Monday, August 31, 2009

Finding an Appropriate Dealer

I have a problem. A cupcake problem. I went to Red Velvet for the second time in the hopes that it would not disappoint at $3 a cupcake. Once again, they were sold out of popular flavors. I did get my hands on a chocolate-buttermilk cake with ganache frosting and a key lime cake with buttercream frosting. The chocolate was good, the key lime was a bit dry and tasted like I was eating a stick of butter slathered on top of the cake.



Next stop... Buzz Bakery in Alexandria.

8.5

"On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate my dish?" Chef Michael asked me today after I inhaled half of the meal he had prepared for us (white Al and me). The thought, "Uh oh...should I artificially inflate the score, so he doesn't make my life a living hell?" flashed through my head.

He had prepared a Peruvian dish with deep-fried steak strips, topped with fries and a tomato, miso, soy sauce err sauce with some boiled broccoli tossed in there. The name of the dish eludes me right now. It's pictured below:

As the salt in the dish was altering the ion-balance in my body, I said, "8.5, it's a little salty." My comments were met with a very hurt, shocked, disturbed and insulted look from him. Oddly enough, white Al gave him the same score and feedback independent of my opinions.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not-So-Pronto Pasta

I made pasta dough today for class, twice. The first time I did a hybrid recipe of the book's and Tyler's semolina recipe. It turned out to be a dry crusty mess. The second time, Chef Lipford made me follow the book recipe. You're supposed to build a volcano out of the dough and use a fork to slowly mix in the wet ingredients. The dough should not be sticky when you're done. I portioned the dough into four balls and put them in the refrigerator. The dough was then rolled out with a rolling pin, instead of the hand-crank pasta roller because it was a little too wet/sticky to go through. Clawson ended up using the noodles in a lasagna made with bechemel. This was the mise en place for the lasagna:

Eating in a Woodland


The second restaurant I tried for Restaurant Week (!) was Cedar. Niam made reservations and when Willette and I walked in, we had some reservations about the place. It turned out to be an excellent choice. I posted the dishes I tried below. Once again, I only had an iPhone camera and none of the pictures would have done the food justice. The Market salad was wonderful, I ate almost every last kernel on the plate, the pork was cooked perfectly and I gobbled down the swiss chard, and oh(!) the dessert. The cake was nice and moist and the sorbet was an excellent complement. I didn't try the avocado sauce, but I'm sure it would have been delicious.

Appetizer
Market Lettuce Salad | fennel | corn | tomatoes | parmesan | mustard-tarragon vinaigrette

Entree
Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin | braised swiss chard | applewood bacon | roasted cherries

Dessert
Coconut Tres Leches Cake | avocado sauce | mango-coconut sorbet

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Stop for Restaurant Week

This week is Restaurant week, which means that people of the area can try fine dining restaurants for under $40 for dinner. I asked Chef Fleck what he would recommend for restaurant week, to which he replied, he doesn't eat out much anymore. He finally recommended DC Coast and Zola's (Nora's? not sure).
I made a reservation for 10:00PM on Opentable, which is my new best friend. We got there and circled around for another hour trying to find parking and finally got in about five minutes before the kitchen closed. The food was incredible! None my pictures could do the food justice. My fish came out slightly underdone and they grilled another one and packed up for me to take home.

Their partial menu for Restaurant week is posted below. I have put an asterix the ones that Willette and I ordered.

DINNER - $35.09
Includes your choice of the Appetizers listed below.

You may choose any of the Entrees on the Dinner Menu.

