And another lighthearted activity in Garde Manger - vegetable/fruit carving!
This is Chef Oakley's carving kit. You can get it online here, although Chef got it at a trade show for much much cheaper.
So first somebody called for Chef to do a Christmas tree. We were very intrigued as we watched Chef slice a pineapple.
And... it was much simpler than we had imagined, haha.
Then Chef walked us through cucumber netting - kind of difficult to describe in words, even though I took pictures of the process. It involves putting the cucumber on a stick, cutting slices so they're equal with the parallel side and alternating with the perpendicular side, and then cutting around the cucumber taking the top layer off...
Then came tomato roses. Chef showed us two ways, one by slicing off the peel in a continuous spiral, then winding it up into a rose.
The other is slicing a tomato in half, then into slices (that look like half circles), then wrapping those slices around each other until you have a rose.
Then he did carrot flowers. Different flowers are formed by different techniques - you can slice the carrot into circles and cut the petals out of the circle, or you can hold the carrot like a pencil and cut down into the tip (not fully) four times around and pop the tip off.
Then there were more whimsical things like the tomato basket (cut the two sides out, then hollowing the basket part, then making the basket edge jagged).
And then the cucumber basket (same technique, but with strips edged into the cucumber peel), and then the carrot corn. It's kind of funny to try to make one thing look like another (makes me think about cakes shaped like other things, which is what this book is all about).
Then there were radish flowers - I attempted this one and mine is the one on the very right (the cuts are not as well done!).
Here somebody stuck a radish flower into a turnip tulip that Chef made.
Then the most difficult one was carving a watermelon radish into a rose. I found this especially beautiful because of the naturally-occurring color gradation in the radish.
Of course I chose to attempt this most difficult carving, and my attempt #1 (on the left) was very atrocious. My cuts were very straight down and made it impossible to get any height variation in the petals.
Attempt #2 (on the right) was much better. I was so excited about it I went around showing everybody, never minding that I had just spent over an hour of my life carving two radishes.
Such is what makes craft - time, and a lot (a lot) of practice.