Monday, August 31, 2009

Cookies and Eggs

On Tuesday we still had no fish. Chef didn't want us to start any deeply involved project, so we made cookies.

I was sitting with the Sushi Boys so I said I would work with them. Neither of them had ever made cookies before!!! Ever! "Well OK then, you guys pick. I don't care what we make, I'll just be assisting since you've never done this before." They picked peanut butter cookies.

I had them get all the equipment and ingredients ready while I filled the triple sink and assembled the dishwasher, because apparently I am the only one who does this. Now that I think about it, maybe next week I won't and see what happens.

Chef wanted 2-3 dozen cookies which is about what each recipe called for. I think we ended up with a little more than that though. I immediately fetched a balance to weigh up the flour, peanut butter and other dry ingredients. I had a little flush of joy when Chef reprimanded all of the other groups for using spring scales. Chef hates those scales. I paid attention in my first class and knew this so I always grab the balance. You know it really is not hard to do well and get a good grade if you just follow directions (this is to be a prophetic statement).

Something that really irks me about professional/institutional recipes, besides not being in metric, is that the amount types of ingredients are not specified. For example, 10 ounces of peanut butter. Is that fluid ounces or weight ounces? In my world, as an engineer, measurements are always, always specific, fl. oz. or wt. oz. There is no confusion. Chalk up another point to the metric system. You can't get grams and milliliters confused. I guess the rule is that free flowing liquids are measured out by volume and everything else is by weight. Do you know I have to constantly tell people that the first of four lines on the small measuring cup is a cup?

For our size recipe we could easily use a stand mixer, but just barely. I showed the boys little things like cracking the eggs into a separate container rather than straight into the bowl so as not to accidentally get any shells in the dough. In order to get the flour into the mixing bowl, I used a Silpat and made a funnel. It would have worked better if the Silpat was the same size as the one I have at home but it was twice as big. It worked though.

Ridges came over to see how we were doing. He cupped his hands and said they only had that much dough. What! How did that happen? He said he didn't know and just shook his head. I asked who we was working with and he said Red and RK and that RK wanted to halve the recipe. Ah. The rest of the day Chef gave RK a hard time for not making enough cookies. They were pretty cookies but they didn't even fill half a sheet pan. They were making spritz cookies piped with a pastry bag with half a maraschino cherry on top.

Since we were ready to start dropping cookies I took all of our dirty dishes into the dish washing area. MILF was in there doing dishes listening to her MP3 player. What are you doing in here, why aren't you cooking? I'm mad at my group. Really. who are you working with? She told me Hottie #2 and Mouth. I was surprised she was mad at Hottie since they often work together and have always gotten along. Not surprised about Mouth though. I've worked with Hottie #2 before and found her easy to get along with. From what I heard later, Mouth and Hottie wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and MILF didn't want to so she lost the vote 2-1 and stormed off.

The directions in our book prescribed splitting our dough into one pound halves, rolling each into a twelve inch long, slicing off one inch discs and then rolling each disk into a ball to be flattened with a fork on the baking sheet. Huh? I called Chef over. Why do we have to triple handle the dough to make dough balls when we could just scoop the balls directly from the mixing bowl. He was dumbfounded too and told us to just use an ice cream scoop. I told Sushi #2 where they were and sent him off to fetch one. He came back with two large ice cream scoops. I laughed. Dude, those will make twelve inch cookies! Weren't there any smaller scoops? He went back to look and found two tablespoon dishing scoops. They were right next to the ice cream scoops but he didn't see them.

We ended up with two and a half sheets of cookies. The guys were really impressed that they made actual cookies. I still can't believe it was there first time. Chef had us cook them at a lower temp than in the book. They came out great. I didn't try anybody else's cookies.