Appetizer Selections
Mixed Green Salad
Caesar Salad
Soup Du Jour
Heirloom Tomato and Melon Gazpacho
*Local Sweet Corn and Yellow Pepper Soup
Fried Green Tomatoes - Charred Eggplant Sauce, Cherry Tomato-Basil Compote

Dessert Selections
*Vermont Goat Cheese Cheesecake Brulee - Pistachio Croccante, Strawberry-Limoncello Compote
*Local Peach Crumble - Toasted Almond Anglaise
Warm Chocolate Cake - Spiced Blackberry Jam, Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

A Four Hour Tour

So much happened today! In Chef Lipford's class we went on two field trips out on Landover, MD. First was Metropolitan Meats, they are a distributor of meats and whatnot, but also break down meats into further cuts as their customer desires. We went into all their warehouses and processing facilities, which were cold and empty, respectively. Two primary lessons that I learned lobsters can be stored in hibernation mode, and crabs have to be used within 12 hours of catching them. Crabs do not last.
IMG_0221That's the enormously unsexy lobster tank.

We also got to see their dry aging room. Dry aged meat is must more expensive than wet aged meat because of the longer aging time and the loss of moisture reduces the poundage of the meat. The temperature, humidity and ozone (?) levels are critical to the aging of meat and they actually had alarms go off if the meat dropped below the required limits. Did I mention that it was COLD? I thought I was going to freeze to death.
IMG_0234That was a couple slabs of meat slowly decaying on a rack.

After we finished up at Metro, we moved on to the Whole Foods Kitchen. This was their commissary (main kitchen for the mid-Atlantic area. They told us that they actually employee chefs to work in their store and in their commissary as an R&D chef (music to my ears)! The facility was like home-cooking on an industrial scale.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Answers Defined

Finally! A definition of molecular gastronomy that I can understand!

The 'molecular' in molecular gastronomy has the same definition as it does in molecular biology. The similarity is intentional, because chemistry and physics are at the core of this discipline - from Nature magazine

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Show me the money!

Had a pretty great brain storming session today for the culinary club. I would love to raise exuberant amounts of money for the club so that A) we have money to purchase supplies for competitions and entry fees B) can pay for tee-shirts, aprons, etc to help identify ourselves, C) sponsor trips to cool foodie places and D) possibly even start offering scholarships. We are going to host a chili cook-off next quarter, possibly have some knife skills and molecular gastronomy workshops, and do some volunteer work. We earned a little over a hundred with the The Ultimate Cupcake Challenge. My goal is to raise maybe up to $1000 by the end of the year? We'll see!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Evil, Pure and Total Evil


The Japanese madoline is the bane of my existence. I hate the thing, yet I loathe, I mean love the thing. I use it almost daily and without fail, someone always tries to teach me their method for using the medieval contraption. "Double glove it", "use a fork", "count to five then readjust", "ride it along the edge of the board" and several other tips. Perfectly sliced everything each time, except for when it clips your nails and fingertip off with it.

Yea, I screamed some expletives today, but not when I sliced my finger. No, the cursing and yelp of pain came when I put the blood clotting agent on it. Only after I put it on, did I read the little warning: may feel a burning sensation for 30 seconds when applied.

Ultimate Cupcake Challenge!

Got out of work today, almost had to work a double, but Chef Matt came in and basically told me not to come back in after the challenge. Which left me ample time to go to school and help set up for the judging of the Ultimate Cupcake Challenge!

Chef Figarella's (the one the foreground) cupcake was disqualified because he had a student enter it for him. Disqualified, but still delicious!
Interesting selection of cupcakes, below are two of the more intriguing ones.

L-R: maple bacon and fig

Monday, August 24, 2009

Accountability

Today was my first full on day working with Chef Michael.
"If it's not labeled and dated, it's going in the trash."
"If you bring up stuff and it is not used by the end of the night, that's when you'll be in trouble."
"Make me a ________."

One of the thing he requested I make for him on a daily basis (which I'm sure he'll soon forget to ask for) was a chicken sandwich. So, I started to make one, got as far as putting the chicken on the grill and he took over from there. Need to coat the chicken with oil and salt and pepper the marinated chicken breast before throwing on the grill. Serve with avocado mash (avocado mashed with olive oil and salt) and chipotle mayo. Oh and he likes his Caesar salads drenched in dressing.

