Food Buzz


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm about to gain some serious weight....

Class was really fantastic tonight because we finally got to COOK!  Last week we were split up into teams of four, or in our (Team 3's) case, five chefs.   Typically an executive chef, sous-chef, prep cook and dishwasher makes up a team.  Each team gets an oven, a microwave, a prep table and we all share the various kitchen tools and supplies.  Tonight was OBVIOUSLY our first night in the kitchen. I didn't see anyone running with knives but it was definitely a free for all.    I really had no idea how well our team would work together (four woman, one man, age range 18 to 50-something, many different ethnicities and backgrounds) but I was very proud of our outcome. I felt like we all put a ton of work in and did a nice job together.  It can be hard to give up control in the kitchen so this is a new goal for me
In each class going forward, Chef Debbie will lecture a bit, set up a demo and then send us in to the kitchen to fend for ourselves.  Each team gets a total score of up to 5 points based on certain criteria set for each dish we make.  Although she didn't tell us, I am 99% sure we got all 5 points.  We rocked. go back to the beginning of class.... today's lesson was quickbreads.  Chef showed us how to prepare an amazing coffee cake layered with apples and cinnamon.  Then she gave us a bunch of recipes - went over each one and sent each team on their way with one recipe to create for a grade. Our team got the "Country Biscuits" recipe.  I think they tasted good, but I would probably add more green onion.  For all the pretty colors and textures, there wasn't the punch of flavor I would have expected.

Country Biscuits

2.5 lbs of all purpose (AP) flour
3/4 oz salt
2 oz sugar
2 oz baking powder
14 oz unsalted butter, cold, 1/4 in dice
24 oz whole milk
3/4 c cheddar cheese, sharp, grated
2T green onion, thinly sliced
1T dried thyme [our team used dill as the kitchen was out of thyme]
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees 
  • Sift the dry ingredients together making sure they are evenly blended 
  • Combine the butter with teh dry ingredients, cheese, onions and thyme. The mixture should look  mealy; do not overmix. 
  • Add milk and stir until mixture is just holding together. 
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surfacel knead until it forms one mass, approximately 5-6 kneadings.  If dough is too dry, add milk as needed until the dough holds together. 
  • Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 in.  Cut with a floured bscuit cutter and place the biscuits on a parchment lined sheet pan. 
  • Bake until tops are light brown, sides are almost white and the interiors are still moist (approx 10-15 minutes).  Cool and eat!
At the end of class we all got to sample each team's product: blueberry muffins, lemon poppy seed muffins, cream scones and apple sour cream coffee cake.  I may be biased but I think our biscuits came out close to the top when comparing every one of the quickbreads to it.  This is a feat for me because I am NOT a baker.  I guess this is what teamwork is all about!

Team 3's biscuits - came out pretty good - what do you think?

In class we also talked a bit about Chino Farm (or Chino Nojo)  Here's a review.  This farm supplies some of the most amazing west coast restaurants with their produce (Alice Waters' Chez Panisse for one).  Chef nearly drooled when telling the class about the experience so now I want to go visit.  It's not to far down in Rancho Santa Fe.  Anyone up for a road trip?!

My bed is caling out to me.   Chow for now!  :)

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