December 20, 2011

mini chicken & waffles

For our last day of skills week, we did a couple of appetizers. Tishara and I continued together to make mini chicken and waffles.

making chicken rounds

To make the chicken pieces small, we used a round cutter on some chicken breasts.

breading chicken rounds

These were floured, egged and breadcrumbed. The flour was seasoned with poultry seasoning, onion, cayenne, salt and pepper and leaned toward the spicy side.

mini chicken & waffles

The waffles were made with a standard waffle iron, then quartered. I added a bit of orange zest to the batter to freshen things up.

The waffles were topped with maple syrup and cinnamon butter - piped with a star tip to look nice.

As for the garnish, we were recently taught how to cut strawberries into roses, so we did that. I made bouquets out of the roses by using skewers as stems, apple peels as leaves, and an orange as a base.

A pretty end to second semester of culinary school.

tiramisu reimagined

After sausage and cheese, Tishara and I got to work on crafting the dessert while Jason, Dustin and LaToya worked on an entree. While poring over the pastry textbook in the library, Tishara mentioned that she liked ladyfingers. While I didn't want to make tiramisu, I thought we could make something that was the tiramisu deconstructed.

To do this I thought about the flavor components involved in tiramisu - chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa, cream. Each of these components would be reconstructed as something else.

First there was chocolate. We decided to do chocolate cups to hold our dessert. To do this we had to inflate some water balloons with air, manually. My lungs weren't up to the task, but Tishara got it done.

chocolate-glazed balloons

Glazin the balloons (to form the cup shape) proved to be no easy feat. Although we chose to use chocolate glaze (easy) as opposed to tempering chocolate (hard), what gave us trouble was trying not to have the balloons explode on us. First the glaze was too hot, then we were applying too much pressure. Eventually I was able to get the balloons all glazed by rotating them through the glaze on an angle (as opposed to sinking them directly in). Then we had to double-dip them because the glaze was too thin.

The next day we eased the balloons out by poking them with a skewer and letting the air out slowly (popping them would have destroyed the cups). Chef told us that they would come out more easily if we had sprayed them with oil and wiped them off (for just the thinnest layer of oil).

cinnamon ice cream

The cinnamon and cream components were turned into cinnamon ice cream, made with the help of an ice cream maker (and Devon's expertise). Cooking the creme anglaise (ice cream base) was the hardest part - one batch was destroyed because the temperature got a little high and the eggs in the cream got cooked.

tiramisu reimagined

The cocoa component was the finishing touch - in the form of cocoa nib tuile cookie garnishing the tops of each dessert.

We kept the ladyfinger component though - they're crumbled in bits underneath the ice cream.

Turned out delicious, and that's just the beginning of my journey in dessert.

making cheese

There are some simple miracles in cooking that seem to make everything worthwhile. Meringue is one of these miracles. Making cheese is another one, as I so discovered.

simmered milk and citric acid

This is milk, brought to a simmer with citric acid added in. It took a few tries with the citric acid for it to curdle, but then all I did was pour the mixture through a china cap strainer layered with cheesecloth...

ricotta cheese

And there, freshly made ricotta cheese.


Making mascarpone cheese wasn't much different, simmered heavy cream with the addition of tartaric acid. Then poured into coffee filters set in plastic baskets, chilled in the refrigerator overnight.

You can make your own too! Supplies here.

making sausage

Finally, skills week came for my team (Jason, Dustin, LaToya, Tishara) and I. Together we made the five mother sauces (bechamel, veloute, brown/espagnole, tomato and hollandaise), which was great fun because we did it all in order with each other, going from one prepped cup of ingredients to another, all the while angling for pans and stovetop space.

After the first day we divided ourselves up for the smaller tasks. Tishara and I decided to make sausage, choosing cajun boudin out of a recipe book.

While a great many sausages utilize pork butt as the main protein, our recipe called for cooked pork butt.

sausage mix-ins

Besides meat there is generally some starch (rice, barley, oatmeal, etc.). Our recipe called for nishiki (short-grained) rice. We didn't have any so we substituted sticky rice. Besides that there were scallions, parsley, oil and spices.

grinding pork butt

Then we ground up the cooked pork butt into the mix-ins.

making sausage

And used the sausage machine to shoot the meat mixture into casings.

cajun boudin sausage

After the casings were filled, we twisted them into sausage-lengths (kind of like twisting balloon animals). Then we boiled them and tried one - very mushy. Next time I will try using raw meat instead.


One day we had little to do in meat lab, having butchered all of the meats that the upstairs kitchen(s) needed, so Chef Oakley told us we had some time to play.

blanched vegetables

So we arrived that morning to a giant bowl of blanched vegetables. Turns out we were going to do chaud-froids. (Chaud-froid, meaning hot-cold in French, refers to foods that are made hot but eaten cold.)

glazing chickens

In our case it involved roasted chicken with breasts made skinless for display purposes. The breasts were glazed with a mayonnaise/gelatin mixture, which provided a white background for decoration.

flowered chicken

The blanched vegetables, as it turns out, were meant to be sliced thinly, have shapes cut out of them with different mold cutters, then pasted on with more liquid gelatin. As luck would have it, when I started thin slicing some red bell peppers, the natural grooves in the pepper led me to cutting these petal shapes, which ended up forming the basis for my flower/butterfly design.

human body chicken

Working across from me, Jason created a whole organ system for the chicken.

island chicken

Working next to me, JD created his dream vacation.

(More of my classmates' chicken art can be found in this set on flickr.)

washing chicken art

In the end Dustin had the painful task of washing away all of our art. Chickens are for eating, after all.