Lessons 38-42: Now we're cookin'

My classmates and I joke that with each module we should be given a new uniform, one size larger than the previous. That way, by Module 5, we’ll be outfitted in just a white sheet with a piece of string; an ICE toga of sorts.

While the amount of physical labor involved in the program makes it hard to actually pack on the pounds, the food is just so irresistibly good. Perhaps the fact thatwe’veprepared it heightens our sense of taste, but regardless, it’s like we’ve collectively won the food lottery. Case in point: today. I just got out of class and I am in a food coma. Ground beef at 10:30 a.m. never tasted so good. We enjoyed the fruits (re: meat) of our labor after grilling hamburgers, hangar steaks with teriyaki marinade and mackerel. Oh, and a light side of stewed bison chili. ICE Culinary alumnus Chef Michael Schwartz, who subbed in today for Chef Sabrina, gave us a great demo on the proper way to slice and serve the steak and I had an especially amazing day as I had the chance to fillet the mackerel for our Grilled Moroccan Mackerel with Tomato and Olive Relish.

From the speed at which we mise en place, to my increasing confidence in repeating our learned techniques, now we’re really cooking and it feels just as amazing as everything tastes. We’re stepping our way up from simple sides like Sweet Potato Puree (image #6) and Wheatberry Salad (image #2) to Broccoli Soufflé (image #10) and homemade Falafel with Tahini Sauce (images #4 & #5). I’ve started a collection of my favorite recipes from each module, which will come in handy as I fast-forward to the fare for my family’s Christmas dinner … I’ve assembled a menu of gastronomic glory as I step up to the plate (literally) for my culinary debut, which is set to include Grilled Flank Steak, Boston Baked Beans (image #8) and Potato Gratin (image #9) … for 19 people.

I consider these dishes to be some of the best I’ve yet to prepare, so I’ve decided to showcase their extreme flavor and mass-quantity appeal for all of my family to enjoy. And I’ll be sure to report back as to whether or not we end up with a reservation at The Mandarin Palace that night. We’re just a few lessons away from our Module 2 exams, which got me thinking whether it’d be possible to just stay in culinary school forever, transforming from a budding food writer to a perpetual student of ICE. My dream? You bet. Realistically going to happen? No way. Regardless, I’m just trying to soak up as much information as possible in these final four months. Happy holidays and happy cooking to all!

Coming up next: Cooking Technique Review III, Eggs & Breakfast Meats, Cereals, French Toast, Pancakes, Waffles and Crepes 

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