Graduated!

It was six months ago that we started this adventure. I can hardly believe it’s over, I’m sad and relieved all at the same time. Taking this journey with these people as been an amazing and very entertaining experience. There were times of stress, frustration, relief, anger, exhaustion, but mostly I remember how much we laughed and laughed. I want to thank you all for being who you are and bringing such a great mix to our class. Schellie, Gina, Rebecca, Amy, Matt and Sam you guys are Awesome! Chef, Carla, Laura and Brenda, thanks for EVERYTHING, you will forever be in my heart for all you’ve given me. OK moving on before I get all boo hoo.

Rumor had it that we were going to get cool new hats!
Graduation was on a clear crisp chilly Sunday. Lots of family converged on the area to get a peek at the rumored new hat. This is a photo of us waiting to start the ceremony.
There was a reason we were all looking a bit nervous and or anxious. We were all curious to know our final scores and if we would graduate with merit or distinction. Chef made it a surprise or you could say he likes torturing us. Making us wait until the very end to announce it in front of our families, I’m going with torture. So we wait tortured….. merit? or did we make it to the top….. distinction?!
So here we are, Best Class Ever!!!
Sam graduated with completion.
Schellie, Rebecca and Matt all graduated with Merit.
Gina, Amy and myself all graduated with Distinction.
How cool are the Hats?!?!?!

Here is a shot of the #1 student this session and second highest score EVER!
Me!! 
Thanks to all my classmates, Chef Laurent especially, you will always be my Chef.
Big GIANT thanks to my James, for supporting me with your love and being the best friend and taster any cook could have. I love you madly.
So now what? Stay tuned!
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Salad/Sandwiches/Cheese and BBQ

Salads, dressings, sandwiches, visit from a Cheese Monger aka Chef Starr and to finish the week BBQ. We had a day of totally creative freedom and one day of copying others EXACTLY. Chef Starr Cornwall came to chat with us about CHEESE, she was awesome! Here’s the photo story for this week.


– Classic Salads – 
We had to use all the proper ingredients, 
but we could present them in our own way.
Waldorf Salad
Greek Salad
Spinach Salad w/ Bacon Dressing

Next up for Salads, we had to copy a picture out of a book and make it exactly like the picture. 
My version and the picture from the book
Lobster Artichoke Salad
rounds of artichoke hearts, filled with mustard whip cream, chopped lobster and artichoke hearts, floating in saute verte with lobster medallions and claw meat
My version and the picture from the book
Asparagus Salad
center is filled with roasted eggplant puree, 
floating in vichyssoise w/ caviar
Classic Club
Classic Ruben
Classic Croque Monsieur
CHEESE! Chef Starr was a blast, she taught me A LOT.
KR this is your night cheese !
This feisty little guy was trying to step to me. 
My chef knife and me won the battle.
Grilled delight.
this is our protein assortment for BBQ day, it was a feast for many
tri tips, chicken breast, quail, lobster, shrimp, filet mignon, salmon, mahi mahi, pork medallions, cornish game hens, top sirloin, lamb chops
grill feast is ready

Mystery Basket #1

Last week was our first mystery basket week. We’d get 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete 2 plates with 2 different proteins as well as a starch and a veggie for each plate. The protein was revealed right when the clock started. It was an amazing learning experience, little scary, super fun and kind of freeing. We could cook anything we wanted with what we could find in the walk in fridge and we had use of the entire pantry. I thought for sure this week would kick my ass, but as the week went on I felt like I was doing the ass kicking. Learned a lot and had a blast. Check out my creations.
Herb Crusted Salmon w/couscous & asparagus 
and lemon butter caper sauce.
Poached Seabass in a lite lemon thyme broth.
this one needs some work. LOL
Pork Skewers w/ Fennel Orange salad 
and chili dipping sauce.
Lamb Loin crusted with Fennel and Caraway seeds
and red wine mustard sauce.
Spicy Shrimp Skewers w/ purple cabbage slaw, soba noodles.
and sweet chili dipping sauce.
Prosciutto wrapped Scallops w/ sun dried tomato basil sauce
over a bed of micro mustard greens.
Grilled Veal Chop w/ Orzo corn asparagus salad 
and Porcini Gorgonzola sauce.
Isn’t she the cutest thing EVER ?!?!? My cousin Amy sent me this outfit she had specially made for Barbie. I squealed like a 6 year old when I opened this. Thanks AMY ! you rock.

