Catching Up

It has been quite a while since I have posted anything new on here…sorry for that. Life caught up with me and I needed to take a bit of a break from posting.  There will be more posts coming soon, with recipes, reviews, giveaways, etc.  I am trying to balance the blog, school, and life with Bryan.  School and Bryan (and our house) come first and the blog follows.  Thank you for your patience during all of this.

To catch you all up on what I have been doing in school I decided I would do a general post of this term including some photos and a summary of my five culinary labs: New World Cuisine, Stocks/Sauces/Soups, Dining Room (not much to post on that front), Traditional European Cuisine, and Introduction to Baking and Pastry (none of which this last class was gluten-free-but I have the recipes and hope to figure out how to recreate them to be gluten-free).

Our culinary labs last for six hours a day for nine days then you move on to the next one. This term I started with New World Cuisine where, “[s]tudents are introduced to cooking techniques of grilling/broiling, roasting and deep-frying. Lecture, demonstration and production revolve around North, Central and South American cuisine, ingredients and plate presentations. The proper use of knives and basic vegetable cuts is emphasized.”

From day one, my Chef was enthusiastic about me using gluten-free flours to experiment with.  I made so many delicious gluten-free dishes in this class…Cajun Blacked Catfish with Black Bean Salsa, Gluten-free Fritters (corn, crab, apple), Gluten-Free Onion Rings/Chicken Fingers/Calamari, Roasted Chicken, Roasted Acorn Squash, Grilled Rib-Eye, Grilled Pork Chops, Plenty of grilled vegetables, And tons of gluten-free pan gravy (which I also made for Thanksgiving this year). I am very thankful to Chef Dion for letting me experiment so much with gluten-free flours and starches.  This class was a great learning experience for me.

Next up was Stocks,Sauces, and Soups – “The student will be able to demonstrate proficiency in the boiling and simmering methods of cooking.  Production of basic stocks, leading sauces, compound sauces, emulsion sauces, independent sauces, soups, and basic classical vegetable cuts will be emphasized.  Identification, usage, safety and maintenance of smallwares and kitchen equipment will be introduced.”

A little less experimenting in this course, mostly because the stocks, sauces, and soups we made went to other labs to be used in their recipes.  I did get to make a loaded baked potato soup one day that turned out pretty well by just pureeing the potatoes up to thicken it instead of adding any kind of roux.  I also learned how to make a hollandaise sauce, veloute sauce, consume, and demi-glace along with plenty of stocks – white, brown, blond, vegetable, chicken, veal, etc.  Another huge aspect of this course was knife skills – thankfully!

Next I had Essentials of Dining Room – probably my least favorite class for several reasons. “Students are introduced to front-of-the-house (FOH) operations and professional dining service techniques. Etiquette, quality service, positive guest relations, effective communication skills and guest check handling are emphasized. Students actively perform hot and cold food and beverage service using various service techniques. Students are prepared and take the Federation of Dining Room Professionals Associate Certification exam as an outcome assessment.” We were taught how to set a table, fold napkins, the proper service procedures for food, drinks – including hot beverage and wine services. We even learned how to make layered lattes (see photo at top of the post). We also got to participate in a great wine tasting with wines from the Beaujolais region of France.

After that we were back in the kitchen for Traditional European Cuisine: “Students are introduced to the cooking techniques of braising and stewing. Lecture, demonstration and production revolve around traditional European cuisine, ingredients and plate presentations.” We focused on Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Great Britain and Ireland, Spain, Greece, and Morocco. , So many delicious dishes were prepared in this course: Old Fashioned Beef Stew (which I made gluten-free), Risotto (always a favorite with me), I even made gluten-free pasta by hand!, Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes and Potatoes, Pisto with Eggs, Hungarian Sweet and Sour Cabbage Rolls, Braised Game Hens with Irish Whiskey Sauce, and so much more. I was fortunate enough to have the same Chef as my first lab so experimenting again was encouraged.

Lastly I had Introduction to Baking and Pastry – sadly there was no experimenting here…even when the chef offered I turned it down due to cross contamination.  There is flour everywhere in that lab I didn’t want to risk it.  I figured I could always take these recipes home and when I have enough flours I could experiment and try to create them to be gluten-free.  So if anyone wants to sponsor me with flours, please send me and e-mail! “Production includes basic breads and rolls, laminated dough, muffins, quick breads, cookies and pies. Proper use of the baker’s scale, liquid measurement and equipment identification are a primary focus for this course.”

We made everything from soft dinner rolls, to danishes, to baguettes, to Boston creme pies, and the Olive Garden Bread sticks recipe!  The creator of those bread sticks is a Chef at JWU.  They smelt delicious.  I got through this class by smelling everything I possibly could. It was a bit tempting to just sneak a bite but I was good.

Below are pictures from all the above classes…I hope to post some recipes soon – with the gluten-free changes of course.

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