Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day Four

Yesterday was our first official "stress test" which loosely translates into teacher scrutiny over student technique and execution. The lesson plan assigned me the mushroom and thyme tart and a red and yellow tomato salad with an herb vinaigrette. Before our teacher arrived at 9 AM, we were required to have written out an "order of work" with an exact time plan of tasks for the morning (eg: 9AM - gather ingredients; 9:10 AM - prepare mushrooms; 9:12 AM - slice finger, etc.). The morning went well except for a small debacle with my removable bottom tart pan. Note to self: lift piping hot tart pan out of the oven holding the SIDES and not supporting the removable BOTTOM, so as to avoid a sizzling tart-ring bracelet. I now have a blistery reminder of this tid-bit of information around my wrist.

The afternoon session began with a man named Peter Ward, the owner of a nearby delicatessen (, discussing the process of making cheese (parmesan to be exact). He brought in a wheel of parmesan made in April 2007 that weighed 80 pounds, took 160 gallons of milk to make, and would retail at around $1,700 for the entire wheel! On Valentine's Day, he puts an entire wheel outside his shop with the $1,700 price tag and a sign reading "buy this for the one you love". Needless to say, no buyers to date. He gets his cheese from La Villa organic farm in Italy (a place he discovered years ago which now sells to Dean and Deluca in the States!). Among other things, this organic parmesan is great for an instant energy shot because its proteins digest in 45 minutes, as opposed to 4 hours for most other proteins.

We then learned how to make a variety of different dishes, including more tart variations, scones, and JAM! Here are some tips to pass along!

- Cool scones on wire rack immediately after they are out of the oven - they will get soggy bottoms otherwise!
- The smaller the zucchini, the more intense the flavor
- French beans (AKA green beans or haricots verts) take more salt in their cooking water than any other vegetable; spinach takes the least
- Never cook green vegetables with a lid on the pot- the steam ruins their color (cabbage is an exception to this rule)
- Rather than putting french beans in an ice bath after they have cooked (to save the bright green color), spread them out on a tray and place near a window to cool. This way, the flavor isn't washed away in the ice bath, and you won't sacrifice color if they cool fast enough.

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