LJ-Picturing Food, 6.25.06: rbad baguettes do not a bad day make

Please bear with me while I practice my plating skills. =\
A few dinners and a failed baking project.

My 2-1/2 hour dinner ordeal, which took almost as long as dinner the night I made Mexican food.
Vichyssoise variation (sunchokes)--it was better than the version we made in class. Then again, we're new ... and we suck (for reals--these learning stages can be rough).

Tournedos de porc (porc porc porc!) pommery. Pork tenderloin is such a good cut of meat, especially when it's on sale at Safeway and you get two in a package (please tell me these things freeze okay. and thaw out okay later. and taste good after you cook them.).

Honeydew mousse v1.4 (Version 2.2 was the best, though.) Note: Don't feed something with gelatin to your vegetarian friends, even if they're not vegan and are good-natured; it just makes one feel like a horrible poisoner.

Note from LJ-razz, 6.21.06: my first recreated French menu
It took 2-1/2 hours to make dinner tonight. Violet came over and noted that it took almost as long as Mexican night. That night, though, was wrought with problems. Tonight went smoothly--like clockwork. Oy.

A few things have been determined in my team. When we get the night's menu, I delegate the tasks. When it comes to reducing quantities for partial recipes, I usually do the math. When it comes to final seasoning, I drive the salt and pepper. When we have to use the food processor, I get to break it. I love my teammates and I love the work we're doing. I guess they noticed. While some of them are really not enthused about some of the dishes, I'm overly excited about every little damned thing. I'm a total food dork. I wonder if it's "dorc" in French.

Pork tenderloins: One damned good cut of meat.
Pommerey sauce: One damned good French sauce.
Honeydew mousse: Tastes like honeydew.

Bad photos of in-class projects
Roasted Chicken with Marsala Wine Sauce and Braised Red Cabbage. I prefer Italian chicken marsala, but this was pretty tasty. Braised red cabbage=pretty/gory sauerkraut-tasting stuff.

Mahi Mahi ala Frances (jeesh, lookit all that green!). While making this, one of my teammates almost flambed her face off. Note: Unless you want to help doctors test drive their new face transplant skills, please take the pan off the fire before adding the wine, or at least lean back just a bit, just enough.

Not shown: Hot Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing.

More notes from LJ-razz, 6.21.06: my first recreated French menu
Chef taught us how to shape our mashed potatoes into (whatchamacallits) quenelles (those things with the two spoons, football-shaped, you know), and after I shaped mine, he said, "Good! Beautiful!" and I (gently) whacked it onto the plate and said, "Hwah!" He said, "You just made this beautiful (whatever) quenelle and now you're hwahing it onto the plate?" I told him it was a touchdown. One of my teammates was spooning the pommerey sauce onto the plates, trying to recreate Chef's near-perfect circle of sauce. I wish I could've given her a squeeze bottle. When Chef was teaching us how to squeeze creme fraiche into our shrimp bisque, he said, "I used to work at Chiles. I'm pretty good with a squeeze bottle!" This cracks me up whenever I think about it.

During class, Chef brought out photos of his last two teams that he brought to the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Marla said she had a blast. Everyone looks like they're having fun. Chef will bring only his Top 10 students, though. =\ Maybe if I decide to enroll in the program officially, I'll be able to go in a couple of years. As it is, I've signed up for Classical Desserts and American Cuisine in the fall. In the spring, I'mg going to go for Commercial Baking, and we'll see what happens after that. Maybe there will be more if I enroll.

Tonight's dinner tasted so really awesome. We're cooking fish tomorrow. Woot!

Thursday night's dinner
Roasted chicken with marsala wine sauce (French style) and rice pilaf.

Friday night's dinner. It took only an hour to cook and eat this dish. Then again, it was only one dish, and I was hungry for some wild sockeye. But at least it was the best thing I've made in weeks, even amongst the French class dishes I've made! Thank you, Russ Parsons, for the idea from your French Fry science book! Braised salmon with a goofy cucumber garnish (inspired by 's lovely post), to which I definitely cannot even compare, and some finely diced red bell pepper.
Sweating the leeks, onions, and mushrooms with the prosciutto.

Deglazing the pan with some white wine and white wine vinegar.

Adding the salmon and a generous sprinkling of dill before putting the cover on.

In need of color ...

Plated with the cucumber and red bell pepper.

At least my silly cucumber garnish added some rad snap texture to the dish, as did the raw bell pepper.

Not for the squeamish: tonight's bad news
It was off to a good enough start with the baguette dough, which takes hours and hours to rise after a few occasional turns. Somewhere along the way, I'll over-knead the dough. =(

The first one I rolled was a little knobby, but I was feeling pretty good with them by the third one (on the right).

Sooo. Have I mentioned yet that my oven burns hot? Something to do with the top coils burning hotter than the bottom coils ... what's that smell? AAAUUUUGGGHHHHHHOHHHHNOOOOOO! Burned baguettes. Booo!

Don't look! Look at this pound cake from the Chinese bakery, instead! Isn't it fluffy? Fluuuuffeeeee ... Pay no attention to the burned sticks behind the curtain!

Eh, they had a bad crumb, anyway--something I need to work on. I wonder if charring the vents closed before they had a chance to open had anything to do with it.

After I carved off the burned tops, they went perfectly well with my slightly less-than-ripe brie with the slightly moldy rind.

Anyway, burned-ed-ness aside, the smell, taste, and texture were all right. I guess I could give Safeway a run for their money ... burned-ed-ness aside ...

To close on a good note
Chinese retro racing stripe cake (or whatever they call it--"good," maybe).


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