I signed up for a 3 day basic culinary basics course provided by the Viking Cooking School located in Glenview, Illinois. There are many others located in various large cities though-out the USA. I found out about the facility when I discovered the Great American Cooking Expo advertisements for the event that was held here in NW Chicago this past weekend. I consider myself a fairly decent cook but I always wanted to get the "basics" down; how to make a stock, sauce, good basic food and desserts. So with this in mind, I attended my first class today.
The facility is large enough to easily accommodate 12 to 16 students.
Here is Najib Chabebe, our chef instructor for today. He really knows his way around the kitchen and food.
Here is the facility. there is an island set up with several ranges and work areas; the work areas continue around the circumference of the room.
First we made the shortcakes for the fresh fruit with creme chantilly
Into the oven for a short time and before you know it...they were done
Here is the finished product
We prepared a freshly made marinade for the pieces of Halibut
We placed them in a special marinade container and got the job done in 15 minutes
Once cooked, they should rest for five to ten minutes; we placed the tray and all into a 300 degree oven until everything else was done.
We learned that when you grill anything you should first blot all the water on the surface, then oil them and salt and pepper lightly. when you place them on the grill you should slide the item left and right to prevent sticking. Leave the item alone until it is seared completely, it will not stick if properly seared and will turn easily.
Najib showed us how to feel the done-ness of a grilled item. Here he is showing a rare cooked item. Touch the thumb to the index finger and feel the pad of muscle below the thumb, that is what rare feels like. Middle finger to thumb is medium rare; ring finger to thumb medium well and pinky to thumb is well done. Pretty cool huh?
The plated fish.
Next up was Crispy Lemon chicken...we floured, egged and panko breaded the cutlets after they were pounded to uniform eveness.
We cooked them in a blend of canola and olive oil.
Here's the finished plate: Crispy Lemon Chicken on Basmati Pilaf
For the stir fried vegetables we prepared them and then blanched them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Immediately we submereged them into ice water; this shocks the veggies and stops further cooking. They are now partially cooked and will stir fry to just the right doneness quickly. See how pale green they are before blanching...and how very green they are in just two minutes?
Here is the bowl of blanched but not yet stir fried veggies
Here they are almost finished
After all the food was cooked, we plated each meal and then sat down to eat. Here's what was left of my dishes