This was our beef lab. We used hanger steak and learned that the more marbling, the more moisture and flavor it will have. Once all the excess fat was trimmed off we decided to marinate and grill one half, and pan sear with butter and finish off in the oven the other half. My partner and I decided to make a teriyaki marinade for the steak. We also had a pork loin. We pounded out half the loin into cutlets to make wienerschnitzel. Once the were pounded out we dredged them in flour egg and panko breadcrumbs. We each pan fried our wienerschnitzel in butter until golden brown. We dedcided to bard the other half of the loin with bacon and placed it in the oven. We made a espangole sauce for our protein usuing brown stock and brown roux. We used ground beef to make meatloaf and hamburgers. The binder for meatloaf was breadcrumbs and eggs. We placed a sauce on top on the meatloaf made of ketchup and brown sugar. Our burgers were cooked on the grill. We used english muffins as a roll and were able to put whatever toppings we desired on top.
This was the soup and salad lab. We made 5 different forms of soup. We made a chowder, a clear soup, a bisque, a puree, and a cream soup. Chowders usually contain potatoes in it. Our class decided to make corn chowder. This soup is thickened with a roux and heavy cream. The clear soup we made was french onion. This soup is is made with onions and beef broth. Once the soup if fully cooked, It is traditionally served in a small crock-like bowl with a toasted piece of bread is placed on top. We place slices of gruyere cheese on top of the bread and put the whole crock in the oven until the cheese is hot and melty. A bisque soup usually implies there is seafood in it. Our class made shrimp bisque. We used a roux to thicken it, some used to use rice to thicken their bisques. The puree soup we made was split pea soup. This soup doesn’t require a roux because the peas in the soup naturally thicken it. It also doesn’t need another form of a thickening agent because puree soups are pureed with gadgets such as emulsion blenders, and a regular blender would also work as well. The last soup we made was cream of mushroom. Good quality Cream soups are supposed to be thick, but not the same consistency as pudding. Cream soups are thickened with a roux and heavy cream.
We set up a whole salad bar so everyone can design their own personal salads. Lettuce can either be sweet, crunchy, bitter, or leafy. Most salads contain a compound, a complex, and composed elements. The compound would be the dressing. The complex would be a protein. A composed element would be preferred toppings.
This was the second Fish lab. This time we fabricated flounder. This was a very ugly fish. First we had to cut off the fins. Then using the back of our boning knives, we pulled the skin off. We did this on both sides of the fish leaving us with 4 filets. Luckily my fish didn’t have any worms in it. The fish was not very fresh. Some signs of freshness are clear eyes, firm flesh, smells like ocean, and pink gills.
The term dressed means “guts out”. Cooking fish up to 130 degrees is overcooking. Fish always has to be stored on ice. That lab we also cooked sea scallops, and shrimp. I pan seared, and grilled the scallops. I made fried, and shrimp scampi.
This weeks lab we cooked fish. First thing we had to do was descale the fish. This was done with a spoon and you rubbed the spoon the opposite way of the scales. To gut the fish we took our boning knife and cut the bely of the fish from near the tail to the gills. We had to be careful not to cut too deep or else we will cut the roe sac and the gut sacs.
The stripped bass was a round fish and had to main filets. We had to cut the fish with our boning knife down the middle on the side of the body. This separated the two filets and let you cut them out one at a time. With our boning knife we worked our way down the bottom filet cutting through the bones in the filet. Then we did the same to the top filet.
On wednesday we had lab on chicken. We learned how to break down the chicken by cutting out the wish bone, cut in between the legs and breast, cut through the backbone, cut off breasts, make “T” cut above the oyster. Dark mean consists of legs, thighs, and oysters. Dark meat contains more connective tissue, more fat, and is best cooked slowly. White meat consists of the breasts and wings. White meat contains less connective tissue, less fat, and cooks quickly. Young chicken is tender and and old chicken has more flavor. Inside chicken bones is marrow and blood. Marinating chicken preserves meat. Acid tenderizes protein, and aromatics give flavor.
In class we made chicken tenders which we flour, egged, breadcrumbed, and then fried. We also roasted our chicken legs. We pounded the chicken thighs over plastic wrap for easy clean up. We then stuffed them and rolled them up. They were then pan fried, and finished off in the oven. We saute’d the breasts and basted it with butter, and then finished it off in the oven. Veloute sauce is made with a blonde roux, 5 cups of hot chicken stock, and season once the right consistency.
This weeks category was vegetables. The goal in cooking vegetables is to preserve nutrient value and color. We did a little experiment on the affects of baking soda and vinegar on vegetables. Vinegar firms the fibers of vegetables causing them to be very tough. Baking soda causes vegetables to become very mushy. The broccoli we cooked in baking soda was very bright green but but was way too soft. The broccoli cooked in vinegar was was firm and had dull army green color. Our class made fred zucchini, onion rings, butternut squash soup, cauliflower criton, bechamel sauce over steamed broccoli, and creamed spinach.
While frying the zucchini and onion rings we used the swimming method so the bread crumbs wont fall off. Its important to not place them in the fryer with tongs because the remanences will get cooked onto the tongs. They were done is just a few minutes. We used the leftover butternut squash from our knife cut practical to make butternut squash soup. We used an immersion blender to to thicken up the soup and break everything up. The cauliflower criton has buttered, browned, breadcrumbs, with a bechamel base. It took about 25 minutes to cook. Bechamel sauce is a mother sauce that has a white roux, milk, and a little nutmeg. The spincach wilted to about half the size it was before being cooked.
