Day 36 – Monday, Hollandaise – the sauce from HELL

We made hollandaise and beurre blanc and their small sauces. Chef Edna Lynn is back and now I know that one of the reasons it got easier is that she wasn’t doing the demonstrations for the last few days. She tends to get ahead of herself and then contradicts what she originally said to do… and when you’re trying to take notes on nine different recipes… you start to get confused. And that confusion became very apparent during the production part of the class. And based on what I heard after class was over – Jazz and I weren’t the only ones who had a lot of problems with the instructions. Hopefully this improves soon.

The first two things we had to have ready was clarified butter and the beurre blanc sauce. Since I’ve already learned to make beurre blanc, I let Jazz do it. It came out too thin and I don’t know why since I wasn’t watching. Our clarified butter wasn’t clarifying and we were running behind because of it. After class, someone explained how to do it next time, but that didn’t do us much good during class. Chef Edna couldn’t understand why a lot of us didn’t have it ready and why we didn’t have the heat up high enough… umm, maybe because you not only told us to heat it over a low flame, but you also emphasized “low” a few more times?

I screwed up the hollandaise and the egg yolks scrambled. Rushed to do it a second time and it was too thick. Thinned it out a bit to make the Maltaise Sauce and got a better grade on that one. I let Jazz do the sabonyone for the Bearnaise and we got it too thick again, and this time we didn’t add enough butter. I thinned it out again for the Sauce Foyot, but because we were on the edge of the time limit – I just dumped whatever I could find in it to get it out. Not a great grade, but not a failing one either. Since this week, Chef Edna is grading our side of the kitchen, it’s going to be tougher… and we have to add a shitload of salt to anything we serve to her.

Personally, I thought today was the worst day, second only to Wednesday with Bechamel, but Jazz said it was even worse than that. I’m beginning to agree with him. Yes, today royally sucked.

Day 35 – Friday, Veloute and Tomato Sauces

Another busy day with 7 sauces to be graded. Veloute’ was the first one and is made with a white stock. We used chicken stock for most and a fish stock for the White Wine Sauce. The veloute’ produced Supreme Sauce, Sauce Allemande, and Hungarian Sauce. The tomato sauce was used to produce Creole Sauce. Since no one uses the traditional method of making tomato anymore (with roux and saltpork), we had a lot more leeway on seasoning and flavoring this one. It’s not the same as the sauce I learned from my Mom’s Sicilian friend, but just as good. I think I’m going to see what happens when I combine the two sets of ingredients and techniques one day.

Today was our best cooking day so far. We got two 20’s, one of them on my tomato sauce and the other on Jazz’s Hungarian Sauce. The other grades were 19’s. Chef D makes a lot more sense when he’s explaining the recipes and doing the demo’s, and he grades a little easier too. Today was actually fun… even if he made us scrub out all the ovens afterwards. The only thing that detracted from it was Lily. Yesterday she only annoyed me, but now I’m almost ready to punch her. I’ve never seen her wash a dish yet… just dump hers in the water and leaves. And she won’t rinse them out first, so you have a lot of crap fouling up the water and forcing you to have to drain it and start over again. And then today she went on and on to everyone about how the water needed to be changed right then… why couldn’t she do it herself? And it wouldn’t need to be changed if she would just rinse out her pots!!! The final thing was when she asked to use my kitchen towel to clean the stoves… I was so busy that I didn’t even ask her why she couldn’t use her own. She probably didn’t want to get it dirty. She made a fun day go rapidly downhill.

Day 34 – Thursday, Espagnole and Demi Glace

I don’t know if I used up all the stress I had stored up or what, but today went pretty well considering we had 6 sauces to get out. Jazz and I are beginning to get ourselves sorted out so we work together a bit more smoothly, and we learned our lesson about not having enough roux and made extra for emergencies, which we had–but since we were prepared–it really wasn’t much of an emergency after all. And it may have also helped that Chef D was the one doing the demo’s today since Chef Edna Lynn is out on vacation for the next two days.

Our sauces today are Espagnole, which we used to produce Bordelaise and Sauce Robert; and Demi Glace, which produced Sauce Chasseur and Mushroom Sauce. Sauce Chasseur was so good that Jazz and I were eating several spoonfuls after having it graded. Oh yeah, we only produce enough of any one sauce to halfway fill a small ramikin, unless it’s a mother or leading sauce that will be used to create all the others. So we’re really not throwing away a LOT of food.

Went home and decided to make Chicken Chasseur tonight for dinner. I had to fake some demi glace (reduced down beef broth and added some gelatin) and I couldn’t use mushrooms since DH despises them – but it still came out pretty well. And the amazing thing is that although I don’t like to eat tomatoes (unless they’re liquified), I ate every single chunky piece. Once again, I must be cooking it correctly so the veggies actually tastes good. This is the second sauce I’ve made for my husband and he’s beginning to enjoy it.

Day 33 – Wednesday, Bechamel

Today was HORRIBLE! ARGGGH! We were warned that the next 4 days would probably be the most difficult days in this session. In 4 days, we will cover the 5 Mother Sauces and the 6th Leading Sauce. Today we studied Bechamel, its leading sauce, and its small sauces. That means Bechamel is the base sauce (and doesn’t have much taste) and is used to create several leading sauces… and the main one today was Cream Sauce (just add something and it would be “Cream of Something”). The small sauces are the finished sauces that are created from the leading sauce, such as Soubise Sauce, Mornay Sauce and Sauce Nantua. First we had to produce the Bechamel in a certain time limit. Our sauce would just not thicken up (we didn’t convert the rest of the ingredients when they changed the amount of milk we were supposed to use). I slammed together some more roux and forgot that it had to be cold before adding it to a hot liquid, so it ended up cooking into little balls. After straining it, we cooled off the remaining roux and added it in. We got it out on time, but it was still too thin. And unfortunately, this was going to affect the rest of the sauces that followed. During the same time, we had to prepare the first half of the Sauce Nantua. That’s a shrimp butter that gets added to the Bechamel, along with some cream.

We managed to thicken up the sauce while putting the rest together. But the Mornay was TOO thick due to too much cheese… tasted pretty good though. I think we came out with an average of 17 for the day (20 being perfect). Not bad for spending the whole time panicked about getting everything out on time and trying to work with a partner. I was totally wiped by the time the day ended. Too bad I had to run home and scrub house for the game tonight. Don’t know if it was the stress or not – but I ended up killing off my character in the game. Tomorrow is TWO mother sauces… I don’t know if I’ll survive.

Day 32 – Tuesday, Making Stock

Ok, so I was wrong. Kiki is back in class today, so we’re up to 21 people now. I was also incorrect on the new people – one, an older lady (whom I’ll call “Lily”) was from the morning class, and the other two are from the evening class.

Today we worked on making Brown Veal Stock and Chicken Stock. Since I had mentioned to Jazz that I enjoyed making chicken stock at home, he decided that we should be partners so he would get a good grade… little does he know that I suck at sauces, which we will be doing starting tomorrow. To be fair, that’s not the only reason he wanted to partner up. He’s also one of my study buddies and we get along well together.

It was a little confusing trying to figure out who was going to get and do what today, but we managed to produce each stock at the correct time anyway. Brown stock was totally new to me, and something that I’d like to have on hand at home in the future. The chicken stock was made almost exactly like my parents taught me, but here I blanched the bones first and added a bouquet garni during the simmering time. I was amazed at how much scum came up during the blanching… that means there’s a lot less to deal with when simmering the stock later. These stocks will be used to prepare our sauces and other dishes throughout this class session. Overall, I think that Jazz and I worked well together. Now on to sauces.