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Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014: Class begins
Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014: BISTRO!
Tuesday, April 22, 2014: Graduation
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The Week in Review
Written as a group effort by the CCSC chefs.
Week of March 31
And then it was time for block testing. This is the week that the students dread the most.
We test their knowledge in practical testing of the mother sauces without any recipe. They must reference only what they bring in their noggins.
We also tested them on sautéed chicken breast with a pan sauce to go with the chicken.
For the most part we thought the students did a pretty good job. There were some missteps along the way, but virtually everyone made at least two excellent sauces.
The big surprise was the chicken breast sauté and sauce. Nobody gave us an undercooked chicken breast, at worst they were only slightly overcooked with a few perfectly cooked ones thrown in.
The sauces were all seasoned properly, along with the chicken, and tasty. At worst the sauces were slightly thin or thick. All in all, they did an excellent job.
Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon was baking with Chef Peter Reinhart – cinnamon rolls, cookies, focaccia, cheese biscuits and lot of other things. This is always one of the highlights of the class, and the students love it and learn a lot.
Encore was busy putting four students and alumni to work. Friendship Trays was handled well. More workforce development on tap for next week.
Monday and Tuesday will be Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Butter Cream Frosting, and then on to BISTRO!
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Week of March 24
This week was about quick breads and desserts. Quick breads are typically non-yeasted doughs which rely on chemicals, baking soda and baking powder, to achieve rise in the product. Some examples include corn bread, biscuits and muffins.
Baking soda needs an acid to create carbon dioxide gas, while baking powder just needs moisture and heat to activate. This is the same gas that yeast expels to achieve rise.
Both classes made Irish Soda bread and Orange/Cranberry scones. Unlike breads which require gluten development, we worked these dough’s gently as to keep gluten development to a minimum so they remain light and flakey.
We then moved onto a couple of our favorite desserts, Crème Brule and Flourless Chocolate Cake. The flourless cake utilizes another method of leavening, air. We whipped air into eggs to make a foam which we folded into a melted chocolate mixture and then baked. This is a chocolate lovers dream, rich, smooth chocolaty decadence.
Next we made some egg custards with egg yolks, sugar, cream and vanilla beans. We infused the vanilla into the cream by splitting the bean, scraping the seeds out and heating them in the cream. After the custards baked, we torched some sugar on top to create a caramelized sugar crust. For some strange reason, we had a lot of visitors those two days in the classroom
We took some of the left over egg whites, whipped them into a sweetened meringue, added toasted pecans and coconut, and baked off some macaroons. Another tasty week is in the books.
“The desserts were fabulous!” writes Encore Catering Manager Elise Barksdale. “I am always ready for tastings.”
Encore was very busy and put 5-plus students to work. F-Trays was handled smoothly.
Next week, Peter Reinhart dazzles the students with two days of baking joy. Chef Ron joins us to create some Chicken Roulades, Student testing begins and we start educating the Students on ServSafe.
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Week of March 17
Another week is behind us and it was another good one.
Monday and Tuesday were spent learning how to braise and stew meats. The students learned how and why braising meats with a little liquid, and a lot of time, transforms tough, practically inedible cuts of meat into juicy, tender perfection. Both classes braised chicken leg quarters for 2 hours and made sauces out of the liquid which was served for lunch. They were different, but both were delicious.
Then it was onto BISTRO! prep on Wednesday, and Thursday was the event. We have to say that this was the best BISTRO!, food and organization wise, for Class 48.
For the most part the students buckled down and worked with a sense of urgency that was extremely good to observe, the results of which were easy to see. The food was finished on time, properly cooked and very tasty.
On Friday, CCSC Chefs cleaned out the walk-in and had the students make a bunch of fun stuff for lunch, like fried cheese balls with siracha/garlic aioli, potato chip nachos with a cheddar cheese sauce, green onions and prosciutto, roast beef sandwiches with horseradish aioli, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Needless to say, it was a very good lunch on Friday.
Also on Friday we notified the class earlier in the week that we would be staying late Friday afternoon for those students who may have missed some days, or just wanted to review some things we did in class that they needed to feel more comfortable with. Three students stayed with us and we ended up making Bechamel, Veloute and Espagnole sauces.
Encore put three alumni and three students to work. F-Trays was assisted well and the week was normal. ServSafe and block testing are on tap. Looking forward to another strong week of workforce development!
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Week of March 10
It was a very good week. We got to spend a lot of time with the students. First up was pasta. We discussed the different shapes of dried pasta and their uses. We instructed them on how to properly cook dried pasta in plenty of salted water, without oil, and that you want the water to taste like sea water. If you have enough water in the pot, and stir frequently, your pasta will never stick together.
We then made fresh egg pasta made with eggs, A.P. flour and water, which we rolled out with a pasta roller and made angel hair and fettuccini noodles. One class made a béchamel based sauce with roasted peppers, garlic, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese while the other class made a tomato-based sauce with prosciutto, rosemary and garlic. Both were served for lunch and were delicious.
Next we discussed how to Sauté both vegetables and proteins. In conjunction with this, it is also important to know how to properly blanch and shock vegetables. So we blanched and shocked asparagus, snow peas, green beans, bok choy and anything else we could find. Blanching is especially important for green vegetables as it enhances and sets the green color in them and then we sautéed them.
Next we moved onto Sautéed chicken breasts. Both classes sautéed 20 chicken breasts and then made a pan sauce which was served for lunch. We also sautéed some shrimp to show the students how little time it takes to properly sauté them.
