Friday, April 18, 2008

Cooking school day 3

If I thought day 2 was intense, I was in for a real shock on day 3. The menu looked straightforward -
  • Beef pot roast
  • Grilled rib eye steaks with a mushroom sauce
  • Perfect mashed potatoes
  • Greens and blue cheese dressing
  • Green beans with a shallot vinaigrette
  • Individual chocolate soufflees
  • Blueberry muffins

Again 5 hours from start to cleanup. We missed this one it went almost 6 hours, there was so much to do.

This time the pressure was on to get it all done. Again planning and sequence were keys. Recognizing what can be done ahead and held, what has to be done right then and there, and what kinds of timing/oven collisions there might be so they can be avoided. For instance one of the ovens needed three different temps, with the souuflees being the most critical. They were at the very end of the meal, so we had to the temp. of the oven back to the right place for them. That meant cooking the muffins, then the bacon pretty early in the process to give the oven a chance to cool a bit.

Of course the pot roast was going to take 3 hours in the oven, let alone the amount of prep required. So that had to be done first, oh and the blue cheese dressing needed to chill a long while to let the flavors blend. My head was spinning.

Anyhow off to do it, and it became clear that the pressure was real. 2 potentially disastrous errors - one was I used the confectioner's sugar that had been measured for the muffin glaze instead of the granulated sugar. That meant that the quantity was wrong. Luckily I caght that one added granulated sugar to the muffins and baked them anyway. They came out fine. I was amazed that when recipes tell you that muffins don't require much mixing the really mean it. This was barely a batter. It didn't stay together at all, and when I scooped it into the pans it looked awful. Never mind they came out just fine with a lighter texture than I am used to. The Dallas Stars will have to look elsewhere for pucks.

The second error was that was about to make the world's first flourless soufflee. That probably would not have been a success. Fortunately the chef instructor caught that one and asked when the flour should be added. So good opportunity to see what happens if you add it late. It appeared not to matter, but of course it was a pain to add because I couldn't do it all at once for fear of lumps.

Everyting from that point on was a blur! It was nice to get my hands on a food mill for the potatoes - easier than the ricer I normally use.

Also interesting to use beurre manie to thicken the sauce from the pot roast. It is pretty straightforward to do and adds a nice richness. Another technique to add to the repertoire.

The result of all of this was pretty good, timing was a bit off, so things weren't as hot as I would of liked. However, it shows it is possible to get through this much work in about 5 hours. The extra time was the eating.

All in all, I got a lot out of the classes, thought they were good value and loved that attitude of Dianne and Emily. Of course I was lucky to have them all to myself.

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