Although baking tastes good, there’s just too much math!
Although baking tastes good, there’s just too much math!
Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday and taking advantage of the extra hour! So this week was very eventful at St Pius. Outside the kitchen, the school hosted the EMSB’s Career Fair, this was great as we all got to cook for dozens and dozens of people! They all enjoyed what we had to offer, especially our scrumptious blueberry muffins, as one famous friend of mine would say, “They’re Grrrrrrrrrreat!”
In the kitchen, I began learning about basics doughs, everything from bread rolls to pizza to puff pastry and sticky buns. While I love consuming baked goods, I am not the most effective baker. I prefer improvisation to the extreme precision that is required when baking. In addition, I have a slight fear of flour. I am not sure how to explain this exactly but the texture of flour and especially rubbing flour on rolling pins is like nails on a chalk board to me. Yes, I know this sounds insane but it is true and so this week I had to face my fears.
At the beginning of the week I was very reluctant to touch the flour and had my partner do all the mixing until the dough came together. I was being a wimp and I don’t this my partner was very appreciative. I slowly began forcing myself to get more involved in the baking. I shut my eyes and started mixing the flour. I got my act together, put my fears aside and baked.
As I became more relaxed with flour I started enjoying the baking experience a bit more. I learned the technique is forming beautiful round pizza doughs, tightly rolled sticky buns (most amazing thing ever) and even delicately assembled apple turnovers. So while I was quite apprehensive in starting my first module in baking, I can honestly say that my experience was a good one overall, and my family sure enjoyed all the delicious food I brought home for them to try.
Let me know which recipes I should post!
Keep on reading 🙂
Gratin Dauphinois aka Potatoes Alfredo
250g Gruyère cheese
3 egg yolks
3 cloves of roasted garlic
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
Thinly slice potatoes, and set aside in a bowl of water (to prevent oxidation)
Add garlic, egg yolks, cream together
Remove potatoes from water and add salt, pepper and nutmeg
Use butter to grease a foil baking pan
Layer potatoes in pan, add grated cheese between the layers
After all potatoes have been placed pour cream mixture over potatoes
Bake in the oven at 375C until potatoes are tender (no resistance when you insert a knife)
Ratatouille: A slightly more healthy option
3 Bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)
1 Can of diced tomatoes
In a frying pan saute all vegetables except for tomatoes for several minutes then add the tomatoes and the oregano and basil
Remove vegetables from frying pan and place in casserole dish
Add salt and pepper to vegetables and mix
Bake in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes
So I haven’t written anything for a while but that is because I have been waiting for something exciting to happen to inform you about! So last week I finished off the soup module and passed the exam. It was a difficult test because I was racing against the clock. I was allotted three hours to complete three different soups. I was pretty confident with my first two soups; a beef consommé, and a potage parisien, however I had some problems with the carrot soup. I could not get the proper consistency. Although I followed the recipe and used the correct quantities my soup was far too liquidy than a pureed soup should be. I had to improvise last minute and re-add the carrot solids that had been removed during the straining process. My teacher did not completely approve of my soup, but passed me none the less, so I was happy.
Once soups were finished on we went to Fruits and Vegetables. This module consists of learning the basics about the preparation of fruits, vegetables and starches.
On the first day we began with poaching pears, mango chutney, apple sauce, and caramelized apples. All were very delicious! On day two we got to make everything
potato and I have never been happier. I happen to love potatoes, especially those of the mashed variety. So we made amazing mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, then we made Duchesse potatoes (which are those that are piped using a piping bag and finished off in the oven), croquettes (fried mashed potatoes balls) and finally Gratin Dauphinois (which tastes like potatoes with alfredo sauce). This was probably my favorite day so far.
Day three was less exciting, but still important. I was taught the proper techniques for cutting and blanching broccoli. cauliflower, asparagus, carrots and turnips. I also learned something quite substantial, if you want anything as boring as cooked turnips to taste good simply sauté in butter and I guarantee you will be satisfied. At the end of the day we got to make fruit platters. The teacher showed us many different ways to cut up fruit to make a beautiful platter. Here it is!
So I am midway through fruits and veggies, I will keep you all updated.
Let me know which potato recipe you guys would like to try out and I will post it in the next couple of days!
Keep on reading and commenting,
Future Chef Jordana
So as promised here are two great soup recipes to try out.
Olive Oil to cover bottom of pan
50mL Red Wine
1.5L Brown Stock (chicken or veal)
Thinly slice onion and add to frying pan with olive oil. On low heat caramelize the onion (takes about 30 mins), stir constantly. Once onions are caramelized add finely chopped garlic. Remove onions from pan and put into a pot, deglaze frying pan with red wine to remove all the brown bits left over from the onion. Add the deglazed liquid to onions and then add stock. Bring pot to boil and reduce to a simmer for 20-30 mins.
