Creole and Cajun

Sunday, May 8, 2011

This week in American Regional, we were exploring Creole and Cajun food. We delved into the differences between the two and prepared some amazing food! Before we did any of that, however, we took a knife skills test on Thursday. I haven't had a knife skills test in what feels like forever, although I'm pretty sure I actually had one in Classical last quarter (holy moly, last quarter seems like an eternity ago!). In any case, I was happily surprised at how much my knife skills have improved since then. I got a 22 or 23 (can't remember which on this part) out of 25 as opposed to the 19 or 20 I got last time. Phew! I still have a ways to go, but I'm getting better!

Then we had to debone a chicken in the manner we learned on the turkeys a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't actually done the turkey, but I had watched a video on it before that class and then saw the demo in class, so I wasn't freaking out. I wasn't thrilled, either, as most of you know that butchery is just NOT something I'm excited about. I've been trying to challenge myself this quarter, though, so I tried to view this an a prime opportunity to do so. I surprised myself, an I'm pretty sure Chef, with how well I did breaking down this chicken. We had to show him the bones, and several cuts of meat from the chicken- a regular, deboned chicken breast, an airline breast, two deboned thighs, and the wings and drummies. I also skinned mine because some of the meat and the bones were going into stock.

Thursday was an interesting day, cooking wise. The menu was NOT that extensive, but somehow the time seemed to get away from us all. There were three people, including me, in my team this week. One of the members was the Sous Chef, so he had to be given less work because he had to constantly take care of the other student's needs. We were to prepared hollandaise with leeks, a muffaletta, chiken livers, and we EACH were to prepare blackened chicken, fettucine, and alfredo sauce. What ended up happening was that I prepared the hollandaise with leeks (which was perfect up until service and then it promptly broke), the spread for the muffaletta, the seasoning for the chicken for the group, my blackened chicken, and then the fettucini and alfredo sauce...apparently for the other girl as well because she did NOT prepare her own. I kept asking her what she was doing, because it should not have taken her an entire class to prepare chicken livers, but somehow it did. Apparently. Every time I asked, I was setting up to ask her to take something else on, but the opportunity never arose. In any case, my chicken and alfredo with pasta came out fabulous and Marc ate it for lunch.

Friday, I prepared Gumbo, a Hericot Vert Salad, and we were assigned the recipe, but were not assigned the actual dish, but I decided to go ahead and make the Bread Pudding, as well. The Gumbo was simple to make, and I loved the flavors of it. It was a very heavy dish, though, and you can really only eat a small amount at a time.

I was very pleasantly surprised with the Hericot Vert Salad. It was light and refreshing, and the fennel didn't knock me over like I thought it would.

I took some creative liberty with the Bread Pudding and loosely followed the written recipe. I decided to take some of the Praline mixture that was being used to make cookies and spread it over the bottom of the pan before I poured in the egg and bread mixture. Once it cooked, I flipped the whole thing out of the pan and it had an ooey gooey caramel mixture on the top. The raisins were marinated in Kirsch and gave an extra oomph to this simple dessert. It was devoured extremely quickly.

All in all, it was a great week this week in American Regional!


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