Has it really been two months since my last post? Have I really not written anything about culinary school? I can't believe this! I had the best intentions of writing at least weekly about what I'm learning, what new dishes I've come up with, how many great people I've met...hmm...boy, does time fly! Between culinary school, three formal balls, Boyscouts, PTO, and whatever else my hubby needs me to attend here on base, I have no time lately! That's me in the middle :)
Let me catch you up... I just finished my 8th week of culinary school and it has had tons of ups and downs! I have learned so much in this process and am starting to find my niche in the kitchen. We started out in week 1 by learning basic knife skills, prepping the kitchen, mise en place, etc. Now, I have successfully ran the omelet station at brunch which is possibly the scariest thing for any of us in CPI to be tasked with. But I did it, no brown on any of my omelets..all 75 of them! I have not quite mastered hollandaise just yet but I can tell you what's in it and what the five mother sauces are. I have mastered poaching, saute, deep fry, braising, grilling, and a few others, all with proper techniques. I thought I knew how to cook before I started culinary school, but now I am REALLY cooking. The chefs and chef assistants are so great- they love what they do and they want you to learn. This is no Hell's Kitchen- learning the RIGHT way is their main focus, no theatrics here.
My family is even more excited about culinary school because they get to eat all my goodies. To say the least, we may all need to diet soon :) I think people get so caught up in day to day life that they forget how easy yet so important it is to cook at home. With all the BPA issues going on with canned food, it's a bit worrisome that we don't always know what we are bringing home from the grocery store. Listening to the news report about how bad BPA is and such high levels in canned foods, I thought to myself, it might take you a few more minutes to concasee tomatoes and make a sauce, but there are no additives in there and you get that feeling of self-accomplishment you can't get from a can. Especially here in Ft Worth where we have amazing farmer's markets like Cowtown and Ridgemar. I bought a huge bag of tomatoes for $5 yesterday and the peace of mind that it's not going to harm my family is priceless! Ok, off my soapbox, for now....
Last night, I attended the Reata class and the Central Market Cooking School. It was amazing. They served the Texas Wedge with a Pico Vinaigrette and Pico de Gallo topped with some bleu cheese. The vinaigrette was so creamy with just a hint of apple cider vinegar for that bite on the end. SO good. Then we moved on to the Smoked Quail with Sweet Molasses Glaze and Jalapeno Cheddar Grits...need I say more?!! I learned that you can use and indoor smoker for these but you can also pan fry, depending on your tools at home. The quail was so tender and perfectly cooked. The Molasses Glaze was simple with only 4 ingredients yet was the perfect accompaniment to the quail. Everything went perfectly together in all the dishes. Then we went on to have the Blackened Buffalo Ribeye with Raspberry Chipotle Butter- this was my favorite dish of all! I've never had buffalo but today, I am on my way to Central Market to stock my fridge for the weekend. I'm inviting over a house full of Fighter Pilots from my hubby's squadron and we are gonna chow down! This was also served with a side of Sierra la Ranna Corn Muffins with buttermilk and more Pico de Gallo..mmmm. And WAIT- I'm still not done. We had Apple Crisp with Cajeta and Cinnamon Ice Cream for dessert. I have DIED and gone to HEAVEN! You have no idea- this is the best meal I have had all year and for those of you that know me, even better than my meal at Le Jules Verne in Paris at the Eiffel Tower! It's that good!
After class, Executive Chef Juan Rodriquez and Mike Micallef took time to talk with us, answer any questions, and signed Reata's new cookbook. I was so giddy- I love to meet and talk with chefs and they were good ol' boys from Texas...I'm really starting to love living here in Ft Worth. You can visit www.reata.net to make reservations, order the cookbook, and signature bakeware. The cookbook is only $3o online and you will be amazed and it's simplistic recipes yet complex flavors.
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