Jun 14, 2007

Techniques of Fine Cooking 1 - Class #5

This was the last class and the chef threw us for a little bit of a loop…when it came time to cook, she told us that we wouldn’t be allowed to look at our recipes…she would post a list of ingredients and we would have to mix them based on experience and taste. I’ll go into why that is almost the worst thing Chef could have done to me in another post, but for now, I’ll just say that I went into this class with an open, but cautious, mind.

The lecture portion included how to make a marinade and why certain ingredients are necessary in one depending on what type of food is being prepared (i.e. chicken, lamb, pork, beef, etc.), how to make mayo and when you should versus using store bought, how to properly carve London Broil, and how a restaurant broiler is different than the average home kitchen broiler.

The demo portion included how to use a mandoline, how to cut celery root, how to cut fennel, how to cut jicama, how to cut bell peppers for grilling, how to grate ginger, how to cut an avocado, how to cut cabbage, how to cut jalapeño peppers, and how to make a chiffonade of basil.

After the demos and a few questions, Chef posted each groups items on the board with a listing of the ingredients, and told us to go to it. Because a few people were missing the class, one member of my group had to move over to group number two and that evened each group out to three or four people.

One of my group mates started on the marinade for the London Broil, another one started the marinade for the grilled vegetables, the third started cutting the fat off of the London Broil, and I started cutting up the ingredients for guacamole.

Even though we weren’t allowed to use our recipes, the guacamole wasn’t hard to make since I was able to taste it as each ingredient went in to see how it tasted. We ran into a small stumbling block when we could only find one lime (another group used the other six!) and had to substitute lemon juice. The jalapeño peppers really didn’t add any heat to it at all so we had to dump in a whole bunch of Tabasco sauce. Unfortunately, during some enthusiastic pouring of the Tabasco, some of it got on my hand, and I stupidly licked it with my tongue…that ruined my tongue for about an hour and I had to rely on others to test the guac for hotness.

After finishing the guac and setting it aside in the fridge, I started grilling some vegetables on the stove using a double burner grill. Boy was that thing hot! I had to walk away every few minutes of grilling due to the heat. I wish I had my temp gun with me to see how hot it was and how hot I was. I’m pretty sure that my right arm hair is shorter than my left because of it. It felt like I spent a day in the hot sun without lotion. The vegetables came out well, though.

While I was grilling the vegetables, my group mates were broiling the beef, and Chef was demoing how to make some sauces and toppings for the beef. She then showed us how to make chocolate ganashe, again, because one of the students tried to make it at home and it didn’t come out well (she melted the chocolate instead of letting the cream do it).

After the beef was done, she showed us how to carve the London Broil and how to plate the various salads. Then it was time to eat. The food was great, and the different sauces were really good.

Once everyone was finished with their dinner, it was time for the flambéed bananas. Chef demoed it once, then it was up to us to make the rest. When it was my turn, I had no problem at all, and it came out quite well. The amazing thing is that before she demoed it, I would be scared away from making it because it’s probably too complicated for what it’s worth, but it was really easy and I could see myself making it without an issue at home. Not only did it taste fantastic with ice cream, it was fun to make to boot (and it would impress a chick, which is always nice).

I packed up a little bit of each salad, some vegetables, some coleslaw, and a few other things, then we said our goodbyes, and I went home. It will take me a few days to fully absorb the classes and the course as a whole, but my first impression is that I really liked the classes, the mix of food we made, the mix of techniques we used, and how my confidence in the kitchen has been bolstered. I’ll post a full overview once the course really sinks in, but for now, I feel that the course was worth the money, and I will look at other courses at ICE in the future.