Chitchat Chitchat – oops, look what I cooked, Skate Grenobloise and an Apple Tart – Day 65

TODAY’S TIDBITS

  • Present a skate with the round side facing the customer, like a smile. Also, it turns out skate fish is not kosher.
  • When reducing sauces or soups, it’s a better idea to add salt only at the end. If you add salt near the beginning, it might taste fine but as it reduces the salt taste will get stronger, and there’s not much you can do if your sauce is too salty.
  • When boiling vegetables, root vegetables (e.g. potatoes) should start in cold water and warm up with the water, all other vegetables should go in when the water is boiling. When the potatoes go through the different temperatures slowly, they develop all sorts of different interesting flavours.

Today was the second day we were all cooking our respective dishes. Although on Friday there was a lot of helping each other out, today we all knew pretty much what we were doing, so it was more chitchatting about the long weekend while we were cooking than panicking about our dishes.

Using a piece of dough to push in the corners of the tart
Using a piece of dough to push in the corners of the tart
My plated skate
My plated skate

I was supposed to be on team #4 (the team that presents last), but I put myself on team #1 so I could present early. It’s no problem getting these dishes in time if you kinda know what you’re doing, and there’s nothing worse than sitting around waiting to start your dish but can’t because your “present time” is still an hour away.

Chef Joe working on a HUGE ham
Chef Joe working on a HUGE ham, making proscuitto
Chef Joe and Chef Dominic notice Pablo's "slightly over cooked" tart
Chef Joe and Chef Dominique notice Pablo’s “slightly over cooked” tart

I did my dough in a bowl this time (you’re supposed to mix it on the counter, but I find this creates a huge mess, and you loose some of the ingredients in this mess – in a bowl you don’t loose anything). The Chef asked me to do a double apple compote because he had an extra tart shell to fill – this may have not been his most well-considered plan since I burnt the compote last time, but I got it done no probs. You simply cube peeled Granny Smith apples, put some sugar and a bit of water and sweat them under a parchment paper lid, until mushy (but not too mushy, we don’t want apple sauce), and then cool. A reminder: you use Granny Smith apples for the filling (because they are a bit tart and hold together well in the cooking). You use Golden Delicious to cover the tart, because these are more delicate, sweeter, and will brown nicely. I also used a Julia Child trick – when slicing the apples (1/8 in thick) to cover the tart, I only sliced them as I was putting them on the tart. This allows you to keep the shapes from the same apple together, and so adds to the uniformity of the tart. I slightly over cooked the tart on purpose to get a real nice browning, and then after it had cooled covered it in warm melted apricot glaze. I thought it looked it perfect. So did the chef, he kept it as an example of perfect colour. Linda got the ‘best dough ever’ award. I didn’t taste it, but overheard the chef’s saying how fantastic it was. She did a tiny little extra fraissage (take a walnut size of the dough and smunch it along the counter – this fully mixes the ingredients one last time).

The bread class across the hall "pommading" their butter for croissants
The bread class across the hall loudly “pommading” their butter for croissants
Vitor and Jess pouring their consommes for the chefs
Vitor and Jess pouring their consommees for the chefs

I got a mini-skate today, so my fillets were tiny. I still used the big sauté pan, and got a little reprimand – use the “right vessel” for your work. I cocotted my potatoes pretty well, but still overcooked my croutons (“do zem again, zey are too dark”). But really, once you’re ready to go, the whole skate dish takes only about 8 minutes to do, and still tastes amazing – then again, almost any fish with brown butter, lemon, capers and parsley tastes amazing.

We got a little more info on our final. Apparently when we randomly pick our dish out of a hat, we’re allowed to look up the recipe and write down notes, but then we’re only allowed the refer to these notes during the cooking. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to do our dishes “sans recipe”. Other than the dough measurements, you can pretty well eyeball everything else. Got a 97 on my test, so felt good about that. Forgot to the lemon juice in my Hollandaise Sauce recipe. Dough!

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