Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 44: The Genius of my Classmates

Makin' Gnocchi
As I've mentioned before, there is a lot of talent in my class this year. Let me go on about how great we are for a second. 

First, we are well into our second half of our course and not one of us has ever been late. Not once. Not ever. As a former teacher, I can't tell you how monumental that is. Twenty-five people all in the room, ready to go, before 8:30am. I have a mini-mind-meltdown every morning when this happens. I'm sure the Chefs do too. 

Second, we rock. We just do. Everyday I'm amazed with some of the details or plating designs my classmates come up with. 

This week we wrapped up Italian week with a bit of menu development. In other words we are turned loose in the kitchen with a few guidelines rules and the ever-present time constrictions.  

The Chefs do their best to support any crazy idea we come up with, which in includes running to the store for more gape tomatoes, opening up the liquor cupboard and freely pouring Marsala wine, or letting us drip truffle oil over dishes. Good or bad, it's our creation and we are allowed to own our mistakes as well as our successes. 

First up, antipasta. (Or canapés, but this is italian week!)

Things we HAD to use somewhere in our dishes, they could all be in one dish if we wanted, but this was set upon our counters and it all had to be used. 
  • kale 
  • zuchinni
  • cheese - our choice, but NOT mascarpone or riccotta
  • basil 
This first antipasta is the creation of my partner and I. Here's where the genius begins. She came up with this idea of a "kale chip".  Kale must be one of the most beautiful vegetables on the planet, but it needs to be cooked or it's bitter, and then it's not so beautiful. 

So I cut the little delicate leaves out of the centre, dipped them in oil and grated parmesan and baked them for about 3 minutes.

Viola, Kale chip. Chef T used the B word to describe these during critique - brilliant! I pass all the praise onto my partner-o-the week - Ashley K. (And hence break my #1 rule of not naming names!)

So this is - Braised kale and 
herbed goat cheese on rosemary baguette 

Italian sunshine! 
Lemon and honey marinated bocconcini wrapped in basil 
and topped with a roasted grape tomato and 
two teeny tiny basil leaves all on a parmesan crisp.

This is ours too. I am really kicking myself this morning for not taking this picture from the opposite side, you can't see the teeny basil leaves we placed on top. We really liked this one, as did the Chefs, because of 2 things.
  1. I think we managed to make it "quintessentially Italian" with the ingredients, and we didn't mess with these ingredients much, we just let them be what they were and marinated or roasted to bring out that flavour. 
  2. We kept them small. These were only one to two bite delights, but the small size made them easy to eat and elegant! 
Ok, enough tooting my own horn, here are some of my classmates creations!! 

This picture does not do them justice, but I had to snap fast because these were gorgeous AND delicious! The round ones in the center are made of apple slices which I think were deep fried till crispy and layered with walnuts and blue cheese.  The apple slices were wavy and gave this canapé and delicate fragile appearance. When I asked my classmate about his inspiration, he said, "it's like a deconstructed, reconstructed Waldorf salad". Loved it!
Mini-lasagna, mini-panini and a mini-caprese salata! 

The "mini" idea is always a huge hit. The mini lasagna was a bit big for a canapé, but it could easily be tweaked to be an appetizer. I loved the mini panini though, how cute is that? (See the grilled zucchini in there?)

 Tomato as a cup! 
I'm sure this is topped with some of the tepanade we made last week. I would love this as the salad on my plate. Again, not too much messing with the ingredients. Nice!  

Next up was  a stuffed pasta. We had to make fresh pasta, roll it out and stuff it. Here was what we came up with....

I have no idea who made this, 
but I love the garnish on top of fried left-over noodles. 

Carmelised apple and goat cheese Cappelletti in Brown Butter.
We have a Russian student with us who I've heard is really good with details. 
He shaped these little cappelletti. Perfect! 

Squash and parmesan ravioli with a 
sage brown butter and walnut sauce.

This is our dish. The pasta wasn't rolled thin enough, and the Chef felt there were too many walnuts on it, but it was delicious. With a little work, I'm confident this would be great.

The big lesson of the day? Don't try to make kale look pretty! Cook it well, season it and then hide in or under something! 

Looking back over the weeks so far, I would say that I've learned just as much from my classmates than from the actual course. Everyone brings something special to the table. 

And speaking of tables..... Friday after school, back at Barneys!


  1. Did your classmates find your blog? ; )

  2. Ha ha! Not yet. At least I don't think so. I've found theirs, but they advertise more than I do!

  3. Looking at your photos makes me think we eat very boring food!

  4. Yes! It's really quite extravagant somedays and the whole class is complaining about weight gain!