On wednesday our class made all different types of grains. We made barley pilaf, gnocchi, fresh pasta, risotto, spaetzle, and sauce. Pilaf is a method so it can be made with any grain. Usually people make it with short grain rice but we used barley. To make rice pilaf you have to heat the fat, saute onion, saute grain, add liquid, and put on a tight fitting lid to keep in moisture. It is supposed to cook slowly so all the liquid doesn’t evaporate before the grain is fully cooked. Traditionally pilaf is finished in the oven so we did that in class. Pilaf cooks for 30-40 minutes. For potato gnocchi we used leftover mashed potatoes and just added flour. Gnocchi are supposed to be light and fluffy. You know when they are done because they float which usually takes about 4-5 minutes.
We made out own fresh pasta dough. Once our dough was formed we let is sit. While rolling it out we always start on the largest setting and work our way done until pasta is thin enough. The fresh pasta cooked was fully cooked in about 3 minutes. Risotto is made with an Italian short grain rice called arborio rice. It is a very starchy dish that needs to be continuously stirred to made it thick. You have to keep adding liquid until tender or it will become sticky. Spaetzle is a flour based dumpling which has the same ingredients as pasta in different proportions. It is very common with braised meats and gravy dishes. They are shaped like sperm and cook in about 2 minutes. The sauce was cooked with mirepiox because the veggies help thicken the sauce.Our tomato sauce was pureed after being cooked for about an hour and a half. The sauce can be pureed with a food mill or blender.
Today was breakfast day. Our class made waffles, pancakes, omelette’s, fried eggs, french toast, sausage, bacon, and eggs benedict. Waffles require whipped egg whites folded into the batter. Once the batter is incorporated it is ready to be put into our ancient waffle making machines. They cook for about four minutes and it is important to not open the contraption too early or the waffle will be ruined and split in half. Pancake batter contains baking soda which is why the batter can’t be kept over night. Once batter is on the pan, you know when to flip by the bubbles. Pancakes cook best on a flat griddle because of the even surface. French toast is best made with stale bread because it soaks up the egg mixture nicely. From a choice of french toast, waffles, or pancakes, french toast is my personal favorite because it has the most flavor from the cinnamon and sugar. The bacon and sausage were cooked in the ovens and once done they were placed on a cooking rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch all the fat, which can later be saved for other coking purposes. It is important to cook bacon on a low temperature so it doesn’t shrink or lose moisture. You know the sausage is done when it hits an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. For eggs benedict we learned how to poach an egg and make hollandaise sauce. The egg is done between the temperature of 160-185 degrees which takes about 4 minutes. The hollandaise sauce is an emulsion, so if it breaks, it can be fixed by adding cold water. We learned the different types of fried eggs and we flipped them without using a spatula. Luckily my yolk didn’t break or fall on the floor whenI flipped it. We were showed how to make a french omelette as opposed to an american omelette that we are all familiar with.
Some extra things we learned were nappe refers to the spoon test to see if a sauce is proper consistency. When deciding how to clean mushrooms you can either wipe them with a damp cloth, rinse them in water, or peel the skin off. The skin can later be used to make sauces. Au sec means almost dry.
Today was our second day of culinary lab. Basically we had “potato Day” in other words we made various dishes using potatoes. We made Croquettes, french fries, potato chips, duchesse potatoes, and potato dauphinoise. Croquettes are basically mashed potatoes rolled in flour, egg, breadcrumb, and then fried. We were told to make them the length of my thumb but twice as thick. They were a little dry but still very tasty. We used our batonett cuts to make french fries. We fried them, put them on sheet tray, and then placed them in the refrigerator. Once cooled they were ready to be fried for a second time until tender. They were then ready to be seasoned with salt and pepper and ready to eat. We only watched chef Foster make the potato chips so we can see how its done. She taught us how to make waffle shaped chips and once fried, we got to taste them and they were very delicious. The duchess potatoes is riced up potatoes with melted butter and egg yolks. We all got the chance to pipe out the potatoes on parchment and then placed in oven to cook for 10 minutes. The piping made them look very nice but i found this dish very bland tasting. Our last dish was potato dauphinoise. To make this dish we sliced up potatoes and lined them up on the bottom of a small cassarolle dish. We then seasoned it with salt pepper and a little nutmeg to enhance the flavor of potato. The dish was then topped with gruyere cheese and then double layered. We finished the dish off by adding heavy cream. I found this less favorable because the heavy cream didn’t thicken as much as it was supposed to and the potatoes were still a little hard. All around we had a very exciting day in class today.
While chef Foster was cooking onions we went over terms like sweating, sauteing, and caramelizing. Sweating is cooking on low heat slowly to bring out the flavor. Sauteing is cooking on high heat with a low amount of fat. Caramelizing is the browning of natural sugars. We also learned the term depouillage which means skimming the scum off things like clarified butter or stocks. The indian term for scum is ghee. Next week i hope to learn more. I was very happy because i was on time for my next class today!
Today was the first day of culinary lab. To start off our class we were all checked to see if our uniform is up to par. This means proper jacket, shoes, knife kit, and hat. I also had to remove nail polish and take off my jewelry before class began. Since class starts so early i have to leave out everything the night before so i don’t forget to bring something. We spent a long time walking around the kitchen learning all the proper safety and functions of appliances.
Once we become familiar with the kitchen we will be working in, we were assigned partners for the rest of the semester. I am very happy with my partner because i already know him from BOCES. We spent the remainder of class practicing out knife cuts. I am familiar with most of the cuts from my BOCES class. One cut that was new to me was tourne. I learned about it previously but never actually tried it until class. I was surprised when I was told we were using a pairing knife to tourne because i know there is a special knife for this cut. Overall i think i did pretty well with my cuts considering I haven’t had much practice over the summer. Between me and steven cleanup went well. My only complaint is that i wound up being late for my next class because not everyone was done cleaning at the end of class.