It doesn’t feel like a Monday to me. Class went incredibly fast today, which is good and bad. It’s good because I it feels like I have a lot more time to relax today, but it’s bad because I think everyone felt a little rushed towards the end of class.
I have good news. We did NOT make soup today! Even though there’s hundreds of different soups we could have made, I now know the basic types of soups (clear, thick, hearty, cream, etc), and know the basics of how they are made.
The first thing we made today was Bechamel (beh-sha-mel) sauce, which is one of the five mother sauces. You first make a white roux (the lightest roux), and let it cool. Then you sweat some onions in a little butter and heat up some milk. Then you slowly whisk in the Bechamel, add one clove, one bay leaf, salt and white pepper and let it simmer/thicken. It’s that easy. Then when it’s ready you strain it through fine mesh to remove the onions, lumps, and aromatics. Ta-dah. Mother sauce in the bag. You can take it one step further by melting a little Gruyere cheese in it. That’s called ‘Mornay Sauce’.
After the Bechamel was made, we made Cauliflower Gratin, which was super simple. I have a really cool tip for you!! You know how when you cook cauliflower sometimes it smells weird and it turns yellow? Well thanks to sulfur that is released, you cauliflower is now crap.
How to fix this? Bring water to a boil (with a little salt and the juice of one lemon) and blanch the cauliflower for ”7-8” minutes, COVERED. The reason I put the time in quotations is because Chef told us 7-8 minutes. Mine was in for about 10 and when I brought mine up, he said it was undercooked! Cook until it’s cooked. Underuse of common sense on my part. But oh well. Once your cauliflower IS cooked, shock it in ice water. It will be bright white and it’s odor won’t scare anyone away. :D
Butter a small dish and arrange the cauliflower. Pour a little of your mornay sauce and top with grated Gruyere and Parmesan cheese. Add breadcrumbs if you want. I strongly dislike breadcrumbs on top of dishes or pasta, but it’s all you. Broil and devour.
After that, we made creamed spinach. I’ve never been a fan of cooked spinach. It typically has a soggy, grassy taste to me. I love it fresh on sandwiches and in salads though. It turns out, I’ve just had crappy spinach all my life, because this was heavenly. And simple as hell.
Blanch some spinach in boiling, salted water, uncovered. Shock. Squeeze the water out and set aside. Sweat some minced shallots in butter/oil. Squeeze that spinach one more time real good and add it to the pan. Separate the leaves. Add some heavy cream and a little of your Bechamel sauce. Season and taste! There you go.
Mmm creamy goodness. Yeah, it really looks like we didn’t do much. Hmph. Well it felt busy. I almost didn’t finish in time!
Anyways, had a crappy lunch that I hardly touched. It was chicken fricassee with pearl onions, mushrooms, asparagus, and rice. No bueno. Had to take a picture just to show you it’s intense un-appetizing-ness.
Had a pretty good salad with arugula, frisee, and pears.
Had a DELICIOUS dessert. :D
Tomorrow, we have a pretty busy day. I won’t tell you the menu, but I WILL tell you that we will be tested on our consomme, so I really have to review that tonight! I aced it the first time, so hopefully I can match or even improve this one!
Hope you all have a great Monday. If you don’t, listen to a little of The Hush Sound, which feels very summer-y, and maybe that will help a little. : )
Hope you all had a wonderful Friday night. I know I did!
Yesterday was a busy day for Skills I. I was on the stock team with a few others and our responsibility was to first roast veal bones for the brown stock, then make the stock and add the pincage (remember, we went over this yesterday, or…two days ago now). More on this later, for there are a couple funny stories of stock gone horribly wrong.
After we cut veggies for the mirepoix, we started our knife trays. I’m getting pretty good at most of my cuts. Even my tourne potatoes weren’t bad. In case you don’t know what a tourne cut is, it’s basically a small football shaped vegetable that has 7 sides to it, like this:
It’s quite a pain in the ass and requires a little patience, but once you get the hang of the knife strokes, it’s not so bad. Keep in mind I’m accident prone (cut myself 4 times already in class), so I have to be a little cautious with my knives.
After the knife trays and chef’s demo, we began making veloute (veh-loo-tay). Veloute is one of the five mother sauces. A mother sauce, or grand sauce, is a basic sauce that can then be made into other sauces. You’ve probably made one sometime in your life and never even realized it. For instance, tomato sauce is a mother sauce. Tell me you’ve never made that!
