Culinary Sense

Adventures with Food and Life

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Art of Cuisine: Class Final Projects and Brunch

Hey Friends,

did I mention this class was amazing? Well, we’re on our final Sunday brunch, it’s the last day of class, and we’re all putting out our projects during service. I’m including a gallery in this post where you can see some of our creations, and also other foods served at the brunch.

Overall, Chef was happy with how my project came out. There were a couple of small flaws: the gelatinous stock I used to fill the pork pie wasn’t quite gelatinous enough, and started to melt at room temperature. The platter I chose wasn’t large enough for the amount of food I had on it – in other words, I violated the 60/40 rule: 60% is supposed to be negative space. Also, the pork pie and Scotch eggs were under seasoned (even though I had tasted both before cooking – don’t know what went wrong there). But overall, good job, Carolynn! Ha!

And of course, here are the photos.

~ Carolynn



Art of Cuisine: Final Project Part II

Folks, here it comes!

It’s the day of my final project, and I’m so excited to present my charcuterie items to Chef, and to the diners coming for brunch. Yes, you read right: our final projects will be served at brunch.

Here’s my concept: Scottish Picnic. I will make a traditional pork pie, Scotch eggs, smoked salmon mousse canapes on cucumber, a kipper paste, some bread, and an herb salad.

It turns out that we can’t get kippers in – kippers are smoked dried trout – so instead I make a fennel mustard to go with all the meat.

Here are my pork pies. The crust is a lard pastry crust, which goes all around the pan. The pork mixture gets stuffed inside, and then I cover the pies with a final layer of crust. The pork mixture is cubed pork shoulder, with seasoning. When you make charcuterie, you will always want to taste your fillings, sausage stuffing, etc. So with some help from Chef, I assemble the pies. I make little aluminum chimneys in the centers of the pies so that all the extra moisture can evaporate while they’re baking. I make some designs with the extra pastry dough. The criss-cross design looks kind of tacky, but it’s also kind of a classic. When they come out of the oven, I am so happy with the way they look. I am so proud of myself for doing such a good job. After the pies cool down, you have to fill in the holes with extra stock or gelatin. During the baking process, the meat has lost moisture, thus leaving a gap between the meat filling and the pie covers.

The next big item for me are the Scotch eggs. Scotch eggs do not originate in Scotland (they originate in England; the name probably comes from “scorched egg”), they are widely eaten throughout Great Britain, so I took some culinary liberty there. A Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg that is wrapped in sausage meat and then breaded and deep-fried.

Here is the set-up. On the left, my hard boiled eggs (peeled), and on the right, my seasoned sausage meat.

This is the traditional 3 stage breading station: from left to right: flour, egg wash (beaten eggs with milk or water), and on the right panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs).

Here they are: eggs wrapped in meat and breaded, all ready for the fryer.

Golden eggs! They look so pretty! I can’t wait to try them.

All the items on the charcuterie platter will be served cold. Here are some photos of the final result of assembling the platter.

Wheeeeeeeeee! Looks so nice!

This is the sample plate – an ideal version of what a diner will have on her plate.

These are the Scotch eggs cut into quarters.

View of the pork pie with the fennel mustard.

Smoked salmon mousse (also known as mousseline) canapes on baguette with cucumber slices and faux salmon roe. The faux roe are made from red currant jelly and lots and lots of gelatin.

Slices of pork pie, herb salad, and Scotch eggs.

Yay! At this point, I am so so proud. I am really very happy with how everything turned out.

This is my little blurb about the project [this was before I knew about the kipper situation]:

“The theme “Scottish Picnic” will emerge through the choice of foods on the platter and the design on the platter. The chaud froid, a tartan, will imitate a tartan thrown on the ground as a blanket. The elements on the platter contain land and sea foods (pork, eggs, kipper, salmon) which originate in both the mountains and the coastline. The herb salad provides much needed sour and bitter contrast to balance out the salt and umami tastes, and also provides a beautiful green color that reflects the grassy hills and mirrors the green in the tartan. All elements will be served cold, as they would be at a picnic.”

Here is a professional-looking photography taken by Francis Moran of Francis Moran Photography.

So proud.

~ Carolynn

Art of Cuisine: Final Project Part I

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the final project portion of this class. This class has been so awesome, and I’ve learned so much already. I have renewed motivation to refine my dishes, be precise, and practice excellence.

One part of the final project is making a chaud froid  on the platter on which we are going to display our final charcuterie project. A chaud froid is a design made out of gelatin. It can be poured over food and then solidify as it cools, or, it can also be poured onto a flat platter. You can use different colors, either by coloring the gelatin with food coloring, or you can also use “natural” food colorings from red beets, spinach/parsley, and so on. You can also pour one layer, let it cool, then lay down flat things like herb leaves, and pour another clear layer over it.

Here are some examples from my class.

This chaud froid was made by one of my classmates. There is an opaque layer of gelatin on the bottom. Then, he cut very thin rings of leeks and red onions and made a design. Then at the end, there is a clear layer on top.

Here is my work bench. You can see the mixed colors, also some parsley leaves. I blanched some yellow beets and cut out various designs, like hearts and a clover.

This was a test run, so I included a bit of everything on my plate.

You can see that it’s not perfect, and the colors are a little strange. But overall, I learned a lot about the medium. It was SO MUCH FUN, kind of like art class. I loved this day in class. It made me feel really creative.

Another REALLY creative example from my class is this plate:

This student put some herbs upright, in addition to laying down some other elements like blanched leek and lemon zest.

Now, for the final project, the goal is to create a chaud froid on the platter that will hold our charcuterie creations. I want to do a Scottish theme, so I decide on creating a tartan design. I looked up some designs online, and they are pretty complicated. I made up my own design, and on the day before the final project, started working on my project.

I changed the colors slightly from my idea. I definitely wanted green, but then I wanted a contrast color, too.

After about three hours of mixing, pouring, cooling, and cutting patterns, I apply the last clear coating. Unfortunately, I was too eager, and it’s too warm – the red stripes start melting away and mix into the clear gelatin. I am so disappointed at this point. I am ready to give up, throw it away. I have been working on this all morning, and I am so tired, my feet hurt, and I just want to go home.

So, after a short deliberation, I know that I’m going to start over. I can’t give up now. This design is so awesome, and I just can’t stand looking at the blurry red lines. I want to do the best job I can, and I always want to strive for excellence. So I throw it away, and I start over.

So far, so good. The colors aren’t quite like the original, but still okay.

It’s done! It took me another two and a half hours, but it was totally worth it, because this design will blow everyone’s socks off!!!

Next post: part two of the final project.

~ Carolynn

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