Cooking Class 10: Sauces all over the place

So day two of the flood in the class room had us walking carefully. I almost stepped in a pot. I would have been stuck with my big clunker kitchen shoes. It was not as bad as we only needed 5 pots. It was still a mess.

Here was the run down.
Roasted Tomato Coulis
Tomatillo Salsa

(The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) is a plant of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos, referred to as green tomato (Spanish: tomate verde) in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown throughout the Western Hemisphere. Despite the name it is not a variety of tomato, although it is in the same family.[1])
Mango Chutney nutty sweet flavor-goes well on eggs
Corn and Pepper Relish yummy and tangy
Basil Oil
Citrus Juice
Jus de Veau Lie (weird sauce that I was unfortunately/unfortunately not able to work on) Veal Stock, with mushrooms, ham and butter —Okay so maybe it might be a good taste, but no one made a fuss about it.

(Team work on the sauces–of course we did not do these individually. We would have been there till Monday.)

Chicken Consomme–If you like science, this is for you. You make a “raft”, really a huge ass chicken meat (wet) patty that floats to the top of the pot and is like a meatloaf. It separates from the sides of the pot and floats (before it sinks). You ladle from the sides the CLEAR liquid that comes from beneath it. If you want the recipe let me know. This is a try-at-home with the kids.
Cream of Broccoli Soup-You only make this if you are feeding a bunch of people at once. Otherwise you end up with days worth of soup-just the liquid.
Puree of Carrot Soup-This took a while. Ours came out not so great. The next group had an amazing creamy texture with a slightly sweet carroty taste. I wanted to eat all of theirs.

So it was another long day. We have our exam next weekend–make cream of broccoli soup, mayonnaise, and cut diced potatoes–my favorite. A written section has 8 recipes or concepts to write out. Yay–academia has infiltrated.

I brought home most of this so I will enjoy the fruits of my and my team’s labor.

Until next week.
Eat well and enjoy life!!

Cooking Class 9: Butter Baby

Just like any other Saturday, I arrive to class ready for action. This week on time of course. I had enough time to get upstairs and relax for 5 minutes. So what is the first thing I see, some of the class sitting, and then ten or so pots on the floor catching water. Yes we are privileged to be on the top floor, pretty sky views but when it rains, it pours. This is not ideal when you have to make sauces and you are walking with open pots all around the stove, taking clarified butter, and going to the convection oven to check on tomatoes, that smelled so good you wanted to glue your face to the oven door, hoping the smell would melt into your face.

So we made 8 sauces. That is right. It was a royal mess. The teacher said that Mise en place was important-he was so right. The class were broken up into two teams and we split the sauces amongst us. Two sauces were always going. Mise en place is preparing and having it all available so that you don’t run around the kitchen looking for things while pots are cooking, blenders are going and sauces or veggies are being cooked/cooled. We must of used about 1 one package of plastic dishes. For example, the Classic Tomato Sauce had 13 ingredients and we put them all out. Of course while that was going on, we were making the onion sauce and making the port wine reduction. So there were about 25 different little containers on the table. We kept them in different trays.

So the butter baby–we made Hollandaise and Bearnaise and Sauce Forestiere. You could slide down a scaled runaway with no problem with the butter content. So for the Bearnaise and the Hollandaise, we beat eggs over a warm water pot and then we beat it to death some more, till it was somewhat creamy. Out ream did one good and one where the eggs cooked a little. After the eggs are beaten to death, then you slowly add clarified butter to the mix in thin streams. I am not kidding. The Hollandaise takes 16-20 oz of butter. A standard measuring cup had 8 oz, so that is almost three. Hollandaise, if you forgot, this is what they pour over poached eggs. Bearnaise is the same process except the beginning you add a combined mixture of vinegar, shallots, tarragon leaves, and peppercorn. This gets added to the eggs, then you beat like mad.

This class, we were there till the end, cleaning up. They were trying to kick us out.

Tomorrow would be a mixture of textures and tastes. Stay Tuned. If you would like the recipe for any of the sauces we made, let me know. I can scan copy.

