Sunday, April 18, 2010

death of a lobster.

well, that went by waaay too fast.

the last days of school were filled with distillery field trips, wine and beer tastings, appetizer competitions, and of course, LOBSTER DAY.  

the final day of pro-skills was the production of lobster risotto from start to scratch.  that being said, i got to dispatch my first live lobster.

it was awesome. except the part when i tried to clean the lobster tail (after being removed from the body) and it snapped and i dropped it on the floor. three times. hahaha.

the plating wasn't all that exciting...

but this part was:

i heart lobster. from Jane Hashimawari on Vimeo.

yes, that is a beating lobster heart.

this was fun too:

death of a lobster. from Jane Hashimawari on Vimeo.

we finished off school with a bang and threw a big party for all of the finishing students from both night and day classes.  everyone cooked up a little something--beet and pear salad like always for me. awards and scholarships were handed out (i was awarded the "president's award" and recieved a $500 scholarship!), pictures were taken, hugs were given. i look back to only six months ago and i can still say that this was the best decision i have ever made.  the next 3 months will probably be the most challenging.  i'll be working around 70-80 hours a week at both castagna and biwa.  after that, who knows?

anyone want to open up a food cart with me?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

pork week.

lots and lots of pork.
pork cheek.
pork sausage.
pork tenderloin.

and sauerkraut.

we celebrated the animal this week by using assorted cooking methods and using all parts of the animal to produce a charcroute (or sauerkraut, meat platter). the cheek was braised in hock stock until fork tender. the pork sausage was made from fatback and pork butt, ground, then stuffed. the belly was cured overnight and then braised until tender ( i shed a tear, it was so freaking good). the tenderloin was brined overnight and then quickly pan-seared and finished in the oven.

sauerkraut was supposed to be the star here, but lets get real. pork belly is where it's at.

yesterday was our blackbox challenge.
lamb loin!
i ended up marinating mine with an assortment of herbs, garlic and red wine, grilling then roasting a tomato, sauteing fiddleheads, fennel and mushrooms in butter and sake, and making an herb infused cous cous (i infused oil with thyme and tossed the cous cous in it). i then made a sauce with the marinade and some beef stock, which i then hit with a little cream and butter.

oh snap.

one more week!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

pro-skills, yo.

i'm almost there!

these last few weeks of school consist of "pro-skills" in which we really get to play with our food.  to sum it up, we work with a specialty protein throughout the week and do a final plate up on thursday. on fridays, we do a "black box challenge" that challenges us to use what is given to us and create a dish. 
to catch you up, we worked with duck last week and made duck confit (duck cooked in its own fat. yup.), duck breast saute with a sauce brigarade (orange gastrique type sauce) and a salad garnish.

i presented mine like this:

this week was rabbit week. after breaking down the rabbit, we did a rillette (similar to confit, but cooked in a stock plus fat) of the hindquarters, a braise of the forequarters (which were then shredded and put into a creamy thyme polenta) and then a roulade of the rabbit tenders (which were stuffed with hazelnuts and bacon and sealed together with "meat glue".) i soaked then marinated a wedge of radiccio in garlic, shallot, thyme and balsamic vinegar, grilled it and then popped it into the oven until fork tender. i made a sauce out of the braising liquid by adding a little apple cider vinegar and reducing it down.

it looked like this:

today we had a "blackbox challenge" in which all we were told was that we would be working with scallops. after chef rolled out the cart, i decided to do a red lentil and tomato puree with pickled fennel and herb salad. i cooked the lentils with a bay leaf and crushed garlic until tender, added tomato and pureed it together. i seasoned it with cumin and salt. i pickled fennel with orange juice, champagne vinegar, sugar and seasoned it with zest and ground cardamom. with the scallops, i simply seasoned them with salt and pepper and pan-seared them.  the herb salad was inspired by a new development in my reportoire (which i will expand on more) that consisted of mint, chervil, savory, parsley and fennel fronds. i lightly dressed all of it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and verjus.

it turned out like this:

next week, we work with all things pork. all parts. don't worry, i'll update!

so to fill you in on very recent developments (as mentioned earlier), my externship is coming up and i have decided to do it at castagna restaurant. ( i'll be working there around 60 hours a week and then be working a biwa on my days off. that being said, i had to quit my job over at vindalho. 
the restaurant focuses a lot on molecular gastronomy (in general, science based cooking technique) and very, very, very detailed plate presentations. let's just say, i'll be cooking and plating with tweezers, somewhat similar to this (watch the video!). we trim herbs off by hand (with little scissors) and use tweezers to plate them carefully on the dish. the kitchen is pristine (we stop and scrub down the kitchen every few hours), professional and focused.  the next three monthes will definitely be extremely challening, but i know i'll be learning a ton. 
in other words, i'm looked forward to getting my ass kicked.

lastly, today is my birthday.  to my surprise, i not only recieved a birthday cupcake (thanks anna!!!) but well wishes and a little cheesecake treat from my classmates (thanks!).

happy weekend!