Lesson 53: Advanced Cooking Techniques/ Plating Design

Monday, February 8, 2010

Today we had yet another new chef instructor.  Chef Erica will be our chef for the rest of module 3.  It is always interesting the first day with a new chef because they have a new set of rules and a complete different way of running class.  During the first couple of days of the module each group either completely prepared or prepped one specific dish of the day.  Today, Chef Erica told us that we would all be prepping, preparing, and plating all dishes.  I knew we would have to use our time wisely to get all of these dishes done in time.

Every day we have been preparing one appetizer and two entrees.  We immediately began prepping the appetizer: Roasted Vegetable "Stacks", Parmesan Fricco, and Micro-greens with a Beet Vinaigrette:

For the stacks, we roasted eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash.  We layered the vegetables with softened goat cheese and baked them in small ramekins.  We reduced fresh beet juice for a vinaigrette to drizzle on the side of the plate.  Check out all of the awesome layers of this stack:

After our appetizer was plated, we immediately cleaned up and continued prepping for the next course: Roulade of Magret with Spinach and Fois Gras, Braised Cippolini Onions, and Soft Polenta.  We butterflied the duck breasts and rolled them up with blanched spinach and seared strips of fois gras.  We wrapped each duck-roll with caul fat (for extra flavor since we removed the thick layer of skin).

Next up on the menu was a Flat-Iron Steak with Bordelaise Sauce, Porcini-Salsify Puree, and Sauteed Endive.  We each sauteed our own steak and made a pan sauce with a reduced red wine mixture (with herbs, peppercorns, and shallots) and veal stock.  We finished the sauce with whole butter and small bits of bone marrow.  

You may be wondering what salsify is, because I was wondering the same thing before I walked into the kitchen.  It basically looks like a black carrot, but has a white flesh.  I'm not sure what it tastes like on its own (I am assuming similar to a carrot or parsnip), but I was not crazy about the puree.  The mushroom flavor was very pungent, which I didn't like too much in a puree form.    It was also very difficult to plate this dish because there wasn't much color in any of the components of the dish.  We were very tight on time, so we weren't able to think of a solution or have time to chop up some herbs to throw on the dish.  Here is my plate.. it doesn't look too bad I guess:

Overall, today was very hectic, yet I feel like I learned a lot.  I'd rather work extra hard and be able to do more cooking and get more out of the class.  

Tomorrow is our last day of plating design and we have some great dishes on the menu!  Later in the week we will begin French regional cuisine.  Should be interesting!  Word is we're getting another snow storm tomorrow night though!


Anonymous said...

LOOKS AMAZING! I wish I could reach into my computer screen and pull out any one of those dishes to eat right now...

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