Friday, November 17, 2006

Garde Manger

I started a new class on Monday called Garde Manger. The term literally means “keeping to eat” and dates back hundred of years when curing, preserving and storing food was a necessity for survival. Nobility and the Church would have Garde Manger kitchens where a steward would preserve and distribute food as needed. In modern times, the Garde Manger kitchen is not only responsible for cured meats, but also salads, cold soups and sauces, hors’dourves, pates and terrines.

The lab we are working in this six weeks is quite interesting. It’s the newest and most expensive lab on campus, yet it lacks some basic necessities. For starters, there isn’t a single garbage disposal in the lab. This means that you either spend hours scraping your dishes into the trash or cleaning the sink drain of accumulated food scraps. There’s also a lack of cooking and serving equipment which tends to be a problem when you are making food!

Because the lab is so nice a new, the end of the night cleaning procedures are more brutal (and time consuming) than we are used to. Normally we sweep and mop the floors. In this class, we sweep, scrub, squeegee, hose and mop the floors. Then, instead of just wiping down our prep tables with sanitizer, we douse them in hot soapy water and squeegee them. With a 40 thousand dollar tuition price tag, can’t the school afford to pay someone to clean?!?! I’d rather spend the time learning something valuable. When I was in college, the professors never had the class sweep and mop the classroom at the end of a lecture. Sheesh.

Fortunately, I am learning some new vocabulary in this class. Chef Instructor likes to use the words pepperika, dolly and gazpachio. I’m sure that what he really means is paprika, doily and gazpacho. But shit, I’m just a student. What do I know?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanksgiving Menu

I have volunteered to make Thanksgiving dinner for my family this year. Given that I'm almost done with culinary school, I'm feeling the pressure to impress. Here's the menu as it stands now:

Thanksgiving Day Menu
November 23, 2006

First Course
Apple and Goat Cheese Salad
Grilled Pineapple Salad

Turkey Roulade with Apple Cranberry Chutney
Potatoes Noisette
Carrots Vichy
Poached Salmon with Citrus Salsa
Potatoes Gratin
Sautéed Spinach with toasted pine nuts

Poached Pears with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Crème Brule with Fresh Berries


It appears that I have been MIA for quite some time, so I’ll give everyone a quick recap of the last six weeks:

-I am officially done with another class – baking.
-During baking, I learned to make all sorts of stuff – breads, cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, sculpted sugar and so much more.
-I burned the skin off of the tips of my fingers while learning to temper chocolate
-I blistered my hand by accidentally picking up a molten candy thermometer
-I made a box out of chocolate and it looked so freakin’ cool. I still can’t believe I actually made a box out of chocolate.
-I decided that I really like the slow pace of baking. At the same time, I realized that my unsteady hand would make me the worst cake decorator ever!

To wrap up the class, our practical final was to make a St. Honore Gateau cake. Check this out – it’s made of puff pastry, cream puffs, pastry cream, chocolate whipped cream, caramelized sugar, spun sugar and tempered chocolate. And to think that on the first day of class I could barely make Blueberry Muffins!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Most Badass Spatula Ever

I saw this at Crate and Barrel the other day and just had to have it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Baking a Cake

My department at work is hosting a cake contest tomorrow. Any cake is fair game, as long as it is made completely from scratch. Scoring is based on presentation and taste. Since I'm in culinary school, I have a feeling that some people are expecting big things from me. What no one knows is - I'm not a baker. In fact, I'm only 1 week into my baking class at school and so far, all we've made is bread. So, in reality, I'm on the same level as all the other novice cooks at work.

I searched quite a few recipes before I settled on this one:

Thanks to Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook, Aquavit, I will be entering the contest with Soft Ginger Cake with Mascarpone Mousse.