Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.

Photo

Diary: November 6, 2002


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 Malawry

Malawry
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,400 posts
  • Location:Harpers Ferry/Shepherdstown, WV

Posted 06 November 2002 - 02:23 PM

Tuesday, November 5

For a long time, I have defended vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice as well as a valid foodie diet. There’s nothing wrong with vegetarianism, and it is entirely possible to approach a vegetarian diet with the same passion for food as an omnivore. My vegetarianism led me to try different cuisines in order to diversify the food I knew, and the self-imposed restrictions led me to a degree of creativity that I might not have pursued otherwise.

I’m now well into omnivorism. I can’t pretend any more. It’s been some time since I stuck to simply “tasting” meat and fowl; as my palate has become accustomed to the meaty and gamy flavors I find myself eating every scrap of many things. Duck breast, when seared medium-rare, is a new favorite. I adore confit. Any type of cured meat, be it sausage, bacon, ham, hot-smoked, whatever…I want to eat it. I like beef a fair amount and am starting to consider trying my first hamburger in over a decade. I am not too fond of chicken and rabbit, but venison was pretty good and I’m rather appreciative of veal. I enjoy the muskiness of lamb; last week I was pleased with the way lamb smells like lamb even before it’s been cooked.

I still eat vegetarian at home, and when I dine out I generally consume fish and vegetable-based dishes, although I will order items like monkfish wrapped in proscuitto and shrimp and grits with tasso ham. I wonder how much meat will remain a part of my diet after I finish school. I don’t think I will be preparing it at home, but I wonder if I will order it out more when it’s not in my lunch every day. I do still eat fake meat sometimes; I think a fake chicken pattie is far less likely to contain something gross than a fast-food chicken pattie, plus it’s probably going to be better for me.

Wednesday, November 6

Instead of having a demo and the usual lunch service, today we did a hors d’oeuvres buffet. There was no demo, we were just broken into teams and assigned three items per team. I was paired with Ivelisse, and we were assigned tuna tartare, tandoor-style chicken and Asian duck strudel. Chef Peter gave each team a more detailed list of assignments and suggested we get started while he went from team to team explaining how to make each dish. We’ve made tuna tartare before, so Ivelisse and I started with the mise en place for that while we waited for Chef Peter.

The assignment sheet said we should plan to serve the tartare as quenelles on spoons. The sheet also explained that the duck strudel should be made with marinated, seared duck breasts and julienned vegetables and stuffed in phyllo dough. As for the chicken, the only real direction was to see Chef Somchet. After Chef Peter came by and explained the duck marinade, I found Chef Somchet and asked her about the chicken. She handed me a spice packet and told me to follow the directions on the back, thread the chicken onto skewers, and grill it until done on the small iron grill plate. Ivelisse and I decided that I’d take the chicken and she’d handle the duck, and we agreed to split the tartare tasks between us.

I grated some fresh ginger, garlic and onion, found some paprika and salt, and added lemon juice and yogurt to the spice mix as indicated on the packet for the marinade. I added the chicken and got it in the walk-in fairly quickly. I then diced and minced various things for the tartare: chives, cilantro, and so on. I made a deli cup of Asian style marinated cucumbers and tried to figure out the best way to design the tartare servings and plate. We’d selected a white platter with a sort of swoopy reverse-Z shape to it, and Chef Peter had given us some new teaspoons to put the quenelles on. I decided the quenelles would look most fetching if I put two cucumber slices and the cilantro leaf on the spoons near the handle end of the bowl, added the quenelle, and then piped a zig-zag pattern of crème fraiche on top. Ivelisse agreed with my ideas.

We were encouraged to dress up our plates in the best way possible, so we talked a lot about how to make our food look attractive. Ivelisse had decided to make a ginger beurre blanc for the strudel, and we decided together to squirt the sauce on the platter before adding the strudel. She decided to cut the strudel on the bias, which looked quite nice. I fixed some garnishes for the tartare platter: cucumber cut into large pieces on the bias, skin scored with a fork, center scooped out, and then filled with some scallion brushes. The tartare platter ended up being one of the more striking dishes on the buffet.

The chicken ended up being a problem, though. I didn’t realize that one other person needed the grill plate; had I known this I would have grilled off the chicken far earlier and just reheated and finished it in the oven. I didn’t get access to the grill plate until 12:15 or so, and then I didn’t realize the chicken wasn’t cooked through so I ended up putting it in the oven around 12:50 when I realized it was a problem. (The buffet was set for 1pm.) The chicken was the last thing to go on the buffet, well after it officially opened. It was irritating since I’d actually given myself plenty of time to do everything, I just hadn’t known I needed to coordinate with somebody else…and she got to the grill plate first.

