What a great day. It was a relatively easy one, though most of my friends and I agree that the pace in Skills 1 is surprisingly slower than that of meat or fish fabrication classes. Since we are still in the opening days, most of these skills are familiar to us. Today, Chef told us that Monday would separate the boys from the men, that he has seen tears when students rafts fall and their consommes aren't clear. He explains how patience is extremely important when making consomme, and since we come from a multitasking instant-satisfaction generation, it's hard for us to deal with. (hopefully my inner 40 year old patience will kick in then.)
Here is our mise en place platter for the day, including our knife skills items and things for our soup.
Today we made french onion soup. It was really surprising how even though we all used the same recipe, 15 different students made 15 completely different tasting dishes. I have to thank my dad and mom for this one. His love of onion soup and my moms piaz dagh (a Persian caramelized onion that starts practically every dish) trained me for today. Though the method seems easy enough: caramelize thinly sliced onions in clarified butter, deglaze with brandy, simmer with stock, it is still a science as most dishes are. There are many variables that can ruin the dish. Firstly, if you didn't slice your onions uniformly, then the level of the flame, or if you stir your onions too much, these are factors that can lead to your demise. We all did really well, I was proud of some who had never made onion soup before and it tasted good. Though some students burned parts of their onions or over reduced their stock, there weren't any fires, and that seems good enough for our second recipe.
Here is Chef Viverito demonstrating the soup:
Here is my soup mise en place tray, ready to cook:
Here are the onions when you first put them in the sauce pot (or rondeau):
And again when they're nearly caramelized (I think the patience thing kicked in a lot here, some students had the heat up too high which leads to some burnt pieces and other white ones):
Here it is bubbling away with the sachet, which is a bouquet of herbs that add flavor as the soup simmers (made up of bay leaves, thyme, garlic, peppercorns and parsley stems):
And here it is all done:
Here are the croutons for the top layer. You have to "waterproof" them with some clarified butter so they don't soak up the broth too quickly when you put it on top of the soup:
And topped with parmigiana reggiano and Gruyere cheeses:
And plated up for Chef to taste:
That was nerve-wracking to say the least. Chef Viverito tastes all of our dishes and gives us feedback (though not as much as I would have liked). After tasting mine, he simply said "i can't say anything... it's excellent, i wouldn't change a thing, it's perfect." It was a good day.