Cooking School Week 3

cable car

The weeks are already flying by at cooking school.  How did 3 weeks come and go??  In some ways, it feels like I’ve been there longer. I’m really enjoying my 20-25 minute walk from the train to school and back.  I love taking in the sights of San Francisco — I never tire of that city!

One bad thing happened this week, and it had nothing to do with school itself.  I commute to San Francisco on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train, and it went on strike last night.  It’s going to make life miserable for me and so many others that commute to work, school, etc.  I’m praying that it ends soon.  Today went fine because it was a Friday and many people were off, but Monday will be an entirely different story. UGH.

I got to school Monday to find that we were making homemade pasta.  I was excited!  I’d never done it, and it wasn’t too hard.  The pasta machine was pretty foreign to me, but after making one batch, it really isn’t bad.  My teacher said not to let the dough get sticky or would stick in the machine, and I strived hard not to be that person.  It didn’t happen to me or any of my classmates…whew!  I wish I was able to take pictures of my fettuccine, but that day was too crazy busy for photo ops.  I will say one thing — there is nothing like handmade pasta. 🙂

Sanitation was another topic.  It’s scary to discover that so many things I’ve done or do currently could make us sick.  Who leaves a big pot of soup, chili, pasta sauce, stock, or meat out for a long time to cool?  I’m guilty of doing that with pots of chili, soup, etc.  Our teacher said to place the pot in an ice bath in the sink or a bowl to cool it faster, or place it in smaller containers.  Roasted chicken or roasts should be cut into smaller pieces to cool.  This is a biggie, too — never place anything in the refrigerator completely covered in plastic wrap if it’s at all warm.  Have you ever done that and seen the condensation under the top of the wrap?  That’s causing bacteria to grow faster.  Apparently it can be put it in the fridge, but the plastic wrap shouldn’t completely cover the dish.   Also, when reheating food, it should be brought back to a boil or piping hot temperature before serving to kill any bacteria, and food should never be reheated more than once.  I’m so guilty. 🙁

There were some pretty magnificent dishes as always this week, as shown in the photos below:

entrees week 3

I made the pork roast in the first photo, and it turned out great.  See the roasted vegetables in the second photo?  They were sweet potatoes, carrots, and turnips that I had to cut into little football shapes for presentation.  I didn’t get that — too much work and all the trimmings went to waste.  I will not do that at home!

The center photo is a dish called Le Grande Aioli, or a large vegetable platter with shrimp, hard boiled eggs, and homemade aioli.  It was fabulous.  What a festive platter for a party!  The last two photos were herb roasted rack of lamb, and a baked goat cheese garden salad.  I wish I had pictures of everything else!

We made some fabulous desserts, including apple charlotte, English trifle, chocolate eclairs, Gateau Paris-Brest, and profiteroles with chocolate.  I made the English trifle in the front, which was fun.  I just need to spike it up more with the sherry next time. 🙂  I really enjoyed making homemade choux pastry for my beloved eclairs!  I’ve always loved them.  It was actually easy to make, and quite fun.  I will be bringing something along those lines to you soon.

desserts week 3

Below are the tips I found most useful this week:

*  The best way to toast nuts is in the oven at 350 degrees.  If they’re toasted on the stove top, the outside gets toasted, but not the inside.  I never knew that!  I knew there was a reason I’m in school. 😉

*  When hard boiling eggs, place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and cover.  Let stand 9 minutes and you’ll have the perfect egg that’s a little under done in the center.  If you let them stand too long, the yolk will be pale yellow and the white will turn a grayish color.

*  Never add olive oil to pasta and it boils or the pasta sauce won’t coat the pasta.

*  Save 1/4-1/2 cup of your pasta water after boiling and add it to the pasta.  The starch helps the sauce coat the pasta.

*  Don’t wash raspberries as they turn to mush.  Just buy organic!

*  Adding alcohol to desserts cuts the sweetness as the bitterness of the alcohol balances out the flavors.

*  When whipping fresh whipped cream, don’t add powdered sugar as the cornstarch in it can make the whipped cream grainy.  Granulated sugar is best.  I always thought granulated sugar would make it grainy because I didn’t think it would dissolve.  Talk about having things backwards. 🙂

*  When measuring flour for baking, the best method is to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level it off.  This aerates the flour.  The best method is weighing, but I haven’t gotten a scale yet!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!

Marcie 🙂

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