Monday, October 30, 2006

Pantry Raid!

Pantry Practical today! Whoot! You can tell it was exciting, can't you?

This practical is a wee bit different than the ones we've had in the last couple of classes. For starters, we actually got to use the recipe worksheets we had typed up...yes, actual recipes and the procedures. What's up with that? Could it actual break?

Next, the exercise itself is over 2 class days, and half of us are doing one part of the practical, then we switch to the other half.

Today's half assignment was make 1 pint of mayonnaise, 1 pint of red wine vinaigrette, 4 poached eggs, and a rolled/French-style omelet. Let's just say that I rue the day that I ever thought making mayonnaise was cool. Rue, I tell you, rue it. I think I have an actual blister on my right index finger from gripping the stupid whisk. Who knew that cooking was such a dangerous sport? Oh, wait...there are the knives, aren't there? Hmmm....

The kicker in all this, and you knew there was one, is that we only got 18 eggs total to last us the 2 days. On Wednesday, I have to make 2 omelets and 12 pancakes--6 regular size and 6 silver dollar size. So, not a whole lot of wiggle room.

The egg count at the end of the day today was 9 left for Wednesday. I started with 15 regular eggs and 3 pasteurized eggs (for the mayo). I only used 2 of the pasteurized ones, so I have a spare if needed. My poached eggs turned out 75% okay...there was one egg that just fell apart as soon as I put it in the poaching liquid. Chef said it might have something to do with the age of the eggs, because the older the egg is, the less it wants to set up properly. It goes all rebellious on you...kind of James Deanish with a jacket and a cigarette dangling from its lip...if eggs had lips, that is. And, being the paranoid ninny I am, I opted to go with 3 good poached eggs and one crap one rather than use another egg in a poaching attempt, because...what if....what if I need that egg on Wednesday? And the world could end tomorrow, Chicken Little.

Wonder of wonders, the mayo actually became mayo. It still wasn't as good as Mother Hen's was last week, but it wasn't too bad. Chef said it had a good consistency. The vinaigrette wasn't too bad, either...could have used more salt, which seems to be the story of my life.

Enough whining about that crap, let's get to the really important part: the French-style omelet...which was freakin' perfect! No color (i.e., no browning of the eggs), it was properly rolled so you could see 3 layers when you cut into it, and it tasted pretty yummy, too. Take that, Waffle House!

The Chiclet had some real problems with her poached eggs, and I think she may be short an egg or two for Wednesday. I can give her my spare, I think, if she needs it. It's weird during practicals that we aren't supposed to really work with each other, because she and I are so used to working as a team. I must admit that we both scaled some ingredients for the other just from force of habit. Either Chef didn't notice or he realized it was unintentional, because he didn't say anything to us. It wasn't a great plenty of anything, so I don't think it could really be called cheating. Besides, if we've not learned how to measure ingredients properly, then there are many more things wrong than measuring someone's dry mustard for her.

Wednesday's class is going to be great fun...the pancakes will be the death of me in that practical, I know. For some reason, I couldn't make the damn things turn out right when we made them before. It's just pancakes--not rocket science, and I know something about rocket science, and that stuff is hard!

So, guess who's coming to dinner tomorrow night? That would be this lovely lady--Mrs. Butterworth should be stopping by for a visit. Which brings us to the whole syrup controversy that seems to swirl around on (or off) my plate. Personally, I am not that much of a syrup fan. To me, pancakes are a delivery mechanism for as much melted butter as can be soaked into their little browned pores. Syrup, schmyrup...who needs it, if you have enough butter? Every once in a blue moon, I like to put honey on them after I've drowned them in butter...and it must be orange blossom or some other type of flowery honey. I despise, with a capital D, clover honey. Ulee's Gold, it is not. And, The Chiclet? She likes to put sugar on her pancakes, white granulated sugar.

Confession time: I decided to drop the Banquet class. I know, I know, I'm only putting off the inevitable, but it really wasn't making me a happy culinarian. The class dynamic was just weird and had the tendency to get ugly in that Mean Girls kind of way, and hell, I'm an adult now. I don't have to eat all my peas if I don't want to, and I don't have to hang out in situations that make me uncomfortable either. Plus, it was cutting into my work time--going to school 4 days a week from 12:00 - 4:30 puts the big kibosh on any kind of work schedule. Next quarter, I think I can line up my classes a little better and catch up a bit.

Eggs over and out!


Linna said...

Congrats on doing decent poached eggs! I've tried them a couple of times for Eggs Benedict on New Years Day (cooking while the Rose Parade is on), but they always turn out loose and feathery. Edible but not beautiful.

I make very decent Hollandaise sauce (Joy of Cooking), but I have never tried making mayo. That's what a jar of Hellman's is for. Does your from-scratch mayo taste really different?

I like plain pancakes. I like pancakes with butter. But I really like pancakes with syrup. Which is weird because we had home-made syrup growing up that was barely okay. I'm not talking maple-trees-boil-your-own or anything interesting. I'm talking sugar syrup flavored from a little bottle by my mother. I don't know if this was pre-Mrs. Butterworth or if syrup in a bottle just cost too much for the budget.

These days I cut my calories by using Smucker's sugar-free Breakfast Syrup. Notice: they are not allowed to call it "maple" syrup because there's probably no maple tree by-product in there. I use more on my oatmeal than I do on pancakes.

I love pancakes but only if I can eat them with greasy bacon. I have a couple of great pancake recipes (lots of buttermilk) and one okay WW-healthy-kinda-pancake recipe that I make when I'm being good.

Sorry, now you've got me going. My mother loves banana pancakes. We went to Hawaii with them one time, and my mother was on a Quest. We finally found the BEST banana pancakes in a greasy diner off the main drag in Hilo on the Big Island. An enormous mumu-clad woman was making pancakes on a big flat grill. In one hand was a banana and a wicked looking knife. As she poured out the batter the other hand, the first hand was cutting off chunks of very ripe banana to fall onto the proto-pancakes, snip-snip-snip. Amazingly, she still had all her fingers. Heavenly pancakes.

Banquet class sounded like waaaay too much work. I would take it during a semester when that's the only thing you tangle. You are right -- you are an adult and are no longer trapped in school. Go back when the vibes are right.

Poodlebugz said...

My from-scratch mayo did not taste any better than Hellman's. I had high hopes that "real" mayonnaise would somehow transcend the mayonnaise in a jar, but it wasn't happening. It was a nice little experiment, but from now on, I'll be opening the Hellman's, thank you very much.