Basic Food Prep, Week 2

* It’s been a crazy week – last cake decorating class, second week of food prep, last day of the job I’ve had for 8 years, my grandfather-in-law passing away. I’m doing a little back-blogging, so please bear with me. Thanks!


So guess who I was paired up with last night? Yep, Sushi-Lady (aka Carla, but will forever be known to me as SL). She was my cooking partner for the evening. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.

We found out Chef Charles won’t be our instructor anymore, they found a replacement, since he’s already teaching twice a week and works full time, I totally understand. Chef Paul will be starting next week, so I’m crossing my fingers I’ll understand him a little better. I mean, when you hear “radish” instead of “relish” there’s got to be something going on with the accent, right?

I don’t think we actually learned anything yesterday. We were given an assignment to read a chapter and answer the discussion questions at the end but, I don’t have my book yet! It left Earth City, MOyesterday. I didn’t mean to order my book so late, but when I called the college bookstore to ask them about it, no one answered the phone, so I left a message. Then they didn’t call me back, so I had to call again. When I finally got to speak to someone I compared prices and decided I had to order it online. I saved $20. Yeah me!

So, anyway, back to the class. Since we didn’t have anything to review from last week, we went straight into cooking mode. The other students in class are taking 2-4 classes and/or took classes last semester. They knew where everything was, where to set up, what sink was used for washing vegetables, which sink was for sanitizing dishes. We went over this stuff last week, but they were off and running and I was just trying to get my head on straight.

Salad – spinach, romaine, roma tomatoes, red onion, homemade bacon bits and homemade croutons w/dijon mustard vinaigrette
Entree – peach glazed grilled pork chop with fresh peach relish
Side – white rice

Each group made their own vinaigrette and relish. Two teams paired up to make the glaze, one person made the rice, one person made the croutons (they were to come up with their own spice blend) and one person made the salad.

Wanda just took over. She was washing the spinach, had her partner cut up the romaine, slice the onions, she juiced the lime, then gave us some. I’m like, whoa lady. We need to learn how to do some of this stuff too. Luckily, Chef Charles asked me to cube up the bread for croutons. Otherwise I would have been standing around with my thumb up my…n/m.

The croutons started out a little big – I guess not everyone has a mouth as big as mine – so I had to go back and halve them. I thought we were going to bake them, but he wanted them fried. As much as I love most things fried, I found they retained too much of the oil. Plus, when Shanna seasoned them with Chinese Five Spice, the flavor wasn’t as pronounced as I think they would have been, had we seasoned them then baked them. In this instance, that was probably a good thing. I like Chinese Five Spice, but I do not like them so much on croutons, in a salad, dressed with a Dijon Vinaigrette.

After the bread was cubed I started mincing peaches and onions for the relish. I felt a little self-conscious with Chef watching over me, but that is what he’s there for. I’m not used to someone watching me in the kitchen…or anyone in the kitchen at all for that matter.

I was also tasked with grilling some of the pork chops and glazing them. No, problem, I can do this. Yeah, right. Sure would be nice to know that the grill has bad hot spots. Luckily I didn’t burn them, but I may have come close. We used a meat thermometer to make sure the chops had reached at least 150F.

Each of us had to plate up our meals then present them to the class. After that, Bon Appétit. We only have the option of blue or white plates. I went with the blue, because I thought it’d look nice against the yellow color of the peaches. The garnish was just a simple cilantro sprig – one of the ingredients in the relish.

After everyone presented Chef Charles went over how he may have done it and some things we should think about. For example, I put my pork chop over a bed of rice, and then topped it with the relish. He mentioned that when plating, rice could be used as a bed if the entrée has some sort of gravy. Hmmm…Another thing he mentioned was garnishing the rice itself with some color, to help with the “whiteness”. I half hid that sucker cuz it looked and tasted awful. Chef Charles & Wanda need to bone up on their rice cooking skills. Yes, most of the time I used my handy-dandy wonderful rice cooker. But, I know how to cook a pot of rice on the stove if needed. The rice was water logged and mushy, but not cooked.

One of the other points he mentioned was that no one mentioned the vinaigrette. We had made it from scratch and it was part of our menu. Oops. I was so nervous up there that I totally forgot about that part. I was only thinking about my entrée. Guess I need to pay attention to the little guys too.

Stay tuned for scenes from next week’s episode. 😉


2 Responses

  1. […] August 29, 2008 by Susan * It’s been a crazy week – last cake decorating class, second week of food prep, last day of the job I’ve had for 8 years, my grandfather-in-law passing away. I’m […]

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