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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bittersweet endings...but mostly really sweet

Last night was my last night of cooking in my Culinary course.  I am sad to leave for many reasons... this class has been a place where I could guarantee "getting my cooking on" for a few hours twice a week. Although class time was ten hours a week, it went by very quickly. It was what I looked forward to doing again when I was in the hospital.  I really enjoyed my team and appreciated Chef's knowledge and opinions.  Hearing her story about how she began was inspiring and has motivated me to move forward with my own career choices.

I learned a lot in the class, even though it was technically an introduction to cooking.  I learned how to share in the kitchen (mom can attest that I've been known to "hog" the kitchen at Thanksgiving).  I learned a lot of new french terms including sautoir, chinois, batonnet, and about the early chefs who created the idea of restaurants and french classical cooking.  I took on new cooking techniques including deep frying and succeeded, even at home!  I cooked and tried foods I never prepared or ate before (duck kidney, scotch eggs) and enjoyed the process of "trying new things."

I will miss this class but my education is far from over.  As time permits, I plan on taking other courses.  I'd love to take another nutrition course because I learned a lot and unlike when I went to college the first time (ahem) , I actually did well with the science side of the course.  I guess I don't have as many distractions now as I did in 1991. :)   I am awaiting my score on my ServSafe exam which I took last week but I am confident I did well.  This will allow me to tell clients that I have a food safety certification. I would definitely like to continue taking courses where I can be challeneged and motivated to prepare the best food.  I look forward to the fall schedule coming out this summer.

Last night was the only night all semester that we were to cook on our own - no team projects at all.  We had to choose a fish recipe from our text, mise en place (prepare, chop ingredients etc) everything at home, but cook the dish in class and present a finished, attractive and tasty plate to Chef for a grade.  I chose to make Jumbo Lumb Blue Crab and Langoustine Cake with Citrus Vanilla Sauce and Rhubarb Preserves.  It's a long name, and it had many steps and ingredients.  I did a practice run at home which took two and a half hours so I was glad that I could prepare most of the sauce and chop all the ingredients at home so that the in-class preparation was not too daunting. I have to say, I was proud of the result at home and also with the cakes I made in class. 

I was also proud of my team and of the class as a whole. Every dish I tasted was really good - it shows we all wanted to to a great job for our final cooking day.

I tasted and salted and tasted again.  I ladled the citrus sauce, laid the crab cake gently in the center of the plate and spooned small amounts of rhubarb preserves along citrus band.  I wiped the edge of the dish so it was clean and attractive.  I drew a toothpick through the small circles of preserves to shape them into hearts.  The cake was crispy on the outside and soft and tasty on the inside.  This was a good great dish.  This dish could lift me from an "at home" cook to...dare I say it... a GOURMET chef. 

When I presented the dish to Chef, I had to explain what I did at home and in class and any ingredients that I substituted (for instance, I replaced the langoustine with white shrimp and in the rhubarb preserves, I used Cabernet Sauvignon instead of port wine). Chef loved the presentation.  She tasted the citrus sauce.  Sampled it again with a smile and said "Lisa you rocked the sauce."  Then she tried the preserves... Smiling wider.  Tasted the crab cake and said "Lisa, wow you really rocked this. Again. Everyone will be able to sample this one - I hope you have extra sauce."

Tickled pink.  Proud and happy.  And I am sure she was happy too, knowing she took part in my education.  I probably wouldn't have tried preparing this dish six months ago.  Ah, maybe I would have but I don't think I would have been so meticulous.

The finished product:

So here's to chef and my other educators - thank you for an amazing sixteen weeks.  I look forward to working with you again.

What will I do with an extra 10 hours a week?  Probably cook.

Chow for now!  :)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful writing and amazing cooking!