Friday, December 3, 2010

The Last Supper

What would your final meal be? This is one of the interview questions we have been giving potential recruitment counselors. As a foodie, this question has really made me think. Would I want a gourmet dinner or a homecooked meal? Does it need to be a fancy frou-frou dining, or could it just be good old comfort food? In conclusion, I decided it would have to Mom’s unbelievable spaghetti Her use of fresh vegetables makes it unlike any other spaghetti sauce I’ve had. But most importantly, she makes it with love. On a cold winter today, a plate of her spaghetti is all I need to be perfectly happy.

Today was my final day at The National for this semester. Where did the time go? I feel like it was only yesterday I walked into that kitchen nervous and intimidated. I had no idea how much I would learn. My skills in the kitchen have greatly improved, and I feel like I have a much better understanding of flavor combinations. My tasks today, once again taught me techniques and recipes that will be useful in the rest of my culinary career.

I began the day prepping the lamb. Mixing the seasonings and onions and peppers with the ground meat. Then rolling them into the little nuggets that would be used for the pitas again. Then I helped work on a catering for a 6 year old. I cut up carrot sticks and made buttermilk dressing. The dressing is simple 2 cups mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, thinned with buttermilk. 4 cloves garlic minced, dill, parsley, chives, mustard seed, smoked parika, and salt and pepper. Once mixed well, it is ready to go! After helping with the catering, I helped the pastry chef by slicing a parsnip cake into 10 pieces. I had to do this strategically by first cutting it in half and then eyeballing how to make 5 uniformed pieces out of each half.

Later on, I was given the chance to braise beef cheeks. First, I had to drain them, then I seasoned them simply with only salt and pepper. The meat was ready to be seared! I heated corn oil in a large rondeau. Once I could see bubbles in the oil, I placed the meat in the pot. I let it sear until a nice brown crust formed on the outside of the meat. I turned the meat until all sides had that great crispy layer. I transferred the meat to a large hotel pan that would later have veggies and stocks added to it and then popped in the oven until the meat is fork tender. After I finished searing the meat, it was time to cook vegetables in the remaining oil. This was a bit of a disaster. As I dropped the vegetables into the rondeau, the hot oil splashed on my wrist. OWWWW! That did not feel good. I put the burn under cool water, and then didn’t think too much more of it. Until I left, took a good look, and realized it might be more serious than I thought, so I went to the drugstore and got burn cooling pads, that seem to have really helped. The injury is really only an afterthought when I think about my day spent there. Once again I learned that a kitchen is a dangerous place and you have to be extra attentive and careful when doing anything and everything!

As I left (had to leave early again for recruitment counselor interviews) I decided to get a final lunch to go. For once I decided to try the power lunch. It was unbelievable. There were four components. I had quinoa with green beans and feta tossed in a lemon vinaigrette; arugala with beets and marconas (a type of almond) tossed in the lemon vinaigrette as well; then grilled broccoli with red chili flake; and finally sautéed kale with chickpeas deglazed with sherry vinegar. It was the perfect finale to my lovely experience this semester at The National.

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