In the evening we made some fun sauces:Vinaigrette, and Mayonnaise. I took home a ton of stuff. I bought it home so my dear could taste them all.

I was so worn out from all these sauces.

Eat well! Enjoy Life.

You have been reviewed: The Mexican Corner

Takeout–of what fun

We decided to eat out last Monday night (15th). I had the liberty of ordering. I ordered the Flautas over yellow rice, which were not exactly as I had remembered. I had some good ones ( I guess being fried, changes everything) at Gonzalez Y Gonzalez, south of Houston Street, in NY. Then we had some corn Sopas (?). There were a little tough but had a hearty corn flavor and were topped with lettuce, a mild salsa and maybe cheese. That was good too. We ordered a side of plantains. That rounded out our dinner.

On the flautas, good but not great. Okay, good in a different way.
On the Corn Sopas, interesting texture, but topped with interesting mix as well.
Plantains, you can’t mess that up. It is not even really seasoned, unless you call oil a seasoning. 🙂

Because the place is in our neighborhood, it is likely that we will order out from there again. We will try some other things and may even go in and dine this time.

Good Eats, over and out!!

Cooking Class 8 Sauces 101

Well we finally moved from the animals, for now. On Sunday we started with Sauces. We did some prep and took some notes. We did our mirepoix, as a group. We needed 16 ounces. We cut that and realized that we cut way to many onions. We had 16 ozs and barely had carrots and celery. Then we did 3 potatoes each, to practice our knife skills.

Today I decided to step it up. I took a stand for all the food that goes into the garbage never to be used or seen again. I took all the trimmings from my table’s exercise. I put them in water and remembered to put my name on them. Two tubs of potatoes-one with diced and one with odd shapes. Dinner for 4-5 nights.

After that we watched a demonstration on starches. We used arrow root, corn starch, and the a Beurre Manie. The Beurre Manie mixture is made of butter and flour–similar to pastry dough. Arrow Root is the clearest–if I remember correct. We mixed them with hot water. BM is the cloudiest. We also made a roux. It is the same as the Beurre Manie but it is cooked. We did the pale, blond, brown and chocolate phases. The last phase ended after leaving it in the over to turn a chocolate color, 2 hours or so. Nice little science demonstration. We also made clarified butter. If you remember 2 posts ago, I mentioned cooking the fat down to an oil. Well that is what we did with the butter. We got about 12 jars out of that–looked like canola oil-or beer.

Next we moved to the demonstration on Bechamel sauce and Espagnole sauce. Bechamel is a sauce made of mostly milk, chx stock and cooked with a clove and bay leaf studded onion. The Espagnole sauce uses the dark roux, and mixes with a whole pot of stock, plus the caramelized mirepoix. This took a long time to make. After we added the mirepoix (cooked in a sauce pan with tomato paste) from earlier to the stock and roux, we spent hours skimming the crap off the top. I thought that it looked like a giant brown mess. We also worked on one sauce ourselves, called Veloute. It was adding the flour butter mixture to chx stock basically. (this is from memory so I will probably have to check my notes to make sure I wrote the correct names with the procedure.)

That took us all afternoon as we had to do a double batch so each person could try out. That also meant a double order of pots. Lets count shall we: 3 pots of stock, as a copying of the demonstration, 1 pot for clarified butter to see the science, 5 for the sauces (one Espagnole, 4 of others), 1 flat pot for the chocolate roux, which stayed in the oven for 2-3 hours (hard on stains), a sieve to strain, 2 bowls for cooling, 3 whisks and 4 ladles–here is the CRAZY part, multiply this by 3. Here is the CRAZIEST part, my table partner and I had DISH DUTY this week. Did I mention that class ended at 4 and we spent an hour scrubbing and loading the steamer/dishwasher and cleaning water. You have to change the soapy water occasionally and that means nothing else must be draining, including the dishwasher. A fun exercise in kitchen cleaning.

Man, after that I was beat. I was so beat, but I wanted to hang out for a minute. My hands looked like scales. Those were not the hands you show up to dinner with.

