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Monday, September 27, 2010

Culinary School - Q2 Final Grades

Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques - 94.8% Total = A
Fundamentals of Classical Techniques - 103.11%  Total = A

So even though I am not happy about my percentage in Concepts, it is still an A and I will take it!

We have this week off for break, but I will return next week for Q3 - Intro to Pastry and Food and Beverage Operations.

Until next week,

P.S. Ed, the Class ass has failed Fundamentals for the third time!  Hahahahahaha!

Culinary School - Q2, Week 11

Tuesday Class - Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques

Well, this is it.  Finals night.  I have studied the vocab, and the slides.  I am sure that I am ready.  The 100 question multiple choice test takes me about 20 minutes to complete.  I join the kids on the patio to wait for everyone else.  We decide to go to Santana Row to celebrate.  Everyone is feeling pretty good about how they did and we are in high spirits.  We end up at The Counter for burgers, sweet potato fries and fried dill pickle chips. After we sit there until 9:15 we decide to wander over to Borders.  There are 7 of us.  All sitting around on stools, ladders and the floor in the cookbook section. All of us have some cookbook or memior or some other food related book in our hands.  Even Dustin who is the only guy that ever joins in with us ladies.  I think he likes feeling like he has a harem.  We leave when borders closes and walk over to Pinkberry.  I have a small pomegrante yogurt.  I am surprised at how yummy it is!  We are lounging around one of the sitting areas in the middle of the row, excited chattering about what we plan to cook tomorrow night if we are allowed to choose our own final meal for class.  We finally break up and go our separate ways around 11.

We arrive and line up outside the kitchen for inspection.  Chef Lew is accompanied by our new Chef Director, Chef Jeff.  They are not only inspecting our uniforms but asking us each a question about something that we should have learned in class.  My question is "what is shigellosis?"  ICK! 

What is shigellosis?
Shigellosis is a gastrointestinal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella.

Illness often occurs 1 to 2 days after exposure to Shigella, and lasts 5 to 7 days. This disease can be quite severe and lead to hospitalization, especially in young children and the elderly. Some people with shigellosis have very few or no symptoms, but can still pass Shigella to others. The diagnosis is usually made when a laboratory finds Shigella in the stool of an infected person.  Shigella is spread when the stool of a sick person passes into the mouth of another person. Spread of the illness most often occurs due to person-to-person contact, especially within families and childcare centers due to inadequate hand washing and poor hygienic habits. Sometimes, Shigella can contaminate food and cause illness among those who eat the tainted item. Food items that have been sources of outbreaks have included parsley, cilantro, lettuce, raw oysters, and even a commercially prepared bean dip. Shigellosis can also occur after drinking or swimming in contaminated water.

THERE!  Everything you need to know about Shigellosis.

After I answer I am allowed to enter the kitchen.   We stand around waiting for our instructions unsure of what is going to happen.  Finally, Chef has finished inspection.  He comes in and tells us that due to time constraints we will not have to make a soup.
We must save our waste to show him when we present our meals.  He wants to make sure we are learning to minimize waste.  We are allowed to pull whatever protein we want off the cart but we must make sure we take only what we will use.  I decided I wanted to make Chicken Piccata.  Naturally, I won't be lucky enough to get 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, because that isn't how the school works.  They only order whole chickens because we need so much stock.  I manage to get one of the others to partially cut up the chicken, giving me the breasts.  But they are still on the bones and still have skin on them.  It's now or never for me.  I have got to get through getting these breasts off the bone, skinned and pounded without gagging or I am never going to pass this class.  I am so proud of myself for doing that part that I know I can fly through the rest.  I am making mashed potatoes, and broccoli with red pepper flakes to go with my Chicken Piccata.  I peel my potatoes and get them cooking, I blanch up my broccoli, I bread my chicken.  I get the potatoes mashed and into the hot box (a large metal box that keeps food warm).  Get the broccoli shocked and into the box, saute the chicken breasts and get them into the box.  I deglaze the pan and get my sauce going.  Chef Lew peeks over my shoulder and says "smells like chicken piccata" with a smile.  "Yes, Chef!" I reply.  Confident because I know I am the only one making this.  When class first started we had to select the time we wanted to present and we had to be ready at that time.  I took the first time available, 8:30.  Then Chef said that if we finished and wanted to present early we could.  I was finished with my two plates at 8:15 so I presented early.  Chef asked me to describe what I was serving and all of the cooking techniques and ingredients I had used.  Chef took one bite of the meal, pronounced it very well presented and cooked and released me to eat the other plate.  I thought it looked so good I forgot to take a picture of it before I ate it!  As I was sitting down to eat mine in the dining room, Chef looked at me through the window, gave me an odd smile and shoved the whole piece of chicken into his mouth!

