Back On My Feet.

Wow – thank you guys for all the awesome responses to my Flying Pig Marathon recap!  It was a long hard run that I won’t be forgetting any time soon – that’s for sure!  :)  After the race we had a torturous 10+ hour drive home in lots of scary rain, so needless to say I felt like I was in a coma for most of yesterday.  I made it to class on about 3 hours of sleep, and immediately crashed for a serious nap when I got home.  Please forgive me for not having yesterday’s class pictures for you until now!

Since I never showed you the exciting Fisherman’s Stew that I made yesterday, today you get a Classical French double header.  Here goes…

Not even 24 hours after the marathon, I was back in my heavy kitchen shoes and running around the kitchen at full speed.  My dish for the Monday was one of the main entrees – Bouillabaisse, or French Fisherman’s Stew.  I started with an assortment of fresh fish and shellfish, including giant slabs of the always-scary monkfish…

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I diced up the monkfish, cod, and scallops, and let them all marinate for an hour or so in some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

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While the fish marinated, I cleaned and prepped the shellfish – mussels and clams…

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With the seafood all ready to go, I got my vegetables in order.  Chopped up leeks, fennel, and garlic, and got them all going in the bottom of a stockpot. 

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Next I added fish stock, tomatoes, and potato scraps, and brought it all up to a simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables were all really tender. 

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Once it was ready, I moved the operation over to the Vitamix, where I strained off the liquid from the vegetables and pureed them all until smooth.

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The broth and puree were brought back to a simmer together, and the raw seafood was portioned out into special serving bowls. 

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This was such a labor intensive dish to make in a short period of time, that I was lucky to have helpers!  While I worked on the stew, Jeff made my garlic bread and roasted red pepper rouille sauce…

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Service time rolled around at 11am, and I popped my stew bowls into the steamer for 12 minutes – just long enough to cook the raw fish beneath the broth.  Final product was a heaping bowl of seafood, garnished with garlic toast and red pepper sauce!

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Apparently I was on a roll with my stew, because today I was making another liquid dish – chicken consommé!  First things first, I got all my mis en place in order.  I grabbed my vegetables for mirepoix, and discovered something really frightening happening in the onion bin.  Chef said to go ahead and use what we had so that we didn’t have to waste – every penny counts? 

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Rather than julienne 5 cups of mirepoix vegetables, I got to use this fun robot coupe attachment that essentially does it for you.  Drop a whole onion or carrot into the top…

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And it comes out in matchsticks!  Such a huge time saver.

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To my veggies I added tomato puree, ground beef hearts (gag), parsley stems, bay leaf, peppercorns, and thyme.  I mixed it all up…

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And stirred it into my stockpot full of chicken broth and egg whites whisked together.  At this point I had the pot over a full flame, constantly whisking until the temperature reached 116 degrees.  The minute the pot hit 116, I stopped whisking and waited for what they call “the raft” to form.

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And there is it – the raft!  The meat mixture sort of floats to the top and collects the sediment and particles in the soup, forming a “raft” floating on top of the liquid.  Eventually, the heat of the liquid makes it burst through the top, and creating a volcano like eruption through a small hole.

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I laid a coffee filter on top of the raft, and basted the liquid from the volcano spot onto the filter for the next hour.  Every five minutes I ran over to the pot to baste over and over again!

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Meanwhile, I julienned (by hand this time!) a boatload of root vegetables for the garnish in the bottom of the soup bowls.  Such tedious, detail oriented work today!

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After an hour of basting, the meat was cooked through and it was time to strain.

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Consommé is so tricky because any sort of jostling or big movement will cause the sediment to redistribute back through the soup, and the point is to have it look crystal clear.  I carefully moved the pot to another counter, and ladled off the liquid through another coffee filter.

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And then poured the liquid through two separate strainers also lined with coffee filters.  So much filtering happenin

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When I reached the bottom of the pot, I was finally done straining, and it was just in time!

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Final seasoning with a sachet of salt and pepper…

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Finished with a shot of cognac!  When it was all done, I set it up on the line (next to our other cream soup) so that I could dish it out for service.

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All that hard work just for 15 of these little bowls….

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The main reason you rarely see consommé offered in restaurants is that very reason – so much work, and people can’t understand why it demands such a high price.  The cost is in the time and labor, not necessarily the ingredients.

While I was basting and straining all day long, other classmates made some fun looking food.  The dynamic duo – Chad and Paul – sautéed it up on the line…

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And we had a full table of very colorful food!  I was super bummed that the braised red cabbage was made with duck fat – it looked delicious.

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A few final plates…

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And a lot of small plates for service!

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Yesterday I felt really rough in class – still coming down from the stomach problems, and having a lot of general pain and discomfort.  I felt a lot better today – I think catching up on sleep made a big difference!  The soreness is almost gone, and I’m already starting to think about what I want to run next…

Being out of town two weekends in a row has made me fall really far behind in my school work and house work.  For now I have a paper to write, so house work will have to wait!

Thank you again for all the awesome support this weekend!  Part of what got me through the run was thinking about what I would tell you guys if I actually survived.  :)