we have to do in our next segment.

The best part of the evening was when Chef told us that we had one other dish to prepare and it would be our choice – Mystery Box! We had so much stuff left over from the buffet (and this is my fault. I mentioned doing this to Chef Knight on Friday when she commented on how much extra food we had. I said well how about we all do a dish with these ingredients and make our recipe?) Chef pulled out the box and said we had to use at least 3 ingredients from that box. The dish could not be an omelet either. Some folks got really creative!! There was a breakfast crock, a breakfast themed stuffed bell pepper, breakfast pizzas from the left over crepes and an array of others. What did I make? I took 4 of the crepes and put them into a sauté pan and browned them. While they were browning I parboiled a potato and then shredded it. I browned some sausage and in the oil browned some onions. Using that oil I made a country gravy. I sautéed some of the peppers. So my dish was a layer of crepes, shredded potatoes, browned (drained) sausage, peppers, slices of Roma tomatoes which were all baked till hot through. I think slid it out onto a plate and drizzled the country grave over the top – Breakfast meets Sheppards Pie.

I don’t know what marks I got on it. Still no test scores from last week. I’m hoping their coming soon. Tomorrow we’re taking another knife drill and making a couple of potato dishes. All this week will be review till next week - “Sudden Death of would be Chefs”!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Day 19 – Buffet Day!

(some pictures to follow)

Well the day arrived and we were all ready. Strike that..they were all ready. I still wasn’t there yet. Friday night traffic decided to really back up on me tonight. *sigh* As I impatiently watch my clock and the minutes click by I ponder…why are all these people here? I swear even though my clock in my car is digital I could hear the loud “Tick…..Tock….Tick…you’re gonna be late…Tock….Tick….you should have left earlier….Tock…” I make a bold decision…get of the freeway now and wing it. So off I go having no clue where I am and where I should go but at least I’m moving. The people of LA are ok. I would stop and ask “Can you point to Sunset?” and they would. I get to school at 6:05pm. As I’m walking up to the building I have that moment where you slap your forehead and say “oh my lord I’m an idiot” and to make matters worse you promptly blurt out you’re in idiot and why. Seems I forgot about a new feature my car has – mapping. Yeah could have turned that baby on and set my end point (which is already programmed in) and said Go Baby! Ah…hindsight is a wonderful thing.

So Chef’s Knight and Richardson give us a pep talk and assign us to our stations. I shall be making the quiche and acting as a runner for the evening. First up…fix the quiche problem. Seems when they changed the recipe for the quiche Lorraine they made an error in the amount of cheese. The old recipe called for 1 cup of cheese. Then they halved everything. Well instead of saying ½ cup of cheese they took the weight measurement of 4 oz. So 1 cup of shredded cheese weighs about 2.2 ounces, so ½ cup should weigh about an ounce. So you can see we had a very cheesy mess on our hands. I discussed it with Chef Knight and she gave me the go to fix them. Which I did, I just wish I had added more salt. I guess some of the batter made wasn’t seasoned so by adding more cream and eggs the batter that was got diluted.

Chaffing trays are prepped, food is being warmed, stations assigned and a light nervous chatter fills the room. But we’re all very excited. The guests begin arriving and the food starts being served. I must say it all looks fantastic and I hear everything tastes wonderful. Yeah!!

After it was all over and the class was sitting down to eat, I stayed in the kitchen to clean a bit. I had been snacking earlier so I wasn’t hungry. Everyone else needed a break to sit and take a breather – they earned it! Chef Knight and I were chatting about all the leftovers and she gave me a compliment that just made my week “Red I don’t think you realized just how good you are and the potential you have.” All I could do was meekly say Thank You, as I was shocked to hear her say that.

Everyone gathers together for a final discussion from our Chef instructors. Everyone did a fantastic job! Next week is review week of some of the dishes we’ve done, (with a couple of new ones) and then it’s cram cram cram for our finals. On Monday we’re making Gnocchi!

Here we have Eddie and the backs of Abbie (left) and Carrie (right) .

Tanisha, Andy and Katie (wild woman).

Chef Knight surveys everything before we open the doors.

