Friday, July 29, 2011

Brussels and Spaetzel and Butternut Squash, Oh My!

We had lots to do tonight, and I was late with both my plates. But I am still really happy with my dishes. Well mostly. I started off in a funk because my classmate was kind enough to bring me my cutting board, but he sort of threw it on the table and it smashed my finger. I felt nauseous from the pain for a good while, and it was difficult to concentrate on Chef Dan's demo. But he had me laughing in no time, and then it was quickly time to get cooking! 
We had some amazing ingredients tonight....butternut squash, hazelnuts, Brussel sprouts, veal cutlets, and some very beautiful racks of lamb. I started on the items that took the longest to cook, as we had to roast the butternut squash, and puree it with a russet potato. And who knew that you can roast hazelnuts and then roll them in a wet towel to take the bitter tasting shells off?! Those were a nice snack! But they were actually used in a breadcrumb mixture for the rack of lamb. Delicious! And I have never made Brussel sprouts before, so I was excited to make those, and was even more excited when I tasted them. Yum! And chef was very pleased too. Yay!

And the one thing I was even more excited to make was the Spaetzel! I think Chef Dan is brilliant for suggesting we make Spaetzel instead of the Potato Anna (again).  I think the Spaetzel is my favorite thing I have made in culinary school thus far. It was just different and fun to make. And you can do so much with it. Chef Dan gave us creative freedom to come up with our own additions to the Spaetzel, as it's basically just a plain 'ole noodle, but with the right additions, its delicious and fun to eat. He did suggest we do caramelized onions to add to it, but I did not like that idea. I asked what he thought of a browned butter sauce, and he basically said No, he didn't want "burnt butter". Ok, so I was worried about that. But I did do a very lightly browned butter sauce with garlic and chopped mushrooms, and he liked it! Whew! 

Now, my rack of lamb had an unfortunate evening. It basically didn't cook. I coated it beautifully with our hazelnut and mustard breadcrumb mixture, and left it in the oven for what I thought would be plenty of time - which made me late for plating, because I thought better late than serve undercooked lamb. But she was still pretty much raw. And everyone else seemed to have the same issue with theirs, so that made me feel somewhat better. 

And there was a lot of other little things going on, we made a Veal Cordon Bleu in which we pounded out veal cutlets, lightly coated with mustard, added a layer of ham and gruyere cheese, then rolled it up like a little burrito (or cigar as Chef Dan was demonstrating!), coated it with breadcrumbs, quickly fried it, then finished it in the oven. Whew! And then my Mushroom Supreme Sauce came out pretty darn Supreme! It was definitely one of my better sauces. Or at least my favorite in flavor, maybe because it's one of the few sauces that isn't so rich with veal stock, and it has mushrooms - my favorite. All in all tonight was a great night of cooking, but it came with some sad news. We learned that our favorite Chef Dan will be leaving the school after our class ends in just two more weeks. I feel fortunate to have him as our chef, and hope that he is happy to have us as his very last class at CCA.

Plate 1 - Roasted Rack of Lamb with Demi Glaze, Brussel Sprouts and Butternut Squash Potato Puree. Plate 2 - Veal Cordon Bleu with Mushroom Sauce Supreme, Garlic Mushroom Spaetzel, and Brussel Sprouts and Carrots. Enjoy!

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