Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tournage? Boooo!

Yesterday was our third and final day of knife skills in the kitchen. We learned 'tournage' which is the technique used to make cuts resulting in faceted, oval shapes with seven sides. There are several cuts that can be done this way with different lengths but we focused on doing cocottes which are 5cm long. During the demo, Chef Jessica's cocottes were perfect and she made it look so's NOT. Let's hope I really do get better at this as time goes on because it ain't so pretty right now! I can tell you that it gives me a huge appreciation for when I've seen these lovely shapes of vegetables at various dinners I've been to. I understand much more what hard work is behind a lot of what I've had the pleasure of eating, that's for sure. We practiced tournage on patate (potatoes) for a while before getting into our recipe for the day, panzanella or bread salad. It's a lovely red wine vinegar based dish made with day old bread, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, scallion - it's a summer dish typically and great for picnics and so on. I really love it so I had fun learning how to make it!

The cool part of this panzanella is that we added anchovies. I was never an anchovy or sardine person until I went to Sicily last year. I had some of the most amazing dishes made with one or the other. It surprised me to no end that one of my very favorite dishes from the entire trip was fresh anchovies in lemon juice and olive oil, that's it. You wouldn't believe how delicious they were. Of course, they were basically pulled right out of the sea and put onto our plates so that certainly had something to do with it. We'll be working with anchovies a good bit in this program so yesterday was the day we learned to fillet them. I have never filleted anything in my life so, while an anchovy is quite a small fish, it still has a spine you have to pull out, eeeek. There are a ton of small pin bones in anchovies and it's impossible to get them all out. However, it was pretty cool to do something like that for the first time!

Unfortunately, there are no photos from today because I was slow as molasses in plating my final product. I needed to present to Chef Jessica and get my station cleaned up so you don't get to see the pretty panzanella, booo. She said my composition was really good overall and it was just lacking an extra bit of salt to make everything pop. I'll be quite excited to make it again when tomatoes are truly in season.

On an unrelated note, I have to share this awesome gift I got in the mail from Michael and Wynn when I got home. There was a cute little package in my mailbox and I opened it up to find the most beautiful leather luggage tags they'd had engraved for me. It's a congratulatory gift for basically having the balls to do this whole thing and I wasn't expecting it at all! The note said they were to help carry my new luggage (a lovely Christmas gift from Allison!) into my new life. How fitting! :) Aren't they awesome:
Such a thoughtful and special surprise!

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