Oh, the funny of the day. I lost my whisk. Before classes started I engraved all my pieces and washed them as told to us on orientation. Well some pip squeak took mine and would not give it up. No worries, I have one without a name that I secured, so that I can make a trade next class. (I asked several times and made it known to the class that I was looking–in the end there was even an extra one, that I put in the cage of tools in our kitchen.) Our table usually has its things all over the place especially if the stove it being used. Chef take our tools and does whatever. He has his but ours are near and he puts it back, but other people grab as well and don’t put back. My partner at the table, was missing her ladle for most of the day as well. She found hers I believe. Me, I will make the person who took mine sorry. Someone will be embarrassed, silently. I don’t want anyone to loose face.

A dark way to end the day. I was glad to go home–beat by heat (top floor kitchen with large glass windows), by work and by a thief. At least I am learning. That is all that matters.

Enjoy life. Eat well!

Empanada Mama: You have been reviewed

I like it when someone recommends a place and I agree 100 percent or close to it with their take. Well this was the case with Empanada Mama, on 9th avenue in the 50s in Manhattan. Two people from work recommended it.

The place is maybe 10 feet wide if that, and it has tables up against a booth like couch. Then there is maybe 1.5 feet of walking space and then 1 foot of space to sit up against a wall on a bar stool. The lights are dim and there are candles. I could not imagine the place with bright lights. It would be so imposing since everyone is so close. The distance between tables is like 6 inches, so each time you get up you have to shift the table. God help you if you are a little thick. It is also a fairly long place and the back looks like an algae hallway.

We saw everyone’s food but I already knew what I wanted, no rice and beans. I could do that at home for free. So I checked out the small plates menu and then the Empanada menu. I ordered corn tamales-yum. It was a nice sized portion-maybe 5 inches by 1.5 inches wide. It was just the right amount of sweetness, very important as I tasted my BF’s spicy chicken sandwich with the table sauces. FIRE, FIRE. I also ordered a baked Greek Spinach Empanada and a Pernil Pork Empanada. I was full and my mouth was hot. The flavor was excellent if not eye watering. It was something to excite my palette. There were many other choices on the menu that sounded tasty and fun.

In total we spent 17.42 and with 3 dollars tip, 20.42. Man that was good. I will be back. I would say for my first go, I give it 6.5. It is kind of crowded so that might upset some people. However it was a fun thing as I think in other places, it would be how people eat on a regular basis, as if in a communal fashion. That forces social interaction and then people start to drink. Everyone becomes your friend. Then that place becomes the hang out. I want a place like that. I want to have a regular spot.

There are only two waiters/servers as the space is so small and at times they might forget what you asked for–but– there are only about 24 people there so they will eventually get to you. About the popularity of this place: there were people waiting outside and as soon as a table cleared there were people to sit. There was a steady flow of business in the 1 or so hour we were there.

So check it out. Tell me how it was and how it was on your wallet. 🙂
When you are done-hike a block away to either Dairy Queen or ColdStone and soothe you burning stomach or tongue.

Until then. Have fun when you eat!

Sample of Menu
Guacamole with plantain chips (regular mild or hot) 6.95
Yucca Frita fried cassava served with guacamole sauce 5.95
Tostones mashed fried greens plantains, served with garlic puree 5.95
Maduros fried sweet plantains 4.95
Veal & Rice Balls with lemon mushroom sauce and a splash of our albarino wine from galicia, spain 6.45
Guacamole with plantain chips (regular mild or hot) 6.95
Yucca Frita fried cassava served with guacamole sauce 5.95
Tostones mashed fried greens plantains, served with garlic puree 5.95
Maduros fried sweet plantains 4.95
Veal & Rice Balls with lemon mushroom sauce and a splash of our albarino wine from galicia, spain 6.45

