Day 82: Braised Calamari, Moussaka, & Gateau Lion D’Or
Sorry it has been nearly a week since my last post! This past week was unexpectedly—and expectedly—very stressful. We are just two weeks away from starting our restaurant externships, gearing up for our last practical exam this coming week, as well as finished our final, and toughest, Market Basket challenge last Friday. However, enough of that…
Wednesday’s class started off with homemade croissants, after our previous afternoon’s demonstration by the Phase I pastry chef. We allowed these to proof in the morning, before baking them off right before class started. Yum!!
This week was full of lots of dishes! For some reason or other, it was also dubbed “lamb” week, as we cooked or worked with various cuts of lamb all week. It is probably the meat I am least comfortable working with at this point (just due to lack of experience), so it was definitely not a bad thing.
Our first course on Wednesday was a braised calamari dish served with a soft polenta and a tomato sauce. We haven’t worked with calamari more than once or twice in the whole program, so I was excited to work with it again and actually volunteered with my partner to clean it all up, just for the extra practice. It is a messy process, but pretty straight forward. We stuffed the calamari with a mixture of sautéed onions, chorizo sausage, and cooked rice, bound together with eggs and breadcrumbs. We then braised it quickly in a basic tomato and basil sauce.
Our following course was a twist on a classic, Caesar Salad, which we made earlier in Phase I. This was almost a deconstructed version of one. We actually grilled the romaine hearts quickly and instead of incorporating the anchovy or parmesan into the dressing, simply added whole anchovies on top, and made these cute parmesan “lollipops” with skewers. The dark center is actually a tiny spoonful of tapenade!
Our main course was moussaka, a classic Mediterranean dish made with eggplant, tomatoes, ground lamb, and béchamel sauce. We assembled ours in soufflé molds and added extra flavor by sautéing our eggplant and tomatoes before assembling it all together. This was served with a lamb jus, to which we added grainy mustard. Good, but a pain to flip out and difficult to invert and plate nicely during service!
Lastly, our dessert of the day was courtesy of Chef Michel. This cake was a bestseller for more than 20+ years at the restaurant Lion D’Or, which is no longer around today, but was considered one of the best restaurants in the world during its tenure.
It actually takes about three days to prepare! The dessert is made with candied hazelnuts and almonds, which need to dry out for about 2-3 days before being ground and used in both the sponge cake batter, as well as one of the whipped cream fillings. These were delicious just by themselves. It was very delicious and flavorful cake! It actually reminded me a lot (both in looks and flavor) of the Marjolaine cake we made in Phase I.
Back soon with a short recap on the end of the week! Do we really only have 8 more days of school left?!??