Tonight is "Kitchen Appreciation night".  All Fundamentals students have to spend their last night in the kitchen cleaning.  We spent 2.5 hours scrubbing all the stoves, ovens, the grill, and degreasing all the pots and pans.  Then it was over.  We were free to go.  I went to Dave and Busters with the gang.  We had a few drinks and some food and then went our separate ways.


The finale of the Aluminum Chef series took place at the School tonight. The Secret Ingredients were Pumpkin, Chicken and Champagne Grapes. It was interesting to see how the teams were working together. Each team having only 30 minutes to plan a menu utilizing all three ingredients in the best ways. I was surprised that two of the teams chose to make a pumpkin soup. It made me think about how I would have used the ingredients. The first team cooked a pumpkin soup, chicken encrusted with pumpkin seeds over a wild mushroom risotto and a champagne grape sorbet. I tasted the first team’s food. I liked the chicken, it was moist. I did think it needed a little salt. The Risotto tasted a little bland. The Sorbet was delicious at first but if you ate more than a few bites it had a super sweet finish. I think they did the best they could under the time constraints. It must be incredibly difficult to make sure everything is on point with taste and temp. The second team also made a pumpkin soup. Their chicken was served over a broiled polenta. Unfortunately their dessert didn’t come together. The last team presented a beautiful appetizer trio. A pumpkin ravioli, a salad with the champagne grapes and a pumpkin ginger puree. Their second course was a type of Coq au Vin. They served it with mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms. It looked great, and it smelled great. I wish I could have tasted it. Their dessert was a sort of like a tart. It had a crust and then they boiled down the grapes with some raspberry puree. It had a Chantilly cream on top of it that looked a little soupy. I would like to participate in the aluminum chef in the next go-round. It seems like it would really test the boundaries of your creativity.

It was really interesting to see the way that my classmates used the things they have learned in their classes. I hope that I can make the same kinds of leaps in my skills as they have. This is the reason I chose to come to this school.

Culinary School - Q2 Week 10

Tuesday Class - Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques

As this is week 10 we are done with Vocab!  yay! Tonight we go over slides on Fish and Shellfish.  I have seen slides almost identical to these in my Purchasing and Product ID class last quarter so I try not to zone out.  Chef is talking about poaching fish to keep it moist which gets me giggling.  When he asks whats up, all I can say is "you said moist" and go into another fit of giggles, sending about half the class into giggles.  We finally manage to get through the slides, and talk about what to expect tomorrow night. 

The plan is that we will do as much of the prep work as we can on Wednesday night, so that on Thursday all we have to do is finish cooking everything.  Chef lets us go early with the instructions to bring all of our recipe cards to class tomorrow night.

Recipes: Ribs, Flank Steak, Chicken, Shrimp, Rib Eye, Salad, Tempura, Rice.

On Wednesday night we did all the prep work for our Family Night meal. In my group I was responsible for making the BBQ sauce for the ribs, and a Honey Mustard Dressing for the salad. Everything went pretty well. We finished up and we able to get out of the kitchens by 9:30.   I was stuck in the group with Ed, the class ass again but he was busy with the shrimp and since I am allergic to shellfish our paths didn't cross much.

