So my new adventure is coming to an end, well, the first year is coming to an end. We only have 5 weeks left of class and then we are sent out to the ‘real world’. As I’ve mentioned before… I am a bit anxious about the internship. My age will either count against me or for me, maybe I’m over thinking it, maybe I should just be excited about it. Either way there are butterflies…
Before we get to that, let’s start with my practical Exam last term.
Chicken Kiev is already in my phone’s dictionary, that’s how many times I discussed this dish. I practiced it 3 times before the exam and every time it was delicious… Or wait, the second time the Sauce wasn’t delicious. We had to make 1 Chicken Kiev with Mash, tourne’d Carrot and make Peppers, Green Beans, Celery, and Cabbage. It wrecked my brain. How am I going to plate those Veggies with the Kiev, Mash and Velouté?! Silly, aren’t I?
Chicken Kiev – A breast flattened, folded around a log of Butter that you kneaded Garlic and Parsley in it. The Chicken, folded around the Butter log, is then Crumbed and shallow fried, then baked and in this case served with Mash and Velouté. I placed the Kiev on top of the Cabbage and Onions that I Sauteed, in Butter, then on the side Sauteed Peppers and Beans. The Sauce I poured around the Kiev.
1st try – There is a reason why you should start cooking before you start tasting the wine… not because it is dangerous, but because you could get lazy. My original plan was to try 4 different plaiting styles on one night but by the time I got to serving the food my mood was not the best. I did not know what to do with the vegetables. I hurt myself more than I have ever hurt myself at class… with a peeler! That was the main thing that pissed me off, a bleeding finger and I am trying to make Chicken Kiev. What I did discover that night is that a Round Chicken Kiev does actually look nicer and is not impossible. It was a cold night and we ate late but when we did, eventually, it was a delicious; garlic-y; smooth; warm; tasty; and satisfying meal. The Garlic Butter and Parsley filling oozed out of the Chicken into the pan and I poured that in the Velouté… and the Mash… delicious. Everyone went to bed with a smile on their face, and not just from the wine! Oh yes, due to the wine, and my guests, I did not take a pic tonight.
What made it so good? I will say that the homemade Chicken Stock I made was quite good and did a great job with the Velouté. Of course the Garlic, Butter, and Parsley that filled the Chicken Breast that was crumbed, shallow fried and baked, also added to the food festivities. REMEMBER TO SEASON THE CHICKEN BEFORE YOU CRUMB IT. I forgot so I seasoned the crumbs, the Flour and the Egg-wash that I dipped the Chicken in. If it wasn’t required to make the traditional dish I would definitely have added some Paprika in the crumbs or in the Flour but what I did do the other times was season with Salt and Pepper after I had flattened the Chicken and before you place in the log of Garlic and Herb Butter.
2nd try – So this time I decided to use a stock block, cheap, just in case we do not have homemade Chicken Stock (you know, to create a challenge)… What a HORRIBLE Velouté! It was disgusting. The Kiev was good! When we cut it open the Butter mixture inside burst out and you could just smell the Butter and Garlic everywhere… So delicious! It’s a great winter dish (if you do not have someone practicing it on you every night of the week). The Velouté was like a very disgusting salty runny jelly. Not something I would EVER serve anyone other than my SO that is my dish tester (it’s not always great to date a chef-to-be). To be completely honest, I don’t even think a Chicken Kiev needs a Sauce.
3rd try – This time I was timing myself. Mash… not an issue, I am a (self proclaimed) master in the art of Mash. The tourne’d Carrots… a work in progress. The other Veggies did not give me any creative inspiration so I blanched the Beans and Stir Fried the Celery Stalks. This 3rd try the Veggies and the Mash was good, the Kiev was really good but then the Sauce… I messed up the Sauce. So this time, what I did, I poured some of the pan juices in the Sauce and it started to curdle. No, I did not freak out because my Sauce the first night was perfect and this time I know not to get spontaneous with the pan juices.
