“No Christina, its LOVE, and there is a whole lot of love in this risotto!”

November 14, 2012

The other day I passed by the Powerball sign, and I dream’t what I would do if I won, like I always do. And I have to say for the first time in my life I would not change a thing. I mean yes I would buy new things and all that, of course! But I have to say I would still go to culinary school, and pursue what I am doing. That made me very content and very happy of where I am right now for the first time in a long time.  🙂

There is so much to share, it has been a very busy several weeks. I did compete in a competition in the school several weeks back. It is the ACF competition that students take part in, in March. You compete against other students in the New England area. You compete in cooking, baking, skills and other culinary challenges. I arrived very nervous that day and felt very much with an overwhelming feeling like I was “not good enough to be there.” People seemed confident and arrogant. There was about 15 other students in a small kitchen. We had to share counter space, ovens and stove tops. It was tight and I think they did that on purpose, so that they could see you move in the kitchen and how you handled yourself. They gave us time to prep our station, sharpen our knives, and set up our sanitation. They gave us a half of chicken to work with and other pantry staples. Not much to work with. I was hoping and praying for arborio rice, so I could make a risotto. But alas there was every other rice, but that one. So I moved on. I took a chicken thigh and leg and I stuffed the inside of the skin with a mixture of butter, minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, olive oil and pieces of lemon. I stuffed that all under the skin and also on the outside of the chicken. I seared the chicken on the stove just till browned and I set it aside. Then I took some potatoes and boiled them for mashed potatoes. I steamed some brussel sprouts as well. I put the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees with out 20 minutes left on the timer. While that was cooking I prepped the mashed potatoes and seared the brussel sprouts with butter, shallots, garlic till they were caramelized nicely. Once the mashed potatoes were all set, I put them in the oven to stay warm. I went to check the chicken in the oven with less them 10 minutes left in competition. I went over and the oven had been turned down to 200 degrees. I was not happy! I asked everyone who had turned down the oven, and they should notify everyone of doing that. No one answered of course. I told the chef, he said get it done. So I put my chicken in the convention oven at 400 degrees and prayed it would be done in time. I prepped my whole plate and waited till the last minute left to see where the chicken was, it was at 160 degrees. 165 is done for chicken. I was nervous but thought it would cook another 5 degrees while resting on the plate, the chef there confirmed that. I took a quick picture so you all could see and I presented it to the Chefs!

Here is it:

They tasted, while we cleaned, and then they called us all in in random numbers to tell us who won and who would not be competing. I was the last of four in the room waiting, and then the Chef’s came into our room and told us we had made it! That we would be competing in March for the regional competition. I was shocked. They said my chicken was perfectly cooked and delicious. They loved my mashed potatoes and said my brussel sprouts were okay, but needed some more work. They were impressed how I handled myself in the kitchen with what had happened. I was so worried that my dish was too simple. Because it seemed like to me that all the other students were doing fancy dishes with sauces and all that. I went very simply. That is how I cook, how I was taught. That my friends tells you to go with what you know, what is right to you, stay true to yourself.

Here are some other dishes I have been working on in class as well:

These are from my first class.

Poached Pear in Wine, Apple Pie with Fresh Whipped Cream and a Lemon Tart

This is my final pratical exam. You had to do certain cuts for the Chef and present them to him. I did great. 🙂

This is a simple risotto I made for one of my classes. Chef asked what is the most important ingredient in risotto. I said wine? Butter? I kept guessing all the ingredients, he said “No Christina, its LOVE, and there is a whole lot of love in this risotto!”

I guess I did good!

Here is me making Hollandaise sause! Which came out great.

And then here is some mayonnaise down below I made as well. You would think these things were easy to make, but no. They are not easy at all. They take time, skill, lots of whisking and lots and lots of patience. But in the end it is very worth the work.

When we were learning about grains, we made some pasta and this is my pasta dish that I created. Its a linguine with a simple marinara sauce.

This past week we are working on salads and sandwhiches, cold and hot. We made all sorts of salads and we got to use fresh tuna! I have had tuna in the past, but it was over cooked and not good at all. Well I had some this time and it was amazing, raw in the center and melt in your mouth good.

I made pesto for the first time ever. I loved it. I can not wait to make it again.

First you put in your pine nuts, 1 clove of garlic and then mash it up with some olive oil.

Till it looks mashed up

Then you add your basil and mash it up more adding more oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste.

There it is. It was very good, some might say too much garlic. But I liked it. But I have garlic running through my pores, so do not trust me with the whole garlic issue! 😉

We also had to set up a sandwich display. I decided to make a club sandwich, a coleslaw, french fries and lastly a sandwich I came up myself.

Here is my coleslaw I made. I took purple cabbage, green onions, red bell peppers, carrots and chiffonade them all. Then I tossed them with mayonnaise  vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and a few other ingredients. It was amazing, I loved it. I presented it on top of two pieces of toasted french baguette.

The French fries I made as well. I had my friend made the paper funnel to hold them.

These were my fun interpretation of cute club sandwiches  I put bacon on top to give them even more height.

Lastly our whole platter. I also made the sandwich on the bottom right. It was a french baguette with sopressata, provolone cheese, Pesto I made and roasted peppers. It was delicious.

It has been a great several weeks. I have learned a ton and I am enjoying myself so much. I will update sooner then later. Till then take care and eat well.

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4 Responses to ““No Christina, its LOVE, and there is a whole lot of love in this risotto!””

  1. Jenna :) said

    Man, I want to eat all of it! It all looks so good! 🙂

  2. A. Kathy said

    Please come to New York and cook for us. Everything looks delicious. While you’re cooking, we’ll entertain that delicious son of yours. Love you much.

  3. Diana said

    Christina, I enjoy this post and you very much. Please do not change!

  4. Jo said

    Chris you are so happy! It is such a delight to see you doing what God has intended for you. I have never known you to be so happy & content! I’ll be that content when you call for taste-testers!!!! Love you girl!

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