Monday, November 13, 2006

Day 25, 26, 27, 28 of PCA II – Finals Day 1 – 2 – 3 and 4

Wow I had no idea one could actually be this busy.

Ok so I’m behind a few days. Let’s do the run down shall we?

Day 1 of testing – Fabricate a chicken and fabricate a halibut.

Pan Seared Chicken Breast, with Polenta and Brussel Sprouts

Sautéed Halibut with Potato/Artichoke Gratin and Spring Onions

I think I did ok on this night. I had a hard time getting those darn potatoes to cook up. My production schedule had to be completely flipped flopped. But I got everything out and on time.

I should first explain the rules. First up – NO TALKING at all, unless it’s to ask “Are you done with that chinios?” this type of thing. You must ensure you have all your ingredients. Once they put the box away there is no going back to it. When you come into the kitchen you’re to set up your station (which we do every night anyway) and make sure you have the items you’ll need. I try to make sure I have everything. Even spoons for tasting. I don’t want anything to take me away from my station and my cooking. Well I guess the no talking rule starts the minute you walk into the lab. DOH!

Day 2 of Testing – Fabricate red snapper

Pan Seared Snapper with Mélange of Baby Vegetables and Fish Consommé. The only thing about this dish is the consommé takes a bit of time, but it has to be clear…very clear. And when I do the chicken consommé it’s fine, but when I do the fish it clouds up.

Along with this dish we also did Salmon En Papillote (See Day 12 of PCA II) which is a dish I just love. Well not the fish, or rather not the fish they provide. I do this type of dish often with Talipia or Catfish. You can make anything this way and there is such a range of things to add! This dish would be great for a dinner party because you could have several types of fish, various toppers from peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes etc. Then everyone can top their own with the things they like, wrap them up, write their name on it and then just throw them all in the oven. Fun way to get kids to eat different things too.

Day 3 of Testing – Grill 2 New York Steaks with the following sauces – Béarnaise and Bordelaise. Also 2 sides – sautéed broccolini and smashed red bliss potatoes with caramelized shallots.

This night just totally came together for me. We almost had a snafu in that they removed the grill from our lab which left PCA I with the only grill for now. So we’re suppose to grill our steaks for grill marks and finish in the oven. Sure no prob…except that PCA I is doing their finals and tonight they’re doing grilled vegetables. Ok so that’s going to be a bit crowded. Chef told us to pan sear our steaks and then finish them in the oven for our final. I wasn’t happy with this, the recipe is for Grilled Steaks, not pan seared. Besides I was hungry and wanted that grilled steak darn it! Ok fine…I begin by starting my sauces and then hear Chef call out “If you want to grill off your steaks you may do so, so long as it is within the next hour.” YES!! I thought ok put everything here on hold I want to get over and get those done and I can then hold them till I’m ready to fire them. And I don’t want to have to wait for anyone…so off I go and they look beautiful! I get back to my station, finish off my sauces and my side dishes are just at the point where I can toss my steaks in the oven and finish them off. I hear the sizzle of a lot of cast iron pans and kinda look behind me. All but 2 others are pan searing their steaks. I was shocked. I figured everyone would want to get right on that. The recipe is “grilled steaks”.

Day 4 of Testing – Braised Lamb Shank, Bouillabaisse with Rouille and Pork Schnitzel

Interesting choice of items here, none of them taste good together (wonder if they did that on purpose?) The lamb shank had to get on first since it really needs 5-6 hours not the 3 hours it was given. My pork was partly frozen and then once thawed had a huge line of silver skin and gristle that I had to trim out. Not that this matters, but as I was pounding out this piece of pork for my nice schnitzel a pattern started. And Viola! My schnitzel is now in the shape of a butterfly. I so wish I could say it was on purpose.

**Rewind** - Before the grilled steak day I went to a kitchen supply store and bought one of those silicone whisks. Since I knew we’d be making Bearnaise sauce and I didn’t want to it to turn gray from over whipping the silicone whisk would be my ticket. If you haven’t bought one of these yet DO SO!! This was fantastic! It even shortened the time of whisking on the egg yolks. Needless to say I was impressed. ~~~We now return you to your blog reading….~~~

My Bouillabaisse came out pretty good, but all of the shell fish was opened so I wasn’t happy about cooking them up. Even after pinching them closed they’d pop open. So I had to head to the walk in for more clams. I think the flavor was ok, except to me adding Pernod ruins it. I believe you get enough of the ‘licorice’ flavor from the fennel. I believe it would be better flavored with a good white wine. But what do I know, I’m a student (wink).

It’s now 9:45pm and I’ve decided to pull my lamb shank. I wish I had had more time to braise it, but at least the Chefs are sympathetic to this and understand that they won’t be as tender as they could be.

Combine a week of finals with 2 days of being out of my office at manager retreat meetings and training seminars and hopefully you’ll understand and forgive my late posting.

Monday is our last day of testing in PCA II. It’s bitter sweet actually. I am looking forward to moving on and learning new things, but at the same time I shall miss Chef Romero and Chef Rorschach. I have very much enjoyed their company and class. The bit of good news (well for me its fantastic news) is that it looks as if we might get Chef Rorschach back in PCA IV. Can I get a big WooHaa! Finally an opportunity to pick her brain as this class is 3 days of lectures, 1 day of prep and 1 day of cooking. We’ll get the history of foods, techniques etc. I am THRILLED!

Still not sure who we will be getting for PCA III but I should find out Monday evening.

One more day…the time does fly.

Until Tomorrow!...


At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Dani said...

Sounds like you did a fantastic job as usual. You should start taking more pictures - it always inspires me how to plate my dishes :)

The Silicon Whisk is a great tip!


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