On Thursday night, we arrived in the kitchens and immediately started cooking all the food we had prepped.  Our families were due to arrive at 7:00 pm so we had about 90 minutes to get everything cooked.  The kitchens were crowded and people seemed to be panicked so I took myself out of the equation by moving over to the dish sinks.  I figured if I could keep up on the pots and pans we would have less to do after our families left. I stood at the sinks scrubbing for the whole 90 minutes.  But I managed to get almost all the dirty stuff washed and put away before we served the meal.  Andea and Loretta came as my family. I wanted them to see what I have been working so hard at. It seemed like all of the families enjoyed the meal as there were no leftovers! 
So, next week is our final.  I can't believe it.  Chef won't tell us what protein we will be working with.  I guess we will find out when we get to the kitchens. 
Until next week,

Culinary School - Q2 Week 9

Tuesday Class - Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques

Still waiting for Chef to grade our sanitation quizs from last week. Tonight we go over slides on roasting and braising.  We will be making Pot Roast, Chicken pot au feu, Swiss Steak and Coq au Vin this week.  After class I went out with some of the "kids".  We went to pasta pomodoro and had a glass (or two) of wine and talked about class. Next week Thursday is "family night".  I have invited two of my besties to come to the school and see what I have been up to.  We won't know what we will be cooking until we arrive in the kitchens next wednesday to do the prep.

Week 9 Vocabulary
Concepts & Theories of Culinary Techniques Vocabulary Assignment Week 9

Blanquette – a white stew that is made without browning the meat first.
Braising – a combination of cooking. First browning the meat then cooking in the oven.
Daube – a classic French stew made with braised cubed beef.
Estouffade – meat cooked slowly in very little liquid.
Fricassee – a stewed dish usually made with chicken but sometimes made with veal, or rabbit.
Navarin – a brown ragout made with root vegetables
Pot Roast – Braising meat in liquid in the oven.
Ragout – the French term for a stew.
Stewing - To cook by boiling slowly or simmering.
Swiss Steak – meat that has been pounded thin to be tender then braised.
Flatfish – a fish such as flounder or sole, with both eyes on one side of the head.
Roundfish – this is a fish with two rounded sides allowing for filets from both sides of the fish.
Net Fishing – fishing using a net rather than a hook and line.
Farm Fishing – fish that are raised in farms. Salmon, trout, sometimes European sea bass.
Line caught fish – fish caught with a hook and line rather than a net.
Langoustines – a miniature lobster.
Blue Crabs – a type of crab from the atlantic ocean.
Cephalopods – squid or octopus
Crustaceans – lobster, shrimp, crabs.
Bivalves – oysters, clams, scallops. It has a hinged shell.
Univalves – a shellfish that only has a one sided shell and a sucker foot like an abalone.
Monkfish – a large headed angler fish from the north atlantic ocean.
Pinbones – the tiny bones in fish (mostly salmon).
Surimi – a Japanese fish puree.
Whole Fish – a fish that comes ungutted.
Drawn Fish – a fish that has been cleaned of its entrails.
Dressed – fish that has been gutted, and had the scales, gills and fins removed.
Butterflied – boneless meat or fish that has been sliced almost completely in half so that it opens and lays flat.
Filleted – a piece of meat or fish that has had the bones removed.
Steak - A slice of meat or fish usually cut thick and across the muscle grain and served broiled or fried.
Wheel – a whole cheese. Like a wheel of parmigiano reggiano. 36 kilos.


Recipes for tonight are: Chicken Pot au Feu and Pot Roast, along with Potato Latkes and Glazed Carrots with Pecans.  Wednesday was a hard night for me.  I was completely off my game because of a meeting I had with Chef Jeff. I made a comment to him that I later regretted and it disturbed me all night.  My Potato Pancakes kept turning brown from the air because I couldn’t make them until everything else was ready. I had to throw away the first batch.  Then I cut a chunk of the top of my thumb off. I don’t think I will ever make the Chicken pot au feu.  It looked icky to me.  The “pot roast” was tasty even if it was carved with the grain instead of against it.  I liked the carrots best.  I never realized how much I like carrots until we started cooking them in class.
Pot Roast with Potato Latkes

Chicken Pot au Feu


Recipes for tonight are: Swiss Steak, Coq au Vin, Sugar Snap Peas and Fried Potatoes and Onions.