Our guests enjoy a lovely spread. Johhny takes a moment to sit with his guests.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Day 18 – Prep, prep, prep prep…Prep prep prep prep…

Yes that’s all we had to do tonight was prep for our Breakfast Buffet scheduled for tomorrow. We were all divided into teams of 3 or 4 and had to do a specific task. On my team (I say ‘my’ team because they voted me team leader. I bet they regret doing that! [grins], was Johnny and Marcella. And our task for the evening was to assemble the Crepes Florentine. We rocked!! I had Johnny get the asparagus ready, I chopped all the onions and Marcella cleaned all the spinach. Next as Marcella is cleaning the spinach in batches (it was 15 bunches!) we’d dry it and get it all sautéed. I had 3 big pans going.
Next I had Marcella coat the pans with Mornay sauce, Johnny started laying out the crepes and I would go behind him putting asparagus on each one.

**Hold up! We only had 3 bunches of asparagus! We need 6 bunches for our recipe of 5 #200 hotel pans….think…think…Ok I got it. I asked Chef Knight, can we slice the asparagus lengthwise. This way each crepe gets some at least for flavor instead of just having half of them with asparagus and half with just spinach. We get the holy nod let’s do this thing!**

As I put the asparagus down Johnny came behind me with the spinach. I went back behind him and rolled them up and put them in to the pans. Fill a pan pass it to Marcella who then finished them off with more Mornay sauce and Gruyere cheese. It was a beautiful thing to watch and participate in. We (the entire class) were done with everything by 8:15. We beat the morning and afternoon class with out prep time and we did it right! Next up? What…we don’t have to cook anything and present it tonight? Oh I bet they have us do the deep cleaning then…no? HHmm we can’t leave this early (although I wouldn’t complain)…nope we get to go to PCA-2’s buffet. Our class is 18 strong and their class is 5. These 5 individuals knocked it out of the park!! I was so impressed. They served Mac n Cheese, Spanish rice, hush puppies, refried beans, pork n beans, bbq ribs, pulled pork, beef roast (this was just perfect!), onion rings, corn on the cob (trimmed with butter, mayo, parmesan cheese, paprika and cayenne), fresh tortillas, guacamole, homemade ice-cream and bread pudding. Yes 5 students did all this and served their guests and the other students in the school. Impressive.

After this nice treat it was back to our class for some lectures. I kind of missed out on the first 15 minutes because I was sitting with Chef Knight having a nice conversation and Chef Richardson took the rest of the class back with her. We got out tonight at 9:40! BooYah! I’ll get a normal nights sleep…or not as I hear “Yeah Red! Come on we’re gonna go get a beer.” “No that’s ok..I need to get home and get some sleep.” “Come on it’s one beer…” Yes I sucuumbed to peer pressure. But it was only one and still got home around 11:40 so it was a treat getting a full night’s sleep!

Tomorrow – It’s Buffet Time

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Day 17 – And Chef said let there be Crepes! And Crepes were good….

Ok all went well. I was able to repair my crepe batter. I went forth and humbled myself before the mighty chef instructor. At least I remembered the darn things. I would have been in such a mood pouring the eggless batter into a sauté pan and trying to figure out why in the heck they weren’t cooking right.

I caught something on fire tonight.

Hehehe that was a teaser…you thought it was bad didn’t you? Well it was on purpose. We made Crepes Suzette, and we had to flambé them. FIRE IN THE HOLE! I counted eyebrows as everyone was leaving and I saw 2 on each student so I guess nothing major happened. These little things were very tasty. Made with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, orange zest and a bit of orange liqueur. We even learned the proper way to cut an orange for presentation…those that peel their oranges with their fingers and then just rip the sections apart…savages! You must cut the peel away from the delicate fruit, then you must cut down the side of the membrane that separates the slices. So when done you are left with small slices of just the fruit. They’re quite pretty to look at. The color is very vibrant.

Well once we presented our Crepes Suzette it was time to use up the rest of the crepe batter. We have to make enough crepes for the egg buffet thing this Friday. So let’s get Crepe-ing! This is going to take forever…we each have a little 6” sauté pan and we pour 1 ounce of batter into these pans. Each one cooks for about 3 minutes. So let’s do some math –

1 Crepe = 3 Minutes
Batter = 38 OZ
38 X 3 = 114

Good lord it’s going to take almost 2 hours to make crepes?!?! I think not! Time to grab some extra pans and get the lead out. This type of stress is good, it makes you focus. Not so with some. So it’s time to sing a bit and break the tension – On the Crepe’s Hit List it’s Eddie with “Who let the Crepes Out? – Woot…Woot Woot Woot”, followed by “Momma….just made a Crepe…put the batter in the pan…sautéed it till its tan” by yours truly Red. Chef Knight thinks we’ve snapped. Well better here than on the buffet line right?