The one thing I dreaded about making veloute is that you have to make a blonde roux. If you read yesterday’s blog, you’d understand that I FAILED my roux yesterday! It burnt to a crisp in less than a minute with no chance of saving. So thinking upon yesterday, I told myself ‘medium heat, medium heat, medium heat’, and it turned out beautifully. Though I can’t take all the credit. My friend Johneric walked me through it, making sure I didn’t scorch the crap out of it. But a veloute sauce is a blond roux whisked into white stock, and then simmered until it thickens slightly. Then we used it in our dun dun duuuuun, Cream of Broccoli Soup. I’m sure you all were waiting for the glorious of soups, though I was truly hoping we would make Cream of Mushroom Soup, a favorite of mine. The soup was creamy and delicious, and the one I made had a very smooth consistency. Chef said my garnish was too big though, but hey, I’m a work in progress. Here’s the soup porn, pardon the way it looks. The way chef ‘plays’ with our food (to inspect it) reminds me of a small child. :D He’s a pretty darling little French man though.
12 oz broccoli (we used two large stalks)
2 oz onions, diced
1 oz celery, diced
1 oz leeks, diced
4 cups chicken veloute
4 oz heavy cream
First, you want to prepare your broccoli by removing the florets and setting them aside. From that, set a couple of SMALL pieces of broccoli for your garnish. Don’t make the same mistake I did! A garnish should ALWAYS fit on the spoon and should be easily eaten in one bite. Think a little old lady bite. Then, peel the woody outer layer of the broccoli stalks and dice them.
Sweat your onions, celery, and leeks in a little oil. When tender, add the broccoli and sweat as well. Then add the chicken veloute. Season! Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the reserved broccoli florets. Cook until tender. Want to know why you put them in last? Because if you don’t, the broccoli will turn a dull army green, which isn’t too pretty. By adding them at the end, you’re enhancing it’s color while cooking it, and your soup will look stunning. When the broccoli is tender enough (you’ll know by poking it with a knife or toothpick, it should slide out pretty easily), bring your soup to the blender and blend for about a minute. Chef told us 30 seconds, and he said that most students had a somewhat gritty texture to their soup. I used my eyes and blended it until there were minimal green specks. When you open the blender, it will be a little foamy/bubbly looking.
Boil some water with salt and blanch your garnish for 4-5 minutes, then shock it in ice water. Reheat and add to the soup (This can be done while you add your florets to your soup).
And our lunch break…
(Pork stew with green chile sauce and fried bread—->DELICIOUS)
We (the stock team) had to prepare the pincage. First, we sweat the carrots, then added onion, then celery…
After that, we added the tomato paste…
As you can see, the pans are set over the open flame. I was holding the pan with my side towel, which seemed pretty safe to me because I couldn’t see a flame. Then I noticed a strong burning smell and looked down, a flame jumped onto my side towel and it was on fire! I’d always wonder what my reaction would be to that type of panic, because when I pulled the side towel away, the flame grew twice as big. But let me just say, I’d make a bomb firefighter. I stomped it out, we all laughed a little and went back to work. I didn’t think that’d happen so early in my training. Oh well. Now that THAT’S out of the way, here’s the finished product…
We finished the stock…
Then we bagged and labeled it. Then, we had to clean that huge kettle, which wasn’t bad until a person on our team accidentally spilled a whole stockpot of hot stock on himself and the floor. It was a terrible sight! Stock went everywhere and we had to mop it up, which wasn’t bad, but Chef was REALLY irritated at the amount of time it took us to do so. Monday’s menu looks pretty tasty, but why would I share that with you. :-p
Hope you all have a great weekend! Maybe I’ll update sometime in between.
Hoping to keep it short and sweet tonight. I was up by 5 this morning because I, along with two others, were assigned to be ‘food stewards’. A food steward goes to class early and picks up all the produce and bones that the class will need for the day.
After we picked up the bones and food, we started making the fish fumet, which turned out crazy delicious, even though the food smelled horribly fishy for awhile. Just an FYI, fish stock is when you simmer the bones in water to extract it’s flavor, while when making fish fumet, you sweat the bones first, add a mirepoix, water, white wine, and mushrooms until it turns delicious.
Later in the day, we used the fish fumet we made in our Fish Chowder. I would put the recipe down, but I’m far too tired. If you’d like it, you can always click the “Ask Me” question. I’m not usually a fan of fish, but this soup was insane! It hardly even had a fishy taste. It was creamy and full of flavor. We even added some Tobasco. When I brought my soup to Chef, he asked how it went. Shyly, I told him, “Well…I think I may have put a little too much Tobasco sauce in.” (Keep in mind, I LOVE spicy food). He tasted it and asked, “Do you like spicy food?” I told him yes and he said, “Well, then this is great soup”. It definitely had a little kick to it.
