Goals: My goal this week is to stay healthy and stay on top of things. I don’t want to let my area get messy. Also, stay focused.
Expectations: After going easy last week, I expect this week to be tough. Back to being really busy and cooking a lot of things I haven’t made before. It’s always harder when it’s new recipes and cooking methods.
Reflection of Experiences:
On Friday, Chef was back so it was back to being very busy. The first thing we did was demo cutting an onion to everyone in class, which was really nerve-racking. Everyone is watching you cut, but no one can say anything, and you’ve got a knife in your hand. Being nervous and cutting is not a comfortable situation. I did not enjoy that. Working on the mayonnaise was really tiring, and my arm was about to fall off. At least it didn’t break on me today. We also cooked pasta, which was pretty easy since I cook a lot of pasta at home. I got to make bucatini though, which was a new pasta for me. I’ve read about it and have a recipe that calls for it, but I haven’t seen it in the grocery store. I was surprised how much it expanded. I can see how it would be good as a saucy pasta.
Tuesday was another busy day. We worked on ribs and Swiss-style shredded veal. The ribs had a lot of prep, but overall the recipe was pretty easy. I had some trouble with searing the veal. At least my mushrooms had a pretty good sear. The rest of the veal recipe went smoothly; I just need to watch the heat and how much oil I have when searing meat. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping my area clean today, so that was a plus. Whenever we sear, the kitchen gets really hot. It was a hot and tiring day.
On Wednesday, I was really tired, but I really enjoyed the roasting, pan gravy, and jus lie, so I felt more energized as the day went on. Initially I butterflied my pork wrong; I guess I wasn’t paying attention during that part of the demo because I was half asleep. Chef made the correct cut and it was still usable, so that was a relief. The trussing for the beef and pork went better than I thought it would. I guess practicing on the towel helped. The searing went better today; I got some decent browning and didn’t pan fry the meat today. I really enjoyed making the jus lie and pan gravy, and they tasted great with the beef and pork. We made pan gravy with the roasted chicken already, so it was easier this time, and the jus lie was similar to the pan gravy except we used a slurry. I think so far, roasting has been my favorite type of meat preparation. I like the textures of the roasted meat and getting to make a sauce from the drippings. Today was a very satisfying day.
Thursday was possibly the most hectic day so far of this class. We worked on Boeuf Bourguignon and Navarin of Lamb, two very long stew recipes. There weren’t a lot of new steps, but it was hard because there were so many different things to prep and cook with difference priorities. Sometimes it was confusing to remember which ingredients and steps were for which recipe; like they both have a roux, but one is cooked in the oven with the meat while the other one is cooked on the stove with the vegetables. It was definitely a struggle to finish everything, especially when Chef gave us a deadline on our garnishes. I wasn’t even close to finishing my vegetable cuts for the lamb, so I tried to go faster, but my cuts ended up inconsistent. It’s really hard to make accurate cuts quickly. Still, it was a good day, and at least we were all in it together, madly dashing around the kitchen.
Making the bucatini was a positive experience. That’s a pasta I’ve wanted to try and I finally got to cook it and taste it. Also, working on the roasts was good. I got to practice searing some more, so that was good, and it was also good to practice trussing. I’ve tried recipes that said to tie up the meat, but I didn’t know how to tie it before, so the meat would end up falling out of the twine. I think my roasts will be much improved now that I’ve learned how to truss. The highlight of the week was the jus lie; the recipe went well and it tasted delicious with the roasted beef.
On Wednesday, I prepared almost double the mirepoix we needed, probably because I was tired and not thinking that clearly. It put me a little behind, and it meant I wasted the extra mirepoix. Another reminder of the importance of staying focused. Next time I should just write it down too, because I confuse myself sometimes.
I had some trouble with vegetable cuts on Thursday. I still have trouble with celery cuts. It’s hard to flatten them and get even pieces. Chef had to correct me a few times because I forgot the proper way to do the cuts.
Of the things that I learned this week, I am best prepared to demonstrate to someone else? (list in bullet form)
-Roasted pork tenderloin
What feedback did I receive from my instructor and how did I use the information to improve my performance?
When we were making the Swiss-style veal dish, Chef said I had too much oil and had pan fried the veal instead of searing it. The next day, when we seared the pork and beef, I paid more attention to the amount of oil and the searing went better. Those didn’t have flour though, so they were easier. When the meat has flour on it, I have a harder time telling if I have the right amount of oil because the flour is absorbing oil. Sometimes the flour starts falling off too. I also had the heat too high when I was searing the veal. I think my heat was better controlled on the pork and beef, but a couple times it got too hot for a few seconds.