What a crazy and draining week. Once again, it’s Friday afternoon, I am out of school until Monday morning and up to my eyeballs in reading material. I was team captain this week with seven of my fellow classmates reporting to me on a daily basis. I talk to my friend Lisa out here on the telephone about once or twice a week. I will be moving on to Lisa’s home for the next two weeks before I move into my permanent place of residence towards the end of June. When Lisa and I talk I fill her in on what is going on in school. She laughs often at my stories and tells me she feels like she is listening to an account similar to the ones you see on TV Reality Kitchen shows. I wouldn’t say its anywhere near Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares. I think she giggles more at the fact that in week three our personalities have come out close to full force and what Chef Bob likes to call our “kitchen legs” are strengthening at alarming speeds. I think the translation means that we all get a little more confident and somewhat cocky.
Actually, I’m pretty sure I know that’s what he means because he pretty much put the fear of God into us all at about 10:30 this morning. We all needed it because a learning experience needs to taken for just that. Chef is an incredibly mellow man with immense knowledge of food. He is passionate about food’s origin, supporting local farmers, ranchers and those who produce quality artisan products. His passion also stems from many years of hard work in the numerous kitchens he started in and managed in his 30+ years in the culinary world. He has a deep respect for food and its presentation. I believe that a big part of his job is to instill that message to his students. I have a deep admiration for the message he attempts to communicate daily so when situations like this morning happen and we are humbled in the amount of time it takes to flip a light switch, we all snapped to attention. I know I did anyway. Being the team captain made me feel a little responsible for my teammates and their behavior as well. Trust me, in that next half hour we rallied and produced a tip-top meal all standing a little straighter, mouths closed and serious till we were all dismissed a short while later that afternoon. Chef’s point was to reel us in a little. He told us all a short while later that in real life working in a kitchen can be a completely chaotic and insane at times. He also added that having fun and joking around is also acceptable, but at the end of the day, we are paying good money for an exceptional culinary education. We take out of it what we put into it. He also made us all laugh when he pointed out that he scared us so much that Krystal cut her hand in the process of moving so quickly to attention.
We laughed but in all seriousness my friend Krystal did cut her hand quite deeply while putting her knives away. It happens to the best of us and we are all showing the scars of our passions through cuts, burns, band-aids and the ever popular rubber finger cover that I believe almost ever teammate has had the opportunity to display in the last couple of weeks.
So, here’s a synopsis of what I learned this week. We butchered a lot of lamb, made spaetzle three different ways. Emulsifying and clarifying butter. Cooked enough rice pilaf to feed an army and ingested enough cream and butter to scare a cardiologist with a bad diet. I walked into class early Wednesday morning to find a sheep’s head simmering away on the stove and then disturbed myself by taking a photo of it. Yes, I am going to share it.
I was lucky enough to talk Chef into letting me make my mom’s beet salad that I blogged about last week with rave reviews on its simplicity and refreshing flavors. We topped it with a little goat cheese and then added in discussion that a couple of roasted pine nuts would compliment the dish even further.
Every Friday we must end the day with a deep cleaning of the kitchen. Today I surprised everyone with some homemade chocolate chip-coconut cookies. I am such a dork but wanted to end the week on a high note. Deep cleaning the kitchen is a sucky job but its got to be done. I made the cookies with coconut oil and some other great and healthy ingredients. Next week is pastry week. Confections and bread. Lots of homemade bread. Mmmmmmm Oh, Lord help me.
Wrapping it up, I am happy to say my job as team captain has been fulfilled for now. I will eventually have to step up and lead my team one or two more times in the next couple of months. I did enjoy the opportunity and feel I did my best but have to say that it will be nice NOT to hear my name called out 857 times next week. I can only imagine the patience one needs to acquire when trying to formulate a team of efficient workers day in and day out. I think I will pour myself a glass of wine and call it a night. Cheers.
This delicious cookie recipe is supposed to mock a chocolate chip cookie. Dates and oatmeal are used for an extra chewy cookie. My sister Nancy introduced me to this recipe and our attempts make it better is the recipe below. We substituted the butter with coconut oil and unsweetened applesauce. Instead of using white flour, rice flour was used with amazing results. The end result is a delicious cookie full of fiber, iron and not a lot of guilt. If you have children, have them help you out making these. They are a big hit with the children we have tried it out on!
Heart Smart Cookies
4 Tablespoons of coconut oil
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1/3 C white or brown rice flour
1/3 C whole-wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ C regular oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 C chopped pitted dates
3 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate or 1/4 C mini chocolate chip morsels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bring coconut oil to a melting point and add applesauce and brown sugar and mix till smooth and creamy. Add flours, baking soda, oats and salt. Combine the ingredients, add egg, vanilla and pitted dates. Fold in chocolate and mix well. Spoon mixture by tablespoon full on pan sprayed cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes till tops are dry to the touch and cookies are lightly browned.
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