Monday, March 31, 2014

How to cup up a whole chicken made simple

This is the easiest and most-straight forward way I've seen.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week: Week 12 (Part 2)

After spending the Monday and Tuesday on shellfish, we switched gears to Hors d'Oeuvres for the rest of the week.

Hors d'Oeuvres and canapes are small items that can be eaten without utensils while standing. Appetizers are small portions of food served at the table as the first course.

We also discussed catering at length (there's a lot more to it than just showing up with trays of food) and got a chance to look at a copy of an actual bid for a catering event that featured passed Hors d'Oeuvres, stationary Hors d'Oeuvres and a dessert buffet.

People think that having buffets and Hors d'Oeuvres are cheaper than servings meals, which is not necessarily the case. When clients ask for this, they are often saying they don't want to spend a lot of money. There's also the issue of whether or not dinner is being served. If it isn't, guests will be eating a lot more Hors d'Oeuvres than if there is going to be a sit-down meal.

Wednesday we did tea sandwiches and Thursday prepped for Friday's buffet lunch. The sandwiches were:

  • Cucumber Sandwiches with Watercress Butter
  • Smoked Salmon Sandwiches with Lemon Dill Buttr
  • Garden Tomato Sandwiches with Onion Jam
  • Tarragon Shrimp Salad Sandwiches
  • Curry Chicken  Salad Sandwiches 

Mise en place (everything in its place).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week: Week 12 (Part 1)

We covered shellfish this week, so that was good. Did you know that in Maine, their lobster goes for about 3.99 per pound? It's expensive elsewhere because it needs to be shipped.

First up: crustaceans. Live at the bottom of the ocean. Soft, pliable shells. Damn tasty, too. I added that last part myself.

Ever wonder what the difference is between prawns and shrimp? Wonder no longer! They're the same thing, although prawns are larger. Local shrimp can come from waters anywhere from Alaska to San Diego. Farmed shrimp are fine to eat, but they are bad in terms of the environment and waste. If you can't buy or use fresh shrimp, buy frozen, defrost it in the fridge and use within 48 hours.

Also, ever wonder why shrimp are served with the tail on? Because it makes them look bigger, makes it look like you're getting more bang for your buck.

Wild shrimp, and lots of them.

Spot prawns, about to give their all for our
culinary educations.

Spot prawns, having given their all for our
culinary educations.

Dungeness crabs come from waters from the west coast up to Alaska. The season for catching them runs from November/December through early spring. There is no such thing as farmed Dungeness crab - they're all wild caught. Dungeness crabs also do not molt.

Spider crabs (King Crabs, Snow Crabs) have smaller bodies and longer legs. In other words, they kind of look like spiders. With spider crabs, you only eat the leg meat, nothing from the body.

On the east coast you have blue crabs. They are hard-shelled crabs that molt and when they molt, the new shell is soft. They are small - the largest blue is smaller than the smallest Dungeness. A lot of blue crabs sold in California actually come from Mexico, as the east coast likes to keep their blue crabs.

Imitation crab is usually composed of haddock or pollock.

I'm not much of a crab person, I did like these crab
cakes, although that might have been due to the
mayo as much as the crab cakes.

Except for a cousin that lives off the coast of France (what a life!) no other lobster has the Maine's sweet taste. The Lobster on the Santa Monica Pier has Maine lobsters shipped daily.The west coast is home to the Pacific Rock Lobster, which tastes completely different from Maine lobster. You can now get permits to catch lobster off the South Bay, Palos Verdes and San Pedro.

Lobster is not farmed. They're very plentiful off the east coast, where they blanket the sea floor.

Maine lobsters about to join their spot prawn
brothers in sacrifice.

Clams should always be rinsed right before cooking. Throw away if there is any cracking or damage to the shell. Clams cook quickly and are cooked to order, not held. Their shells open as they cook; any unopened clams should not be served, but should be thrown away.

The most sustainable and are both farmed and in the wild. The beard is part of their filtering system and should be removed just before cooking when rinsing. They cook like clams.

Scallops can move pretty quickly in the ocean. They swim by clapping their shells together. If you search on You Tube, you can find a number of videos showing them in action. Scallops are mild and can take lively sauces. They also have a good texture for ceviche. Be sure they are dry before you cook them.

Oysters should be served fresh (as soon as shucked). Can be cooked (ex: Oysters Rockefeller) and are often found in traditional New England Thanksgiving stuffings. We got a chance to shuck and it's nowhere as easy as shuckers make it look. I've tried oysters a couple of times (including this week) and just can't wrap my head around the appeal.

We also had to fabricate squid, which kind of gross, although the little fried calamari rings I turned him into were delicious!



Friday, March 28, 2014

Lunch #3

The theme for this week's lunch was Hot Hor d'Oeuvres and Light Buffet. It was a hit:

The desserts were prepared by the school's kickass pastry chef.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lunch #2 and I missed it

Unfortunately, I was out sick Friday, so I missed this lunch and don't have any pictures. Was told it went well.

Butter Lettuce, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad
Seared Salmon with Herb Butter & French Lentils
Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla Creme Anglaise

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week: Week 11

We covered veal, duck and fin fish this week.

Blanquette de Veau (Veal Stew). I thought it was
kind of blah, especially for the amount of work/time
involved. However, if someone told me they liked
veal I would make this for them.

Our ducks arrived with their heads still attached, so we had to wield the cleaver!


Mr. Duck has been fabricated.

Look at that fat!

This dish was sooooo good!

We got beautiful salmon to fillet:

The aftermath.

Filleting is harder than it looks.

We're doing shellfish next week. Looking forward to it!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week: Week 10

Lamb and beef and more butchery this week.

We went over the various parts of lamb. Lambs are clean compared to chickens (salmonella) and pigs (trichinosis). Most lamb farms are in Colorado, although we're starting to get them here in California.

Angus beef is derived from cross-breeding Wagyu with other breeds. Holsteins are the only purebred cows.

Wagyu beef - it can only be called Kobe if it's from Japan.

USDA rates meat based on its fat content. The higher the content, the higher the rating. Prime is the highest grade based on "lightning bolt" fat. If even a small spot lacks this fat, it gets knocked down to Choice (although choice can be just a small spot away from prime). Select has larger areas without lightning bolts.

The USDA is extremely corrupt. In addition to being susceptible to kickbacks, inspectors don't get rotated to different ranches, so they establish long-term relationships with their ranchers.

Thinner steaks can be cooked on the stove top. Thicker cuts should be seared on the stove top, then finished in the oven in high heat.

We destroyed this steak:



We had so much steak this day - but it was so good -
that a classmate sitting down to eat announced that
she was going finish it even if she ended up throwing
up in the parking lot after class.

Best meatloaf ever.

On Thursday we started prepping the beef bourguignon for our first lunch service on Friday.