Foods of Asia

Hey All – Sorry for the late posting, I’m trying very hard to post weekly on Saturday’s, but our Asia week got split up and I wanted to wait until we’d done all 5 days. Asia is HUGE and this week we lightly touched on the core, in regards to regions, spices and local foods. Enjoy the photo tour, it won’t be nearly as good as smelling and eating it all, but lovely to view for sure.
Khayanthee Thoke (Burma)
this was like Baba Ghanoush, but spicy. super yummy.
Keema Kofta (India)
Spicy Lamb Meatballs
Rendang Daging (Malaysia)
Coconut Beef OMG delish !
Tom Kha Gai (Thailand)
My most favorite Thai soup ever and it was so easy to make.
Lumpiang Shanghai (Philippines)
classic Lumpia
Spring Rolls (China)
Ooolong Sea Bass
To ready us for mystery basket week, Chef gave us Sea Bass, Soba noodles and zucchini and cook however you want, but do an Asian spin on it. I LOVE the Oolong Sea Bass at PF Chang’s, so I did my best to replicate it. I topped it with mustard micro greens. It turned out AWESOME.
Sushi day!! This is my first crunchy roll.
Caterpillar Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll
Cucumber Ocotpus Salad and Tuna Poki

Next week is mystery basket all week, wish me luck.

Espana!

Spain week was yummy, loved all the tapas. Take a look and enjoy.
Camarones al ajillo
champinones al ajillo w/ serrano ham
Artichokes y Serrano Ham
Shrimp Cocktail
Sopa de Ajo
Gazpacho
Delicias de Queso & Shrimp Cakes
Scallops atop Potato Rosti w/spicy tomato sauce
Spicy Lamb Stew
Golden Beet Salad
Mar y Montana w/ Picada sauce
Sangria
Paella

Viva Italia

Italy week was a blast, so much yummy food. Take a look and enjoy. If you want any of the recipes let me know by leaving a comment.
Sea Bass over Fennel Risotto
Veal Scallopini
Osso Bucco braised with Chianti/Demi Glace
Grinding beef, pork and veal for meat sauce
Big pot of meat sauce
making pasta
Gnocchi
This is called a Chittada, very cool pasta cutting tool.
Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with Meat Sauce
Butter Sage sauce for the Gnocchi, this was insanely delicious.
LOVE the Italian mise en place, so pretty with all the color.
Pappa al Pommodora
Veal Costelleta w/ Porcini Wine Sauce over Chianti Sage Risotto
Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi w/ Gorgonzola Sauce
Pizza toppings ready to go.
Pizza Day! yum

My week of French Food

This week was all about France, we did Quiche, French Onion Soup, Poule au Pot al Creme, Coquille St. Jaques Provencal, Boeuf Bourguignon, Poulet Chassuer, Escargot a la Bourguignon, Crepes, Tarte Tatin, Duck a la Orange, La Bouillabaisse Provencal and Riz de Veau Braise aka Sweet Breads. The Sweet Breads were the star of this week. I’d never had them and it was a very interesting process to cook them. I’ll be honest I was a little freaked out by the visual as we went through the process of preparing them. France was fun, can’t wait to go visit. Here’s some shots of this week.
Coquille St. Jaques Provencal ( Scallops )
Poulet Chassuer ( this was unreal, the sauce made we want to cry it was good )
Escargot a la Bourguignon. I’ve had snails before but not like these, they were soft, tender and delish, especially with the wine. 
Duck a la Orange with roasted Celery Root, my new favorite veggie.
Tarte Tatin with Rum Whipped Cream
my pot filled with all the seafood for La Bouillabaisse Provencal
La Bouillabaisse Provencal ready to serve
This is the first course for the La Bouillabaisse Provencal, croutons with Rouille sauce on them as well as a lovely Rose from France.
My Bowl
Jim’s bowl, packed for the ride home. He loved it !
These are the Sweet Breads sauteing, trippy looking stuff. 
It looks like brains, but it’s not, they are the Veal thyroid gland.
This is mine and Rebecca’s mise en place for the Sweet Breads and the Duck a la Orange.
You can see Roasted Celery Root, the Duck sauce, the Sweet Breads in their sauce with the sauteed mushrooms, the random pound of butter, orange segments for the duck plate. I love my mise en place.
Riz de Veau Braise aka Sweet Breads in Puff Pastry.
Confession time, this was not my plate, it’s Chef’s. The rose is a tomato, so pretty.
Seriously this dish blew my mind, it was amazing.
Next week Italy !

