Thursday, September 27, 2007

LJ-razz, 6.13.06: Class notes

Class last night was awesome. Everyone in there is getting excited to cook. Chef taught us how to use some of the appliances. I live in mortal fear of the meat slicer. When I took a turn at it, I just charged in and did it, but I always have a really hard time watching other people use machines like that. The small Asian woman, Victoria, who reminds me of my mom was especially difficult because she's so small, and reminds me of my mom. We talked during break, and I found out that she's Filipino, too, so that's probably where a lot of the connection's coming from. It's funny because throughout the class, I'm trying to look out for her and she's trying to look out for me. She fell in love with the meat slicer and got all giddy when Chef let her slice the rest of the onions for our final plated dish.

We worked in our teams today, and it was interesting to see how the personalities in my team emerged. For whatever reason, as soon as we grouped up, Sally looked at me and told me I should be the chief for that day's recipes. It was awkward, but I kinda fell into delegating tasks pretty well. Brian's having a good time being the only guy in the group, and we switched from teasing him to cheering him on, which was really just more teasing him. At one point, I was a bad chief and sold him out when I found out he hadn't made our tarragon vinegar and that he hadn't told Chef about it. I thought he'd talk to Chef about the mistake, but he'd just overheard Chef talking about what to do if a mistake happened. I ribbed Brian when Chef came around, then realized that I'd pointed out that we'd screwed up. Bad chief! Anyway, the dressing we were making actually turned out awesome and springier than the other teams', and Chef liked the outcome. We made honey mustard dressing, too, which rocked.

Two goods: While we were chopping, Chef gave me a nod for my knife skills. Then, while we were making our honey mustard, Chef walked up during our tasting. The rest of the team thought it was fine, and I told them I thought it was too sweet and needed more salt. Chef tasted it, said it tasted fine, started walking away and added over his shoulder, "But it needs more salt." Victoria got all giddy and did a little "you the man!" production. In the end, we each decided to plate our own dish. All I can say is that we all have very different styles. Sally was pretty indifferent to the whole idea of plating and just did a neat pile. Brian put his pile of salad in a corner of his square plate and pooled the dressing in the opposite corner, which was kinda pretty. Victoria's plating looked like a bunny with big red tomato eyes. I wanted to arrange the frisee to give it whiskers. I just used a diaganol strip across the middle with a tomato in a garnish cut at one end and a big piece of frisee at the other, and then the sliced red pepper and other chopped veggies over the rest of the melange. It looked like a fish. A rainbow trout, to be exact. I'm kinda sorry I didn't take pictures, and kinda glad that I didn't produce my own damaging evidence. The boy in the baseball hat brigade carved baskets out of tomatoes and built landscapes out of their salad. Sally told them it looked ugly. I swear my team and theirs will get into a food fight before we finish the class.

Chef's parting words for the night: "It will be 103 degrees on Wednesday, and we will be making soup."

Cooking at home was great except that my kitchen light wouldn't turn on all the way once again even though the maintenance guy had been up there to fix it during the day. I told the lady in the leasing office that the ballast was broken, so I was pissy when the maintenance guy's note said he'd replaced the tubes because the lady had just written "kitchen light broken," which meant he'd taken the brand new tubes I'd just put in there and put in tubes that were four whole days newer. They worked at first, then dimmed down to a glow. When I called again today and explained what the lights were doing to the other lady in the leasing office, right away she said, "Oh, it's the ballast!" No joke. Thank goodness the garbage disposal works now, though.

I'm glad that the first thing my oven decides to turn out well were the experimental savory carrot muffins. All night during class, I was lamenting not having a food processor to practice emulsions in, then when I got home, I remembered the little chef prep attachment to my new hand mixer, so I was able to make the compound butter. Rock! If I'd chilled it before piping it, it would've looked smoother, but I like the rough edges; it's not a dessert, after all. It took a bit to get the gnocchi dough just right, but once I'd added enough flour, they were good. I need to make them smaller next time, though. I put half the dough in the freezer. I know you can freeze already-made gnocchi, but I don't know if the dough will be workable after defrosting it. I guess I'll find out! I wish I could remember what was in the seafood gnocchi dish I had in St. Louis (besides seafood, of course). It wasn't just the best gnocchi dish I'd ever had, but the best Italian dish.

Odd note: while I was brewing some of the Chinese tea that Violet and I picked up at Ranch 99, I saw a tiny tiny feather come out of one of the packages. I figured it was just a mistake, but then while I was dumping in another package, I swear I saw a whole clump of feathers about the size of a marble roll in, little feathers wafting off it as it fell. Violet, if you're reading this, don't brew that tea; I don't think it's vegetarian.

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