Today Chef Stan joined us to prepare a New England winter dinner for a BU seminar, paired with wines by Bill Nesto, an instructor in BU's wine program. I love the chef's creativity... (And Bill's thoughtfulness to save a little wine for those of us in the back of the house...) So, today we made salmon cakes with remoulade sauce, served on mesclun with a lemon vinaigrette. (So delicious.) We also made a chicken breast ballotine, stuffed with forcemeat made from the chicken thigh. Very resourceful, and I liked the breast ballotine better than an entire chicken ballotine; much easier to manage when you're slicing and plating, easier to cook evenly, and I think it looks nicer on the plate. But that's just me.
We also made a roast lamb with a savory fig jam, (the jam was just awesome) -- and a bruléed rice pudding with cardamom, dried cherries and pistachios. Wow. Wow! I don't usually like rice pudding! So I asked the chef, "how do you come up with all these great ideas?" He said, "it's what I daydream about."
I'm about to run off to type up my menu and recipes for the perfect meal test, which is tomorrow. I'm not very nervous. Sure, three of my instructors will be evaluating my work. One is a French chef who started cooking as an apprentice in France; one was classically trained at the CIA and moved on to become executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton; and the third has owned his own restaurant, written a cookbook, and called one of the hottest chefs around. But at some level, they are all guys who like to eat. That's the level I'm aiming for. I had no bigger compliment during my time in school than when one of our instructors kept coming back to nibble on a dish I'd made. (That, and Chef Jean-Claude's comments about meringues Michelle and I made. I'll tell you that story sometime soon.)
So this picture is part of a special moment I'd like to share. Kind of a family moment. The woman on the right is Chris, our lovely kitchen assistant. For the past four months we have kept her running with our constant need for help and ingredients. She still always took the time to look at what we're making and encourage us. Even her "ooh, pretty," or "ooh, yummy" was enough to keep our confidence going. Tonight we thanked her with a little photo album and her very own personalized chef's jacket. She's been an important part of making our culinary and career dreams a reality. Okay, enough talk, check out the pics!