Friday, October 07, 2005

Cookin No. 25 - It has been a while

Well, my internet is still down, however I have found that the college has a hotspot, so here I am, pirating again.

It has been a while, I’m sorry about that. So what has been happening in these past few weeks:

Product ID week one:

Our second day of class we go to a food show put on by Pocono Produce, a major food supplier in our area. It was a lot of fun, we grazed our way threw the whole show, and got to see some interesting things. Most of the stuff was precooked food, and I kept thinking, in my restaurant, I will cook everything from scratch. But who knows, I might cheat every once and a while.

There was a pie eating contest, and two of my classmates competed. They didn’t win, but I think Doug should have, because the kid who won had most of his food all over the table instead of his stomach. This was my first time witnessing a pie eating contest, very interesting.

We met a Certified Master Chef, who is also an instructor at the CIA, and who was the instructor of our teacher, Chef Susan. He was a great man, and gave some good advice; the three things you need to become a good chef:
1 Know the basics
2 Have a passion for cooking
3 Common sense

My class with CMC

It was very inspiring to hear him talking, and when he spoke about common sense, it really made me think differently. For example, if you are given a cow tongue, and told to cook it, what do you do if you have never experienced cow tongue? Well you think, hmm, a cow tongue is a tough mussel, so you will want to make it tender. How do you make it tender? You braise it. See common sense. But it really made me think in a different way, more like thinking like a cook.

Product ID week two:

It felt like we were in a Food network special every day. Chef Susan would go over what products we were to learn about, mainly vegetables, and then take us to the kitchen and show us the veggies, and then cook them up. MMMM

On Friday we went over grains, and she made the best couscous I have ever had:

Chef Susan’s Indian Couscous:

1 cup of couscous
1 cup of chicken stock
1 navel orange
A handful of sliced almonds
A handful of raisins
Salt to taste
Chopped chives for garnish
Drizzle of olive oil
Curry powder to taste

Boil the chicken broth. With the couscous in a bowl on your counter, add the raisins, zest of the whole orange, and boiling chicken broth. Cover and let sit until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid and the raisins have become plump. Squeeze the orange into the couscous; add the almonds, salt, curry powder and olive oil.

Stir up and enjoy

You know, I was never a big fan of couscous, but this was wonderful.

Product ID week three:

We learned about spices and herbs, nuts, chocolate and dairy. Chef Susan made fresh mozzarella, and butter. Butter as it turns out is quite easy to make, just keep whipping heavy cream past the whipped cream stage, and the liquid will separate from the fat and poof! You have butter. Tasty butter too.

Right now I am studying for our final exam in product id. OH! That reminds me, I am now serve safe certified. I passed the government test for safety and sanitation! It was an incredibly hard test, so I’m really glad that I made the cut, and this will also look pretty good to future employers. Back to my product id final, I am pretty confident about this test, but we will see what happens. No better way to study than to sit back with a beer and Bonnie Raitt.

Monday we didn’t have school so I went for a hike around this wonderful place out by Bangor, PA. I had been there once while I was at a retreat, and it’s wonderful. It’s called Columcille, and apparently this guy with too much money and time, arranged rocks so they looked like Stonehenge. I had a good hour hike, and then had a nice lunch of apple and goat cheese while I watched the squirrels chase each other around like crazed beasts.

This weekend my brother is getting married. Wow, married. I will have a sister-in-law now. It just seemed to have crept up on me so fast, suddenly I have a dress and shoes and poof, I’m a bride’s maid. It should be a beautiful wedding, its at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, I mean, how much more picturesque can you get? After the wedding, Brian and his new bride, Kim, will honeymoon in Italy, and my parents will be in Rome. I guess I’ll be the only shmuck not in Italy. L I suppose that I’ll survive, I’ll be in baking class making cookies to comfort me.

Also, some more interesting news. The people at Wegman’s decided not to call me to tell me that I didn’t get the job they told me that I got, and just as I was about to start putting my resume out again, Mike from produce at Wegman’s calls, and wants to know if I would like to interview for the position of Demo Chef. Wegman’s has a meal of the week, and if I get the job, I will be cooking the meal in front of people and answering questions. I don’t think that I am qualified for this job, but apparently I impressed the cheese supervisor and she passed my application on with a good recommendation. I think that if I do get the job, it would be an awesome experience. The best way to learn something is to teach it. And I spoke with Chef Susan today, and she said that she would help me with any questions I had so I could prepare myself. The more I think about it, the more I want this job, it would be perfect for now, and help me build up a good repertoire of recipes.

So that’s it for now.

Until next time, which shouldn’t be too far away, Bon Appetite


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