Archive for April, 2011
It was poultry day in school today. We learned how to butcher, truss, and cook chicken. I’ve never been very good at cutting up chicken—the whole procedure just kind of nauseates me.
But whether or not I eat chicken or decide to cook chicken for work, it’s a good skill to have. It’s the same reason why I’ll take their meat course if they offer it again (the Natural Gourmet Institute doesn’t have meat as part of their regular curriculum). I don’t eat meat but, again, it’s a skill that’s good to have. You never know when you might be called upon to use them.
I made pan-roasted chicken with shiitake mushrooms and shallots, and I must say, it came out quite good. Nice and golden on the outside, moist on the inside. I wanted to make chicken piccata but I picked up the wrong piece of chicken breast (and put it in my pan to sear) and had to switch recipes. It was really good, and when I went to get one of my containers (which I keep in my locker), I came back into the classroom to find the chicken I’d made gone. I guess someone else thought it was good, too.
Yes, e-books are all the rage, and it’s not going away. More and more, publishers are going to be cutting back on their print lists and moving their catalogs to e-books. In fact, some publishing houses are entirely e-books. But some genres are still very much alive in the print world, and cookbooks is one of the biggest.
Who wants to bring an e-reader into the kitchen, anyway? I mean, I’m sure some
people do, but then you run the risk of getting food on it, of equipment getting tossed on it, and you don’t have those beautiful glossy photos looking up at you. It’s not the same giving someone an e-cookbook for Christmas (“Here, sweetie. Here’s the link to download your very own version of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Merry Christmas! And someone’s birthday is coming up. Be on the lookout for Anthony Bourdain’s LeHalles Cookbook in your inbox!”). Frankly, it’s hard to get excited about a recipe when it’s coming off a flat, boring screen. The most beautiful part of a cookbook is the book itself.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, the fact is that cookbooks are still going strong in the print market, especially with the growing trend of paper-over-board covers, which is a hardcover book with a photo printed right on the cover, rather than a dustjacket. Read a Publisher’s Weekly article for more information. And I’d love to know what you all think.
Viva la cookbook!
I had lunch with a friend today and we had Japanese food. As usual, I had a little trouble with my chopsticks. I mean, I can wield them well enough to get most of my food in my mouth but I do so quite clumsily sometimes. It’s a skill I haven’t quite mastered…yet.
So, for those of you who are like me—chopstick impaired—here a couple of websites and a video that might help. The photo at right is of disposable chopsticks in the cafeteria of Waseda University, Japan. I just found it so interesting. A western pail would contain plastic forks, spoons, knives, and <shudder> sporks.
Itadakimasu! (that’s bon appetit in Japanese)
I was hoping that the Italian Tribune would put the review of my cookbook up on their website, but as of right now, they haven’t. So, instead, here’s a snapshot of the review. (If you go to my other blog page–rroberti.com–you can see a larger view by clicking on the photo. Don’t know why I can’t do it here.)
Yep, it was sauces day. We learned to make French “mother” sauces and secondary sauces, for which the mother sauces are the base.The sauces all came out really delicious. There was roasted garlic sauce, caramelized onion sauce, and bechemal, among others. I made this really great Apple-Mustard Sauce that was tangy from apple cider vinegar. The tartness makes it a good accompaniment to rich dishes, such as fatty fishes, or pork.
After that, we made infusions. Everything from raspberry vinegar to paprika oil to beet oil. We made some really beautiful jars of infusions and I can’t wait to enjoy them. I wish I had a better picture, although I’m counting on one of my classmates to pass hers on to the rest of us.
I’m so freaking exhausted. But that’s been my tune for the past few months. I’m enjoying all my classes…I just wish I had more energy. I think I need to up my ginseng intake.
We did stocks this week at the Natural Gourmet Institute, which is a basic class of all culinary schools because stocks are the basis of soups, stews, and even some sauces. We made a few different stocks, including a brown vegetable stock, curry stock, shiitake mushroom stock, a few other vegetable stocks, and a fumet, which is just a fancy French name for fish stock.
Tomorrow, it’s sauces. Woohoo!
As if being the second oldest student in class weren’t bad enough, I had to go and tweak my back. We were lifting our tables onto blocks–which we have to do when we’re ready to prep food–and I lifted, stupidly, with my back. The table was heavier than I’d anticipated because we’d already put cutting boards on them. Plus, I was set a little back from the table because of the block at my feet, so I was in an awkward position. Anyway, lift…and ouch! It’s been bothering me a little since. I just hope I didn’t do any permanent damage. I have to keep up with these youngsters.
My Friday Night Dinner shift begins in a couple of weeks. I’m half calm about it and half nervous. I know my way around a kitchen but I’m always so worried about doing things right sometimes that I get nervous and end up screwing up. I realized something else, too. Instead of doing things the way my instinct tells me to do it, I do it the way I think they want us to do it. After all, they’re going to assess us on how well we do things the way they taught us how to do them. But it turns out that my instinct was the right way. What makes me go in the other direction? This seems to be a microcosm of my entire life. Instead of following my instinct, I overthink things, and then wish I’d listened to my instinct. Hindsight is 20/20 but it’s also pretty damn infuriating.