Cooking Class 7

I was late for class on Saturday. I was working on a paper and well, an idea “unhit” me right before I had to leave. I took out the paragraph and realized I was running about 20 minutes late. So I arrived in front of the building around 8:50am and I had to be in the class by 9am. I took the slow elevator up to the 5th floor and had 5 minutes to change and be up to the 14th floor. I also thought that my quiz was going to be in the second half of class, so I could study a little during lunch. When I got to the door, the door was closed. Not locked, just closed but we have glass doors so I could see inside and all was quiet. I got inside and there was a QUIZ going on. So I did not get to review.
The quiz was a minor hick up and I have already settled with my results. So onto the fun stuff!!
We began with our normal facts part. Then we did the following: pork rack, ham, lamb rack and leg of lamb (remember the story “Lamb to Slaughter.”), watched a pork loin demonstration–the whole thing- and then a rabbit. Those things are huge, except the rabbit.  The pork rack was the easiest. We cut from a rack. Then we had to “French” it. That is when the end bones are cleaned and so it looks like a pork lollipop. Then we did ham. There are two pieces that come off–Daisy Ham and another one I will remember after I shut down my computer. We had to take out a bone that was odd shaped. It took two people as it was time consuming and frustration sets in for these kinds of things. There was also constant flipping and moving to get the right angle to cut and to not cut away the meat. When we finally removed the bone, it was like climbing a mountain, when you throw your hands up, or the stereotypical scene of when the cannibals have a head or brain in their hand that they are offering up to the gods. 🙂 We were then supposed to chop up the meat into cubes for stew. Well that did not happen. We all ended up just putting in a big tub and then the tub disappeared. That took us to lunch. We got 40 minutes. It was 1pm.

My lackluster planning and feeling of, “I will figure it out later, I have some change on me,” led me to realize that I was famished by lunch time and I did not want to go outside for lunch. I guess I was kind of pooped, so extra energy to change would be bad. So I got my wallet and remembered the vending machines down our hallway. I could not remember if it was just soda or snacks. I took my chance. I had 2 bucks, so ended up getting some honey pretzels and a bag of baked lays bbq chips. I had some water, and so that and the “snacks” became my lunch. Healthy, wholesome goodness.

After lunch, we tackled more of the rack of animal. We did the rack of lamb. That cutting and then “Frenching” took a while. I wanted to move on and the Chef did as well. It was messy and all that. I had paper towels to take all the stuff off of my knife. I was working that. Then we did a leg of lamb. Okay so that was some work. The leg of lamb weighted about 8 lbs or so. There as a huge layer of fat and this bone inside. There were two bones and one had this interesting shape at the connecting point. I shimmied the knife in joints, up the knee and down the legs. I can say I spent about 45 minutes here. Chef showed up this in parts as he knew we would muck it up most definitely. I was to preserve the TOP ROUND. I even called the chef over each step of the way. At times my whole table thought we had butchered the meat. Even the “pro” in front of me, called him over and mentioned that she was absolutely stuck. I had to find the joint, cut inside it, and wiggle the bones out. Getting the bone out was another one of those moments with the ritualistic raising of the body part and the pumping of the fist. (like “Lets go Mets/Yankees/Saints”) The same was true. After that I was physically and mentally exhausted. Then we cleaned up and moved on to rabbit. That was not bad at all.

The rabbit arrived packaged fetus style. It had the hind legs tucked into the upper cavity of the body. That is a position you never want to see live. I had to block out the reality that I was playing with wabbit. I just did the cuts. (Legs, Fore legs, cut off the tail bone, cut the body into 3 parts, cut away from the upper portion containing the ribcage and cut away the flank, which is the side skin.) That is it for rabbit. Oh, actually, RABBIT FACT: Rabbit is considered poultry. Why? So they say, it has many of the same characteristics as Chicken, is raised like chicken and taste similar. The last part I am not too sure about.

Man what an animal filled day: your large run you down animals, to your small, run away from you kind.
Oh, we had dinner after. I will follow up with a restaurant review and then Sunday’s hectic class.

Enjoy life! Eat well.

New Utensils

I received some new utensils two days ago. I had to spend a gift card and thought, why not get some much needed things, from Macy’s of all places. Kitchen Aid Peeler, MS Cutting Board and MS French Rolling Pin

Previous to this, I had been using a makeshift cutting board. We had received a cheese set that came with 4 knives/cutting tools. They were encased in 2 wooden circles and the top was meant to be the cutting board for the cheese. So we started using it as a cutting board for all. Well we have had it for almost 10 months and it worked till it started cracking, as it was made out of wood and the bottom portion’s finish started to come off. So yesterday I retired the both of them to the garbage.