On Thursday night we made Coq au vin and Swiss steak.  Both were quite tasty.  I enjoyed the Swiss steak.  I haven’t had it in many years.  We were working with our original teams again tonight.  While I felt more myself tonight I still managed to burn my wrist.  The realization that next week is our last week of “learning” before the final has hit and I wish this class was longer than just 11 weeks.  I have learned so much from Chef Lew and I know I could learn so much more from him. But, it’s time to move on.  We will be cooking for our family and friends next week.  We are each allowed to invite two people to come to the school.  I wish we could have more as there are a lot of people I wish I could invite.  I will be taking intro to pastry next quarter which I am looking forward to. My other class will be food and beverage operations, which is not required for my diploma but was the only other night class available for me. I will have to be careful in the coming quarters to be sure I can get my 9 units and stay within my required courses.
Swiss Steak

Coq au Vin

Until next week,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Culinary School - Q2 Week 8

Tuesday Class - Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques

Chef has a quiz for us tonight.  It is on the Safety and Sanitation class that most of the class is taking online to get their servsafe certificate.  I took this class at Mission College two years ago and already have my certificate so I don't have to take this class here.  Unfortunately for me, it's been two years since I studied any of this stuff.  The test is 80 multiple choice questions.  As I look at it, most of it comes back to me.  After the test we are free to go home!  I stop at the Kohls on El Camino Real for Mogo BBQ!  Now I know why my friend Rene has been stalking Mogo, and BBQ Kalbi.  Amazing spicy pork tacos!  I start following food trucks on twitter.  Big Mistake!  I am now possessed by the whole food truck movement.  I found out about "Off the Grid" which is an event at Fort Mason in San Francisco on Friday nights.  They have something like 35 food trucks selling everything from Creme Brulee to Mushroom Empanadas to Roasted Duck Tacos.  DELISH!

Week 8 Vocabulary
Concepts & Theories of Culinary Techniques Vocabulary Assignment Week 8

Basket Frying – using the basket on a fryolator.
Broil – a method of cooking with dry heat coming from an overhead source.
Court Bouillon – water simmered with vegetables, seasonings and an acid for poaching fish.
Cuisson – French for quick braising.
Deep-Fry - cook by submerging in hot oil.
Double Basket Frying – putting food into one basket and then placing another basket on top of it to keep food submerged.
Fumet – a stock made with fish bones.
Grill – a dry heat cooking method with heat coming from below the food.
Pan-Fry – placing food in a moderate amount of fat and cooking on the stove top.
Poach – to cook by submerging in simmering water.
Recovery Time – the amount of time a cooking liquid takes to return to the desired temp after putting food into it.
Saute – cooking over high heat with just a little bit of hot fat.
Shallow Poach – a combination of poaching and steaming food, usually vegetables.
Simmer – cooking food by submerging it in a hot liquid that is just below the boiling point.
Smoke Point – the temperature at which oil will smoke.
Swimming – foods are gently dropped into hot fat and allowed to swim to the surface.
NAMPS – National Association of Meat Purveyors.
W.O.G – with out gizzards.
C.A.B – Certified Angus Beef.
Grillardin – the person that is responsible for the grilled foods in the Brigade system.
Wagyu – a type of cattle bred with a high predisposition for marbling.
Steak Tartare – ground steak mixed with eggs, onions, capers. Eaten raw.
Carpaccio – a dish of raw meat (generally beef, but sometimes veal, venison, salmon or tuna) sliced super thin.


Recipes for tonight are: Sole Meuniere, Whipped Herbed Potatoes, Italian Style Sauteed Spinach, and Steak au Poivre.

Chef has us draw numbers, all the 1's together, all the 2's together and so on.  I am paired with Bobby, Eva and Jerry.  Jerry is going to cook the Sole.  I am on Steak au Poivre, Bobby does the Whipped potatoes and Eva does the Spinach.  We work together like a real team.  We push each other and are the first to present to Chef.  The sole was perfectly golden.  It tasted delicious.  Chef also said my beef was perfectly cooked and he was happy that I didn't over cook it.  It's hard to get it cooked properly because the beef is so thin.  Everything was yummy delish!  I had a great team to work with and I was happy when at the end of the night we left the kitchens at 9:15!
Steak Au Poivre with Italian Spinach