Not much else went on tonight. We made our fillings for our Quiche Lorraine and Florentine and par-baked our crusts for them. Tomorrow is going to be killer since we have to do all the prep for the buffet. We’ll be in teams of 4 tonight.

Let’s insanity begin!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Day 16 – Eggactly!

Well this evening brought us more eggs. We did a sunnyside up egg, over easy, over medium and over hard. We had to turn the latter 3 over without using a spatula..this meant flip them in the pan. I figured mine would end up ‘over easy on the floor’. Well the first try didn’t go too well, broke the yoke. But after that…YEAH BABY! I was flipping like a pro.

I made a huge mistake with one of our other ‘dishes’. However it’s a mistake I can fix. We made crepe batter to use for tomorrows crepes, milk, flour, butter, eggs….mix that all up and hold it. Well I forgot to put in the eggs!! So when I go in tomorrow I’ll grab my batter and add those eggs right quick. I was so focused on the ‘egg dishes’ I wigged out on the dish that had eggs in it.

Time for omelets. We had to make 2 – a French omelet and a western omelet. The boring part there was no other ingredients other than eggs. It was experience for the folding technique. But really…does it make it taste any different if it’s folded like a taco or a burrito? No.

O’Brien potatoes and bacon finish things off. Not real hard but they had to be timed so we could each present our breakfast plate and everything had to be hot.

At the end of this evenings eggtracurricular activites we received our grades from last week (not including the test we took this evening) I got a 95.2 for last week! Wootage please! My mid-term for this session is at 94. This is because I blew the first test out my rear. But for the final they take the lowest test score and pitch it so I’m hopeful.

That close this evening out. Tomorrow – Let Them Eat Crepes!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 15 - The Incredible, Edible Egg

Well today was the first day of eggs. Now I like eggs. I enjoy eating all sorts of eggs. But in the last few years eggs have decided they don’t love me. So I don’t eat them much anymore. But tonight I had to cook them, along with a chicken consommé.

First up – Boiled Eggs, 3 ways – hard, medium and soft. This really wasn’t that hard, but I don’t boil eggs the way they told us to. I put mine in cold water, bring to boil, turn off heat and let them sit. Well here you bring the eggs to room temperature, add to boiling water and time them. Hard for 12 minutes, medium 5 minutes and soft 3 minutes. This is a misnomer as the eggs may or may not be room temp, the water may be almost boiling but not quite. So I did mine hard 13.5 minutes, medium 5.5 minutes and soft 3.5 minutes and was told they were great.

Next it’s time get the consommé going. This is a very interesting dish. Looking at the mess in the pot you’d never think this was one of the purest and clearest broths in the world. Just remember – in the memorable words of Chef Richarson “Do not F with the raft!!!!” Yes that needed 4 exclamation marks. She was very serious about this. And good thing too, because, if you mess it you’ll break it and ruin your consommé and you will not have time to start over.

Weeeee it’s time for hollandaise again…..ARrrrRGGggGG!! It’s time to make it AGAIN. Yes my hollandaise broke. It was the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last. (let’s just hope it doesn’t do it on finals) We need this buttery concoction for our Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine. It’s 9:00…can I do it? Can I pull this out? YES! (thanks Abbie!!!) She was so nice to come pour my clarified butter while I whipped like mad. Sauce is done, let’s see my bacon is slightly brown and keeping warm, spinach is sautéed, muffins are warm…yes I do believe it’s time to poach those eggs! *heavy sigh* I’m not a big poacher…but its gotta be done. I’ve done this numerous times at home, never had great luck and was never graded on them at home. Get the water hot, add the vinegar….make sure it’s hot, put eggs into poaching dish…gently pour into the hot water…woot!! Very little fly aways! SCORE! My egg dishes and second batch of hollandaise made it. But wait...there’s a catch...good job on poaching them but we don’t be doing them that way for the buffet. We’ll be doing the ladle method. Yeah I wondered what that was too. Seems they take a BIG pot of water, get it boiling, add a bit vinegar. Then you take a ladle, spray it with non-stick cooking spray, crack your egg into the ladle and very slowly lower your egg into the pot and let the ladle hang on the side for about 3 minutes. (note – be sure to use towel or hotpad when removing ladle as it’s very hot)