Working for him is not as bad as I had anticipated. He has implemented some good ideas and items in the kitchen are more organized now. You can almost say mise en place!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Went to Applebee's for a late dinner and ate their rendition of the lava cake.
Yea...I don't know why I keep going back there hoping that it won't suck.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We made Scalloped Veal today...I mean pork...
This was Tyler's group's presentation:
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Our groups tasted pretty good, too. :)

Night Class

Ceiling collapsed in the living room today, so I couldn't make it to my normal class. I did make it to the night class for the silence of the lambs (read: my group mate mutilated the lamb chops). They turned out alright.
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Another classmate made chicheme. According to Frommer's:
A local favorite in the outskirts of Panama City (mostly sold at roadside stands) is chicheme, a corn-based beverage mixed with water, sugar, and cinnamon. Panamanians tout the drink for its nutritional properties.

My classmate also added coconut milk and condensed milk and served it with the sketchy ice that comes from the black bin of mystery. Yum!
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Here's a recipe:
CHICHEME
1 pounded maize (corn kernels)
8 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
1 milk tin cream
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar to taste

The day before serving, soak the corn kernels in 8 cups water.

On the following day, add the salt and cook until the corn is well done. Remove from heat and let cool.

Stir in the condensed milk and cream. Add vanilla sugar to taste.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Money CAN buy happiness

What can $15 buy you in Georgetown? Six fantastic cupcakes that do not disappoint in texture, flavor or appearance. Georgetown cupcakes deserve the hype with their simple and classic cupcakes. These are the cupcakes after surviving a twenty minute hike from Georgetown to Rosslyn in the D.C. heat.
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L-R Top: red velvet, vanilla, key lime Bottom: chocolate^2, chocolate^3, mixed berry (yes, I ate all of them today, I am an infinitepig after all)

The light streaming through the windows was so nice I had to post a picture of it.
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I've never had a morel, but they have to be good at these prices! $300.00 per pound at Dean and Deluca's!
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jaded? A little bit...

Chef Matt lent me yet another book! This one is by Anthony Bourdain, who I think is absolutely hilarious in his expression of misery. The first couple pages already had me busting out laughing like a crazy on the Metro today. I look forward to the rest of the book.
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Chef Cirello (of the Art Institute) mentioned her dislike of that book and instead recommended the book about Mario Batali called "Heat," which will be my next pleasure reading conquest.

So, after the disappointing chocolate cake experience I had yesterday, I was very reluctant to try the cake at the POV Terrace. Chef Matt egged me on to try it...and boy am I glad I did! It was soooooo good! The warm dark chocolately interior just oozed out of the delicate cake. Then paired with creamy vanilla ice cream. This was the best dish I've had off of Jean George's menu thus far. I also learned that he was credited with inventing the molten chocolate cake dish in 1987. No wonder it was so perfect (oh, that's a Kulfi dessert in the back, haven't tried that one yet).
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I found the recipe at Martha Stewart's page:

Ingredients

Makes 4 individual cakes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for molds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting molds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Directions

1. Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, ramekins, or custard cups. Tap out excess flour; butter and flour them again, and set aside.
2. In the top of a double boiler or heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine butter and chocolate; heat until chocolate has almost completely melted.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs, yolks, and sugar until light and thick.
4. Add melted chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Quickly beat in flour until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the molds.
5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place filled molds on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the sides have set but the centers remain soft, 6 to 7 minutes.
6. Invert each mold onto a plate, and let rest 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shriveled Hearts

We have a new sous chef in town, Chef Michael. I don't know his background yet, but I'm sure it's something impressive. Anyway, he took a look at my station today and saw that my celery hearts were dried and sad, so now I have to store them in water like the radishes. Ehh...not too big a deal, until Chef Matt told me that Chef Michael has a reputation for giving people the axe. Up oh... The celery is now in water and will be until otherwise noted.