Week 4 all things from the Sea

Fish week was entertaining, delicious and exhausting. 
The pictures will tell the stories.
These are Red Snappers about to get filleted. 
This is breaded Red Snapper atop mashed potatoes in a butter caper lemon sauce.
Crawdads are fierce little F*ckers, they don’t like it when you pull out their intestines while they’re alive, I didn’t like it either. These guys were a lot of work, won’t be going here anytime soon, if ever.
This is bacon wrapped Monkfish, atop Mushroom Duxelle in a Crayfish aka Crawdad sauce.
Steamed Mussels in white wine and butter.
pan seared Sea Bass on rice pilaf with Mussel sauce
the line in action- court bouillon (for poaching Halibut) -Veloute sauce- saute’d spinach
poached Halibut atop saute’d spinach with Veloute sauce.
my mise en place for the Prawn plate
pan seared Prawns with julienned veggies and sauce Duglere 
these are Salmon Mousse simmer/cooking.
Salmon Mousse with a lemon thyme beurre blanc sauce.
Ah Friday, last dish and lunch of Ahi Tartre with a lovely french Pinot Gris. School is so fun !


Protein !

Last week was all about protein- beef, pork, lamb, chicken & duck. We fabricated, portioned & cooked them all in several different ways. I was up to my elbows in flesh and bones, so I didn’t get a lot of pictures of the process.  I did get pics of the finished plates though and they were delish ! James really enjoyed this week. We were learning to plate our dishes, so each one is a different set up.
Chicken Breast stuffed w/ saute’d Spinach and Goat Cheese atop Sauce Robert. 
Petit Filet Mignon – Chateaubriand Sauce, the funny looking toad stools are tourned, a fancy way to cut potatoes, with Shitake mushroom tops.
Pork Medallions atop Red Onion Confit, Baked Apples with Green Peppercorn Sauce. 
Crusted Lamb Loin, Roasted Potatoes with Marchand de Vin Sauce.
We also did Lamb Stew and roasted a whole duck. Super yummy week.
Next week FISH !!

School is cool !

Who knew school could be so fun, I guess when you’re doing what you really love, it is! It’s exhausting at the same time, there’s a ton of info/notes everyday and lots of cooking too. Here are a few pics of what’s gone down in the last 2 weeks.

We did stocks, soups, sauces, wine education and some knife skills

This was the Lobster I killed with a knife to the head, chopped him up and made the most delicious Bisque ever. 
Simmering Bisque
Vegetable Stock 
This was my Potato Leek soup and my feeble attempt at fancy presentation, swirling paprika sour cream w/ fried leeks.
This is the Hollandaise derivative collection, rarely seen all at once like this.
Each of us made one- Hollandaise, Bernaise, Foyot, Choron, Maltaise, Mousseline, Paloise. 
Wine Class, tasting for 2 days, rough life for sure.
Chef is fast with his board notes, I take pictures ALOT so I can compare my notes to his before he erases them and moves on. This one is about the French wine regions, they make it so complicated, but oh so old world cool.

The first 2 weeks have been amazing, Still geekin’ that I’m actually doing this.
Now if I can pass the ServeSafe test next week all will be good.