We also made 3-2-1 dough that we’ll bake Tuesday or Wednesday evening for our quiches. (Why the name 3-2-1? Well you have 3 parts flour to 2 parts cold butter to 1 part ice water – I feel so educated. So explain why my dough was more like 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter to ¼ part ice water? But chef said it was done…so done it is)

Tomorrow we’re making…yes you guessed it – Eggs! It’s eggactly what I was eggspecting.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Day 14 - Anitpasta Platter and confusion...

Well today was the last day of week 3. We created a lot of single dishes that we ended up combining as a team.

First up was slicing all the veggies for our platter. We each had to slice up zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, Portobello mushroom, egg plant, roast a red and yellow bell pepper and make balsamic vinaigrette.

Then we each made Bruschetta. Next out come the marinated artichoke hearts we did the day before.

This was one of the most fun days we had. My partner (Johnny) and I had a blast because while we each did our own thing, we pulled it together for the combined platter and it looked fantastic! (See Below)

Our roasted bell peppers were very tasty. Chef Knight said we could do whatever we wanted to present them. Some cut theirs into strips, or used cutters to make nice shapes. Not us. These things are slimy and no one is going to want to pick one up and slurp it down like a spaghetti noodle. *DING* a brilliant idea pops into my head. Let’s dice them up, mix a little of the vinaigrette into and put them on spoons for individual servings like ceviche! Johnny pilfered some cherry tomatoes so that added some extra color. He even got very creative with a couple of very thin slices of the bell peppers and formed at heart with an arrow at the base. I called our platter – Food from the Heart. I then plated the veggies, bruschetta, artichoke hearts and sliced mozzarella and then drizzled balsamic reduction sauce over everything. Chef loved our presentation. We were so excited we took it over to Chef Richardson who also loved it.

Let me back up a bit by describing a couple of other dishes we had to prepare this evening. Steamed veggies (cauliflower and broccoli) and a serving of steamed long grain white rice. Yeah…white rice. That was the weirdest thing ever. Here the night before we made wild rice pilaf and two risottos. But hang on…after we do the harder rice dishes we’re going to go back and do the most basic of all rice dishes. I’m still scratching my head on that one. Now the veggies I could understand. We steamed those so we could present the compound butter we made. That butter was very tasty on the veggies. Or was it the veggies were very tasty with the butter? But the rice….ok I need to just get past it. I can’t! I mean we make this rice and plate it. Just the rice…no seasoning, no sauce, no butter nothing..just a plate of white rice. I wish someone would please explain this to me.

This next coming week will be geared to prepare us for our buffet. This coming Friday our class gets to take over the restaurant and prepare a full service breakfast buffet. I’ll be very interested to see who gets placed where. We can invite 4 people to come as our guests, but I have opted not to. Reason # 1 – It’s a very long drive, Reason # 2 – It’s eggs. I just cannot see having anyone in my family drive 1.5 hours to Los Angeles at 6pm at night to eat eggs. Then get to drive home. So I’ll save my invites for my graduation, or, if they do a real buffet of real food.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Day 13 - Prep Night

I was kind of surprised at tonight. The big time eater was slicing all the veggies (brunoise…I have come to hate that term) and then waiting for the soup to cook.

Tonight we made split pea soup, braised baby artichokes in white wine, compound butter and couscous.

Prep soup – 15 minutes and let it cook for almost 2 hours. Not much to do while it’s cooking except stir it now and then.

Prep couscous 15 minutes. Add hot stock, let rest for 5 min, fluff and plate. Well that wasn’t so hard.

Prep compound butter – 5 minutes, mix all ingredients 2 minutes. That was pretty easy. *shrugs*

Prep artichokes – 15 minutes. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. Ok…so we have soup on now for 45 minutes and our artichokes are simmering. Butter is done, couscous is done……what to do…what to do….stir soup and ponder some more. I look down at my station and wonder...’why on earth do I have those shallots sitting there?’ Oh crap! Those were suppose to go into my butter. Lucky for me that was an easy fix, just unwrap it remix and rewrap. Stupid mistake. Back to being bored and watching my soup. I hear the call of “Red can you help me?” YES!! Something to do!! I rush right over feeling ever so important that it was I being asked and not the chef instructors...whatever will they need? I don’t care I’m ready for the challenge!!! “Can you show me how to wrap the butter in the tube shape?” I know at that moment you could visibly see me deflate. But none the less I assisted with my usual happy self. Back to my soup...stir…stir…ok I’m gonna wash dishes. Well those are done. Soup still isn’t thick enough but the artichokes are done. They smell wonderful…what do you mean I can’t taste them?!?! You told us to taste everything…..I know I only have 3 and if I taste one I’ll only have 2..but..but…Arg! Into a mise cup they go labeled for some dish we’re doing tomorrow. *sigh*

Soup still isn’t thickening….interestingly enough it’s getting thinner. So is Emma’s. About 12 people have presented their soup now. I’m not too happy. Time for some ingenuity. I move the pot to front where there’s a bit of a down draft, crank the heat a bit and don’t stop stirring. Let’s break those peas up and watch the steam evaporate. There we go…soup is ready in about 15 minutes. And this stuff tastes so good. I will admit it would be better served on a cold day than a day that was 102 degress. But the bacon, onions, cracked pepper made the flavor so smooth. There is a richness in this soup that just makes you think about being home in the fall with a good book.

Well that’s about it for today. Tomorrow we’re doing a vegetable plate and I finally will get to eat one of those braised artichokes!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day 12 – More Starches – Let there be Rice!

We made 3 dishes this evening. Wild Rice Pilaf, Parmigiano-Reggiano Risotto and Mushroom Risotto.

But first I must brag just a tad. I got the highest grade from last week!! WooHoo…Yeah Baby!

And now I am once again calm and collect and can now tell you about my evening. (smiles)

The pilaf was just time consuming in that the wild rice takes so long to cook. A lot of folks didn’t understand that it really takes a lot longer than the long grain white rice and you just can’t rush it. You have to wait till those suckers burst open when they are good and ready.

I know one student poured their wild rice into the long grain before letting the long grain sit for the 10 minute resting period and in conjunction with that did not drain their wild rice and ended up with rice soup.

Risotto is a dish that needs love and care. For those that have had it but never made it, appreciate the love and time that goes into it. You must sweat your shallots, then add the Aborio rice getting it all nicely coated and hot clean through (but not brown), deglaze with white wine and ever so gently begin to add your chicken stock (or mushroom in the case of the mushroom risotto). You add about 3 ounces, keep stirring till most of the liquid is absorbed…keep doing this with the 18-20 ounces of stock. You’ll end up with creamy rice, but still distinctive grains and then you add the cheese and finish it off with the butter.

Risotto is to the Italians what Mac n Cheese is to Americans. And you can do all sorts of wonderful things with it.

It was a great night for me. Got all my dishes out on time and got great grades on them. Gotta take the good nights when you can get them!

Rice Pilaf

Parmigiano-Reggiano Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day Eleven - Starch Time

We’ve moved onto starches. Last night we cooked up four potato dishes –

Pommes Dauphinoise
Pommes Anna
Pommes Roesti
Mashed Potatoes

For those of you who don’t like carbs don’t read on. You might get some on you. We made a LOT of potatoes.

My 2 favorites were the Dauphinoise and Roesti. The Dauphinoise is a French dish in which the potato is peeled and sliced into disks about 1/8 of an inch thick. They are then layered in a 6” non-stick skillet, starting with the middle disk in the middle, then layering them around and slightly overlapping so it looks like a flower. As you create your layers you sprinkle 1 garlic clove over the potatoes. You end up with 2 layers. You then pour 4 ounces of heavy cream over the whole thing and top it off with 2 ounces of Gruyere cheese. Throw this into an oven at 375 for about 40 minutes and you have YUM! The Roesti is basically hashbrowns with onions.