Sorry, the pictures a little dark, and Chef kind of swirled around my garnish, but tasty nonetheless.
Anyways, simple breakdown of the soup:
3c fish fumet
4 oz, potatoes
1c heavy cream
3oz cod filet
Do what you wish with that :-p
In addition to the fumet and chowder, we learned how to make a roux. Correction…most people learned how to make a roux. I, on the other hand, let the clarified butter get WAY too hot and when I added the flour, it burnt to a crisp, skipping every stage of roux-ness and screwing me over! I’m pretty sure I failed that part of the day. I’m nervous about it because tomorrow, we need a blonde roux as part of our soup so my mantra for tomorrow will be ‘slow and steady’. Not ‘burn the shit out of everything’.
I somehow managed to get another headache during production today, even though I gulped down a bottle of water right after our lunch break, so am I dehydrated or not? Where are these headaches coming from? Wish I knew.
Oh! Took a couple of pictures today.
Took this picture at 6am. That’s the front of the main building of the school. Roth Hall. Pretty, huh?
Here’s a picture of the kitchen. There’s two to a station/stove. There’s Chef Le Roux in the very back, checking the stock for very common screw-ups.
How delicious does that veal stock look? Wish you could smell it! It looks red because we added what is called a ‘pincage’. Not a pin-cage but a pin-sahj. French. Psh. Why can’t they spell what they mean and mean what they spell?
Only kidding, but a pincage is basically a mirepoix (50% onion, 25% carrot, 25% celery) that has been caramelized in the juices the bones produce, then you add tomato paste and water and deglaze the pan. You only use a pincage when you’re making a brown stock, which is a stock where the bones are roasted first before they are made into stock. We didn’t get to try it but it smelled fantastic.
Sorry for the rambling. I don’t think I’ll even edit this. Far too tired and tomorrow I have to be in the kitchen by 6:20.
Also, we have a quiz tomorrow that I’m going to just wing. Again, tired girl over here! Maybe the lack of sleep is to blame for these headaches.
So yesterday we were told by Chef Le Roux to get to the kitchen early. I’ve learned that even if you’re about 15 minutes early, you’re late. We were expected to be in the kitchen by 6:30. Which of course meant I should probably be there between 6:10 and 6:20. You can probably see that I’m getting to something here, like for instance waking up at 6:48 and throwing myself out of my bed, frantically pulling my whites on and jogging to class. I get there and yes, all accounted for—except me.
By the time I was ready to start, I saw that all my duties were done for me, and I felt terrible. It’s nice that we’re all here for each other like that, but I felt bad that I didn’t do anything productive to help my kitchen this morning. So, I tried to do little things throughout the day to help out. Still feeling crappy about it though. Tomorrow, I’m supposed to be at the kitchen at 6:15 because my partner (Carl) and I have to start fish fumet (something I’ll explain tomorrow). So, my plan is to be there before then. : D
Every day, we have learned a different ‘type’ of soup, then we make one! We’ve made clear soup, thick soup, hearty soup, and consomme. Today, we made a ‘puree soup’, which doesn’t have a thickener in it. The vegetables or legumes are pureed at the end of cooking, and it thickens on its own.
I wasn’t entirely excited to hear that we were making Puree of Lentil Soup, because I don’t think I’ve ever really had lentils. Some 5-year-old aversion I’m sure. Ooh! I finally got to take a picture of something I’ve made! My camera may be bulky, but I snuck my soup away for a quick second to snap a pic:
Puree of Lentil Soup
2oz bacon, finely chopped
2oz onion, small dice
1oz carrot, mince or brunoise
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 sachet d’epice
1 qt chicken stock (vegetable works)
half a lemon (optional)
minced chives — for garnish
Heat up a saucepan with a little oil. Slightly cook the bacon. It should be fragrant and the color will change a little, but do NOT let it get crispy. This renders the fat and is going to add a lot of flavor to your soup. Dump in those onions and carrots and sweat until the onions are mostly clear. Then add the garlic, but be seriously careful not to let it burn. Cook until fragrant. Less than 30 seconds is all you need. Add the lentils, give it a quick mix and add the chicken stock, sachet, and a pinch of salt. Let this simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Taste and season, taste and season, taste and season!