The highlight of the week was the “Egg Battle.” We split the class up into groups of 2, gave them 5 eggs, and they got to cook whatever they wanted, which was to be judged by a panel of four guests on the following: Taste, creativity, presentation and, finally, texture for a maximum of 20 points per judge.
We got omelets, crepes, poached and fried eggs. Everyone did a fantastic job! The eventual winner, Joel Snipes, actually got a perfect score from all 4 judges. He made some mini hash brown cakes with apples and prosciutto topped with a perfect sunny side up egg. Delicious!
The next battle will be chicken. This is great fun and the students really enjoy this and cook hard to try to win.
Encore was humming and put 2 students and 3 alumni to work. F-Trays was its usual efficient Mission on display. We did have a gardening class on Monday and the weather cooperated.
Bistro is next week along with plenty of work force development!
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Week of Feb. 23
This week was all about eggs.
We finished up the last of the mother sauces, Hollandaise, which uses egg yolks as thickeners, and cooked eggs. We cooked so many eggs that most of us will not eat eggs for awhile.
We poached, fried, scrambled, made omelets, hard boiled, baked, and made frittata’s. We grilled chicken and topped it with a spinach herb sauce and put an over easy egg on top.
We made Huevos Rancheros, Denver omelets, ham and cheese omelets, eggs baked in ramekins with bacon, onion, peppers and cream and last, but not least, breakfast sandwiches with ham, bacon and cheese. Eggs everywhere. It was an “eggcelent” week.
Chefs demo 1 was Eggs Benedict with a Hollandaise sauce that was made in an immersion blender and not over a double boiler with a whisk. After making hollandaise and whisking until their arms were falling out of their sockets, students really appreciated this quicker, less strenuous method…
Chefs demo 2 was a quick lesson in sautéing and pan sauces. We sautéed 2 chicken breasts and made one sauce with cream and tarragon, and another Asian style with orange marmalade, ginger, soy, garlic and siracha. We will be getting deeper into sautéing later on this month.
Job search is focusing on resumes and interview skills. Students are really digging the gardening class. RPS is making a big difference with our students’ mental stamina.
Students are taking a strong interest in the CCSC mission and are looking for ways to share it with others. Many referrals have come in for class 49.
F-Trays got sound assistance from Class 48 and Encore put 3 students to work. All are excited about Thursday’s Bistro. A strong work force development week is straight ahead.
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Weeks of Feb. 10 & 17
The week of Feb. 10 was shortened by the snowstorm. That Monday and Tuesday were spent on mother sauces. Each class did Tomato and Béchamel. We then made Lunch items, Mac and Cheese with the béchamel, and Tomato pasta with grilled chicken. Both were delicious.
Monday and Tuesday of the week of Feb. 17 was spent making Espagnole sauce (a.k.a. brown sauce).
Starting Tuesday afternoon we began prepping for class 48’s first Bistro. The students picked the menu and we started serious prep. This was a very tasty bistro, with the Pork Loin and Maple syrup/Pineapple glaze one of the highlights.
The students were amazed that we got everything out on time, and in fact we told them there will be even more items on the next bistro menu.
There were a few bumps in the road but the students put their heads down and powered through them. A very successful event it was!
Encore put 3 students to work and the Friendship Trays Mission was well handled.
Next week will be the final mother sauce – the terrifying Hollandaise – combined with egg cookery followed by homemade pasta. Another tasty week on the menu…
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Week of Feb. 3
Class 48 is really starting to “put the beef in the stew.”
Monday and Tuesday were spent with the first of the of the Mother Sauces. The class made Veloute sauce. We had them make it as many times as they needed to feel comfortable with the ratio of roux and liquid. Each class made about 1 gallon and it was used as a pasta sauce, and a sauce for sautéed chicken for lunch for all of 2401. We had a soup battle with teams of 2 making soup that was judged by staff. All soups were delish! Many Smiles.
The rest of the week was spent COOKING for some good folks. The students prepped and prepared food for Taste of the Nation committee, the Tosco Music Party and Actors Theater Charlotte. We had them running pretty good all days, and it gave them a real flavor what working in a busy production kitchen is really like. They all handled it well.
Encore was busy and four students worked on caterings. Two students went to work at Covenant Presbyterian for the weekend. Student Curtis was chosen as the next intern at Pasta and Provisions. F-Trays mission was assisted daily with sound results. RPS and Job search classes are really having a positive impact on our students.
Bistro! will be on the 20th. This week will be fantastic!
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Week of Jan. 27
The week began with different methods for thickening liquids. We discussed slurries, roux, purees, liaisons and reductions. As an offshoot of this, we also clarified some butter. We thickened some stocks with the slurry and roux to see the difference between the two. This was actually a preview of next week’s subject; mother sauces.
We then moved into Stocks. One class made a roasted turkey stock and the other made a white chicken stock. The roasted turkey stock made an excellent sage/rice and vegetable soup while the chicken stock made an outstanding Asian grilled chicken, ginger and rice soup.
We are starting to take a hands-off approach with the students letting them taste and make seasoning and ingredient additions and it is going extremely well.
Chef demonstrations were Shrimp Bisque by Chef Tom, and composed salads by Chef Chelsa. Super Bowl foods were widely discussed.
Encore had a unique week with a pause in the action due to the snow. Encore used 4 students. F-Trays mission was supported, and the students are starting to gel well.
Next week’s work force development should be delicious!
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April 22, 2014 Graduation
March 6 BISTRO!
Photos by Jane France