It hasn’t been a big week for culinary school practice. On Sunday I made some chili for a chili cook-off at work and grilled flank steak for the family. On Tuesday I started getting ready for a big lunch event I was in charge of on Thursday. I made the dessert, a white chocolate covered nut, pretzel, candy chex mixture. The chili cook-off was on Wednesday. My Santa Fe chili, a beef and pork chili with Hatch green chili, won 3rd place. Thursday was very hectic. I didn’t realize that making wraps and sandwiches for 50-60 people would be so much work. Of course, I had to make chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, ham & swiss, beef and cheddar with garlic-herb spread, turkey and havarti with chipotle mayo, and a special roasted peppers and mushrooms with feta for my vegetarian friend. Whew! Good thing my son Glenn was there to help. I left the kitchen a huge mess so when Alexandra, my daughter, woke up and saw it she was not too happy. The sandwiches were a big hit. My favorite was the herb egg salad. Hard cooked eggs, chopped with dijon mustard, mayo, chopped tarragon, cilantro, pepper, celery, shallot, and a few capers. Try it on some whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato!
Truthfully, I was burned out after Thursday so I was more than happy to go out on Friday night to Cafe Soleil, a restaurant in Azle, the town in which I live. Chef Paula Ambrose, a real culinary school graduate and experienced chef, has a very tiny restaurant in Azle, a very, very unusual place for this town. The only other restaurants are Mexican and country or fast food. There was once a great Thai restaurant but it went out of business because the locals did not want to try Thai food–too strange. Chef Paula makes the best tenderloin steaks around and charges less than half the price of the name restaurants in Fort Worth. Friday night she had a tasting menu of butternut squash bisque, wild mushroom salad, fig and goat cheese ravioli, tenderloin steak with crab and hollandaise, and a sugar scone with berries and ice cream for $30.00.
It was over the top!
I got up extra early Saturday morning to get some practice in with the 2 dozen eggs I bought just for that purpose. As you can see from the sheet pan of eggs I was not very successful but I did get better after flipping all those eggs without the aid of a spatula or any tools, just using the pan and my arm. It is not easy, believe me. I have new respect for the cooks I used to watch when I was working in my parents coffee shop, Mr. Ed’s, in the 70’s. I left a big pan of my practice eggs out on the counter and left the egg I accidentally flipped right out of the pan on the stovetop under the burner. When Alexandra came down to the kitchen and saw the mess she was not amused. She hates eggs! When I came home I knew she was going to say it and she did, “I hate you.” We had a good laugh about the mess in the end and she doesn’t really hate me.
At school we were lectured on eggs, safety of storing them, cooking temperatures, and all the other facts concerning eggs. Chef Waier demonstrated a souffle by making a berry souffle. I learned that I had been “folding” ingredients wrong all these years and now I know the proper technique. Turn the bowl as you fold. Our assignments for the day included spending a few minutes at the stove with the instructors while we cooked sunny side up eggs, over easy eggs, sometimes using 2 pans and both hands, no utensils, and lots of messed up eggs. We learned to make a 45 second omelet using nothing but the pan and our movements and it actually looked pretty good.
I was able to successfully flip a few eggs without breaking the yolks or overcooking them. It was a lot of fun in the end.
Our other assignments were: Chocolate souffle, grits and cheddar souffle, shirred eggs, Scotch eggs, and Champagne Sabayon. Penni made the chocolate souffle and shirred egggs, Robert made the grits and Sabayon and I made the Scotch eggs. I have posted photos of everything but the Sabayon. In case you didn’t know (and I didn’t), a Sabayon is made of egg yolks, sugar, wine/champagne, and cream. Very rich but maybe good with fruit. The chocolate souffle was made with orange juice and Grand Marnier. Very light and tasty and I will definitely practice making it at home. The photo is not of our group’s souffle. Ray, from another table, made the best looking souffle of the day so I snapped a photo of it. Good thing because ours wasn’t that great looking. The grits souffle was also tasty and an unusual way to prepare grits. Scotch eggs are hard-cooked eggs covered in raw sausage which has been seasoned with herbs, then covered in breading and deep fried. I guess you could also call them heart attack eggs. They tasted pretty good, though. My favorite was the shirred eggs.
A layer of parmesan cheese, a slice of ham, 2 eggs baked in a 325 oven for 8-10 minutes, longer if you like more cooked eggs, sprinkled with shredded swiss cheese and a tablespoon of cream at the end. Delicious! I will make this for breakfast today.
Egg class was more relaxed than some of the other classes and enjoyable without the pressure of plate presentation and a window of time to present our dishes, and I learned some new techniques.