We invited the pastry students to join us for lunch, so I had a chance to hang out and chat with some of them. Two of them are vegetarian, and they both asked me to guide them to the meatless items on the buffet. We talked about vegetarianism and why each of us is or was sticking to a meatless diet. We also chatted about some of the items on the buffet.

After lunch, we met for a brief wrap-up and then were allowed to go home early. I came home to complete this entry, and am about to depart for Corduroy, where I am trailing tonight.

Here’s what was on the buffet:

Corn-dusted oysters on the half shell
Belgian endive with goat cheese
Hummus
Lamb satay with peanut sauce
Jerk chicken on a plantain chip
Babaganoush
Brie on brioche with a raspberry
Quail scotch eggs
Lazy susans (quail eggs fried in bread rings)
Roasted fingerling potatoes stuffed with goat cheese
Roasted tomato, basil, and black olive tapenade crostini
Lobster and roasted yellow pepper crostini
Artichoke blini with artichoke confit
Tabbouleh
Goat cheese pyramid (balls of goat cheese rolled in various things like chopped herbs, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc)
Endive with citrus crabmeat
Chicken tandoori
Asian duck strudel
Tuna tartare
Crawfish profiteroles
Crispy pork wontons
Mini crabcakes
Mini salmon en croute
Duck confit in filo
Frikadelles (Swedish-style meatballs)

Tuna Tartare

Peeled seeded cucumber
Rice wine vinegar
Sugar
Tuna
Shallot
Ginger
Chive
Cilantro
Lemon juice
Cornichons
Dijon mustard
Sea salt and white pepper
Seasme oil
Tabasco sauce
Soy sauce
Crème fraiche
Broccoli sprouts
Toasted black and white sesame seeds
Lotus root chips

Combine cucumber with sugar and salt. Set aside to marinate. Combine tuna with shallot, ginger, chive, cilantro, juice, cornichons, mustard, seasoning, sesame oil, tabasco, and soy sauce to taste. To plate individual servings: arrange cucumber on plates and put mold on plate; fill mold with tuna and top with crème fraiche. Remove mold and top with sprouts, seeds and chips. Scatter soy sauce on plate and serve. To serve as hors d’oeuvre, form quenelles of tuna mixture. Arrange cucumber slices and cilantro leaves on spoons. Add quenelle and pipe crème fraiche decoratively on top.

#2 Jinmyo

Jinmyo
  • participating member
  • 9,879 posts
  • Location:Ottawa, ON, Canada

Posted 06 November 2002 - 04:39 PM

Rochelle, chicken and rabbit can be rather bland and uninteresting. But rabbit benefits from strong herbs, good caramelization before roasting, and so on. Chicken thighs can be worthwhile. Chicken breast is just bad tofu.
"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

#3 Steve Klc

Steve Klc
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,739 posts
  • Location:Washington, DC mostly

Posted 06 November 2002 - 05:28 PM

Jin--if I had the time to find the thread about best eGullet lines, I'd nominate that last one of yours--"Chicken breast is just bad tofu." That's precious and up to your very high standards.
Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant
Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

#4 Rachel Perlow

Rachel Perlow
  • legacy participant
  • 6,756 posts
  • Location:New Jersey

Posted 07 November 2002 - 08:23 AM

Would it have been acceptable to cook your chicken under the broiler instead of using the grill pan? Sometimes you have to improvise. :wink:

#5 Malawry

Malawry
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,400 posts
  • Location:Harpers Ferry/Shepherdstown, WV

Posted 07 November 2002 - 05:07 PM

Using the salamander to cook anything is a big no-no at school. We use it to toast bread and to brown glazed dishes/things topped with cheese or breadcrumbs. Not for actual cooking. And the salamander is the closest thing to a broiler at school.

Chef Francois told us that we should never broil meat very early on. It would not have met approval as a shortcut.

#6 Jonathan Day

Jonathan Day
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,730 posts
  • Location:London and Mougins, France

Posted 10 November 2002 - 01:13 AM

chicken and rabbit can be rather bland and uninteresting. But rabbit benefits from strong herbs, good caramelization before roasting, and so on. Chicken thighs can be worthwhile. Chicken breast is just bad tofu.

Jinmyo, could this be a reflection of the quality of rabbit you are getting there? Perhaps things are different in Canada, but the rabbit I remember in the US was almost always frozen and had very little character.

Here, the rabbits I buy are anything but frozen -- at quite a few butchers and game dealers they hang in the shop and are skinned as you order them. This rabbit doesn't taste anything like chicken, even with a relatively simple preparation, e.g. marinated with olive oil and a bit of lemon and then grilled. You also get the liver, which can add a lot to the flavour of a finished dish.

