Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day 44

I am still in school. We have been catering and I have been catering and have had to go see family for a funeral and for the holidays. Its been busy. I have lots to share still. Don't worry.
For my 3rd day of our secret ingredient test I have been gifted with filet mignon and scallops. I had no fucking clue as to what to do with scallops. I do know how to cook them I just had no plan whatsoever. Like for meat I could do roast potatoes and a wild mushroom ragout.

I know the presentation is not amazing. Its too crowded with the ragout. And the ragout is very chunky so it spread too much. But I have to say it tasted great. The mushroom ragout starts with bacon (duh) and then sauteed onion, shitakes, dried guajillo chiles, chicken stock (to braise), and then garlic, parsley, maple syrup, and lime juice to finish. I cannot take credit for the madness. Its in the gourmet cookbook. But luckily I had made this before and remembered it. The recipe originally used ribeye but I just did it with the filet. Which unfortunately was shaped like a rubic's cube. Great. Just the kind of steak you want to try to cook medium rare. Why the fuck can't we just get normal shaped protein? That's what I want to know.

So I coated my cube with kosher salt, white pepper, minced garlic, chili powder and olive oil. And then I seared the shit out of it. Pretty much charred and burned. Of course the inside was completely raw. I finished it in the oven to medium rare. I also roasted fingerling potatoes at the same time. I presented it as "crusted" filet mignon over roast fingerling potatoes and wild mushroom ragout.

My feed back on the presentation was that I could have made the ragout fit into the dish better. It looked crowded. Uhhhh. Well, if I had responded I might have said "oh". I had no idea how this was going to plate up. Surprises all around. I was just glad he didn't say it tasted burnt as hell. I then turned to my ugly stepchild, scallops. I normally like scallops. I was just completely unprepared. So searing and pan sauce was my go to idea.

It actually looked nicer in person. I started my potato rosti style cake (that's the light brown disk) which is just julienned potatoes smushed into a teflon pan with some oil and lots of seasoning and slowly browned, then flipped. I held it in the oven where it kept crisping. I then seared my scallops and sauteed my asparagus in different pans but at the same time. At this point my classmate was cursing very loudly at her filet mignon dish. I did my best to ignore her rage against the meat and finish my dish on time. After my scallops were finished searing I moved them to a plate and started my pan sauce with shallots, white wine (to deglaze) and parsley and cream to finish. I simmered the done sauce with the scallops added back in for about 10 minutes. I flipped the scallops halfway through cooking in the sauce. Once finished I plated potato cake, sauce, asparagus, and scallops.

It did look better in person because the colors were all brown tones but not the same colors. That kind of made no sense but I tell you in person IT LOOKED BETTER!. Not sludgy. So after all that stress we then had to be scored and graded on our plates. I was sure my home spun ideas were not going to earn me top marks. I was wrong. I got 20. Out of 20. It was a huge surprise and highlight and exciting moment in my cooking school life. I love perfect scores.
Another terrible secret ingredient day tomorrow. And supposedly harder proteins than today. These were pretty easy. No carving or trimming or filleting or scaling. I don't want to scale and fillet a fish tomorrow. Let's hope its like chicken breasts or something.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 43

I have been doing the fam holiday thing. And it was my birthday. And my brother got engaged. So I have been doing things besides writing and studying and staying home all snuggled in. Lots of eating out, drinking and socializing.

So on day 43 we went to visit the meat distribution center that we order our meat from. They don't slaughter there. They only do small or custom cuts and supply local businesses. For example if you want to order precut filet mignon they will cut the tenderloin into the whatever ounce portion that you need. I don't care for the beef that they sell. Its feedlot and low in flavor and slightly fatty (not in a good way). But they do use natural pork and poultry. Its a start, right? So do you think we could take pictures in there? Hell no. We were not allowed photos. Not that there was anything good to see. Nothing shady or gnarly. Just a distribution plant.

So that was my day. Not very exciting. Tomorrow holds more torture in the form of the mystery ingredient time trials again. Wahhhhhh.