Cooking Class 16: Team Leader, take two: Oysters n Fish

Team leader again. Chef mentioned it right before class ended. Yay, two days of this. So the mission, survive the day.The day before chef had mentioned that I had to be in class 15 minutes before 9 so that I could help set up. So I just made it but the room was already set up–I would have to be there at 8:30 to actually help. I had just raced from the library typing my “why I am incompetent” essay. I had written it on the train. Today I took the train as my bf was sleeping late and I could not be late for class, plus I wanted to study a little bit more. I even took a cab so that I could cut a few10 minutes.

So we took the quiz. It took me a half an hour. It was just a writing frenzy. I think I did okay. It was after that, that we got the game plan for the morning. We had to make little hens, roast some veggies and make pork logs.

The skin of the birds were filled with truffle butter-that is some expensive stuff. I got it all over my hand-my hand was worth a couple hundred dollars at that moment. The hens we put in the convection oven and we kept basting it with olive oil, using this loud timer. (similar to when your alarm goes off and you are so tired and the alarm seems to be much louder than normal) The veggies, I did not have the pleasure of preparing. In the end they are not as soft at the other teams. I usually look at and listen to the other teams when they are examining the cooked product. I admit, sometimes I look over and remember what I have to do that. There is usually so much going on and as team leader you always want to know where things are. Chef can ask at any moment and you have to have a sensible answer.

In the evening we did chicken with mushrooms. We used cremini mushrooms, oyster and shiitake mushrooms. I had heard about shiitake ‘shrooms’ but not oyster and cremini. We cut the oyster mushrooms off of a large husk, you can say. Check out the picture. We also did lamb shanks. Those things were ginormous. We put three on a plate and it looked like Viking fare. 🙂 The red cabbage was interesting. I am not a cabbage fan as I have always only have the white version and it was not flavored to my liking. This one had tiny bacon lardons, apple and some jelly. I liked it so much that I even ate it cold when I got home. Only a few things are good cold.

The fun came with the monk fish. As with all of our cooking, it is not adhoc at all. It begins with a loose mapping of a project, with the goal being the production of these dishes. There is no order to which recipe you do first, sometimes, but there is a preference. You usually however try to make the one that takes the longest cooking time–not preparation time. There are some sauces that call for 15 ingredients but really it is just running around getting seasoning. This tasks can be split amongst 2 people and done in a short time but you cannot make meat cook faster than it normally takes. With that said, I have to retract all that. One of the guys on our team, spent almost an hour preparing a fish and then another hour cooking it. It was going right up till the end of our time. I mean that puts us back as a team, but for that person, she/he only gets to concentrate on one task. One thing turns into a large job. As team leader I was not frustrated but concerned as he took all the time to do that and he could have helped us with some of the other preparations.

The monk fish being worked on had to be seared and then a sauced had to be made and then it had to be cooked for a while longer. The sauce made was very “seasony.” I know that no such word exists, but there was a lot of bits and all were fresh ingredients. Who comes up with these concoctions? (if you want the ingredients–write back and leave a comment)

We were trying to get all of our things together as we needed to start plating our items. We got plates and then we lost plates. I think that if you get a plate from the rack, then it is yours. If you see a plate that you did not get yourself–need I say more.

Some days are long, and others are just long and trying. This was the latter of them. The fish was not the first grabbed item as well. I guess no big MONKFISH eaters. By the way, a month or so ago I took a picture of a fish in Whole Foods. It was scary and I could only think of some how accidentally, through my own fault or someone pushing me, that I would end up falling on the face of the fish, eye to eye and with his teeth embedded in my skin. Yeah, that is how graphic it was to me. So after searching for Monkfish online, guess what? I will let you compare pictures. (mine versus theirs)

Next week will be another adventure.
Till then, eat well, and enjoy life. ‘shrooms’ are good. 😉

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