Monday, July 17, 2006
Sauteed Veggies Tell No Tales
Arrr! Today class theme was "eat yer veggies, or walk the plank!!" (Well, okay, that was *my* theme; everyone else just made veggies in their regular old personas.)
We grilled, we sauteed, we panfried, we braised, we blanched and shocked, and we steamed. (Mother Hen really did steam about Mr. Big Stuff, but more on that later...) And, just so you know, this was not vegetarian cooking...cream and butter were out in full force to support the side dishes.
We made a truly fabulous creamed corn that was like no other that I had ever had before. The cream-style corn of my youth involved a lot of sugar. It was almost like a dessert, and I know my relatives got their propensity for diabetes honestly.
Here's the recipe we did; it makes 10 portions, but you don't necessarily have to share.
6 oz Leeks, fine diced (NOTE: We used finely diced onion in the one we did today, because we were out of leeks!)
16 fl oz Heavy cream
Salt, as needed
Pepper, as needed
Butter, as needed
Ground nutmeg, as needed
24 oz Corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1. Combine leeks and heavy cream in a saucepan. Season with S&P and nutmeg, and simmer over medium heat until cream has reduced by half. (You see why this is good--cream!! real cream!)
2. Steam corn kernels over boiling water until fully cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Add them to the leek mixture and simmer until a good flavor and consistency is reached, 2-3 minutes more.
3. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Finish with some butter. Some crumbled bacon would be nice, too. Mmmmm....bacon.
We pan-fried some eggplant slices that had been lightly coated with bread crumbs, and Chef Regional managed to score some of Head Chef's marinara sauce to use for dipping. Head Chef does make a pretty incredible marinara sauce, and he doesn't share it lightly.
As part of the blanching/shocking process, we blanched some Brussel sprouts to use later in a saute. I really, really, really want to like Brussel sprouts, I do...but, I just don't. They're such cute little veggies, and I had high hopes that we might do something to them today that would allow me to like them. First, we trimmed the bottoms off and removed the outer leaves if they were unsightly. Then, we cut an "X" on the bottom to allow for more even cooking during the blanching process. We blanched them, shocked them, and then Chef Regional sauteed them in a browned butter (beurre noisette) sauce with some garlic. I'll have to admit they were better than any other Brussel sprout I've had, but it wasn't something I was going rush home and make for dinner. I guess there really are some things that a ton of butter can't fix. : (
Except for spaghetti squash. We roasted one and then scraped it out and added about a stick of butter to it. I had never been truly impressed with spaghetti squash before now, but the boat load o' butter really did help.
Then came the glazed carrots. Chef Regional said that he makes these when he goes home for Thanksgiving and sometimes adds in turnips and parsnips, and his brother (who hates all 3 of these veggies) eats them all. His method for glazing carrots is sort of a self-glazing one. We cut up carrots into medium oblique shapes, then put them in a sauce pan. Chef Regional then covered them with a goodly amount of sugar--at least a cup if not more--and another stick of butter. He placed them over a low flame until the butter and sugar started to melt and become liquidy (is too a word!). After the sugar and butter melt, then turn the heat up just a tad to achieve a simmer and clamp a lid on the pot. This will allow the carrots to steam and create their own glaze. When the carrots are tender, toss in a small pinch of salt, and viola! Glazed carrots that were as good as sweet potatoes if not better.
Chef Regional talked alot about using things that are in season as well as native to the area, but he was more concerned with the in season factor. Sure, you can get asparagus year 'round, but when is it actually the best? April asparagus versus November asparagus has April as a clear winner. And, you save yourself some $$$ as well, and the business end of this profession is always included in class some how, some way. And that is probably more valuable than being able to cut a perfect dice.
Mother Hen was pretty pissed off at Mr. Big Stuff today. She was in charge of clean up, and it was the same old song-and -dance routine. She'd assign him a task, and he'd go find something else to do from Chef. The class before us had made stock; rather, they had started stock. When this happens, because stock usually has to cook for 3-4 hours, we end up getting to strain, cool, and store it. It's the circle of life in culinary school. Anyway, Chef Regional asked Big Stuff to take care of the stock right after Mother Hen assigned him the task of wiping down the stove. He blithely tells her "no can do" and bounces off to deal with the stock.
Yes, the Chef-assigned tasks usually have priority, and most of the time when they say "frog," we are already off the ground, but it wasn't necessary in this case. What Big Stuff should have done was said "yes, Chef, I'll get that as soon as I finish wiping down the stove." Instead, he gives Mother Hen a little lip and attitude when she asked him to finish before he deals with the stock, and it really hacked her off. She asked Chef if they could have a chat about the issue, but we ran out of time today. We'll see what happens on Wednesday.
It's been a long and exciting day on the Good Ship Spaghetti Squash, so I'll save the meat lecture we had for tomorrow. It will be ever so exciting.
And, The Man will be back. Maybe he'll eat the Brussel sprouts if given the choice of that or walking the plank! Arrr!!