The Pommes Anna is the same as the Dauphinoise but there is no garlic, cream or cheese. Just arranged the same way, browned in butter and put into the oven to finish cooking. (These were very boring to me)

Fun things to note – When trying to flip your Roesti in the pan the way fancy chefs do, be sure you know ‘how’ to flip. There is nothing worse than going up to the chef to present your dish and not have it, and then having to ask the Chef “Can you come over to my station for just a dish looks great! But it’s on the floor.” (No this didn’t happen to me.)

Another fun thing…when, over the course of a long weekend you decide to dye your hair (red in my case) be sure to do it on the first day of the long weekend so that you have ample time to wash your hair several times before class. Because let me tell you, when you put on that nice white hat and your head gets hot….you’ll be wearing a pink hat. (Yes this did happen to me).

We got our grades back from last week (not including the test we took last night) and I did very well I’m happy to say. I increased my score 4.4 points which is huge.

Next week we’re doing this big breakfast buffet. I find it hard to want to cook a big breakfast, let alone eat one, at 8:30pm. It is anticipated we will be serving about 120 people. I really hope they stop off at McDonalds on the way to the academy first and aren’t too hungry.

All in all a short night. We were done and cleaned up by 10pm…that was a beautiful thing!

Next starch dishes will be rice! Bring on the Risotto!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Day 10 More Pasta

Well today wasn’t as busy as yesterday. Thank heavens!

Today we started off by baking our lasagna. First note – Our oven are convection ovens. Of course they never told us this. It would have been nice to be told because then my lasagna would have only taken the 45 minutes or so to cook instead of the hour and a half. I’ve never used a convection oven but luckily my partner has, but he didn’t realize I hadn’t turned the fan on till it had already been in the oven for 40 minutes.

So while that is baking our chef instructors demo basil pesto sauce (they made enough for us all to use), and the polenta. For those that have never had polenta…think of grits of malt-o-meal only a bit thicker. It’s made with cornmeal. And no matter how much you cook it, it tastes like cornmeal. By itself it’s not spectacular, but add Bolognese sauce or cheese and it’s not bad. We made soft polenta and fried. (For those from Cuisine @ Home boards I now understand why my tamale cakes didn’t come out. :) )

After our polenta we made our ravioli. Remember from the other pasta dishes we reserved one small wedge for this. These were stuffed with the mushroom, ricotta cheese, red pepper flakes and they were delicious.

It was a short night and everyone was pretty much done by 10:00 including clean up.

Chef Knight handed us back our test results from the previous week. I missed 1 question our of 20...not bad…however it was a 4 part question. ARG! I even knew I was going to miss it because I misread it and found out after listening to the others talk about their answers. So this weekend I’m really reviewing and will read the questions carefully.

Next Tuesday we get our grades from this weeks performance. I don’t feel strong about this week, but I know I gave it my best. That night of pasta was just a bear to get through. We will also get our new partners. This causes a lot of trepidation among the students. It would be very difficult to get through a “pasta night” like I had with a partner that offered no support or participation.

Just to give everyone a heads up, let me fast forward just a tad. (You all have Emma to thank for this and this will probably be the reason I lose my mind…) The last week of phase 1 (PCA-1) is final week. Let me share with you. It will consist of 5 days of hell.

Day 1 – Demonstrate all knife cuts, make consommé, Pommes Anna, Mashed Potatoes, roesti, Dauphinoise, glazed carrots. Know culinary terms, stocks and sauces. Identify kitchen equipment, herb identification, spic identification. Put up chicken stock, put up veal stock.

Day 2 – Make béchamel, cream of tomato soup, French onion soup, 3-2-1 dough and pasta dough.

Day 3 – Make risotto, rice pilaf, ravioli with sun dried tomato cream sauce (sure glad we made the pasta dough on day 2 of exam…no stress here… *insert sarcasm here*)

Day 4 – French omelet, western omelet, hard and soft boiled eggs, miniature quiches, eggs Florentine, scrambled eggs, crepes suzette and asparagus with hollandaise. (Ok this last dish just confused the heck out of me….we had this beautiful breakfast theme going and they throw in asparagus?? I am sure this is just to mess with our heads!)

Day 5 – (If I live through day 1-4) New England clam chowder, gnocchi with brown butter and sage, lab cleaning, exit interviews and grades. I’m going to add a stiff drink to this because we’re all going to need it.

