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!


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