UPDATE: Storing celery slices in water turn them clear, but they do stay crunchy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deserted Dessert

Chef Matt went MIA today for a little bit and we were all wondering how to plate a chocolate cake. So, after that incident because the chocolate cake was 20 min in before it got plated (our goal is appetizers within 3 min of ordering)....he showed us how to plate a cheesecake plate (which is extremely soggy).
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I also dropped by Firehook Cafe today to buy a slice of chocolate cake. I pass it everyday on my way to work and I have to say that I am not incredibly impressed. Here's the lady slicing up the beautiful cake.
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The cake was a little dry and the icing was too buttery. It was like eating a stick of butter, not much flavor at all.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dinner in a Movie


Willette and I saw Julie and Julia today. It was really cute, but a little long. It made me want to go out and buy The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I would love to have a nice kitchen, unlimited food budget, unlimited time and unlimited stomach space to try out the recipes.

During Rick's visit we went to the Julia Child exhibit at the American history museum. She had every knick knack known to man stored in that kitchen. Love the color! It's like Tiffany's. ;)
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time for Tennis

I exchanged my Sketchers that were losing their soles for a new pair today. If this pair falls apart, I am going to buy some Crocs next. I also bought sweatbands for your wrists to help with the burning my wrists issues that I have. Sexy!
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Vindictive Vinegar

Foiled by vinegar again! This time it was a braised celery recipe. The recipe called for white wine and I put white wine vinegar into it. DAMMIT! The product looked fine, actually the color turned out better than it would have if it was in white wine, but it smelled and tasted terrible!

I also tried making the parsnip puree which turned out much much better, especially topped with bacon. Yum. Chef Lipford said it needed more salt and pepper and it was too cold. My taste buds were shot at that point that I didn't trust them, but I added more salt, I should have warmed it under the salamander. Otherwise it tasted like mashed potatoes, but a little bit sweeter.
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Clawson made kebabs and Stephanie and Tiny worked on the butternut squash. The kebabs looked good, but i didn't get to try them.
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The butternut squash needed a little more sugar and the cuts were uneven, so they cooked unevenly.

Took my cupcake from yesterday to Chef Fleckenstein's class. One girl recommended the Georgetown Cupcake's recipe and Chef Fleck recommended the chocolate cake recipe off of Hershey's website. Both are listed below.

Georgetown Cupcake
Georgetown Cupcake's Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
The Washington Post, November 5, 2008
Course: Dessert
Summary:

Here's the winning combination: moist and chocolaty cake with just the right amount of rich ganache frosting on top.

Valrhona cocoa powder and Callebaut chocolate are sold at Sur La Table stores; call for availability.

The cupcakes are best when served on the same day they are made. If the cupcakes are dipped once, you'll have about 1/2 cup of ganache left over.

Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) European-style unsalted butter, such as Plugra brand, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar bourbon
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, sifted (see headnote; may substitute another good-quality cocoa powder)
For the ganache frosting
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips (6.4 ounces; see headnote; may substitute other good-quality semisweet chocolate chips)
Directions:

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with 12 baking cups, and a second pan with 6 baking cups.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.

Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.

Add the cocoa powder, beating (on low speed) just until incorporated.

Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake paper with batter, so that the wells are two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the ganache frosting: Lay a large piece of wax paper on the work surface.

Combine the heavy cream and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Fill a medium saucepan with an inch or two of water and place over medium-low heat. Place the bowl over the saucepan and let the mixture melt, stirring until it is shiny and smooth.

Remove the bowl of chocolate ganache from the saucepan; let it cool slightly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Working with 1 cupcake at a time, carefully dip each cupcake top in the warm ganache, twisting your wrist as needed to make sure the cupcake top gets completely coated. To prevent drips, quickly turn the cupcake right side up and place on the wax paper. Allow the ganache to set for 5 minutes before serving.

HERSHEY'S Kitchen's
Black & White Cupcakes
Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
2 eggs
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
VANILLA FROSTING(recipe follows)
"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING(recipe follows)
Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with
paper bake cups.

2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add buttermilk, eggs, water, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.

3. Bake 15 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan. Cool completely. Frost with VANILLA FROSTING or "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 30 cupcakes.

