Monday, April 10, 2006

Saucy Wench

Today we made mother sauces from all that mis en place we did last week. Espagnole, veloute, bechamel, tomato, (Hollandaise is on Wednesday), plus some contemporary sauces like beurre blanc. I'm not sure what exactly "contemporary" means, timewise, in the culinary world, because I always thought beurre blanc was an oldie but a goodie.

We started class by finishing up what mis en place we didn't get done on the previous Wednesday. My sauce assignment was beurre blanc, and I did everything but measure out the liquids and zest the lemon (I know, how much more was there!), and that's what I set to doing.

Chef is working with another classmate behind me who also needs lemon juice. Chef tells her rather than cut a new lemon, to grab mine and get juice from it. I warn her that I need 2 tablespoons of juice, so make sure she reserves that amount for me to use. She only needs lemon juice to taste. Chef tells her to roll the lemon around to get it juicy. I happen to glance back a few moments later, and she's rolling it around in her hands.

I tell her and demonstrate what he meant by roll it around and leave her to it. About 3-4 minutes later (I'm very absorbed in my zesting since I have to do it with a knife and not my beloved Microplaner!), I glance back at her to see how she's doing. She has ground that poor lemon into the cutting board and is continuing to roll it around in a widening puddle of juice.

Oh, it's all I can do not to fall on the floor and roll around. She sees me looking and says, "how do I get the juice out?" I really have to bite my tongue. She's a sweetie, but I really have to wonder how to do you get to be at least 19 years old and not know how to juice a lemon?.

I grab what's left of the poor old lemon and explain that you cut it in half and squeeze (not going to explain about the reamer/juicer at all; it would only be trouble). I tell her to get another lemon, explain why you roll it around and for about how long and leave her to squeezing juice. I check on her later, and she's merrily wringing the holy hell out of each lemon half. It's been juice to an inch of its rind. I get my 2 tablespoons and that's all that really counts, now doesn't it! : )

The coolest thing we learned today, when we got around to making sauce, is that you can change the flavor of a sauce by straining it. Chef made espagnole, a basic brown veal sauce. He strained it once through a large china cap strainer, and we tasted it. Yum. Then, he pushed it through a chinoise mousseline, which is a finer mesh that the china cap (chinois). Because he put it throught the finer cap and broke the particulates up more, it gave the sauce a richer taste...pretty amazing that such a simple act as straining the sauce would have such an impact.

And it was a long and tiring day...4.5 hours in What You're Doing Wrong, and then we get to Dining Room Mismanagement. Turns out there is an event today that we have to set up for, which will commence at 5:30. Great. I didn't get to leave class until 6 p.m., and I am bone tired. B-O-N-E tired. Every muscle in my body aches with some sort of need...mostly narcotics and sleep. I'm so tired that the thought of watch 24 just pushes me over the edge. It's tiring me out to listen to the "Previously on 24" snippets.

And I get to do it again tomorrow...or at least half of it. More trials and tribulations in Dining Room Mismanagement.

Bon apetite!

No comments: