We FINALLY Cooked today!!
Posted March 9, 2009on:
To begin the week, we had our quiz on food safety and herbs. We then went onto a lecture on culinary math. This was actually a really amusing part of class for me. As a former math teacher, I have taught unit conversions and I’m adept at doing these types of problems. My chef instructor really went into the importance of knowing how to convert units correctly and weigh items correctly stating that it all boiled down to the business’ bottom line. This can impact purchasing and ordering and can have a big impact on clientele. Buy too much and you’ll have a lot of waste and basically throw money in the trash. Buy too little, and you won’t have enough for all your menu items, causing you to basically piss off customers, who will then in turn tell 16 of their friends and family how horrible your establishment is, which will ultimately lead to its demise. Then he went into the real nut-and-bolts of the math and admitted that he had failed algebra at least five times in school! It was really ironic that he had a former math teacher in his class.
After the lecture, we got our supplies and got to work. We watched him demonstrate how to create a rectangle out of a potato. This is a vital step before being able to do a medium dice of a potato. If the larger edges aren’t straight and the angles aren’t correct 90 degree angles, then the cubes will not be uniformly shaped. My first wasn’t too good and my second had a weird divet on one side. My third was actually pretty good! We then took our cut potatoes and our scraps and got ready to make some mashed potatoes. We put our potatoes on the pot and then covered them with cold water. The cold water ensures for uniform cooking since the outside and the inside of the potato will reach higher temperatures at the same time. In another pot, we set some cream and butter on a burner to start cooking. Once the cream and butter reach a boil, the burner was turned off and we waited for the potatoes.
While getting the potatoes ready, we got some vegetables ready for blanching. One thing that we did differently than I ever did at home was salting the water–a LOT. The water basically was like sea water–VERY salty. We cooked our veggies–broccoli and green beans–in a strainer, for one minute in the boiling water. Then, transferred them to another strainer that was set into an ice water bath.
We then went back to the mashed potatoes. Chef drained the potatoes and set them on the burner for a minute to remove any remaining moisture. He then demonstrated the use of the food mill. I’ve seen these gadgets on foodnetwork, but never in real life. It looked cumbersome and difficult to use, but it turned out a very fluffy mixture of potatoes. He then took the cream-butter mixture and slowly worked it into the professed potatoes. The resulting mashed potatoes were DELICIOUS!!! They were fluffy, creamy and buttery. They also had a wonderful texture. We all went off in our teams to create our own batched of mashed potatoes and to reheat and season our veggies. Before I realized, it was time to clean up and go home. It was hectic but it was also exciting. And it was great to have some goodies to take home! 🙂