When your lentils are cooked, grab a bowl and a food mill. REMOVE THE SACHET! Put the bowl under the food mill and drain the soup into the bowl. Set the liquid aside and puree the vegetables back into the pot you cooked in. Then give it a quick mix and add the liquid back into the soup. Mix well. Season and taste until it feels right. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the soup, top with croutons and chives. Enjoy!
As far as the croutons, they’re super simple. Take a slice of bread and remove the crust. Then dice it. Heat up some clarified butter in a saute pan (about 2 fl. oz). Drop the bread into the pan (wait for the butter to heat up! It’ll bubble a little). Toss to coat the bread, and it’ll turn gold pretty fast! Keep tossing it or some sides will be mushy while some are crunchy. Add a little salt. Done.
The soup was delicious!!! I had no idea I’d like it as much as I did. Chef even told me “that’s good soup there”. So I take that as a good sign. The only thing he mentioned about it was that my croutons were a little too big, which is true, but who doesn’t like a nice crouton that isn’t whimpy and gets soggy the minute it touches the soup?
Also, I was wondering. Wouldn’t it be yummy to cook some bacon in that butter first, remove them, and THEN toss the bread in there? I personally think it would have given those croutons some mad flavor! Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe it’s just something I’ll have to try on my own time.
Anywhoo, I’ve got a pretty decent migraine going for me. It’s been 4 hours long so far!
Note to self: even if you ARE late, drink a ton of water before working in the kitchen.
For those of you who don’t know how to work my site, there are a couple of buttons on the top right of the page. The magnifying glass allows you to search for something in my site. For instance in two months you’re like “Now where in the hell was that Lentil Soup”, you could search the tag ‘soup’ and there yuh go. Or, if you want to send hate mail, click the button with the envelope. If you want to ask me a question or ask for a suggestion on something, click the question mark button and ask away. Or, if you see something delicious and you snap a pic, you can post it here for all to see. Click the pencil and show me!
Sorry for the long post. Nap time for me. Then writing class…if I even make it there.
This may be an unnecessary post due to the fact that the few followers I might hopefully have are friends in family from back home.
But for any random passers-by decide they like what they read, they will hopefully decide to follow me.
I was originally born in New York City, but moved to Connecticut and then Minnesota as a wee-tot. I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis called Plymouth with my mom, dad, two sisters (Mason and Kendall), and countless animals.
I never thought that I’d end up back in New York, but here I am at the Culinary Institute of America, working my bum off to learn absolutely everything I can about cooking. Cooking is literally—my life.
I started school in January, which seems like a short time so far—but trust me. I’ve already learned more here than I ever learned in high school! I’ve already completed SIX classes (Math, Product Knowledge, Intro to Gastronomy, Food Safety, Seafood Identification and Fabrication, and Meat Identification and Fabrication).
I am currently taking Skills I, where we learn ‘the basics’ including knife skills, stocks, broths, soups, sauces, etc. It’s nice to FINALLY be in a kitchen after weeks of not cooking at all! We make a giant kettle of stock every morning (120 pounds of bones—yeah), and work on our knife skills for about an hour, then we cook our assignment.
One day we made a Beef Vegetable Soup, which was okay, but so basic that it felt plain. The next day, we made French Onion Soup, which got me really excited because not only do I love French Onion Soup, but now I can make it for my mom, who will love it so much more. That day we also learned how to make ‘clarified butter’, which isolates the butterfat from the water and milk solids. All you do is heat up the butter (SIMMER…never boil it), and skim the fat off the top. When you do this, you give the butter a high smoking point, which is how we sweated the onions for our delicious soup. We ALSO made a pan-fried crouton as a side garnish for the soup, that was also incredibly delicious…crunchy goodness is the best kind of goodness…well one of the many.
The next day, we learned how to make consomme, which is broth that has been clarified, so it’s super gold in color and has crazy flavor. We simply garnished it with brunoised vegetables and called it a day.
Today though, we made our first thick soup—Creamy Potato Leek Soup.
It was to die for. Absolutely. And so simple.
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to share top secret CIA recipes, but what’s the point then?
All you do is sweat some onions and leeks in whole butter. Add potatoes, chicken stock, salt, and a sachet d’epice and bring it up to a simmer. Simmer until your potatoes are tender and the stock has reduced a little. Puree the CRAP out of that soup (don’t forget to remove the sachet), add a little cream, season, and devour.
Tomorrow I might have to bring in my XL Canon Camera to class, which would kind of stink, but we all know that you first eat with your eyes, and trust me, you’d lick the screen if you saw that soup we made today.
Either way, I hope you decide to keep up with me because what I learn, I would love to share with you. Cooking is too rare a thing these days to try to keep secret.