I also got a cool peeler. Cutting potatoes and carrots will be so much faster. Lastly, I got a rolling pin. I mentioned in my blog on Valentines Weekend, that I used a tall skinny jar to roll out my dough. I usually use a bottle of wine. Now I have a French rolling pin. It has no handles, but is long, extra long, actually, and slender. I cannot find a space for it now so it is just in the closet in the odd ball section.

Oh and I also have an additional bad utensil to get rid of. I had a brush. I opened the drawer yesterday and saw wads of the thistles. I turned it over and there was like a 1/4 set missing. Okay so the brush was dead. Now I have to get a new one if I plan to brush pastry with eggs or to brush meat with bbq sauce or whatever.

Valentines Weekend

Get your tea, dessert, hot chocolate and sit for a story.

So I was off from school the next day and that meant I would relax. That did not happen. I cooked dinner on Friday, and prepared for lunch on Sunday, on Saturday night.

On the menu for Friday was Steak, sauteed potatoes and string beans. I wanted dessert but did not feel like spending money. I also had biscotti before I reached home. My other half had ice cream etc. etc at work.

I cooked the steak in a frying pan, after cutting in half, lengthwise. I think it was a sin to cut it in half but it was quite large for us. I made some string beans, boiling first then sauteing. The correct way would have been to blanch them. Blanching: bring a pot to a boil and then drop the veggies in for like 10-15 seconds. Then take them out and put them in cold water that is standing by. In class we blanched for a bit longer and then put in cold water. We held it there for about 1-2 minutes.

Saturday afternoon I started to think about my cooking. I knew that I needed a few different pots and I started to panic as I am new to my place and have not amassed cooking wares from years in the kitchen. So I decided on a round 5 inch tall dish, (originally part of a set with 4 little ramekins), it would be ample room for potatoes. Next I needed a pie dish and a casserole dish for my meat. Well I had a rectangle casserole dish that was to be my pie dish. Later on I used a large cooking pot for my casserole dish.

As a wise person once told me, you should read through the recipe first. It is not as silly as it sounds. Most of us find a recipe, look for the ingredients, or buy them and then proceed to make the dish. For very complicated dishes one should always read the recipe properly. My first read was on the scalloped potatoes. I pulled the recipe from the Naparima Girls High School recipe book. I realized that I would have to cut a bunch of potatoes. Originally I had planned to make sautéed potatoes but there is so much waste and then it take a while to cut up. It has to be at the precise heat and you have to look over it constantly—my least favorite thing, as you cannot multi-task. So I thought about cutting the potatoes on Saturday night and preparing on Sunday. Okay so I did not actually read to the last part of the recipe on this one, in the beginning. It said, cook for 1.5 hours. Plans changed, I had to make it then.

While I was contemplating that, I reread the recipe for the veal and ham pie, which I had found in a book called, Meat & Poultry. It looked nice in the picture. I read most of the way through and realized that I would have to cook two times. I immediately knew that some part of this had to be started later that day. I had already seasoned the veal, with soy sauce, onions, garlic, some red wine, and black pepper. The recipe called for cooking in a casserole till golden brown, then cooking onions in the left over grease, then cooking all of that in a stock. At the same time I wrote and re-wrote a schedule for the following day. It eventually ended up like this:

1) Make meat, 10-11:30 as it takes 1.5 hours to cook in the stock. Put that on first.
2) Eat Breakfast from 10 or so till 10:45
3) Make the cod fish cakes from 10:45-11:15,
4) Make the pastry dough at 11:15 to 11:30 and put on meat
5) Make the pears from 11:30 to 12
6) From 12 to 12:30 make the salad, broccoli and finish up

Okay, so what really happened, for a moment, I was going to call the meal St. Valentine’s Day Food Massacre.

Okay so on Saturday, realizing that the meat needed to be cooked for a while, I started that. I mixed up with the ingredients and then browned it, removing it from the heat. The next step would be boiling in stock and that was 1.5 hours so best done in the morning.

