Friday, April 18, 2008

Cooking school Day 2

Day 2 at the Milestone Cooking School proved as useful and interesting as day 1. I was still the only student, so was able to continue to work on weaknesses, while making the dishes that were on the menu for the day.

The pace certainly picked up and was more intense than day 1. Again, the dishes were expected to be made in teams, and probably each team would work on a single dish. Not so for this session.

The menu had the following dishes:
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Pasta with fresh tomatoes
  • Chicken stuffed with Mozzarella
  • Pork tenderloin with a dijon mustard glaze
  • Rustic apple pie

all to be made, eaten and largely cleaned up in 5 hours.

When planning a meal of this size, the sequence is pretty important, so the first part of the lesson was dealing with just that. Surprisingly (or not if you were already thinking this way), the pastry for the appple pie was the first thing to be made. Followed by prepping the chicken. At least in this class we didn't have to fabricate a whole chicken, although at home I probably would.

None of the dishes was particularly complicated, but they were all fairly laborious - well all except the pork.

Again, lots of learning. Keeping the workplace tidy and clean. Many trips to the sink for washing/sanitization. The pastry was interesting - the tricks there were keeping everything really cold and using a whole lot less liquid than you think. When you turn it out of the food processor it is kind of a shaggy mess which really does come together quickly and easily. Lots of resting time in the fridge and rolling was a cinch. Well, rolling was a cinch once they showed me what I was doing wrong.

Making sure that the pork tenderloin was cooked just enough (I like it at 140, the FDA recommends something much higher, but with modern pork cooking it a little less seems to preserve the juiciness). However if you have any doubts cook it to the temperature your country advises. It was seared to build a nice crust and flavor and then cooked on a rack in the oven (350 or so for about 12 minutes). Your mileage may very depending on oven callibration.

Prepping the chicken meant making a pocket, so of course I tore one. The flour coating helped to seal it after it stuffing it. These needed to be refrigerated as well prior to cooking them. More opportunity to ensure that I used one hand to handle the chicken and the other to dip into the salt/pepper for seasoning. You don't want a chickeny hand in the salt - contamination you know!

Everything therafter was pretty straight forward, but since there was a fair amount going on, it was amatter of staying organized and paying attention.

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