A fishy night

Due to an ACF meeting our plan to cook bunny was temporarily delayed. On the menu instead was flounder!


Now is it me or do all fish look angry? This one especially so with its scowling mouth. I guess if someone caught me out of the ocean, instantly ripped the guts out, and then threw me on ice to be frozen, I’d have a chip on my shoulder too. Chef demos how to fillet the angry fish and we go at it. The plan is to wrap the fish around crab and oven poach it. Also on the menu is spinach (with bacon) and parisienne potatoes.

First thing after filleting the flounder is to make a stock. Into a nice large stockpot goes everyone’s fish carcasses, some white wine, some lemon, and a leek. (I actually have no idea what went in raw, just saw what came out cooked as I strained it.) The tandem duo (me and my trusty partner) fortunately didn’t have to sit through the meeting but were left to babysit the stock in the kitchen and plate out different varieties of crabmeat*.

Watching the stock one of the flounder’s had emerged from the liquid and was moving its mouth angrily as if to say “LET ME OUT.” Too bad buddy, we’re about to do all sorts of fun things to you!
Flounder stuffed with Crab Meat

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • Mayonaisse
  • 1 roasted red pepper (medium diced)
  • 1 ounce parsley minced
  • Mustard
  • 8 flounder fillets

Mix crabmeat, egg, mayo, red pepper, and parsley. Make sure this mixture is WET. Lay out flounder fillets. Cover in saran wrap and gently massage to extend out meat (kinda like when you pound chicken breasts, but much more gently). GENTLY. Paint approximately 1 teaspoon of mustard on each flounder fillet. Lay down approximately 1 ounce of crab mixture on each fillet and wrap fillet around crab mixture.

Put rolls in a saute pan. Add enough stock to cover flounder rolls just about half way. Cover with another saute pan (or a piece of aluminum foil) and place in 375F oven for about 15 minutes. Fish cooks fast and dries out if overcooked or not enough liquid so keep a close eye on it!

Sauteed Spinach

This is pretty easy and fun. Probably not the healthiest way to eat spinach. Basically saute a few pieces of bacon (mince it before frying). Add minced garlic and shallots. When the veggies are translucent, add spinach. Once the spinach is in it takes not anymore than 2/3 minutes to cook. Remember, spinach hasn’t done anything to you, so don’t kill it!

Parisienne Potatoes

These aren’t actually anything fancy, take a parisienne scoop (read: melon baller) and scoop out little potato balls. Poach these in some chicken stock with a touch of saffron and turmeric. These also take just about 15 minutes. Strain off chicken stock and add a little thyme and salt.

Quick Sauce

Couldn’t even tell you what this is called, but chefs seem to like making pan sauces. Take the poaching liquid and strain. Return to a saute pan with a little cream. Bring to a boil. Add a little cornstarch slurry (like an ounce or two) to thicken the sauce. Add a little salt and pepper and you’ve got a nice little fish sauce!

Now when it come to plating, I’m still learning. Our chefs (and mine after all was said and done) first impression of our plate was boobs. Also the potatoes shouldn’t have been higher (or as high) as the fish.


So he changed it to this…which us girls thought was a little, well, phallic.


Still have tons to learn. Next week should be interesting. Will be cooking some sort of Mediterranean European dish in International, frog legs in Classical, and bunny’s back on the menu in Advanced!

*Sidenote: Apparently there are lots of different types of crabmeat. The three we plated for the meeting were pasteurized, Indonesian, and Chinese. The pasteurized is what you typically find in the store and is the one most are accustomed to eating. But after eating a good amount of this we found it had a funky aftertaste. The Indonesian I didn’t immediately like because it had an immediate aftertaste, but after a while it kind of grew on me. The Chinese I did not particularly care for, because it kind of tasted like chicken. Strange enough, I think the Chinese was the most expensive of the three. I’m sure if I had gone to the meeting I would have learned all about it, but that’s what Wikipedia is for.

Accidental Mushroom Soup

As I eat my accidental mushroom soup for lunch today, I look back on the past two nights of class. Frustrated begins to describe how I feel. On Monday we started getting into International Cuisine; the chef split the room down the middle and haphazardly assigned two people in the front row as the group leaders. Since it was already 7:30 PM (we had been sitting in lecture for 1.5 hours) I was already agitated and started out the cooking portion simply not caring about what was going on. My faithful partner and I chose to do the beef roulade dish. BIG MISTAKE.

