Mozzarella Monday.

I promise you there is some fun cheese-making happening at the end of this post, but first you have to bear with me for some more scary meat photos.  I’ll tell you what, out of 15 culinary labs, my very last one is definitely pushing me to the edges of my comfort level more than any other!  This class is all about meat, meat, and more meat.  Not that I can’t handle cooking or preparing meat, but this is some seriously funky stuff.  Get ready…

Paul and I were a team of two today, because our third team member didn’t show up.  We have started prepping all of the food we will present on day 8 for the Grande Buffet, and the first thing we got started on was another chicken galantine – ick.  I started my day by breaking down more chickens…

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To which we added a few ounces of super fatty BACON…

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And then sent through the meat grinder…

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We made two separate batches of chicken force meat – one with dark meat and once with breast meat.  To the dark meat batch, we added a chorizo spice blend, bacon, and yellow corn.  To the breast meat batch, we added fennel, oregano, and black beans.  These bowls looks almost appetizing until you realize that it is basically a raw pureed meat mixture. 

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Next I took some leftover chicken breasts and pounded them out thin between two pieces of plastic wrap.

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We added a layer of wilted spinach to give our galantine a pop of bright green color.

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And then we piped out the force meat mixtures in alternating lines.  Hopefully this will made the finished sliced product look vibrant and interesting!

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I used my large icing spatula to smooth over the top of the mixture and fill in all the air pockets…

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And then rolled the mixture up into a giant, chicken breast covered log.  Then we transferred the large roll over to the horrifying chicken skins…

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Next we did roll #2.  So just in case you’ve lost track, we have 2 different types of ground and smoothed chicken mixtures, piped on top of flattened chicken breasts, all rolled up in chicken skin.  G.R.O.S.S.

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With our massive rolled galantine put away in the refrigerator, we moved on to our next project – CHEESE making!  Now this is a demo I can get behind.

Side note:  A few people have asked me recently if I have become a vegan.  For the most part, I try to avoid labels in general because I don’t like to feel pigeonholed into a stereotype.  But 95% of the time I stick to a vegan diet.  Casey is eating 100% vegan now, and since we eat most of the same food, I’ve ended up eating mostly vegan as well. 

I’m not eating yogurt or regular milk anymore, in an attempt to help some of my stomach issues.  My one vice that I just can’t quit is cheese.  I don’t eat much of it, or even very often, but I just haven’t quite been able to kick the habit yet.  We’ll see if I do.  For now I’m just enjoying eating good vegetarian food, with a bit of cheese here and there.

Okay back to the cheese demo.  We got to make fresh mozzarella cheese from cheese curds – so cool!  We soaked the cheese curd in salted water for a few minutes to let it soak in and soften…

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And then ladled it out with a big skimmer.  It was seriously as easy as that!  From curds to cheese with nothing more than salted water – awesome. 

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Chef Campbell showed us how we could make mozzarella balls by squeezing them out between our fingers, and then plunging them into an ice bath.

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And then he also made a mozzarella roulade by pouring the warm gooey cheese out onto plastic…

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Stretching it out into a uniform shape to be rolled..

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And then topping it with with basil leaves and prosciutto…

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All rolled up, and into an ice bath for cooling.

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After the demo, we headed back to our group work stations to make our own versions of the balls or roulade.  My group was making a roulade, so we poured the cheese out onto our plastic wrap…

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And then added our toppings – we chose basil leaves, chopped kalamata olives, and sun dried tomatoes.  Paul wanted to add pork and duck, but he caved when I begged for a vegetarian version.  It is so rare that I get to eat anything at school, and to be denied my favorite cheese would just be too much.  :)

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We rolled it up and set it in ice to cool, but we have to wait until tomorrow to cut into it and see how it turned out – I hate waiting, grrrr…

Three more days until I am a college graduate – for the second time!  I still don’t really know what my plan is for after graduation.  I won’t bore you with details, but I had a few things lined up that didn’t pan out, and suddenly my summer is wide open.  I feel a little lost and unsure about what my next step will be. 

I keep reminding myself that I felt this way the first time I graduated college, back in 2003, and clearly everything turned out okay then.  :)  Plus I have a lot more experience and a much better support system now than I did the first time.  I just don’t like the feeling of so many unknowns, and hope that I figure out the next step sooner than later.  Crossing my fingers!  For now my plan is to enjoy my summer, write proposals for fall internships, and figure out where and when we are moving next!