Yeah, I've sorta lost count at what semester I'm in, but I'm slowly moving along in my community college culinary program.
This semester I'm studying "Garde Manger" - "to keep to eat."
So far the class has discussed the history of food preservation, caviar (not so tasty on it's own!), appetizers and hors d'oeuvre, cold sauces and condiments (like mayonnaise and mustard), cold soups, plate preservation, and salads. And we are only in the 5th week! I really can't believe it's going by so fast.
Food preservation. I always think of canning, but in the food industry, it goes beyond that! Today food preservation consists of the "cold kitchen" or those in charge of the salad station, appetizers, sauces - and the things I mentioned above. And it's a very important position.
Condiments for instance: mayonnaise and mustard, help emulsify so many dressings! Add a little bit of honey mustard to your lemon poppy-seed vinaigrette and you've got a thicker salad dressing! (And oh so good!)
But making mayonnaise from scratch is another story. After watching a demonstration - that made it look so easy, I confidently walked back to my cooking station and began whisking my egg yolk. But right after my Chef said "let's see if the entire class can make their mayonnaise perfectly the first time" I started having problems... (fortunately, I wasn't the only one)
You see, all mayonnaise is is an egg yolk, a little vinegar (2 tbl. spoons) and 6-8 oz of oil for each egg yolk. First, you whisk up the egg yolk and vinegar until slightly foamy or ribbon stage. (think thick sauce ~ bbq sauce) Then, gradually add your oil in very extremely slowly. That's where I went wrong. I added my oil by a steady stream right from the beginning. When first adding your oil, add it drop by drop. It should take 5-10 minutes of whisking and gradually adding your oil to incorporate it into the thick consistency you want. Salt, pepper and lemon juice was added to taste.
In a vinaigrette, the oil and vinegar separate from each other. But because of the yolk in the mayonnaise, they come together with the help of your whisking muscle. This is because of a chemical called lecithin found in the egg yolk that makes it an emulsifier. Fascinating, right?
But besides that mishap, everything else has been going great. We've made a cherry chutney, a "perfect pesto", yummy mustard, and a mixed berry coulis that was served with chocolate cake.
Next week we start smoking fish and pork! MmmmMmmm!