And, late in the year, you get hare, which has so much "character" that it can be a problem. I love hare, but can only cook it rarely because my wife finds the gamey flavour too strong.
Jonathan Day
"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

#7 Jinmyo

Jinmyo
  • participating member
  • 9,879 posts
  • Location:Ottawa, ON, Canada

Posted 10 November 2002 - 07:41 PM

Jinmyo, could this be a reflection of the quality of rabbit you are getting there? Perhaps things are different in Canada, but the rabbit I remember in the US was almost always frozen and had very little character.

Here, the rabbits I buy are anything but frozen -- at quite a few butchers and game dealers they hang in the shop and are skinned as you order them. This rabbit doesn't taste anything like chicken, even with a relatively simple preparation, e.g. marinated with olive oil and a bit of lemon and then grilled.  You also get the liver, which can add a lot to the flavour of a finished dish.

And, late in the year, you get hare, which has so much "character" that it can be a problem. I love hare, but can only cook it rarely because my wife finds the gamey flavour too strong.

Oh, JD, I agree entirely. Although rabbit is showing up even in supermarkets like Loblaws now, they're wan and pale. Occasionally butchers will have tastier rabbit buit not reliably.

Farmed bunnies are often as vague in taste as they are fluffy as pets. Wild rabbit or hare is another matter though. Instead of requiring strong herbs and braising, often a simple grilling or a good sear and pan roasting with garlic and black pepper is enough for a transformative meal. A bit of a light tomato sauce (with the kidney added), some heels of bread, and the rabbit. And thou. As long as thou keepst thy grasping claws away from me rabbit.
"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

#8 CB1234

CB1234
  • legacy participant
  • 2 posts

Posted 10 December 2002 - 10:09 AM

I’m now well into omnivorism. I can’t pretend any more. It’s been some time since I stuck to simply “tasting” meat and fowl; as my palate has become accustomed to the meaty and gamy flavors I find myself eating every scrap of many things. Duck breast, when seared medium-rare, is a new favorite. I adore confit. Any type of cured meat, be it sausage, bacon, ham, hot-smoked, whatever…I want to eat it. I like beef a fair amount and am starting to consider trying my first hamburger in over a decade. I am not too fond of chicken and rabbit, but venison was pretty good and I’m rather appreciative of veal. I enjoy the muskiness of lamb; last week I was pleased with the way lamb smells like lamb even before it’s been cooked.

I still eat vegetarian at home, and when I dine out I generally consume fish and vegetable-based dishes, although I will order items like monkfish wrapped in proscuitto and shrimp and grits with tasso ham. I wonder how much meat will remain a part of my diet after I finish school. I don’t think I will be preparing it at home, but I wonder if I will order it out more when it’s not in my lunch every day.

Rochelle,
I was primarily a vegetarian before enrolling in culinary school as well - no meat for at least 10 years! Like you, I started off only tasting the meat dishes that we prepared, but over time, I found myself "giving in" and enjoying the incredible flavors of various meats. Once I opened up my mind and palate again to all these options, I was amazed at how much my taste buds and preferences had changed from the time before I was a vegetarian. I had never tried duck, lamb, veal, venison, rabbit; I rarely ate pork products; ate chicken all the time.

Now I find that I am attracted (make that addicted, in the case of any cured pork products) to meats with big, bold flavors - the chicken I once loved now seems boring by comparison. Now that I've recently finished school, I find that I have reverted back to my more vegetarian diet, especially when I am cooking at home, although I do indulge my cravings for prosciutto and serrano and order meat dishes in restaurants once in a while if their preparation sounds really interesting.

Speaking of that first hamburger - I had mine on St. Paddy's day this year - in a small rough-and-tumble Irish bar in Manhattan. My friends and I only intended to pop in for a quick pint, and then found ourselves laughing and drinking, sharing stories all night with a group of rambunctious firemen. After indulging in a few too many (and not having eaten anything in hours), I found myself ravenous. One of the guys had ordered a big, juicy burger and dangled it in front of me, offering a bit of forbidden fruit. After less than a momen't hesitation, I pounced, not once, but at least three times. I wonder if the carnivorous look in my eyes and the salivating fangs that suddenly appeared scared anyone. It tasted sooooo good. And once I had unleashed the beast, I couldn't stop. I had another hamburger (my own, that I didn't have to share!) late that night before I hopped the train home!

#9 Malawry

Malawry
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,400 posts
  • Location:Harpers Ferry/Shepherdstown, WV

Posted 10 December 2002 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for your terrific story. :biggrin:

I had my inaugural burger not too long after writing this post. I visited Colorado Kitchen to ask the chef if I could interview her for my paper, a visit I documented in this diary. I didn't document the burger I ate while there, but it was worth documenting: juicy, thick, meaty, perfectly cooked, fabulous. It even came on a good Kaiser roll. My only complaint is that they didn't have a good mustard in-house to stand up to this excellent burger. It comes with satisfying red onion rings. I'm already dreaming of when I can go back and order it again. (It's only available Fridays at lunch and Sundays at dinner, so it's hard to get.)