I should have known that today was going to be tough when I got to school and some one had taken my seat in the demo room. I know it sounds petty (and is petty), but I sit in the same place everyday, and have for 7 months. Everyone knows it's my chair. I came into the demo room, spotted my taken chair, and looked over at the rest of the class who all simultaneously shrugged as if to say "I know, it's terrible, whaddyagonnado?". Grumpily, I sighed in defeat and went and sat next to the Chair Stealer. She didn't even offer to give me my seat back either, ha-rumph!
After the Chair Stealer threw my chi off for the morning, I was brought back to the light by the amazing recipes our chef had in store for us. A lobster salad with strawberry vinagrette served over ripe melon and garnished with lollo rossa lettuce (my fav!), next came more lobster over risotto garnished with an incredible sauce and puréed fennel with vanilla bean, lastly he prepared a dessert of fruit salad covered with pistachio sabayon and puff pastry decorated with italian meringue. Oh la la, incroyable!!!
At the end of every demo we get little plates of all the dishes so that we can taste what we are supposed to cook in our practicals. Normally we sit in our seats and the chef's assistant passes back racks of tasting plates for us to sample. But today because it was lobster, everyone crowded the front of the demo room pushing each other to get second helpings and grabbing huge lobster fillets off the chef's display plates and gobbling them up without sharing or anything. I don't like it when people get pushy. Maybe it's the school teacher in me, but I like it when people follow the rules, especially when it comes to lobster.
I left the demonstration annoyed. Then I went to get coffee with my group members and got even more annoyed because no one wanted to sit outside on one of the first sunny days we've had in months. Then I got more annoyed because my cell phone went kaput so I couldn't even call my husband and express my unhappiness (probably for the better anyway). When it was finally time to go to my practical I got even more annoyed, because we had a rent-a-chef (visiting chef) as our supervisor and they never know how we're supposed to cook the recipe or how our real chef did it in the demo, but they like to yell at us for doing everything wrong. Double ha-rumph!
This time I handled the lobster more bravely than in the past (Lobster Attack Part II). I picked a fat one and plopped it in my pot of boiling water with the lid on firm – just in case it tried to escape like last time. After two minutes I took it out and twisted the thorax from the head, pulled off the hood shell, and proceeded to move onto the meat in the pinchers. But the rent-a-chef came over and told me I was doing it wrong.
To smash the claw I used the palm of my hand and came down hard on it. It broke neatly and I pulled the claw meat out in one piece retaining the shape of the pincher. This was the way our real chef showed us. But no, Rent-A-Chef wanted me to use the back of my knife to crack the shell. As he was hovering over me, I used his method and it broke the claw meat. I looked up at him and he just shrugged and walked away. Triple ha-rumph!
Aside from my unusually fussy disposition, I managed to glide through the recipe super fast. Just as I was plating my gorgeous lobster, the chef decided that I needed a circle mold for my risotto. I tried to explain that our real chef hadn't used one. He told me to wait so he could get one. There is nothing more annoying than having all your food hot and perfectly cooked and then having to wait. nothing more annoying. I had just reheated the lobster in olive oil to the perfect done-ness and he wanted me to wait! TO WAIT!?!?! HA! You can't go back and re-heat lobster for a third time. That's worse than double dipping!
So, I waited. He eventually came back with one mold (for our whole group) and I made a stupid little circle with my risotto and placed my cold lobster on top with my cold sauce, cold vanilla fennel purée, and cold risotto stuffed squash blossom
Lucky for him, (because I was about ready to unleash demons from hell) he gave me good grades and admired my beautiful presentation. I told him, "but everything is cold!" and he said he didn't care that the sauce and fennel purée were delicious, but my risotto needed more seasoning. The lobster was cooked perfect. Happy with my grades and still incredibly angst, I packed up my knives quickly and left.
I took a taxi home with my lobster leftovers packed up for my husband to enjoy, wrote this post, and now I'm going to pour a glass of wine in the setting sun and hope that tomorrow my chair will be free.....
Tasty Easy Recipes:
Strawberry Vinegrette: Let a half basket of strawberries macerate in one part red wine vinegar then blend up and add three parts oil, strain out strawberry seed with a fine sieve. Season with salt and pepper. Totally delicious and easy!
Vanilla Bean Fennel Purée: Trim one fennel and take out hard middle section. Slice and throw into a pot. Cover with half milk, half water and add a vanilla bean pod and two star anise if available. When fennel is soft, purée in blender with a touch of cream. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds, then add back to purée. Cover with film and keep warm until serving.
Lobster: stick it into a big pot of boiling water for two minutes to kill it. Then take out and de-shell (reserve shells for sauce if making). Heat up lobster meat right before serving in hot olive oil or serve cold (like me).