In today’s blog I am going to share some stories of my second culinary class after finishing introduction to culinary arts. This was a very exciting, yet slightly sad time. This semester the new culinary arts center was being built on the main campus of the college, and it was a huge step up from where we were currently taking classes. Although we couldn’t see the classrooms or the complete interior of the new building, you could just tell how amazing it was. My professor from intro culinary was supposed to be our instructor for this semester but he was busy helping with the construction of the new building, so we only saw him once in a blue moon. therefore, we were introduced to a new instructor Chef Monroe, who also taught us a lot.
During this class we did a lot more hands on cooking, we got the fundamentals last semester, so now it was time to put that knowledge to work. The way it was set up is that we would read a chapter at home and do the homework, then when we get to class we would choose a recipe that the chef lists from that chapter. The most memorable dishes I made in this class were Veal Fricasee, Polenta (changed my life), and a Grilled Vegetable sandwich. Therefore, I am going to share these three classes with you.
Veal Fricasee. Veal is the meat of a young calf under the age of 9 months, but they are usually butchered at younger ages as well. Veal has a mild, delicate flavor and is low in fat, which makes it a popular meat. Mise en place was something that was highly advised, which means “everything in it’s place”, when cooking you should have all of your ingredients prepped so that you don’t forget anything. I remember this class day, when the instructor listed all of the recipes, I chose the hardest dish (I did this every class, when I could) with the most ingredients. That’s just who I am, I want the challenge and the experience. For this dish I had to small dice onions, mince garlic, measure out flour, white wine, white stock, hot heavy cream, make a bouqet garni (Carrot, leek and thyme tied up with string) and make rice pilaf for the side. This is a braised dish so essentially I cooked the veal with salt and white pepper without browning it, then added the onions and garlic. next add the flour to make a roux which will thicken the wine, stock and cream that was added next. After that, I added the bouqet garni, let it simmer for 30 minutes and taste it for seasoning. It’s funny because everybody thought the dish I made was pig feet or something because the recipe said not to let it get color when sauteeing( so it looked kind of weird), but after they all (instructor included) tried it, they asked if there was more in the pot.
Polenta. Polenta is an italian style of grits, at this time I had never tried grits and pretty much assumed I didn’t like it. This class date majority of the students didn’t show up because they knew we were cooking grains (which they thought would be boring). Polenta can be cooked smooth like grits or you can cool it after cooking to make it firm and then cut it into pieces and grill or saute it, which I thought sounded really cool. For this dish I had to prep by chopping onions, mincing garlic, slicing mushrooms, meausuring stock, heavy cream and freshly grating emmentaler cheese. This dish is made by sauteeing the onions and garlic, then adding the stock, once the stock is hot add the polenta and stir nonstop to make sure there is no lumps. On the side I was sauteeing my mushrooms in butter with thyme. Once the polenta is cooked (if it feels gritty in your mouth it’s not ready) I added the heavy cream and cheese then served it. As I said this was my first time trying it and I loved it, it was very rich and creamy, I could picture using it in lots of dishes and actually bought it from the store that same day after class.
Grilled Vegetable sandwich. This dish even though it sounds very basic was fun for me, I had very little if any grilling experiences in life at the time so I was glad to pick this dish. My mise en place included slicing eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion and tomato all at 1/4 inch thickness. The recipe tells you to sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let it sit in a colander for 10 minutes to extract the water, if you skipped this step, the eggplant would probably turn mushy on the grill. Next, I had to get all the sliced vegetables on a sheet tray, brush them with olive oil, season with salt, minced garlic and herbes de provence (a blend of dried thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram and oregano). I then had to grill all off the vegetables on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes. The recipe called for boursin cheese and we didnt have any on hand, so instead I made a roasted red pepper aioli, by blending charred red bell peppers with mayo. All that was left was to assemble the vegetables on a toasted french baguette with the aioli. I loved how the sandwich came out, it tasted very light and you could taste the distinct flavor of each vegetable pairing beautifully with the aioli.
This is all I have for you all today, I stll have more to share from food production 1 in later blogs, like my practical final exam which was pretty much like the show Chopped, our instructor gave use random ingredients and we had to make a dish with it under a certain time limit for our final grade.
If you would like the actual recipes for any of these dishes leave a like and a comment, as always, thank you for reading and have a blessed day.