Exam – I was nervous, I made 2 Kiev’s and Mash in my right time, at least today I only had to make Mash with 1 Potato and only make 1 Kiev. We did find out that we did not only have to use the ingredients that were listed on our exam and we can use the ingredients however we like, so I decided to use the cut off Carrots and all the Celery Stems in the Velouté. The Celery Leaves I used along with the Parsley in the Butter. With this freedom I was a bit too scared to be completely creative, I don’t know why but I felt like I had writer’s block with this exam. The Chicken did not set as well in the freezer as I had hoped and believe me when I say… It’s difficult to work with a limpy Chicken Breast… I finished in time though, it was easier to do it at home. Chef said that my Sauce was delicious but said that I should’ve done something different with the vegetables. As before I poured the pan juices in the Mash and on this day I used Cream instead of the Milk since I was allowed to. Stupid enough I almost burnt my Mash… I would have cried. Being occupied with my experimenting of the Velouté with the fresh carrots and Celery (never experiment when you have a well worked out plan). It turns out that my food tasted good and looked… good enough I guess. Let’s hope the next one is better.
Very short, it was a long holiday and I did not cook. I made Braai Broodjies a few times, made breakfast and Soup.
Eating wise… here’s a little collage of SOME of my eats:
Monday (week 18):
First day of class… luckily we did not write test… it would have been a tad too much… Like I said, I didn’t do too much in the holidays. Oh, we were divided into new groups.
Carrot cakes, cute little Carrot Cakes, 6 small Carrot Cakes that was half Carrot Cake and half Cheesecake. Chef said we had some Cheesecake mixture over from the previous day and I thought that if people put Cream Cheese Icing on Carrot Cake then we could put Cheesecake on it. Then we placed some Cream Cheese Icing on it to make it look semi-nude and to make it even more decadent, we put Orange Italian Meringue on top of it with some Walnuts crushed over it. Orange in colour and Orange Juice for taste. The Walnuts were toasted in the oven for 7 minutes (that’s it). I didn’t pipe the Meringue, I asked one of my new team members because she is good with piping and decorating and after getting everything somewhat pretty, I didn’t want to ruin the prettiness of the cakes.
The other Carrot Cakes I made because I know my SO likes Carrot Cake and Chef had some new baking cups that I wanted to try out, long Carrot Cakes cut in three and Icing everywhere possible. As per usual I over mixed the Batter and the small cylinder Carrot Cakes made a funny skew pregnant tops… due to the over mixing and the Cakes placed too close to the fan… was quite funny. Of course this meant that I had to cut the tops off and my cutting skills aren’t too great, thank goodness for sliced Bread because I always cut skew! The cylinders I cut good enough and the Cream Cheese Icing seemed to be satisfactory.
Don’t they look cute?
There is always Egg Whites in the fridge and there are only so many opportunities for Meringues. I thought, instead of making Meringue, I want to try a breakfast with Egg Whites. Egg White Omelette looks horrible. Scrambled Egg Whites… worse. I thought maybe Egg White Cups, at least I can add ingredients to make it a bit colourful, ingredients like Spinach, Peppadews, Rocket, and a piece of Danish Feta in the middle. They looked cute and colourful.
So being out of the kitchen for so long I had to make Dessert asap! I decided on something I’ve wanted to make this whole year because I enjoyed it so much in Czech Republic and I was craving it. For Dessert I made Trdelník… Also in my phone’s dictionary. I asked Chef if we could make Plum Jam (as I ate it in Czech Republic) but Chef said it wasn’t Plum season so rather make something else… so I went with Blueberries. I also suggested to Chef that we should serve a Trdelník with a shot of Hot Chocolate, that’s how I enjoyed mine in Český Krumlov (such a beautiful touristy city in Czech Replubic). It was a cold day so it was perfect to have a delicious Pastry and some Hot Chocolate.
