Braisin’ and stewin’

Since we did not have enough time the last class to make the trout amandine, we made it this day (July 12, Day 4) as the first item of the night.  It was so simple — no recipe necessary (especially with all of the ingredients mise’d out).  I was assigned trout amandine for a dish analysis assignment.  We had to research the history of the dish — where/how it originated, what part of the meal it appears in, its evolution to how it is today, etc. — and give a mini presentation on it.  Trout amandine is a dish popular in the south, particularly on the Gulf Coast – New Orleans, in particular.  It is trout filet (skin-on) dredged in flour, fried in butter, and topped with a brown butter lemon sauce and toasted almonds.  It was delicious — very lemony with a slight nutty component (from the brown butter, and almonds, of course).  My particular trout could have used a bit more salt & pepper, and the almonds could have browned a bit more.  Other than that, it was absolutely fantastic, if I do say so myself.  I even made it at home a couple of days later.  It was even better!

Half-eaten trout amandine

Gimme more…

Start bringing the meat

So, I’m terribly sorry for the lag in blog posts.  My culinary class kind of blew up (in the busy sense… not the *actual* fire-in-the-kitchen sense) and it flew by before I could even say julienne.  ANYway.  I will still post my journal entries as blog posts for your reading pleasure.  Carry on…

After two whirlwind classes of knife skills, soups, stocks, sauces, and an adrenaline rush, we got to: The Meat.  This day (July 11, AKA Day 3) was about roasting and sautéing.  On the agenda for the day: whole roasted chicken, whole chicken breakdown, sautéed chicken breast, steak au poivre, and trout amandine (if there was time).

Class started off with a demonstration on how to truss a chicken to be roasted so that we could each get our chickens into the oven as soon as possible.  One of the first things Kevin brought up was one of the great debates: to wash or not to wash (a chicken before prepping).  Apparently there are two ways commercial chickens are chilled: either air chilled (in which the chickens are chilled in a cold room post-plucking) or water chilled (they are thrown into cold water after being plucked – the chickens seen in the grocery store wrapped tightly in a plastic bag with blood/water in it as well are usually water chilled).  Whether you should wash the chicken is a personal choice, though I prefer to rinse it and pat it dry, especially if it is the water chilled variety.

This was the first time I had trussed a chicken.  I’ve roasted chicken before (several times, in fact) but had never trussed it.  Trussing seemed to have more of an aesthetic reason, as the chickens I have roasted in the past have been quite tasty and retained moisture quite well.  So, I have not been swayed one way or the other.  If presentation is important the next time I roast a chicken, I will definitely truss it.

Robyn demonstrated how to make porchetta, which I had never done or had before.  The main things I took away from the demo were: stuff the meat with as much filling as possible (and then stuff it some more) because it tends to fall out when rolling, and how to tie the porchetta.  It’s not too complicated, but it does involve slipknots, so I feel like I should probably brush up on some Navy knots before attempting to tie it when I make it at home.  Robyn said that she sometimes wraps the porchetta in pork belly to ensure that it is basted with a constant source of fat.  She spoke my language – meat wrapped in meat.

Gimme more…

Feeling saucy

*This is my second journal entry. I will be posting subsequent journal entries with photos from my Culinary Arts class (please excuse the crappy photos taken with my phone).

Day 2: Sauces

Whenever you start anything, you should always start with the basics.  Establish a foundation, if you will.  That way, you can improve your skills and expand your abilities by building on that foundation.  The same goes for cooking, especially with French techniques.  And the French love their sauces.  So today’s lesson was on the five leading or mother sauces – béchamel, velouté, espagnole (brown sauce), hollandaise, and tomato.  In class, we only covered the first four, as we will cover tomato sauce on Italian food day.  However, the espagnole was a demonstration, as it is a bit more involved and takes much longer.  We did, however, make béchamel, velouté, hollandaise, and cream beurre blanc (white butter sauce with cream).

Gimme more…

A long time coming

Day 1: Soups and Stocks

When I decided to switch my educational focus from biology to nursing and then, finally, to food six years ago, I intended to go to culinary school.  However, life, money, and a move from Hawaii to San Diego, California, forced me to put it off indefinitely.  Until Tuesday.  Tuesday, July 5, 2011, was the first day of culinary arts class as part of the Gastronomy program at BU.  This particular round of the course is a first in a lot of ways — it is the first time it is offered during the summer, and it is the first time it consists of 12 Gastronomy students (as opposed to 6 Gastronomy students and 6 students from the community).  On the schedule for this first day was knife skills, soups and stocks.   One of the assignments for class is to journal every day we have class.  Gimme more…