Dirty Work.

I can’t believe today was already day five of Culinary French class!  It looks like I might survive all nine days after all.  We kicked today off with a demo on…artichokes!

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Chef Tiess showed us how to properly peel, core, and prepare the artichokes.  He also mentioned that for many kitchen jobs, this is one of the first things they will ask you to do in order to see if you know what you’re doing.  Good thing I’m learning now!

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To prep an artichoke – peel off outer leaves and set aside for later…

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Until you get down to a layer that has this ridge at the bottom, seen below.

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At that point, you get the artichoke right at the ridge line, and expose this pretty purple flower on the inside!

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Then use a spoon to scoop out all the furry stuff until you reach the smooth inside.

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Take your paring knife around the outside to cut off the rest of the external leaves and – viola!  Trimmed artichoke bottom! 

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We rubbed them with  lemon juice and left lemons on the inside since they oxide so quickly!  I think it may have been even faster than avocados – insane.

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So my job today was not very glamorous.  My official title was “tournant” – which basically meant I was the kitchen slave for the day.  Duties like dishes, garbage, and dealing with this lovely bin of disgusting…

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That, my friends, is a HUGE tilt skillet filled with veal stock.  Oh but wait – let’s not forget about this one…

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A 25 gallon kettle full of chicken stock – awesome!  :)  First thing I did was start browning 4 cans of tomato puree to turn the veal stock into demi glace. 

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Check out the SIZE of the stock pot I was using – I think I could have fit inside!

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I strained all the liquid out until all that was left were bones and veggies…

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And I added the liquid to the tomato puree until it was all incorporated.

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Next step was to add two bags of frozen demi glace, in order to make this a super-concentrated batch of demi. 

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Once the demi came to a simmer, I let it cook for over two hours.  Every ten minutes or so, I used this skimmer to depouillage, or skim the fat off of the top.  I told you – glamorous stuff!  :)

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Once all of the fat had been removed…

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And the mixture had reduced quite a bit, we added some xanthum gum to give it a finished sheen and final thickening. 

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With the veal stock now made into demi glace, I turned my attention to the gigantic kettle of chicken stock.  Just like before, I used a fine mesh strainer to separate the stock from the bones and veggies…

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And poured the stock into several small containers called baine maries.  It’s important to use multiple small containers because as part of the sanitation code, you have to cool things down to certain temperatures within a particular time frame.  Several small containers cool more quickly than one large container.

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I let the stock pots hang out in a big tub of ice water until the end of class. 

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With both stocks strained and finished, my partner and I removed all the grody bones and guck, and scrubbed out the kettle and the tilt skillet.

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In the meantime, other people were cooking actual FOOD elsewhere in the classroom!  When I was finished with stock duties, I made the rounds with my camera.  Rachel made adorable little potato birds nests…

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That would eventually become homes for Alexis’ quail…

Someone (no idea who!) carved potatoes into the shape of mushrooms and deep fried them – so cute!

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And Jeff made delicious carrot soufflés!

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Service was smooth and calm today – much better than the disasters of earlier in the week.

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At the end of service, we had a few extra plates left over, so I was finally able to get you guys some shots of the finished products that we serve to our guests in the dining room.  The first plate had pork chops with apples, carrot soufflé, green beans, and a fried chive mashed potato ball. 

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This plate had the birds nest with perched quail on top, and green beans and almonds underneath – such cute plate presentation!

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This plate was a fillet of Dover sole with green beans and pomme frites – otherwise known as French fries!

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The last entree plate was sautéed veal with a morel mushroom sauce, carrot soufflé, and more green beans.  Plus the mushroom shaped potatoes!

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My classmates and I joke that the way to tell who worked the hardest in class is to see who is the messiest.  I think today was one of my messiest days ever – my apron was filthy when I got home!

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Next week I have some really intense recipes to make, so I was actually kind of relieved to have an easier day today.  After class I headed up to yoga to meet Kath for a double workout date – a walk and some hot vinyasa!  We took a 45 minute walk and caught up on all we had missed over this past busy week.  During our walk we ran into an older lady who was dog sitting for a very energetic little puppy, who desperately wanted to be walked.  We ended up taking her dog for her, and walking little Gracie for 15 minutes or so, so that the nice lady could relax on her porch and the dog could get rid of some energy.  So cute!

Yoga was awesome tonight – the first time I’ve gone to a new instructor that I actually LIKED!  I will definitely go back to Sarah’s classes again.  I think that final stretch and sweat was exactly what I needed as my last workout before the marathon. 

Crossing my fingers that the torrential rain and thunderstorms predicted for Sunday’s race will blow over…