Today we had to do some prep work for a SOUP event. I helped my friend prepare for the vegan dishes, which included marinating mushrooms and preparing a veggie broth. The night went pretty smoothly, but I did learn how important it is to be careful when making food for specialty diets. It is very easy to cross-contaminate so you have to be aware of what you’re doing and touching at all times.
Today was great. I got the opportunity to spend four hours in the cooler at school. I scrubbed rust, mold, and food off the shelves and walls. By the end I smelled like bleach and I think I’m still cold from it. In all honesty it wasn’t that bad it was a good reminder that we need to clean during the year so that we don’t have o be overwhelmed cleaning at the end.
Today we had to do some catering prep. My job was to help flatten and dip chocolate cookies in sprinkles. It took us about four hours to do them all. I was struck by how similar this assembly-line set up was to what I do at work every day. The good thing about caterings is that we get a taste of what cooking is like in the real world. A problem that we ran into is that we ran out of sprinkles, and someone had to run to the store to pick up more. That’s why it is important to be prepared and order the correct amount of ingredients.
So today was pretty cool because my group got to cater for the Sons of Utah Pioneers. We got to help create the menu, which was exciting. I spent like three hours picking caterpillars out of brussel sprouts, which was less exciting. One thing I learned is the prep is such a huge part of catering. Obviously it saves you copious amounts of time on the day of the event, but it also allows you to identify and solve problems, like missing ingredients or needing to adjust recipes. I had so much fun helping prepare this!
So news flash, biscotti is friggin’ delicious! Especially when you add lots of orange zest and hazelnuts. One problem I learned to avoid with this crunchy cookie is getting them too dark. It is important to make sure that your biscotti cooks enough in the first bake or it will get super dark during it’s second bake. You also have to be very careful when cutting the biscotti, to make sure they are all the same size.
We also made some cream cheese brownies and I learned (I actually found this out at work rather than school) that if you don’t want your cream cheese to get to dark, you should put a pan on the rack above your brownies when you bake them. The more you know!
Today we learned how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie (or try to at least). The thing that was hard about it was trying to be opened minded. I’ve made CC cookies dozens of times. However, baking at home versus at school is different, and I had to accept new techniques in order to succeed. One of the problems I ran into was my cookies turned out super flat. I think this might be because I didn’t put enough baking powder in them.
We also made shortbread cookies, which kind of reminded me of biscuits, because it uses the same method. I learned that you have to develop the gluten enough by mixing, or else they will spread too much during the baking process. Another thing to remember is that if the dough isn’t rolled out evenly the cookies will bake at different times because they are not the same thickness.
Today we prepped for the scholarship ball as well as another catering. I was in charge of salads. I learned how to make couscous which was fun, it is different than any other grain I have ever cooked. I had to substitute a lot of veggies because we were out of traditional ones (cucumber for zucchini, red onion for onion). Luckily they were raw so I didn’t have to worry about cooking the substitutions.
What is it about deep fat frying that is such a novelty? Is it the crunchy, fatty, greasy food that it produces? Could it be that fact that you can deep fry almost any food and it will taste good? Who knows? Does anyone?
Today we made cordon bleu, chicken legs and drumsticks, onion rings, and potato croquettes. I learned that with frying you have to make sure the oil is the right temperature. If it is too cold then it will make the food soggy. If it is too hot then it’ll leave the food under cooked on the inside and burnt on the outside. The only problem I ran into today is forgetting to season anything. That was a dumb move on my part.
And that fire is why you don’t mix water and hot oil!
Today was insane! I went in to class expecting to make two pies and came out making 4, not to mention the caramel sauce, pastry cream, and 6 fruit tarts! The deal was that if we could get everything done that we needed to today as well as tomorrow, we could cancel class the next day (woohoo!!!!!) So my friend and I divided and conquered (which is the only reason we were part of the six people who got to skip class). One thing I learned today is that when you make caramel, you can cook the sugar first before adding any other ingredients and it will be a MUCH shorter process than if you have to wait for everything to get up to temp/color. The only problem with doing that is you have a higher probability of crystallizing the whole thing. I also caramelized white chocolate for the first time, which was interesting. It took about an hour and a half, but it made the white chocolate taste soo much better. I definitely recommend giving this a try! I put in in my vanilla cream pie with raspberries and caramel sauce. Unfortunately, I dropped to whole thing on the ground outside. That was sad.
Oh cooking midterm how you tease me. Something I should be getting done in an hour or two is taking me three-four because you make me shaky and nervous. Today we have to julienne, roast, fabricate, saute, etc. I started with my pilaf because I knew that would take the longest. It turned out really well and I was proud of it. Then I started cutting my vegetables, which I cut too short. Then I made an omelet, which took me three tries because I forgot the proper was to do them (hehe). After struggling so bad with the baking midterm it was so nice to get better marks today. Especially because this is the class I have a hard time with.