Thursday, October 12, 2006

Day 7 of PCA II – Send in the executioner…

First off tonight was just fun. We did 3 totally different dishes all of which were new to me. The grilling part wasn’t new as I BBQ and grill weekly.

On our menu for this evening –

Grilled Lobster Tail
Grilled Pizza with Pesto, Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella
Grilled Quail with Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate Molasses, Pomegranate seeds and mint.

We first made our pizza dough so it would have time to rise. Luckily this wasn’t new to me as we make pizza often. So while that is rising and doing it’s thang we must begin to fabricate our lobster(s). Some of us got two (super big grin). Yes they were alive. We only had 2 students who were squeamish about it. One looked sick when the chef demo’d the procedure for killing it. Basically you take a big knife jam into his head and pull down which in turn cuts his head in half. The thing that freaked everyone out was they keep moving. Their brain is destroyed so they are dead. The claws and tail are then twisted off and put into boiling water. The heads we kept for a lobster stock we’re making for our Bouillabaisse we’re making tomorrow.

While those are boiling we get our pesto ready. (Well some do, Chef had extra for her demo she offered and I snagged it for our team – Booyah!)

Ok lobster is done let’s grill these tails up. The claw meat is also being reserved for the Bouillabaisse. This was a very simple dish, minus the killing spree. Onto the grill they go, get some nice grill marks, plate em up and drizzle clarified butter over the top. Oh lord we eat good tonight!

Lobster is out of the way so let’s marinate some quail. Holy cow these guys are TINY. They’ve been deboned for us which was a treat. Only the leg and wing bones remain. These were covered in the pomegranate molasses and grilled for a few minutes and then finished up in the oven. Our couscous is cooking up nicely. If you’ve never had Israeli couscous think of tapioca pudding. Those little ball things. Oh and for reverence if you go to Israel you’ll find they have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no “Israeli Couscous” over there they’ve never heard of it before. I have no clue how it got the name. So the couscous is mounded on the plate, arugula is then placed on top and the quail is split down the breast bone and then the pieces are criss-crossed on top. A bit of the molasses is drizzled around the edges and fresh pomegranate seeds on dropped on top. It really is a pretty plate. I have a picture below but can’t figure out why their so blurry. I’ve taken pictures with before that are fine, but I’ll work on it.

Next up is our pizza. My partner’s dough didn’t rise real well so we split mine. The dough is pulled out and thinned a bit and then brushed with olive oil and placed on a hot grill. Unfortunately our grill was white hot so our dough got some real good color on one side. (yeah we had to scrape a little of the black off) So when I flipped it I had reduced the heat a bit. Next it’s smeared with the pesto, topped with the prosciutto and mozzarella and then popped into the oven to melt the cheese. When it comes out fresh parmesan is graded on top. This was served with a salad from Frisee lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

Ok I’m a pizza snob. Well I am since going to Italy and eating their pizza. I will not eat any American pizza again. No more Pizza Hut, Pappa John’s, Domino’s for me. So I will say this grilled pizza was really, really good. I love trying new sauces on pizza instead of the traditional red sauce and what a better replacement than freshly made basil pesto?! The only thing I would have done different was instead of the fresh garlic in the sauce I would have put roasted garlic instead. If you have an indoor grill on your stove make this dish. You could do it outside on your barbeque, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I wouldn’t recommend a briquette barbeque. I think the olive oil would cause too much smoking and give the dough a smokey flavor rather than a grilled flavor.

So there you have it. We were minus Chef Romero tonight and will for the week as he’s helping out in PCA-1. I went over there tonight to clean the grill we used and I don’t think those newbies knew what hit them. It was quiet a church in there. It’s good to get focused. Even though it’s only been a little over a week since I myself was in that class it was felt weird going back over there like it had been years since I was in PCA I.

I think our class is finally starting to work better as a team. We’re communicating better and this is due to mising out the way we are. We’re fine tuning our space to maximize efficiency without making everything a mess. Consolidation works very well. I mean if you’re both making couscous, for example, use one pot and each of you take turns monitoring it and tasting it, when you agree on the consistency et al present it. Now you only have 1 pot to clean instead of 2. This of course only works well if you have a partner you can work well with and trust with the food. And there will be times you can’t do this, but learning to adapt and quickly is very helpful.

We still have a couple that like to drop their dishes off at a station and then walk around like their doing stuff, but don’t really do anything but walk from one station to another or stop and talk with the chefs to kill time. It’s just frustrating because those of us that get our plates presented and are washing our dishes in between and washing our stations down now have to do their stuff too, because we have extra time. I don’t mind wiping the fascia down, or the walk-in doors and stuff that just gets messy by all of us. That’s part of the job. But to have to clean the personal stuff of another to me isn’t fair. They should have to do their own. If you take it to the sink you wash it. If you can’t then store it at your station until you have time to do it.

That’s all for this evening. Tomorrow night we’re back to fabricating fish. It’s chicken of the sea! Mr. Charlie himself…ladies and gentlemen we give you Albacore!

Until Tomorrow…

Grilled Quail with Pomegranate Molasses and Israeli Couscous.

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