Quarter SEVEN

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quarter seven is now underway. I am only taking Art Culinaire and my Internship this quarter. Since I only have 18 credits left, they are split up 9 and 9. I really think I am going to enjoy Art Culinaire. It is taught by the same teacher as Garde Manger, which makes me happy and slightly nervous at the same time. Other than Chef CJ, which taught me more than I can tell you about pastry, I think Chef Thompson has taught me the most practical information, not only about cooking but about presentation. He does not mince words and he will tell you straight up that something sucks...in front of everyone. Normally this would make me dislike someone, but he's so friggin' funny aside from that, that I tend to forgive him pretty quickly when he critiques harshly. He's usually right, anyways.

Art Culinaire, for those who are not familiar with it, is the study of current successful (by this I mean in the top 1% of Chefs) Chefs in cities across America that are known for their culinary delights. This week we were in New York City, and we were learning about and cooking food from Chefs such as Tom Collichio, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Jacques Torres, Terrance Brennan, Marcus Samuelsson, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Each day, our group prepares an Amuse Bouche, an Appetizer, and Entree, and a Dessert. We have ample time to focus on presentation as that is one of the main components of this class. We are nearing the end of our culinary journey. We know the basics. We SHOULD know something beyond the basics. Our hands are not being held anymore. Now it is time to push ourselves and work on excellence. We haven't come this far to look like we are putting out food from Denny's.

The first day, I prepared a raspberry souffle. I'd made souffles before, but this recipe was a little different. Chef swore up and down that these souffles would not fall after they came out of the oven. I took a picture before I pulled them out anyways because one of the dramatic thrills of souffles is how puffy they are when they first come out of the oven. This is also why they have to be served literally IMMEDIATELY out of the oven.

It didn't collapse as much as most souffles do, but it still fell slightly. I loved the crunchy texture of the top and sides of the souffle that this recipe produced, as well as the immensely light texture. It was almost like a personal serving of angel food cake. I dusted the tops with cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar and I enjoyed the contrast it gave.

I don't want to hijack ALL the desserts this quarter. Again, I want to push myself out of my comfort zone at least one of the two days every week. Day two I created an amuse bouche of fried lotus chips with tuna and white fish. I created several different platings that I had sketched out prior to class. I had so much fun with this dish.

One piece of tuna I decided to season and sear to give it added flavor and color. I also curled the lotus slice into a cylinder and secured it with a wooden skewer prior to frying.

For the second plating, I chose to thinly slice the tuna and roll it up, securing it with a chive.

Finally, I used a flat fried lotus chip as a base and fried a quartered lotus chip to give height. I also candied a lemon rind to give color and to play off the yuzu miso sauce that went with the white fish.

Next week on day two I have already chosen to prepare pumpkin cheesecake with a pumpkin seed brittle. I'm hoping to prepare the black pepper tagliatelle with parsnips and pancetta as an appetizer on day one.

Now THIS Is Life!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The last couple of weeks have been completely, utterly, totally fabulous. I have been able to spend real, QUALITY time with the kids. I have easily fallen back into the life of a stay at home mom, with work on the weekends. It's the best of both worlds, really. I have had 4ish days of hanging with the kiddos and just when we start to get tired of each other, we get a break. They get to spend time with our two amazing and almost family-like sitters, and I get to go spend time with other adults and make some money. Just when I'm starting to get ridiculously tired and missing the kids like crazy, my "work week" is over and I get to be home with my favorite people in the world again.

Now THIS is life!!!

On the 4th we had Banana Splits.....for DINNER!!!

We've built a zoo...

Spent some time dancing as Princesses...
(sorry it's sideways)

Made ice cream and toppings out of Play Doh...

And my always creative, ALMOST 6 year old made a chair out of Tinkertoys and filled it with books so her animals could ACTUALLY sit on it.

And of course, I can't forget my TOP favorite person in the world, my hubby. We've had juuuuuuust enough nights together and apart where we still savor the time we have together, but we aren't feeling crazy because we don't get enough time together or alone. It's been a pretty good balance, in my opinion. I know my husband would probably disagree because on HIS end he's been working his heiny off on a new venture he is working on right now. It's all going to be worth it in the end...we are feeling very hopeful for our future right now. Finally.

Too bad I go back to school this week. Only 6 more months and this WILL be life. I can't wait!!

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