Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Composing, with Salad

Again, six students, a really good number. We started with a brief lecture. Today, the central portion was salad, the dish the Garde Manger (pantry cook) would make in a functioning restaurant, so we reviewed the brigade system. The Chef de Cuisine, the big boss, the man, the guy or gal who gets famous as a TV chef and doesn't actually cook in their restaurants anymore. The Sous Chef, the assistant chef, the boss when the Chef is out, who really makes sure the cooking gets done. The Chef de Partie, the line cooks, the cooks who cook your food. The Pastry Chef, who does baking and answers directly to the Executive Chef. And the Garde Manger, the cold pantry cook. Let's not forget the Stages, the assistants, the up and comers.

There are three kinds of salads -- tossed, composed, and bound. Tossed is usually greenery tossed with dressing. Composed is a body ingredient, usually a protein, on top of a base of greenery, surrounded by garnishes. The bound salad is an ingredient or ingredients within a theme, bound together by mayo, jello, or the like.

First thing out, we got down to knife skills, getting the vegetable soup on and out of the way...


Yield: 1 gallon
Olive oil 4 tbsp
Chopped leaks, whites only 2 cups
Salt 1 heavy pinch
Garlic, minced 2 tbsp
Carrots, thin rounds 2 cups
Potatoes, large dice 2 cups
Green beans, ¾” pieces 2 cups
Vegetable stock 2 quarts
Tomato concasse* 4 cups
Corn kernels 2 ears
Ground black pepper ½ tsp
Parsley, chopped ¼ cup, packed
Lemon juice 1 to 2 tsp
Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in large rondeau or stockpot and add leeks and a pinch of salt.
2. Cover and sweat the vegetables until softened, stirring occasionally, 7-8 minutes.
3. Add garlic, carrots, potatoes and green beans and cook for 4-5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add vegetable stock, BTB RTS*
5. Add tomato concasse, corn and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25-30 minus.
6. Remove from heat, add parsley and lemon. Season to taste. Serve immediately
*Tomato Concasse: peeled, deseeded and chopped flesh of tomato BTB RTS: Bring To Boil, Return To Simmer

While that was happening, I had a student boil some eggs properly, a garnish for our composed salad...


Yield: 6 eggs
Egg* 6 each
1. Place eggs in a single layer sauce pan, cover with cold water by 1” to 2” minimum
2. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover for 15 minutes
3. Remove, shock in ice water, peel

* Eggs that are NOT fresh will peel easier, ideally a week old

After soup, I had everyone set up their stations to make mayo. I spent several days learning to make proper mayo in c-school. The trick is to move fast -- the faster you get an even stream of oil into your eggs, the faster you beat it with a whisk, the faster it'll come together and thicken without a lot of drama.


Yield: 2 ½ cups mayonnaise
Egg 1 each
Egg yolk 1 each
Salt ½ tsp
Ground pepper ¼ tsp
Olive oil ½ cup
Vegetable oil 1 ½ cups
Lemon juice 2 to 3 tsp
Chopped fresh herbs ¼ cup
(Parsley, chives, dill, etc.)
1. Place egg, egg yolk, salt, and pepper in an anchored mixing bowl. Whisk until blended
2. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the oils, gradually increasing the amount added as the sauce thickens
3. As soon as the sauce is very thick, thin with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, followed by the remaining oil.
4. Add herbs, whisk to combine.
5. Taste. Add more lemon juice, if necessary. Season to taste.

Funny, most of the kid's mayo came out a little bit thin, and I had to show them how to lay in some "elbow grease" to make it come back to life.

After cleaning, everyone got a mound of shrimp to shell and de-vein. Some shrimp still had their last meal in them, which lead to a bit of twittering about not having doo doo in our food. Once collected, dropped into lime-squirted boiling water for a few minutes then ice. Everyone chipped in on getting the garnishes together.


Yield: 4-6 servings

Shrimp 2 lbs
Salt to taste
Bibb or Boston lettuce 2 heads
Tomatoes, sliced 2 each
Eggs, hard cooked, quartered 4 each
Lemons, quartered 4 each
Black olives 8 each
Bell peppers, thin rounds 2 each

Herb Mayonnaise 2 ½ cup
Chili sauce 4 tbs
Grated onion 2 tbs
Parsley, chopped 2 tbs
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Heavy cream 1 _tbsp +/- to adjust thickness
Worcestershire sauce 2 tsp, or to taste
Tabasco a few drops, or to taste
1. Defrost, deshell and clean shrimp if necessary. Set up ice bath
2. Bring large pot of water flavored with salt and lime juice to a boil.
3. Cook shrimp until just pink, 1-2 minutes. Remove and shock in ice water. Drain, place in bowl, cover and refrigerate until service.
4. Combine mayonnaise → Tabasco. Stir until blended. Cover and refrigerate until service. If too thick after chilling, add more cream.
5. Arrange lettuce leaves to cover large serving plate. Place mound of shrimp in middle. Place tomatoes, quartered eggs, lemon wedges, olives and pepper slices decoratively around the shrimp.

After eating the soup and salad, I found a big jar of Hellman's mayo in the back and we did a taste test of it versus ours. Hellman's tasted MEGA salty, and strangely rubbery compared to ours.

Next week, a tossed Caesar salad with chicken, proper mac n' cheese, and chicken stock.