After all the cookies were out, everyone was just standing around. I was putting some dishes away when I saw a few people clustered around the stove and Chef with a few flats of eggs on the table. Sushi #2 told me to get three eggs, we were making omelets. I did a few more dishes then asked Chef for instruction, better to not rely on hearsay. He told me crack three eggs into a bowl, we were making omelets. I asked him if I needed milk and he said no, some people like to use it, he doesn't, but if you whip your eggs enough you won't need it. So I cracked my three eggs and gently beat them with a whisk. MILF was running around looking for Cayenne pepper. Ridges was adding salt and pepper to his. Someone else was looking for broccoli to put in his. Mouth already had hers started at the stove on the other side.


One of the few times I have ever seen Chef outright mad. It might have been the first time for every one else. Time to get dressed down. Chef went on to say how many of us aren't good at following directions (see the prophecy from above). If he says crack three eggs, that doesn't mean add stuff to them, it doesn't mean make an omelet, it means crack three eggs. If any of you have added stuff to you eggs or started cooking, throw it out. I only want to see three eggs. Many of you are going to end up working for a chef and if he tells you to do something, you do it. You just can't do what you want or flavor things they way you'd like He then went on to explain, the classic speech I have heard so many times from so many people, you all are not always going to work with someone you like. You aren't always going to like your boss. That's why I always want you working with different people, so you can learn those skills in here before you go out there. You aren't always going to agree or get along with the others in your group but you have to learn how to (pretty sure this was a reference to MILF). It was a good and well deserved rah rah speech.

At first I was pretty excited about the omelet making because I really need to improve mine but after I saw Chef's demo I saw this was not the info I was looking for. All we were doing was frying an egg, flipping it in the pan and then sliding the egg out onto a plate, cheesing the top before we folded the egg over with the edge of the pan. I've seen this technique at so many cook to order hotel breakfast buffets. I like to have some of the ingredients mixed into the egg so I always try to fold the egg over in the pan and this is where I am struggling. Mine taste great but the looks aren't always there.

Chef very clearly said to get your pan hot, then add the butter so that it melts quickly without burning then add your eggs. RK was up first and he put a pan down on the stove with the butter already in it. I just don't get this guy. He was standing right next to Chef when the instructions were given! I watched Mouth come over with her second attempt. She had to dump her first one because she had started before Chef said to. She knows everything. Her eggs stuck to the pan badly. Why? Because she already had her eggs in the pan before she set it on the stove. Again, nobody in this class listens. How hard can it be?

Once I had a physics exam in high school. Our teacher told us to read all of the instructions before starting the exam. The first instruction was put your name on the exam. The second instruction was to go to the last problem on the exam. The last problem said "turn your exam in now. Any marks on your exam other than your name will result in an F for not following directions." More than half the class failed that exam. I've never forgotten that lesson.

I did piss Mouth off though because I quite loudly asked her if she ever smiled. Oh did she glare at me. But my point was made. Chef laughed and said he had seen her smile once when she was yelling at someone.

Both Sushi #2 and Hottie #2 were timid about flipping their eggs. I rooted them on saying the secret is that you have to believe that you can flip the egg. If you don't believe in yourself you won't be able to do. "I know you can do it so just do it." Both flipped their eggs perfectly. Me? I got impatient and flipped mine before my eggs had fully set. I lost half down the burner. I ended up with a small omelet but I did get an omelet.

After we had cleaned up we were instructed to pick out a fish dish to prepare. I immediately knew what I wanted to cook. I wanted to do fish in parchment paper, poissons en papillote. I got the thumbs up from Chef and went to check on ingredients. Meanwhile a HUGE order came in and Chef went to check on that. I helped a few others with finding ingredients, giving them ideas on fish or alternatives, trying to convince MILF that the recipe she picked would not be too hard, I'd have plenty of extra time to help her. Mouth announced she was leaving. We still had an official one hour to go before class was over. Chef came back in a few minutes, asked where she was and went into a rage when he found out she had left,. He called her cell phone about five times and got even angrier that she didn't answer.

I just don't understand this crap. I wonder if we will see Mouth on Monday, though my bet is yes, she seems to have some type of in with Chef to get away with her daily behaviour.

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