Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Catering Our Brains Out!

As the brigade has developed skills and interests, we have taken on a few high-visibility public catering gigs ... one for a very fine condo in Forest Hill, and within a week for a social service agency, H.O.T.T.. There may be quite a gulf between the two groups of clients, but the needs and expectations are exactly the same ... very good food, delivered on time, served with pride and care, always mindful of the client's budget.

For our condo client, each year we come up with a 'world premiere' dish. It is served to them first, and only afterwards will it be offered to others. This year it was Caremelized Celeriac
and Brandy Shooters, with dill Creme Fraiche.
In addition to this taste-teasing starter, we also offered Chilled Salmon Paste
on home-made Pumpernickel rounds with a bed of Mint Crème Fraiche, Mini-Squash Spoons with house Maple Tomato Salsa, then Pecan and Olive Tapenade in seared Mushroom caps with Parmegiano dust, Roasted Lamb skewerettes
trousered in Ghee-dressed Chappatis with house yoghurt and lemon drizzle, Canadian artisanal cheese selection with house crackers and Challah chips and hummus, and we wound up with Micro-mini Cheesecakes
inverted on 3 house coulis smears. Every dish was hand-made by the students of the brigade except the cheeses themselves. It took 3 days to put this all together and design the stations and passes.

Of course, it is the preparation that takes the time. The salmon has to be carefully wrapped
then cooked in the dishwasher (to preserve the softness of the meat). The final result is SO soft ... then we mix it with cream cheese,
high-fat cream, fresh herbs in chiffonade and ... it is absolutely delicious!

About 150 mini-chappatis have to be made
and kept in perfect condition.

All the yoghurts and creme fraiche have to be made and the consistency checked.

The lamb itself has to be given final butchery,
then herbed after being larded with garlic shards. Then roasted, and finally sliced paper-thin.

Final lemon garnishes have to be prepared.

And there is so much more.

In the end, though, the results speak for themselves.

Another very successful event! Well done, everyone. Here you are, ready to rock.

For anyone who wants to try some of this, here are a few of our recipes. For more, please contact Chef Aller-Stead.

Live a Blues life!

I encourage all my students to live a blues life ... be willing to take the tough with the rough with the smooth with the easy ... and learn to roll with everyone they have the good fortune to meet along the road.

To get them started, I introduce a short, short list of great blues musicians. These are in no particular order ... just go and explore!

Here is the Blues Starting List:

Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Django Reinhadt
Charlie Musselwhite
Ellen McIlwaine
Oscar Peterson
Old Crow Medicine Show
Taj Mahal
Ivan Rebroff
Maria Muldaur
Queen Latifah
Ray Charles
Keely Smith

And there are a few others thrown in just for fun ...

Mark Kroos
Wettestreit Zu Viert (combat classical quartet)

Then there is the best Blues show on the radio ...l the CBC's fabulous Saturday Night Blues Show (from Edmonton).

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Christmas Fruitcakes -- Yum!


This year chef's mother-in-law, Ann Aller, has given my students two entire days of her time in the kitchen. She came up from Ottawa to teach them how to bake her absolutely delicious Christmas Fruitcakes ... famous in the family since the early 1950s.

Mounds of eggs
Heaps of candied fruit peel
Tubs of flour
Nuts galore!

Well ... here we go.

To start, we combined all the peel and cherries and almonds and soaked them for 24 hours in pineapple juice, and a good dollop of brandy. Stir well and cover tightly!

The next day we made a simple quick dough ... but in large amounts.
Here are Kenzi and Allison just with the creamed sugars, butter and eggs for 20 pounds of fruitcake!

Then make a huge amount of dough ... hand-combined! Matthew and Rick do the sticky, gooey honours.

Fill the many pans after lining with parchment paper, prepared on both sides with butter, and cover.

Bake for between 2 and 3.5 hours in a 275 oven, carefully testing every 15 minutes for the last 45 minutes.

And ... the results speak for themselves!

All this leads to happy students, a delighted chef and a VERY pleased guest. Many, many thanks Chef Ann ... we couldn't do it without you!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Remembrance Day Preparation

Another November is upon us, and our preparations for the ceremonies for Remembrance Day are nigh. We do not, ever, 'celebrate' Remembrance Day ... it is a day of solemn observance, of reflection, for most of us some personal and family memories; a sharing of our story, no matter how fractured it sometimes seems.

Most Novembers our Culinary Arts students prepare a very simple meal. This year is no different. We are making a simple stew of 'availables' during WW I, either 'at home' or in the trenches. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this at all ... a chicken or vegetarian stew with fresh biscuits, a glass of water and a home-grown (Ontario) apple. That's all.

We charge $8.50 for this ... $5.00 of which is a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund, assisting Veterans with mobility and community access devices.

We are already sold out.

The tables, prepared by Matthew, are ready.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Busy October -- Breads, Pasta, sauces and The Good Shepherd

Some months simply fly by and blogging just doesn't get done. Sorry everyone ... we have been busy!

We have spent time at The Good Shepherd Mission again ... at our October date we served just about 600 people in the 2 and a bit hours the serving line was open. Went by without a glitch of any sort. Well done, everyone!

We are busy setting up our own actual restaurant in the school ... The Acorn! We now welcome our staff every fortnight for full lunch service in a sit-down restaurant, and deliver as well to those too occupied to be able to join us. Here is Kenzie delivering a colourful lunch to one of our VPs.

Chef Elliott Kuttas
came for a visit and got everyone turning apples to make Tarte Tatin, and roasting vegetables.
Knife skills were really featured and some delicious food was made. Thanks, Chef!

And to wind things up, we have invited any members of our school staff who want to learn how to make excellent bread to join us in our November Friday 6 AM Bread Clinics. We will feature making and baking Focaccia, UBC Cinnamon Buns, Challah and either Rye bread (Pumpernickel), Baguette or Ciabatta (students' choice rules). Makes for long mornings, but the results are simply delicious.

Here, in small photos, is the evolution of Challah, as an example. Matthew helped make these with Chef just a couple of days ago. On Friday we will enjoy French Toast made with the last of the loaves. Two have gone to our wonderful community volunteer, Ruby Trostin.

Here's to Fall, everyone!