To finish off the soup put it into oven safe ramekins add toasted baguette slice and shredded Gruyere cheese and put under broiler for few minutes until cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
100g Leeks (white), paysanne cut (small flt square)
400g Potatoes, paysanne cut
1L of Water or Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sweat leeks in butter till translucent, then add potatoes. Add water or broth, and bring liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Let it cook until potatoes are tender. Season with Salt and pepper and serve.
Try some of these easy recipes this weekend and warm up from this fall weather with a warm bowl!
Well hello again everyone,
This week we tackled the soup module, and it has been an incredible whirlwind. Since Tuesday I have produced about 8 soups, and I am sure that tomorrow I will have to make at least 3 more. For this module we are only allotted four days and so my class has been madly chopping, stirring and whisking.
So far I have come to understand that most soups follow the same methodology, first a fat is used to sweat the vegetables (allowing them to soften and cook in their own juices without browning):
Next a roux is made for creamy soups (cooked mixture of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter) or if not, then a broth is added. The next step has us bringing the liquid to a boil and then reducing it to a simmer, and that is all is takes!
Of course it is much easier said then done but those are be basics. Some of the soups I have made this week have been, Leek and Potato Vichyssoise, Potage Crécy (carrot soup), Clam Cowder, Split Pea Soup, Minestrone and even Thai Mushroom and Coconut Soup.
Much like George on Seinfeld, I have also come to understand that soups are quite dangerous. No, I will never withhold bread from anyone, but this week alone we had several severed fingers, in addition to the multiple burns caused by the boiling liquids. I have been so nervous about cutting myself that today while preparing my minestrone I was making my cuts so slowly, the mise en place took an hour!
Although I am sure my mother would be happy that I am taking all the extra precautions my teacher was hoping I would just hurry it up 😦
Last but not least I want to share with you a nice story about me. So on Tuesday I got the instruction from my teacher to prepare a fish stock that we would be needing to use throughout the week for various soups. So I made my mise en places, organized all my equipment and got to work. I followed the proper methodology and thought I was doing a phenomenal job until about half way through the cooking time – I saw that the fish was still swimming!!
I went to check on my stock and instead of it being a nice beige color, it was a dark brown. There is really only one explanation for such an outcome, and that it burning the mirepoix (celery, onion, carrots). So not only did I have to scrub my pot on Tuesday, soak it overnight, continue scrubbing on Wednesday, soak it again overnight, and finally today, complete the scrubbing of the burnt fish stock pot. So hopefully I have learned my lesson and will keep a better watch on any subsequent pot I put on the stove, and hopefully so will all of you!
Goodnight everyone, and don’t forget to check back with me tomorrow for two great soup recipes.
So I am sure that you have all been at the edge of your seats, eagerly awaiting the news about my exam. So, I won’t keep you waiting any longer… I passed!!! My first intense practical exam was completed and I am quite proud of myself. The way an exam works in culinary school is quite different from any other I have experienced. Yesterday i got into the kitchen at 8 a.m. and was handed a booklet filled with recipe names and a list of ingredients. From there my teacher explained that each student needed to write out the methodology section of each recipe and once she had approved of our work, we could get started cooking.
For my test I had to write out the instructions and produce a Brown Chicken Stock, Meat Glaze, Marchand de Vins Sauce, Rice Panade (stuffing), Ballotine (chicken with rice stuffing) and last but not least a Hollandaise sauce. I started with the stock, as did my peers, because this recipe requires the longest cooking time. The test is timed, and all recipes must be completed within six hours. My teacher, however, informed us that if we took six hours to complete this exam she would “kill” us because simply put – it should not take that long.
At the beginning of the exam I was slightly nervous and was rushing around the kitchen frantically (imagine Iron Chef meets Speedy Gonzalez), but once I started organizing my ingredients and reviewing the processes in my mind, I began to settle down. As each dish was completed I had to present it in a serving dish to both my chef instructors. My Marchand de Vins Sauce got the nod of approval first, then my meat glaze was approved, followed by the infamous Hollandaise sauce (which was served at the perfect tempersture), then my rice panade was accepted and finally my brown chicken stock made the cut, despite the fact I was notified that it was slightly oily.
All in all, I finished every recipe, cleaned up my station and passed within 5 hours! The rest of the six students being tested yesterday passed too, so it was a good day for all! Hope the rest of my class is as successful!
One more module completed, making me one step closer to my final goal. Bring it on St Pius!
Next week we start on soups! I am impatiently anticipating the new recipes I will be taught, so I can pass them on to you. I am a real soup addict and what could be better for the fall season than a bowl of soup to warm up to?
Until next time!