I started the potatoes. I cut them with the shape, so ovals. Potatoes like apples don’t do well in air, so in order to stop the brown mush, I put them in cold water. They lasted till the following day, the balance. I decided this would take a while after reading the recipe earlier and so, I proceeded to make the dish then. It was a layering process, similar to lasagna. The recipe called for milk that barely covered the potatoes. Okay so I did that. The packing part took about 25 minutes. While it was cooking a large bubble formed I thought, ‘this can’t be good.’ It was the milk boiling over in a way but not over the edge. So when I realized that the potatoes had cooked long enough and the milk was still there, I punctured the top and started “ladling” out milk. I filled a whole bowl. I was panicking-are the potatoes cooked down below, are they overcooked, where the hell is all this milk coming from? I thought part would have evaporated and the rest used for cooking the potato. My potatoes looked like they were attacked. I put back in the over with the harmed section opened to the heat, hoping it would crust like the other part.

In the morning, instead of sleeping later, I got up as soon as the sun hit my eyes. I mobilized to boil the meat. Then I started de-boning the cod fish. By the way—don’t get caught doing this the day of. The night before is best. I did the exercise twice and later on there were a few random bones. Then I followed a recipe in the Naparima book. That was a mistake. The mixture was so wet. My other half kept saying, add flour. Little did he know I already tried that method. It just made it creamier. So I gave up and he said he we would do it. He used a generous helping of bread crumbs and fried the balance. Then I told him he also had to make the broccoli and salad.

At this time, I had finished with the boil. I scooped the meat into the dish and let it sit for the dough. I proceeded to make the pastry crust. It was nice and buttery. Because of my lack of kitchen tools, I usually use a wine bottle to roll dough—yup, whatever we have. Today since my wine bottles was opened and the others were too far, I use a tall skinny jar. It worked for the most part. I ended up having to use a spatula to peel it off of the cookie sheet as it was breaking apart at the edges from I guess a lack of flour. I finally peeled it off and placed it on the meat—right on it, then into the oven

In the mean time I peeled the pears, cutting out the cores and making a little dish in them. Then I put them in the oven with some wine. I tidied up all the mess that I had made. By that time I took the pears out again and flipped them.

The pie in the oven was almost done. Meanwhile my other half was making the broccoli with so much garlic, that you could ward off the tax man. I proceeded to the concocting the topping. The topping was made of MARIE cookies crumbled, walnuts already crusted, pecans, some butter for the pot and 2 teaspoons of honey. I cooked it till it looked like crumbs and then spooned in into the pears. I put back in the oven. I proceeded to make the salad. Yeah it was not my job but I wanted it a certain way and so I did it. (Lettuce, seasoned walnuts, raisins, carrots shavings, and shredded cheese.) I took out the pears as they would just dry out in the heat I thought. The pie was done as well, and I left in the oven with the potatoes to stay warm.

OMG, we finished. We were able to shower and have about 10 minutes to spare.

What we learned:

No amount of garlic will help broccoli taste good. It is a matter of technique and careful preparation.

Bouillon cubes are the worst. If you can make the stock yourself DO IT.

Read the whole recipe first and yes you will most likely have to prepare the day before. [It was mentioned that I cook all on Sunday so it can be fresh. We can I tell you, all together it took about 5 (and change) hours to prepare. Okay so let’s rethink that.]

When you make the bouillon stock, take some of the sauce even if the recipe does not mention it, and add to the pie dish. Later it would be like a little sauce-must be hot or it becomes gelatin. If you have time, dilute and add something else to the stock to take away the saltiness.

Thanks goodness for pre-planning. My parents enjoyed it and so did my other half. When people went back for seconds, I was happy on the inside. They either were enjoying it, or were really hungry.

If you want the recipes, I can scan them it. You can have a go at it.
If I glazed over some things it was because I was tired of writing and because my memory of exact steps is 15% fuzzy.

Eat well, enjoy life!!

Fat & Oils

In class we took a ton of fat off of of a beef tenderloin, off of the Beef loin portion and also off of Veal (5 lbs at least.)

