I was on steward team today and was tasked with providing two types of olive oil to every member of the class. Consequently, I got oil all around my station and fell behind in prepping my vegetables. Why is it that the canisters that oil comes in don't pour without spillage? You'd think they'd have come up with a better design by now. Either that, or I don't know how to pour oil out of a can.
In any case, we finally got to work with some yellow squash, eggplant, bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, baby artichokes and a few other things.
The ultimate goal today was to prepare a vegetarian antipasti platter with various grilled, braised and/or roasted vegetables (and buffalo mozzarella cheese). The platters would be a 2-person team effort.
The most involved vegetables to prep were the baby artichokes, which must be plucked, shaved, cut, v-cut and placed in acidulated water for storage. They may be very tasty, but they take a significant amount of effort to prepare ... and that's before you braise them in white wine. Chef Perez during the demo noted how he used to have to do hundreds of the darn things when he worked in a hotel kitchen.
I love the smell of roasting peppers and I was not disappointed today, as the lab was filled with the wonderful aroma shortly after everyone put theirs on burners. Literally, it was mouth-watering.
Before grilling, we marinated the vegetables in a balsamic vinaigrette. We used the same liquid as the base for our tomato bruschetta. The balsamic we used might not have been the very best aged stuff, but had a nice, syrupy texture and flavor. The vinaigrette came out really well, especially when shorted a little on the oil.
With so many vegetables to grill and so few grills upon which to do so, we had to borrow the grill in course 4 and organize everyone to go in different groups to grill their veggies. There was no shortage of ovens in which to toast our bias-cut baguettes (and, in my case, roast some garlic to rub on the toasted bread afterward).
My partner, Brent, and I were among the last to grill our vegetables. This left us very little time to present our platter. However, we already had a plan.
Everyone was doing some really nice-looking platters, with various garnishes and organized in very nice ways. Brent and I, however, went a little crazy. We went vertical, stacking two plates and a ramekin on our platter, creating a three-tiered tower with a flower theme. In the end, our presentation really was pretty darn good. Chef Perez was duly impressed, saying we had "gone beyond the call of duty" and calling Chef Guevara over to "bear witness". I wish I had my digital camera with me (which I seem to have misplaced, unfortunately).
It was really nice to bring out platter back to our station to break it down (and pack it up for home) to find a plate of oysters on the half-shell sitting on ice waiting for us. While we had been presenting one of the other courses had come in to distribute the results of their efforts. So, Brent and I immediately celebrated with some raw oysters. Very nice.
Tomorrow we tackle consomme and two classic quiches.