Now I know that in the next 3 weeks they are preparing us for this. But (and again I’d like to thank Emma for this) looking at the first and fourth day of testing is enough to make me cringe.

Well that’s about it…I’m going to go huddle under the kitchen table in the fetal position and rock myself to sleep.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Day Nine - Pasta

Well last night was pasta night. Needless to day I feel like I got my a** handed to me. I felt so unorganized. I know what part of it was - mising out the ingredients. As I was mising out mine, my partner assumes I'm mising out his. So I have to double measuring and weighing etc. Now I know what you're thinking...tell him to get his own darn stuff. But I have to be fair in that he went and got my onions and fresh herbs AND chopped them up for me. So he had my back as much as I did his. The worse part was rolling out the pasta. You have this big disk of dough (you remember it..we made it the night before). You take this disk and cut into fourths. ¼ of that is reserved for the lasagna, ¼ is for the ravioli, ¼ is for the fettuccini alfredo and the last ¼ is for the pasta carbonara. We have one pasta machine for the two of us. Time for shift work. Ok so you take your little ¼ piece and roll it out and ¼ inch thick. Cut that in half lengthwise. (So on your work area is 5 pieces of dough 3 chunks, 2 thin) Put first half through the machine. As it passes through twice it’s pretty long, cut in half. (now we have 6 pieces) Put one thin piece back thru and keep lowering the setting till you get to #1. Now put it through the cutter. Ok you just made 2 oz of pasta. Back to the other thin piece (not the rolled out half)….can you picture where the confusion started? That is for one person. The next person still has to do theirs. Along with that you have to start one of your sauces. Ok the trick is we have one large pot of boiling water between the two of us. But we can’t each cook our pasta at the same time.

So game plan – Scott (my partner this week) starts his sauce as it’s reducing he starts to cook his first batch of pasta. As his pasta is coming out I start my sauce, as it’s reducing he’s plating his first plate and my pasta goes in. Well that worked out pretty well. We have both presented. Time to reverse it. This time I start my sauce first then my pasta, then he starts his sauce, I plate he gets his pasta going, he plates and we’re both presented. Now during this we have to get our Bechamel sauce started for our lasagna later. So after he presented his first dish he started the sauce and after I presented my second dish I finished it.

Wait..we have to get our stuffing ready too for our ravioli. Time to sauté the garlic and onions, add the mushrooms, stir, do something else that slips my mind and get that stuff cooling!

It’s time for station clean up. We each have 2 cookie sheets out covered in semolina flour, 2 saute pans, 2 large mixing bowls. 4 wooden spoons, 1 million little mise cups (yes I’m exaggerating! It was only 116,432..sheesh), a pasta machine, rolling pin, 2 sets of tongs, 2 spiders (not the insect but the tool. Like a strainer with a long handle). Plus our work surface is covered with flour. 45 minutes of clean up.

Stop! Hold up…you thought after clean up this post was over until tomorrow didn’t you? You stay right there and just scroll down a bit.

Ok so after everything is cleaned up, because we’re graded on that, it’s time to get dirty again. You forgot we each had those 2 little chunks of pasta left didn’t you?

Off to the walk in to get our Bolognese sauce we made last night. It’s lasagna making time. If you want to know how to make lasagna noodles , please see said paragraph about the fettuccine, but omit the cutting into little strips. I’m too tired to type it all out. Hehe

So we have our pan, our Bechamel sauce, our Bolognese sauce, cheese. Work station is covered in flour again while we make our noodles. But assembly goes well. It’s now 10:45 (normally at 10:00 everything stops must be presented and clean up begins. We just had so much to do…) It’s wrapped up and put into the walk-in.

It’s time for the real clean up and a debriefing from the chef. Basically we are screwed up and need to learn to time our dishes. I’m so freaking tired, but I wanted to yell out “Well if this class had enough equipment for each of us, and the ingredients weren’t spread out all over the kitchen and the students who just lolly gaggin around taking their time getting stuff holding the rest of us up, and then the ones who don’t do their dishes and we have to wash extra…” but I know that’s the exhaustion talking and tomorrow will be a brighter day.

We’re making polenta….

See you then!