Chef says that it can be melted down and used. Of course this is not a short process and you magically have oil. It is the same thing with butter. If butter is cooked all the way down, it looks like oil you buy in the bottle. All the buttery characteristics are out the door. The same with the fat.

The animal fat is actually used in cosmetics and also in pastries. You see the flaky pastries people go gaga for, well there is some animal fat. For all my bakers out there, you know what I speak of–LARD baby LARD. The petroleum jelly looking semi-solid thing you use to make your treats.

So we had tons of it but at the end, we forgot to take it. I really wanted to try and render it to an oily substance. We had tons, I could have yielded at least a liter.

Solid Fat Sources

Butter, suet, most animal fats, shortening & margarine

Oil Sources – Just a Few From the Fat Pack

Canola, corn, oil, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut.

Fun Fat Facts-
Enjoy Life

Cooking Class 6

What a difference a day makes–less than 24 hours. I get home and we go to Buffalo Wings with some friends. MORE MEAT-after playing with chx all day, I was kind of put off with the meat in sweat sauce-not even sure what was on the chx. Oh well.

Sunday started innocently enough. Our task for the day was to butcher already dead things. We took some notes as usual and then launched in to our ritual cutting exercises. We made potatoes and our mirepoix. As usual we waste 3/5 of the potato.

Chef pulled out an almost square piece of meat. It was a beef loin and it had about -1.2 inches of fat on top and weighed about 6 lbs. It was in a bloody package so that meant–Sunday Sessions with the “Blood Bath Kings”–catchy jazz set. Two people shared one. I had the pleasure of finding a working scale and then cutting the meat in half. My partner could then have fun to. So yes we has a lesson in cutting and trying to get a piece of steak that was about 16-20 ounces. We got 12 pieces out of ours and weighing an average of 20 ounces. That is some expensive stuff.

We then did some flank steak. We cleaned away the small amounts of fat and put away for later. No cutting in this part. Next came the tenderloin. It was like a thick skin of cottage cheese looking fat. We had fun pulling the fat away. It was supposed to be satisfying to rip the fat off, as it was rather tough and there was a lot of it. We got to the part where we were pulling of the “silver skin.” That is the white film that covers the meat and seems to kind of hold it together. That is like busy work for an idiot. We cut this meat into a few different cuts. The meat was like a challah bread in width and length. There was the middle which is used for the main serving, then on the outside there were some pieces that can be pounded. At the very end the pieces could be cubed, used for odds an ends and for fillings. Chef cut off a piece and put some Kosher salt on top, and ate it raw. Just like that–. What about not eating raw food! What part of raw did I not understand? He encouraged us to try. I passed up the invitation and so did a few others.

At this time, it was 12 -ish and the teacher asked if we wanted steak for lunch. He made it rather easy–it was either change your clothes, go out in the cold, spend money, etc. or try something you cooked that was warm and tasty. So we prepared to have steak—-yeah. He also said that we should be nice to the class that brings us treats by preparing some extras of the flank. Since I am not a steak eater really, okay, not unless the other dishes are really funky, (and I can’t do the runny bloody thing), I was like, hmm why not, we are cooking it right. So we sauteed some potatoes–that took longer than I thought. I usually never prepare my potato in that way as it has oil and would require a cutting exercise. I usually bake or boil it. Potatoes and I have battled much. I have come to learn that you better not be hungry if you are going to boil a potato and a large one at that. You have to cook the meat half way through the boiling process or you will wait forever for your starch.

So back to the fun–we greased three frying pans and let them get to the smoking point. Then we took them off the fire and poured the oil out. We came back and did it again, and poured it out. It is a process called seasoning: used to make a sticky pan into a non stick pan. We did it on top of the stove. You learn something new every day. (similar process)
On the grill at the same time-which smelled like burning grease, some guys cooked the flank steak, with the same seasonings.