Sole Meuneier with Italian Spinach
Recipes for tonight are: Pan Fried Chicken, Sauteed Chicken Chardonnay, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Basic Pasta.
Chef has decided to play a different game tonight.  He picks three people randomly and makes them captains.  Then they pick their teams.  I have flashbacks of getting picked last in high school.  Fortunately, I am the second pick for my team.  The last pick is the one I was dreading.  The guy I can't stand. Crud!  So the team for tonight will be Jerry, Jesse, Eva, Me and Ed.  We divide up duties.  Eva is on Sprouts, Jerry will do the Chicken Chardonnay, Jesse is on Potatoes, Ed is on Pan Fried Chicken, leaving me with Pasta.  I have never made pasta.  I know its pretty easy though.  Except that I didn't realize we were making pasta when we were getting our equipment out of the cupboards.  The ones Chef locks 30 minutes after class starts to train us to get everything we need for our meals.  I did find a rolling pin so I had that, but I had to do everything for the pasta by hand.  No machine.  I ended up making something that was a cross between fettucini and spaghetti.  I had made compound butter the night before so after I boiled my pasta, I tossed it into a saute pan with the compound butter and some garlic.  It went on the plates with the Sauteed Chicken Chardonnay and some Brussel Sprouts.  Ed was screwing around making ribs that he brought into class and some chicken wings that Chef found and not working on his food.  I kept saying we needed to concentrate on our food for the night but he just kept doing his own thing.  It made me mad so I just walked away and worked on my pasta.  It was almost our time to present to Chef and Ed tried to change the time because he wasn't ready. Chef saw that and made us present at our original time.  As it was, Ed's sauce was too thick and he had used the wrong chicken.  I hope Chef doesn't mark us all down because of that. 
Pan Fried Chicken

Sauteed Chicken Chardonnay with Handmade Pasta

Next week, Braising!

Culinary School - Q2 week 7

Tuesday Class - Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques
Tonight we have a substitute teacher.  Chef Lewis is out sick so Chef Rachael will cover for him.  She drives us hard on our poultry knowledge.  Half the class cut when they found out Chef Lew was out.  Too bad for them, they missed a good class.

Week 7 Vocabulary
Concepts & Theories of Culinary Techniques Vocabulary Assignment Week 7

A la Minute – cooked to order as in, when the customer orders it.
Aging – the time that meat is allowed to sit so rigor mortis can go away.
Beurre Manie – a mixture of flour and softened butter whisked into sauce at the last minute to thicken and add shine.
Beurre Noisette – the French term for browned butter.
Broiler/Fryer Hen – a tender young chicken, about 7 weeks old.
Brown Butter – Same at Beurre Noisette
Capon – castrated male rooster. Good for roasting. Hard to find.
Clarified Butter – butter that has been melted and then had the milk fats and water removed.
Compound Butter – soften butter that has flavorings or spices added to it.
Free-range – chickens or veal that is allowed to move about freely.
Grading – a quality program set up by the USDA.
Hen – a chicken bred for laying eggs.
Inspection – the process that food undergoes to determine quality and grade.
Roaster – a young chicken for roasting.
Trussing – to tie up the meat with butchers twine.
Yield Grade – a program that measures the amount of usable meat on a carcass.


This week we are finally cooking a whole meal!

Recipes for tonight are: Roasted Chicken with pan gravy, Wild Rice Pilaf, Vichy Carrots and Steamed Green Beans.
One of my teammates is absent tonight so there are just two of us.  Augustine handles the chicken (since we know i can't do it without getting sick) and I take on the veggies and the rice.  I am not a fan of wild rice, but we have to do it.  Everything turns out great and Chef applaudes us for our ingenuity on plating.  We used some 12"X12" tiles that we found on the shelves and some little cream pitchers for the gravy.
Roasted Chicken Dark Meat
Roasted Chicken White Meat


Recpies for tonight are: Roast Beef Jus Lie, Potaotes Anna, Broccoli with Candied Pecans, Stuffed Tomatoes Duxelles and Cheddar Leek Soup.

Again tonight there are only two of us on my team. Chef has taken another team that is down to two people and paired them with us.  This is our first time working with someone outside of our team.  I am glad to finally be working with someone else from the class.  Jesse will take on the soup.  Eva will do the tomatoes duxelles, and Augustine will do the meat again.  I am doing the potatoes anna and the broccoli.  Everything goes great working with Jesse and Eva.  They both tell me at the end of class that they learned a lot from me. :)
Roast Beef, Potatoes Anna, Tomatoes Duxelles, Broccoli with Candied Pecans and Cheddar Leek soup.

  Chef has warned us that we will not be with our teams anymore.  He will randomly assign us to new groups.  There is one person I do not want to be in a group with.  The guy is a huge "know it all" and quite an ass.  So, naturally with my luck, I will get paired with him.
Until next week,