Archives For culinary school

Driving down to Franklin this afternoon it occurred to me that the year is half over, the summer is half over, and I am more than halfway done with culinary school. All vaguely sobering in a “what do I do next?” kind of way.

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That was my fortune yesterday when I opened one of the many cookies the lady at China Dragon put in our bag of goodies. True words. Though my long day yesterday didn’t conclude with dinner with friends. It concluded with the best class at Ye Olde Pot & Pannery yet.

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Today started early. After running Keifel to work, I came home and made three batches of pizza dough for my Wednesday AM beginner class at Ye Olde Pot & Pannery. I have to say the recipe worked great, but it tastes much better if you let it sit in the fridge all day or over night. It’s not quite so “whitebread.”

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Today is the first day of my summer session at NSCC. I’m taking Advanced Baking with Chef T, who is one of my two favorite instructors, and Hospitality as it is known in the program. It is actually a class on supervision in the hospitality industry, particularly managing a kitchen.

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Finals are fini

victoria —  May 5, 2005 — Leave a comment

posted 05/05/05
Another semester under my belt. I made an A in Baking I, I am 99% sure I have an A in Culinary II and Nutrition and Menu Planning which means after two semesters I have a 4.0 in culinary school. I will try not to dislocate my shoulder while patting myself on the back. It does feel really good. Hey, all I managed in grad school was a 3.75 (damn B in Old English).

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I know it seems a strange thing to have a loathing for, but I have always detested meringue in either form it has been presented to me in the past. The wet pile of foam on top of key lime pie always seemed a travesty to me and the ruin of one of my very favorite things. In it’s dry, crumbly form, meringue always seemed the victim of too much breeding and not enough education–all sweetness and light with no substance.

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Foodieporn adventures

victoria —  February 28, 2005 — Leave a comment

Keifel and I got the flu for Valentine’s Day so there aren’t any sexy dinner plans to recount. It was nasty and I hope anyone else out there that’s gotten this thing is hydrated and resting and on the mend. Not something I would wish on my very worst enemy.

During our week of bed rest I did get a box of new cookbooks delivered and had lots of lovely new reading material. I also bought Once Upon a Tart which I have coveted since Heidi at 101cookbooks started posting recipes from it. My box of goodies contained The Bread Bible, John Ashe’s Cooking One on One, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, and James Peterson’s Sauces and Vegetables. James Peterson is brilliant and I want to cook my way right through the veg book and I think the sauces one will really help my cooking at school. The Bread Bible, like Rose Levy Beranbaum’s other bibles for cakes and pie and pastry, is brilliant. It’s also something I want to bake my way through. Though my Sunday bread making yesterday consisted of an old family stand by.

Last week, the week after being down with the flu, was a big cooking week for me. Last Monday, my boss at Ye Olde Pot and Pannery asked me to cook lunch for the regional and district managers for their first corporate visit of the year. I agreed and we decided on a menu of mixed baby green salad with champagne vinaigrette and bleu cheese, pan-grilled salmon with the peach salsa we carry, steamed asparagus with hollandaise, and a wild rice pilaf. One of the other associates made a coconut cake we were featuring in our spring catalog. They were almost an hour late due to fog in Atlanta, but everything turned out fabulous and my boss and the assistant manager gushed. The most interesting thing about it was that the regional manager got promoted to vice president of the company the next day. So in effect I cooked for the vice president of the company.

In further cooking adventures last week, my culinary II class had their first buffet for paying customers, who just happened to be the Board of Directors and the President of the college. They were late too but all went well and they were very gracious and thanked us for the lunch.

This week is midterm so I have three exams this week. I think my baking on may be the most difficult of the three. The nutrition one is open book, so I’m not too worried about that one. Still. They are a big percentage of my grade and I of course want to do well. So, I am off to study but I will leave you with the bread recipe from yesterday:

High-Protein Honey Bread

4 to 5 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 pkgs. dry yeast (scant 2 Tablespoons)
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
8 oz. (1 cup) cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Using 2 Tablespoons of butter or oil per pan, generously grease two 8×4″ or 9×5″ loaf pans or two 8 or 9″ round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the bread flour, the salt and the yeast. Mix well and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine water, honey, butter and cottage cheese and heat until very warm, about 120 degrees F.

Add the warm liquid and the eggs to the flour/yeast mixture and beat about 3 minutes by hand. Begin stirring in the whole wheat flour, the oats, nuts and enough of the remaining bread flour to form a soft dough.

On a floured surface, knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft and bounces back quickly when poked with a finger.

Place in an oiled bowl and flip to coat, cover with a damp towel and place in a warm spot until doubled in size. I like to combine baking and laundry day and let the dough rise on a hot pad on the dryer. This usually takes about an hour, but you can tell when the first rise is finished if you finger leaves an impression in the dough that doesn’t bounce back when you poke it.

When the first rise has finished, punch down the dough and give it a couple kneads. Cut it half and round each half on the counter and let it rest for about 15 minutes covered with a damp towel.

To shape the loaves roll of stretch the dough into two rectangles and tri-fold like a business letter pinching the seam together. Place the seamed side in the bottom of the loaf pans and return the pans to the dryer or other warm spot until doubled in size (about an hour).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and make sure one of the racks is in the approximate center of the oven. At the end of the second rise, place the loaves in the oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from the pans immediately and cool on racks.

This bread makes the most amazing toast. If it takes you awhile to get through a loaf of bread, be sure to tightly wrap the second loaf in foil and place in a large freezer bag and freeze. When ready to use thaw at room temperature and refresh in a 375 degree oven for about ten minutes to bring the crust back.

So you want to be a chef?

victoria —  February 3, 2005 — Leave a comment

I admit I am not fond of the traditional hours chefs keep and I am not interested in spending every weekend and holiday cooking for strangers while I never see my own family. I guess I’m selfish that way. What I do want to do, as I’ve said here several times, is teach other people how to cook for those they love and care for in their own homes.

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Between cooking school and work, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to decide what it is I really want out of all this. The false glamor of a television show has lost its appeal (& no I didn’t, finally, send a tape in). At work I’ve met literally hundreds of people with one thing in common – they love to cook.

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I know that artisans and bread purists will be distressed by the whole bread machine thing. I do make bread by hand fairly often.

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