We put some oil/butter, just a little, and brought it to medium heat until it sizzled, then added the potatoes. We let it cook for a while, flipping them (similar to flipping an egg) when they stop sizzling. There is something about raising and lowering the temp as the potato cooks. ( it was a cloudy session so forgive me if I forget–no worries, since this was not a sauteing lesson and we will revisit and get it right next time)

For the steak, we put some crushed peppercorn on the top and bottom in addition to kosher salt. (kosher salt, glorious by the way–it can also put out a pot fire rather quickly, so keep a box handy if you tend to flame in the house a lot–it is better than water and fire extinguishers by leaps and bounds–leave a comment and I will tell you why. We cooked the steaks in a hot pan of butter for 4-5 minutes on each side, then we stuck in the over to finish. We toasted some baguettes and had our steak, and potatoes.

Our ‘desserters’ (LOL) came up and bought us: mini cheesecakes(delectable) baked with a thick cookie underneath, covered with fudge drippings and caramel, then some profiteroles and cream puffs, held together in a mold with caramel ‘hair’. Get this, one of the people in class thought that the caramel hair was actual hair so threw away the piece–okay, what the hec? I will leave that alone.

After lunch we moved into veal. Oh was fun we had! So the bloodless, fat heavy, veal was like having two huge dictionaries, and only a cubby to work in. First we removed the fat. I thought I had seen fat with the beef loin–well this was the super-sized version. I could have formed a baby with all the fat we took out. This fat was not straight either; it was jagged like broken icebergs and felt like solid butter. Chef asked us how our hands felt after, as the natural oils are actually GOOD for your skin. I actually worked without gloves on this. We spent some time cleaning the kidneys. Our task was to de-fat the kidneys without cutting/butchering them and rendering them useless. After that we cut the tenderloin off. Lucky for me I had already sliced through it while I was cutting away some fat. So my 30 dollar piece was down to 20 dollars. I took out what I could. Then we cleaned further to get the T bone. That mother is huge–it was like 6 inches across and 14 inches long. We had to store the bones in a large tub-similar to what you would bathe a 2 year old in (if you can still do that 🙂 ). We will use it to get stock another day.

We then proceeded to cut of the veal. We de-fat some more but veal is kind of funky. It is like Baklava but with alternating layers of meat and fat. In the end, you have to leave most of the fat and it gives it flavor when you cook. Chef said to make stew with the diced up pieces. Well I filled two tubs with that stuff. You know when you order Wonton soup, well the double portion, I filled up two, to the top. Also, from my t bone, when I cut away that bones, well there was a huge piece of meat. Chef said to add to my take home stock. So really, I could serve 6-10 people. He suggested veal stew. Well I don’t think we will have a week of veal stew, so I am busy trying to find recipes for diced veal. I found 3 so far.

So, it is about 3 by now and we are packing away all this meat. We proceeded to clean up after. We had dirty boards, bloody tables/aprons/knives and pots from cooking, plus silverware from eating and the trays from storing the meat and serving–it was like dishwasher boot camp. While we cleaned, the Chef started to work “his magic.” Concoction is the more appropriate word. He said that we would never have this again. He sauteed the kidneys that we so nicely cleaned. He made a mustard parsley sauce I believe, with some other things. It smelled okay but it was KIDNEYS. Oh, remember the endangered food list, lets go ahead and add kidneys, and liver ahead of time. So he put it in a nice skillet and got the tasting cups out and so the tasting began. I have to say, only after I threw it away did I wish I had tasted the sauce because all I tasted was kidney in my sample and I feel that the mustard sauce changed everything. A guy at my table loved it and took home like a double portion jar. They said it was similar to mushrooms–in retrospect, it kind of did.

Yeah so my day ended with a piece of kidneys. Well actually not, I tossed a pastry puff back after drinking some coffee just to cleanse my palette.

Oh the fun part–some genius, or some process caused water to strew out of the sinks and so we had another flood in the kitchen (yes it had happened before, 2 times). So the guys were catatonic. A girl and I proceed to mop it up. One guy helped and the others just watched–like it was a show. It was quiet and the teacher from the back asked, why the silence.

So another day in the neighborhood. We are off next week but I will provide you with my meals prepared on Valentines (pre VDAY actually) and then for my rents when they visit. Yummy veal stew, veal soup, sauteed veal, veal burgers……

Enjoy life, eat well!