I almost messed it up during the Jam preparation stage… After cooking my Blueberry Jam for the right amount of time with the right amount of Sugar and Lemon Juice and some Zest I had to puree it so that I can strain it and make it nice and smooth to just spread some Jam on the inside of the Pastry, but as I left my beautiful Jam I left the hand blender in the measuring cup that had the pureed Jam in it… and it fell over… and spread quite a bit over the table… Now, if I weren’t the one working there the whole day I would have thrown it away and started from scratch but I had been cleaning CONSTANTLY after myself and I was the only one working there so I knew that it was clean so I scooped it up and cooked it further for probably about 30 min. This pissed me off. How could I do something so stupid?! (I did however act very clumsy the rest of the day).
Not many Desserts were bought that day, I of course did buy to share with my SO and my mother and of course I bought myself a Pastry and Hot Chocolate. I loved making it and I especially loved eating it! I also enjoyed that I could share this Pastry with people who have never heard of it or tasted it before. I also enjoyed learning how to make the Blueberry Jam (so easy). The rest was also pretty easy, brushing melted Butter on the outside and rolling it in Cinnamon Sugar. I love Cinnamon Sugar!
Here is the recipe I used:
Today I did a lot of what I did yesterday… make Jam… well actually Blueberry topping for the Cheesecake we baked. Instead of using just Cream Cheese we used half Ricotta (made by one of my co-chefs-to-be) and half Cream Cheese. The Cheesecake cracked a bit on the top so Chef suggested we patch it up with Cream Cheese Icing that was made the day before when Chef made a Purple Pinata Cake. Haven’t heard of that before? Well, this was my first time I saw one and I must say that I missed out as a kid! What an awesome Cake! So it’s a layered cake, 3 to be exact, that has a circle cut out in the middle, like a Doughnut, then in that middle gap you put Speckled Eggs (another favourite of mine!)!!!!! How exciting! Almost like the Blue Cupcakes I made my friend for her 25th birthday, filled with Smarties. I will definitely try this at home, whenever I am required to bake a cake again. Of course between the layers there is either a Caramel or Icing layer to make sure that the Cake sticks together… Or just to make it even more exciting.
OK, back to what I did for the day. So we filled the Cheesecake cracks with the Purple Cream Cheese Icing that was left over from the Pinata Cake the previous day. We thought that if we are covering it with Blueberries in any case then we might as well use the Purple Icing underneath it… but we had to wait until tomorrow for the Cheesecake to properly set.
The other frustrating thing is that I made a Kiwi (according to Chef way to green), Orange & Granadilla, and Strawberry Syrup to cover 25 small Cheesecakes, but I mean like tiny Cheesecakes, and I never got to see the end result. I guess that’s just how it is going to be sometimes, we make something awesome and never know what the finished product looks like. The Syrups looked pretty cool though, I liked my too green Kiwi Syrup.
I did however have the pleasure of finishing someone else’s bakings for a change, even though it was just decorating the Brownies with coloured Ganache, so basically White Chocolate Ganache that is coloured.
Today the Dessert group made something I couldn’t resist… Vanilla Ice Cream. So Vanilla that the Vanilla Seeds were still visible in the Ice Cream, and of course I had to add some Hundreds and Thousands to it!
Oh, my friend/colleague was part of the team that made Duck Breast, Stir Fried Noodles and Pok Choi. I had to order that for my SO and I for dinner, and I must admit, it was delicious! I don’t like Duck much but that was a good piece of Duck Breast.
Cheesecake time! Sadly, it did not come out as I imagined. Sadly. Well, I didn’t like it but the feedback, taste wise, was good.
For the rest of the day I was on scullery so… no other cooking/baking for me today. I also had to leave early so that we could finally move to our… almost new place. First at my mother’s until our place is finished. Soon I will be based in Paarl!
So that is from me and my week 18 and my holiday. A Sugar filled week indeed!
See you next week!