Today we had a catering event, which is always fun. We made ramen noodles, and that was a nice change from the rice and chicken we usually serve for SOUP. We also had our written final today. One thing I will never forget is that cooking a wok is called stir-frying.
Today we made nasty cookies. They were super dry and flavorless. I think the problem might be that they called for melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder. Every recipe I’ve ever made with melted chocolate has had issues. We also made meringues. The thing to remember about meringues is that if you don’t get them to stiff peaks they’ll melt or collapse when you bake them off. No good. It’s important to have patience when you whip them.
Today we made hollandaise, and I learned a lot because it took me three attempts to get it right!
- Use a thermometer if you are a hollandaise nube. Your eggs will cook if they get too hot, and you aren’t trying to make lemon flavored scrambled eggs.
- Whisk like your life depends on it. Don’t be lazy and sit there checking your phone while your stir occasionally. You will end up with scrambled eggs or a broken sauce.
- According to the textbook we reference, lemon juice helps stop the cooking process, so that is just an interesting little tidbit.
Yesterday was tough and I was exhausted, determined not to go to school today. Last minute, I gave into the guilt and thew on my chef clothes. Today was different because we were doing a catering event for the people who donated money to give the UVU basketball players a new training gym. After a bit of wandering I found the gym and was immediately put to work setting up tables. After that was done I was assigned to be a server. I went around to the guests offering up yummy samples while they played some welcome games. When the games were over dinner was served (steak and mashed potatoes), with a dessert table set up soon after. I learned that with catering you have to be way more professional that you would as, say, a cashier. You also have to be QUICK and good at following directions. Dinners move fast, and if you fall behind you can set the whole evening behind.
Tonight was difficult for me because I get very nervous around large crowds. This crowd was even harder because they were well to do, and I felt small around them. I tried to keep a smile on my face and come off as friendly, but by the end of the night it became burdensome. It is definitely something I need to keep working on. This catering event was such an awesome learning experience! I can’t wait to do more caterings!
Today. Was. Awesome. I came to class expecting to make some sauces and ended up fabricating chicken, making two soups, two sauces, and practicing knife skills. I really enjoyed the bustle of the kitchen. It was hot, people were stressed, and my adrenaline was high which made for an exciting 5 hours. I started with my espagnole, a mother sauce made with veal stock. It took one and a half hours to reduce. It was simple, no problems there except I needed more seasoning at the end. Next I started on a carrot ginger coconut soup. All we were given was a list of ingredients, no amounts or formula to follow. I started with 2 quarts of chicken stock and boiled 10 roughly diced carrots and some fresh ginger for about a half hour. I then pureed that, which made it a little thick, so I thinned it with the coconut milk. I was very proud of that soup! I liked that I was able to use my knowledge and experience to make a dish out of my head! I then made a veloute (chicken stock mother sauce) which kinda flopped cause I got distracted fabricating chicken. Speaking on that, I saw some minor improvement on my 8-piece cut, but not a ton. I still forget the steps and I really struggle trimming the bone on the drumstick and french breast.
At the end of the day I learned that you need to prioritize and make a game plan when you have a lot to do. There were times when I was stuck wasting precious time cause I hadn’t planned correctly. I also learned that I have a LOT of work to do on my chicken. Lastly, the power of classmates working together is incredible. I wouldn’t have mad it through half of what I did if I hadn’t been able to ask my classmates questions!
Today was the first day back at school after the long weekend. When I got to class I learned we would be making cheesecake instead of the honey wheat bread I had mentally prepared myself for. Fortunately we were still baking french bread, so not all of my pep talk had gone to waste (; I started with the french bread. Since we were using measuring cups, I left a cup of flour out of my dough and went with my gut feeling that it was hydrated enough. While I let that ferment I started on the Cheesecake with my assigned partner. It was a very simple recipe so we finished it quickly and got back to our dough. However, as the chef came around he noted that our mixture was way to thick. I was confident we used the right ingredients, so we put the cheesecake in the oven….and it burnt!! We forgot to get it out, it was so embarrassing! I tried to put that failure behind me as I worked on my dough. I put into practice everything I had learned the past couple weeks about bread, including being extra careful about slashing. I was proud with how it turned out.
At the end of the day I was extremely disappointed in my cheesecake. I went home and remade the recipe, and I realized the reason it was so thick was because the cream cheese at school was so cold and we didn’t bother bringing it to room temperature. At home, on the other hand, the mixture was a lot thinner when the cream cheese wasn’t cold. As you can see, however, I still have a lot of practice on it. The top is separated and the sides are less than aesthetic. As for my bread, I liked seeing myself improve from the first day. I’m still not perfect, but I understand better how to ferment, proof, score, and bake.