Day two. Most of today's class was about food safety. The main hazards that we need to keep out of our food are biological (bacteria, toxins), chemical (pesticides, cleaning agents), and physical (glass, hair, staples). We learned about our sanitizing solution that we need to keep at our stations for clean-up, and we calibrated our meat thermometers. The lesson stressed how important it is to ensure that food is kept safe at every step in the "flow of food": the purchasing, receiving, storing, preparing, cooking, holding, cooling, reheating, and serving.
Today we were also shown two techniques for cooking vegetables. First, we julienned some carrots and did a macedoine of turnip. These were the same cuts we did on the first night, and ones I want to keep practicing at home. The equipment I used was a peeler for the carrots, and my 9" chef's knife. Before we begin prep we set our stations up with a cutting board, set on a damp paper towel to prevent it slipping, and a bowl for peelings and a bowl for trimmings (carrot trimmings are kept as aromatics for stock).My station
We cooked the turnip a L'Anglaise. This is a classical technique where a vegetable is cooked in advance in boiling salted water, then shocked in ice water, dried on a paper towel, and held until service. During service the vegetables are reheated to order with some butter. We cook all of our vegetables completely - while our personal preference may be for a crisper vegetable cooked al dente, we need to learn the classical techniques first and then adjust later as required by the recipes of the kitchens we'll work in.
The other style of cooking vegetables that we learned was a L'Etuvee - which is when you cook vegetables at time of service (a la minute). We put our julienne of carrots in a single layer in a small pan, added a little water, some butter, and a pinch of salt. We covered it with a disk of parchment paper and boiled them for a few minutes until they were cooked through. I'd to go back to mine a few times - if they're not cooked completely you add more water and cook a little longer, making sure the butter doesn't burn*. Chef liked both of my vegetables.
Julienne of carrot, cooked a L'Etuvee, and macedoine of turnip, cooked a L'Anglaise
Tonight's staff meal was steak with a chimichurri sauce, black beans and rice, and a pepper and tomato salad. Good stuff. I nearly missed out on mine because I spent a good while cleaning my station and putting my kit away after the cooking section!
Since doing the food safety class I've become a little paranoid about my own kitchen at home! Though I keep it pretty clean (I didn't say tidy!) I decided to do a deep clean of my fridge and freezer. Incredible how easily it is for something to find its way to the back of the refrigerator and be forgotten for several months!
* Amazing how powerful our burners are compared to what I have at home. A large pan of water will come to a boil really quickly ...