Day 102: More dessert and bumbling through a new menu

22 Nov

There’s no argument that I’m not the most patient person in the world.  But, I was losing my patience today and I think it could have been avoided.   I appreciate that the-powers-that-be at FCI decided to have our class try a new menu and apparently a more complicated one (I appreciate the confidence in our class!), but I really believe no one tested the recipes as written prior to giving them to us, and if they did, the recipes are just not very good.  As one of my fellow students said today, “If you’re going to give us a harder menu, at least give us a good one.”  My sentiments exactly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always up for a challenge, especially in the kitchen.  But, being a former teacher, I never gave my students very limited time to try to perfect – for their final exam – something that I hadn’t even tried myself and something that I’m still very much working on into their practice days.   When I have only 2 days to perfect each dish prior to the final exam, I don’t expect the instructors to still be changing the menu 2 days into that practice – and not be happy with all of it.

So, FCI, do your students a favor: experiment with your recipes and make sure to clearly articulate how you want them done BEFORE giving us the recipes so you’re not cutting into the students’ practice time.  It’s great if your idea was to allow us creativity in changing the recipes (I don’t think that’s true in the restaurant level, however), but we also know that we have limited time to get the recipes excellent.

Okay, now onto happier thoughts.  I made a really easy chocolate ganache that you can use for garnishing or as a sauce.  Use a really good dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate for this.  The recipe is super simple:  Bring 12 oz. of cream to a boil and pour it over 8 oz. of chocolate cut into chunks.  Stir until all the chocolate is incorporated into the cream, so you have a semi-thick sauce.  Cool it over an ice bath.  If you need to thin it out, simply add in a little more cream (cold is totally fine), and stir.  You can add vanilla to it, cayenne or any ground chili to it, or just about any other flavoring if you want to add another  dimension to the ganache.  We use the ganache to garnish the side of the plate for the banana-chocolate tart (see above).  But, the sauce can be used over bananas, ice cream, tarts, etc.

I also liked Chef Peter’s white dessert sauce (I’m not sure what he called it). It is also simple: sour cream, creme fraiche, and sugar.  I’m not really sure of the proportions of each, but I think you can get it right if you start with a little sour cream, a little creme fraiche and a couple tablespoons of sugar, whip that up until all is incorporated and then adjust the taste (meaning more or less of any of the ingredients).  It’s a nice tangy sauce that’s heavier than whipped cream, and if you want to use 2 or 3 sauces on something, this sauce is a nice compliment to the sweeter sauces like caramel or chocolate.

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