The chef offered to help with the dish in order to speed things up. So he cleans off the top round (see picture of large piece of meat), and then proceeds to slice off the pieces we’ll need. Oh great, part of the reason we chose this was to get more hands on with meat butchering, I guess not. But I did have a great time wrapping up the leftovers in saran wrap. Then chef starts shouting out orders to bring him all the ingredients. Frantic search through the school, since nothing is ever in our kitchen, for bacon, mustard, and pickles. (Yeah…sounds soooo appetizing.) We get everything together and guess who begins to build up the roulades. Of course, the master chef who has done this countless times already.

Then he begins demanding carrots and onions, which according to the recipe HE HAS PROVIDED are not needed until later in the cooking process. He acts like we are blithering idiots who can’t julienne onion and carrot as we provided him diced onions and carrots as the recipe calls for. SO HE CUTS THEM HIMSELF. Okay so I’m not at the point where I’m reminding myself to breath and that violence is not the answer. He then demands (this man simply does not request things) toothpicks. Another frantic rush around the school. The first ones are too big, the second ones are too small. WTF? Does the chef think he is goldilocks?? He settles for the small ones and proceeds to roll the meat. So to recap, I’ve wrapped meat in saran wrap and gotten my daily exercise. Yeah, I didn’t sign up for this.

We do get to do the cooking, which of course we do wrong because we follow exactly what the recipe says. So he comes and “fixes” it by doing it himself. We end up producing (what I think) is a horribly overcooked but well seasoned dish. He seems to like it but definitely takes him 5 minutes of chewing to get through his one bite. I found though that the only way to learn something is to hang out on the stove and watch what the other people are doing wrong. Because eventually the chef will come over and “fix” their wrongdoing. So I sat with a saucepot of veal veloute stirring it the majority of the night.

Last night, in classical cuisine, I was super hyped. Left work thinking, oh this class is going to be great. We are finally going to learn how to do sauces! From a master chef saucier. The chef not only comes late (which irks me since I fly across town to get to class on time) but proceeds to lecture about sauce for two hours. At some point when we are finally cooking and I’m off searching for heavy cream, another chef goes to me, “so does your ass hurt, because you’ve been sitting in that stool for two hours.”
The chef has nicknamed my faithful partner and I “the tandem duo” and we choose to do a Sauce Supreme (chicken gravy with a fancy French name). And of course we proceed to do the entire sauce completely wrong as we follow EXACTLY what the classical Escoffier book says. So is this chef saying that Escoffier is wrong? Seriously?

Anyways, the sauce for some reason developed this very strong mushroomy taste after sitting for a while. Fortunately we had saved our mushrooms that we had used earlier in the night (mushrooms release lots of water while cooking and the recipe called for some of this liquid). So we added the leftover mushrooms to the completely wrong sauce and that is how I am eating accidental mushroom soup for lunch. Definitely better than the stuff from a can, but am I seriously going to culinary school for this??

The classroom is too small, the refrigerators are never stocked, the chef is a primadonna that cannot possibly manage to teach all of us at the same time, the day students make horrible stock that the night students have to use for our dishes – which makes everything taste like crap, and lately I’ve been doing more dishes than cooking.

The saving grace is class tonight. Unfortunately rabbit is off the menu tonight due to an ACF meeting, will be doing a flounder dish instead.

Golden Brown Delicious

SEAR YOUR MEAT BEFORE YOU STEW/BRAISE IT.

Please don’t serve (especially me) meat that has not been. Because it will taste like boiled meat. And boiled meat does not taste good. Golden brown = delicious. Simple enough.

I got into an “argument” with my aunt about this. She didn’t believe me that it would make any sort of difference to this dish that she always makes. I told her that I seared off the chicken pieces before I made the dish and then watched the dish get completely devoured. Anyways…her dish still always tastes good…just not great. So here’s to one of my favorite comfort foods, a little jazzed up.

Chicken Adobo

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 4 minced cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

This is classic Philippino comfort food! Coat the bottom of a saute pan with the olive oil and sear (until golden brown delicious) the pieces of chicken. In a separate sauce pan, add vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a steady simmer. Add chicken to this and continue to cook until liquid has reduced.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

I’m away from my precious kitchen for the weekend and will not be cooking in my aunt’s kitchen. [Insert very sad face here]. So I’ll just settle on dreaming of all the fancy things on the menu for next week. Toothbrush chef still hasn’t come through with a class schedule/menu but in advanced cooking we’ll be doing a braised rabbit in a chocolate wine sauce with mushroom ravioli and spinach. Holy crap…I have to cook bunny!