Monday, December 12, 2005

Cookin No. 36 Snow Day and Collard Greens

Pretty isn't it? If you can guess what this is, I'll give you a candy bar ;)

I don’t know why it is, but I seem to study better with alcohol in a loud environment where something will distract me a little. Maybe I retain information if I am not harping on the fact that I need to know it, or maybe its because I am more calm and relaxed when I’m enjoying myself. I don’t know. But tonight Jeremy and I went out to study, after realizing that we were falling asleep studying in his cozy apartment, and we would study while talking and laughing, and after a while we just got the information down. So I am ready to walk into that test tomorrow, and just spill out all the answers, and feel confident about it.

So Friday we had our first large snow storm, and school was cancelled. I felt like a little kid, getting a snow day from school. I slept until 10, hung around my apartment reading and munching on breakfast until Chris called me and invited me out to see Narnia. Which was awesome, the movie was exactly how I imagined it would be while I was reading the books as a kid. It was defiantly a kids day, the only adult things about my day was shoveling out my car, and going to work after the movie. But at least I got the throw the first snow ball of the season, (at my car).

School has been going well. I am now in skill development 1, where I am learning how to perfect my knife cuts, and make good soups and stocks. Chef Scott, my new teacher, is a little hard to get used to, especially after having a laid back teacher like Chef Susan. He is a high energy man, who is obsessed with cleanliness. If your not cleaning, then your doing nothing. His teaching method is also hard for me to enjoy, because he leaved no room for mistakes, so you learn the information by following his every word and move. If you deviate, “then you got problems”, as he would say. Luckily, growing up, my father was very much like a drill sergeant, so I am used to his ways, but it is a huge difference from my previous classes. With Chef Susan, if you made a mistake, you made a mistake, and she would tell you how you could fix it. With Chef Scott, if you make a mistake, then you have just held up the whole process, and feel like a fool. Don’t get me wrong, I like Chef Scott, he is a nice man, who is very willing to help you figure things out, and give you the information you seek. Like the first day of class, I told him that I would like to learn more of the science behind cooking, and why things happen for what reason. So the next day he lent me a book on the science of cooking, which has been very interesting. One thing that I learned recently is that in a place that is highly elevated like Denver, water boils at 208o, instead of 212o, because of the pressure in these parts of the world. I have also learned that to make a good cream soup that won’t break apart and the oil separates from the water, is to add the cream at the end of the cooking process. Because a fat based liquid can only hold so much fat when heated, and starts to break down after a while. So if you cook a soup with a fat base, the fat will begin to separate because it can only hold so much, but if you cook a soup with a water base, and add a thickener, the cream will be suspended in the soup and won’t have cause to break. The science of food is fascinating to me, even though there is much creativity involved in creating a dish, if you don’t understand why things happen then you are lost.

Enough of that though, I don’t want to paint a bad picture of Chef Scott, because I really do like the man, I just have to get used to some things.

Work is going well, I never realized that demo cook could have regulars, but I do, I have people who come to my station, chat and sample things every time they come into the store. And it makes me feel good when they compliment me and tell me that what ever restaurant I get a job in I better tell them because they are going to come to visit. I’ve had marriage offers, offers to live with people and just cook form them… it makes me feel special. Like I’m some sort of common person, who people think are a celebrity. I have no intention of becoming a celebrity, because I just want to cook, but to have people who are loyal and willing to trust me, is a wonderful thing. People who will trust me enough to eat something that they think is horrible and disgusting, like brussel sprouts, or collard greens. I had one woman, who was once a confirmed brussle sprout hater, convert her ways and learn that when prepared properly they are really tasty, and now she trusts me, so when I told her she was going to like my collard greens, she said, “now lea, you got me to like brussle sprouts, but I doubt that I will ever like collard greens”. She tasted them, and was pleasantly surprised, and genuinely liked them. That’s the kind of trust I want from people, because I won’t lead you astray, I am not going to put something in front of you that isn’t worth it.

So speaking of collard greens, here’s a Wegman’s recipe that I changed slightly:

Collard Greens (a good side dish with spiral ham, fried chicken or whatever tickles your fancy):

1 bushel of collard greens cleaned, take off the stems and cut the leaves into slices
1 diced onion
Vegetable oil
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
½ jalapeño pepper finely diced
1 cup chicken stock

Blanch the collard greens in boiling water, for about 3 minutes until they are tender but not mushy. Then shock them in ice water, drain and put to the side.

In a sauce pan, sauté the onions in a film of vegetable oil until they are translucent, then deglaze the pan with the sugar dissolved in the apple cider vinegar. Let simmer and reduce for a moment, then add your collard greens and jalapeno.

Mix together and add the chicken stock. Let simmer until the chicken stock has fully reduced.

Plate and enjoy

Well that’s all for now, until next time, Bon Appetite

Who says we don't have fun? CPR Baby Annie teachin class

Shrimp Bisque simmerin away

Beef Stock chillin

Mercedes Cookin

Julie messin with the cornstarch slurry


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