Monday, June 8, 2009

Fine Cooking I: Week 2

My second class in the Fine Cooking I series at ICE followed the same structure as you would expect: lecture, practice and finally a VERY big meal with wine. Did I mention we get to take home leftovers after class? It's pretty awesome, especially as class makes me way too tired to feel like cooking dinner.

Anyway, this class I felt more comfortable as I knew what to expect. Week 2 covered stocks, basic chicken stock, classic and express methods of degreasing stocks, roasting and baking of proteins and vegetables, rice cookery and trussing and carving poultry.

The stock we made was so clear. It involved more steps and patience than my past attempts at stock making but it was worth it. Also, apparently you should NEVER use leftover bones to make stock as it won't have enough flavor.

I was excited that my team seemed to let me take charge and assign tasks from the assigned recipes. The menu for Lesson 2 and pictures are below.

Arborio Chicken Soup
Rosemary Roast Chicken
I've roasted chickens successfully before, so this wasn't life changing. However, Chef Jane pointed out something very smart. You should NEVER ever wash poultry before you cook it. This spreads any potential infection around your sink, etc. and ultimately anything that could make you sick will cook out. Our group had a little trouble with following the trussing instructions; we hadn't tucked the wings properly. The chicken was super tasty as a result of lots of basting. Carving was pretty easy to follow and it probably will change my life. Previously I've just masochistically picked everything off the bones.
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes Provencale (YUM)
Roasted Garlic
"Best" and Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf
My group made the brown and wild rice pilaf, which was pretty fantastic and a great compliment to the chicken. I loved the texture. It involved porcini mushrooms, pine nuts, shallots, currants, parsley, etc.
French Style Spinach, Bacon and Mushroom Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette or Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
I sauteed the lardon (thick cut bacon) for the salad and was excited to receive compliments from Chef Jane and her assistant on the even browning. My homework paid off! I also made my first vinaigrette ever and it held, all week. My arm was BURNING by the time I finished the tasks though.
Claufouti, 3 types, with Haagen-Dasz Vanilla Ice Cream
Our group made a blueberry clafouti. Chef Jane describes it as sweetened pancake batter poured over fruit,which is accurate. This is a great, simple dessert. I think lemon zest would have spiced up our version. I'm contemplating an attempt at creating a peanut butter and grape "jelly" clafouti.

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