*To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup,

VANILLA FROSTING: Beat 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter, 1/4 cup shortening and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Add 1 cup powdered sugar; beat until creamy. Add 3 cups powdered sugar alternately with 3 to 4 tablespoons milk, beating to spreading consistency. About 2-1/3 cups.

"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING: Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine; stir in 2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa. Add 3 cups powdered sugar alternately with 1/3 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract beating to spreading consistency. About 2 cups frosting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Salty Chocolate Attempt: Take 2

Went to Marta's house to do a trial run of recipes for the Ultimate Cupcake Challenge. I wanted to make fleur de sel cupcakes, but was unable to locate fleur de sel in Whole Foods. Fast forward to 7 PM I was running out of time, so I ended up using a recipe from Martha Stewart's cupcake book, omitted the caramel filling and salt topping. I ended up making classic chocolate cupcakes, which looked prettier than they tasted. The cupcake was a little doughy, so next time I'm going to use half AP flour, half cake flour.

Here's the frosting, that was supposed to be pipable, but turned out too watery:
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The cupcakes before they were frosted:
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The finished cupcakes:
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Economy of Motion

Chef Justin worked up in the Terrace with us this morning. He has a lot of great tips on how to save time on prep work as well as everything else. When I was downstairs, he went though how to brule a fois gras and other items. Today's tips included how to chop Romaine lettuce five heads at a time (helps if you have large hands). Line up the heads, lop off the green tips, slice down the heads twice and start chopping own the head by 1".

His message today was do as much work as you can with one movement. It was a little bit difficult for me to stabilize multiple items for one chop, but I'm glad he was upstairs today. I think I can prep a little bit quicker than I've been doing. Chef Greg made fun of my dull chef's knife today. Arg! I should have known when I couldn't slice any of the heirloom tomatoes without having to score them first with a paring knife.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mollusk or Cephalopod?

Apparently for the last two weeks I've been making fried calamari that is the TGIFriday's trashy version as opposed to the more posh and refined POV Lounge version. Chef Greg came to visit us and showed me how to make calamari the "right" way. Apparently you have to use tons of flour otherwise it becomes too viscous in the final product and tons of batter. I was using half the amount of batter he was using and I did not know I was supposed to "deflate" the batter after I dispensed it from the siphon (whip cream machine). The batter should also be at room temperature. I kept it refrigerated. Oops!

That's his hand mixing the calamari in plenty of batter to make sure that the batter is nice and fluffy.IMG_0150
My calamari is on the right and his was on the left (nice and lacy).
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Here's the finished dish (we also switched from using pea shoots to using daikon sprouts):IMG_0153

Monday, August 10, 2009

Serrated for Melons

Al let me in on a secret yesterday. Using a serrated knife makes slicing a watermelon must less painful. I think I am actually getting better at slicing the watermelon. Of course, I still have a long way to go to make my watermelon pieces perfect cubes.IMG_0142

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Brain Dead

I feel pretty brain dead. Like my brain has been filled to capacity on culinary information and it has not had a chance to digest it. So, to help with that, Chef Matt brought two books for me to read about how science and culinary arts are intertwined. I can't wait to read them! I am going to start with Molecular Gastronomy first.
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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Vinegar Duck + Salty Chocolate Pudding = Disgusting

Today Chef Lipford asked us to bring in a duck recipe. I grabbed a really simply one for Duck with chocolate: Anatra al Ciccolato off of the Food Network because we have all the ingredients on hand. I've copied and pasted the recipe at the end of this post. Chef broke us into new groups and at first the recipe seemed to be promising, the duck looked good, the mirepoix looked good and then...we added 3/4 quart of vinegar instead of 3/4 cup of vinegar. It was all downhill from there. In the attempts to fix the duck, I found that vinegar can be leached out of the duck by cooking it in a stock. I also found that after three hours of boiling a duck and trying to fix it, it becomes really dry and tough. In trying to fix the sauce, I ended up creating a salty chocolate pudding that was completely unpalatable. Better luck (or should I say duck) next time.

