Well, I had my second and third class in the George Brown College Culinary Arts program. So, with kit in hand (or in case) and my uniform all clean and beautiful, I put on my
very glamorous shoes. I know… you’re jealous! ha ha
I entered the massive kitchen, aka my lab, and began to meet my classmates. I felt very fortunate to be sharing my space with a young lady who obviously had some background in cooking. And by that I mean she knew how to do things very well. We worked together very well and teamed up on some tasks like clean up! Thank you!!
So week 2 focused on knife skills, chef knife skills to be specific. We learned how to finely chop herbs, dice tomatoes, peppers, onions. Oh…. onions – WITHOUT tearing up! I’m so excited about that! Smart phones (or any phones) are not permitted in class because they are huge bacteria sources. So, sorry can’t post pictures of anything I’m doing. The best part is, we DO get to take home what we’ve made. But… I didn’t take any pictures when I got home either. Oh well.
What did we do? Read on!
Keys to Success in working with herbs (a focus from the class!)
- never buy dried herbs in large quantities because the quality deteriorates with time.
- Always keep dried herbs in air tight containers. This way they will last longer. That means, get them out of those plastic packages they come in, or those small jars! Ugh.
- Transparent glass bottles shouldn’t be used because light affects the quality of the herbs. Oh dear! All my herbs are stored in mason jars, a la Chef Michael Smith! But, they aren’t stored out in the open, they are in a cupboard so maybe that will help!
- When using dried herbs, remember that you won’t needs the same quantity as you would if you were using fresh herbs. Really you would use about 1/3 to 1/5 less.
Go figure! Standard stuff, but it’s good to be reminded! Right?
But how do you cut fresh herbs? For a recipe? Well, we needed some finely chopped herbs and so this is how it’s done! We took some fresh herbs, in this case some nice flat leaf parsley, and removed the stems. Stems are bitter, so why would you want them? Stack the leaves and roll them. This process is called making a chiffonade. Once the leaves are rolled, you can slice them easily on the short side. Then turn them a bit and slice again. Voila! Beautiful chopped herbs without destroying them – as in the way I pretty much used to do!
We spent quite a bit of time prepping the onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Remember that uniformity of size promotes a better appearance to your dish! Also, if you are cooking these veggies that same uniformity also promotes an even cooking time. Another key in prepping veggies is to match the size of the cut (cube, dice, etc.) to the size of the utensil you will be using to eat it! For example, if you are making a soup, you want your veggies to be able to fit into your spoon so you would cut them into small cubes. if you are doing a stew, you use a fork, so you can cube your veggies (and meat) into larger sized cubes.
Wrapping up this post, we made a Tuscan Bean Salad. It was so delicious and each brought home their creations!
Try it, it’s so yummy:
TUSCAN BEAN SALAD (George Brown College, Culinary Arts I, 2013)
6 oz Navy Beans
4 oz prosciutto, julienne
3 Plum Tomatoes, seeded, chopped
4 oz Asiago cheese, grated
1/2 green pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 red pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 Yellow pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, puree (oooh I did this with my knife! So cool!)
4 1/2 oz EVOO
1 1/2 oz Red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 sun-dried black olives
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1/4 bunch fresh basil
3 sprigs flat parsley
salt/pepper to taste
1 sprig flat parsley
1 Bay Leaf (bah… use about 3-4 and break them up!)
about 6-7 black peppercorns (crack them using the base of a pot, don’t “grind”)
Taking a 4″ x 4″ square of cheese cloth, place these herbs/spices in the centre, roll it up, tie it good and tight and voila, you’re ready to flavour your beans!
So, here we go….
Soak the beans overnight in a pot of water – make sure the water covers the beans by at least 2″. Drain and rinse.
Place the beans in a pot with enough water to cover by about 4″. Add the sachet.Simmer until the beans are tender (approx 40 minutes) drain and let cool.
Marinate the peppers, onion, tomatoes in the oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs – for about 30 minutes.
Mix with the cooled cooked beans. Add prosciutto.
Adjust the seasoning (S & P) and toss in the cheese.
Serve and ENJOY!!! It’s aromatic and so delicious!
Scott and I were eating it for a few days until we finally used it up!
Next post: class 3’s soup!