Here's the recipe:
Ingredients
1 (3-pound) duck, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon pine nuts, un-toasted
3 cloves
1 tablespoon golden raisins
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
Chopped parsley leaves, red pepper flakes, extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
Directions
Heat a 12 to 14-inch saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the duck pieces, skin side down. The duck skin will provide more than enough fat for browning without adding excess oil. Cook, occasionally pouring excess fat off carefully, until golden brown, about 8 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in medium-sized saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and saute over medium heat until softened, about 12 minutes. Add the fennel seeds, pine nuts, cloves, raisins, bay leaves, flour and 1/2 cup vinegar and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add duck pieces and 1/4 cup vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat. Braise over low heat until the sauce is thick, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the cloves.

Remove the duck to a large plate and spoon vegetables over.

Stir the chocolate and sugar into the cooking liquid. Serve sauce with the duck and garnish with chopped parsley, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Friday, August 07, 2009

CHICKEN! BWAK BWAK!

I learned how to debone (read mutilate) a chicken today. After I hacked up the breast and leg, I let the other people in my group give it a go. The key point that was reinforced today was LET THE KNIFE DO THE WORK. Just let the knife coast around the bone and the joints and then cut into the soft joint. Kevin and I also made the chicken fricasse and unfortunately our sauce separated. Chef Lipford reminded me that the cream has to be heated before adding it to a mixture.

Since Marta and I cleaned the spice rack yesterday, I had a pretty good idea of the ingredients and spices we have available for experimenting. Koren and I came up with an idea of slicing eggplant really thin and threading julienned peppers through it. It worked for the most part until I realized I could have saved myself so much time by using a mandolin. We coated the duo in a batter made from pancake mix, panko crumbs, wasabi powder and some garlic and onion powder. Then we fried it in canola oil. It was delicious! I usually don't like eggplant, but my this was divine. MMM!
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Chop't

IMG_0136Inspired by a customer's request to make his salad chopped up like baby food (or he requested like Chop't), I decided to go to Chop't today after a study session at school. Ahh the evilness of Cosi and Chop't right across the street, just waiting to take my money away from me. So, I got in line and paid almost $9.00 for a "chop't po'boy," which included home-fried chicken, tomato, red onions and white cheddar cheese chop’t with romaine lettuce. So apparently, they just take all the ingredients of a salad and chop them together, similar to Cold Stone Creamery, but for salads. I probably won't go back unless it's with a group of people.
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After spending the last couple of weeks in confusion about how to properly sharpen a knife, I woke up this morning and watched a video on About.com on how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone. So, I did and my knife was so sharp that I was able to cut through a blueberry without squishing it. The use of the butterfly clip really helped.

This is the end of week two at the W Hotel and my first week at the Terrace. I like working up there infinitely better. I feel like I am learning and inspired to get better and faster. I cut another watermelon today with a bit more luck and I got to try the seabass coated in a mint-basil batter today. Delicious! There were a couple of times that I got overwhelmed today, but I think I kept up alright.

I went (rushed) to the culinary club today after work. Since I was one of four students in the room, I am now the co-president of the culinary club. We will be hosting a cup cake competition to raise money and awareness for the club. I'll be looking into nearby butchers to help set up a field trip.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Floor R

POV at the W Hotel Washington D.C.
This morning, I started my first day on the roof. I did a quick tour of the upstairs and got to see The White House and waved to the snipers. Working upstairs and during the day seems far less intense than downstairs in the steakhouse. I now cook for POV Roof Terrace. Here's a link to a review of the place: Washington Post Review.
In addition to garde manger, I also cook hot appetizers (Read: Ding. Fries are done).

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Martha's Vineyard, I mean Marta's Garden

We went to Marta's garden today and her husband talked to us about The Growing Connection. It is a global network of a type of garden that uses minimal resources and can be grown just about anywhere. Their particular garden was organic. Here's some cherry tomatoes on the vine. Beautiful color:
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Here's some of the loot:
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The results? A mozzarella basil tomato salad, pasta with pesto and pasta with stir fried vegetables. It was fresh, wholesome and delicious!
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