Fancy Pants Learns to Cook an Egg (And Rocks at Supreming Oranges)

22 Feb

Yes, folks, it’s true…I have trouble with eggs.

Same goes for toast and cheese dip. If it’s really simple, I am apt to burn, break or otherwise screw it up.

Chocolate soufflé with a raspberry balsamic reduction and homemade spiced whipping cream, no problem. It’s a curse.

So when our Food Production I instructor told us early on in the semester that we’d be cooking eggs soon, I was nervous. I knew we’d get to this sort of thing, but really, now? Can’t we start with sushi or baked alaska or something like that?

In class, we had our standard weekly test (I think I did OK; it included lots of math for recipe conversions, so we’ll see) and a lecture on kitchen equipment. I tried not to look too much like a know-it-all, but I actually had several of the items at home. My mandoline could rip your fingers into tiny little ribbons. Pretty ones.

Then we went into the kitchen for our lab activities. Again, per standard routine, we spent quite a bit of time on knife skills, but a few different applications this time. We were to cut a potato and some celery into large dice (that’s 3/4″), chiffonade some cabbage for the Finish Line Café to make slaw (kind of a 1/8″ shred), batonnet some carrots (1/2″ x 1/2″ x 3″) and do an angled, 1/4″ cut on another carrot.

Here’s a photo of my angle-cut carrots. The instructor started measuring today, so I put my two best pieces invitingly out to the side. It didn’t work. The ones he grabbed were a little shy of 1/4″. Blech.

Although a lot of my knife work wasn’t so great this week, I have to say, I was proud of my orange segments. We were to “supreme” the orange, a nifty technique detailed here on Coconut & Lime (although we didn’t take off so much of the orange when peeling it). It’s basically how you get the really super-pretty citrus segments without the pith.

Everyone lined up for inspection. The instructor picked at the oranges ahead of me with a shaking head. Uh oh. He gets to mine and turns them over on the cutting board. He opens his mouth. Gulp…

“I can’t find anything bad to say about these.”

You have to understand…for this instructor, he might as well have sung you the Hallelujah Chorus. I went back to my station, cutting board in hand, a little taller. Too bad I don’t really care for oranges.

I know, I know….this may be more detail than you wanted. Let me fast-forward.

The egg.

After knife skills practice, I was to hard-boil an egg, then poach one. Hardly ever succeeded at the former, never even tried the latter.

Instructions: Find the appropriate kind of pot for the induction cooktops (only iron or stainless steel works). Put in cold water and one egg. Bring to boil. Turn off. Cover. Wait 10 minutes. Peel said egg and present to instructor for inspection.

For some reason, I ended up with a massive pot that took a while to boil, so I got behind. Meanwhile, I saw that several folks’ eggs were turning out underdone, even at the given 10 minutes. I left mine in an extra couple minutes and….miracle of miracles….it was perfect! Sometimes it pays to be late.

By the time I was poaching, most everyone else was cleaning up and getting ready to leave. Bah! This isn’t like me. I was embarrassed. Thankfully, the instructor was gracious and waited for me to finish. He even suggested I try again when the first poached egg stuck to my pot. (It wasn’t ruined, just not as pretty as it could be.)

My results: Delicious.

More photos:

My cabbage chiffonade. It was too wide.

My neighbor working away.

Fabulous co-student boiling her egg. She got the coveted smaller pot. Grrr.

And now, tasting and judgement!

Our instructor inspects boiled eggs.

8 Responses to “Fancy Pants Learns to Cook an Egg (And Rocks at Supreming Oranges)”

  1. easy recipe February 23, 2010 at 4:19 AM #

    It look like fun, I also having troubles with the simple things.

  2. Lee February 23, 2010 at 1:07 PM #

    Chef Lawton is a hoot. Tell him Lee from last semester’s Food II says hello.

    • arfoodie February 24, 2010 at 9:56 AM #

      Yeah, I really like him. He took a little getting used to, but I really do like him. 😉 I appreciate a challenge and being treated like an adult, and I’m here to learn, and he understands that.

      I’m always amazed at his experiences. Seems like every day, there’s a new, “When I was working at x, we had this happen.” It ranges from Taiwan to Colonial Williamsburg to who knows where.

  3. Fawn February 24, 2010 at 12:20 AM #

    This looks like so much fun, and I learned so many new words! I’ve been considering buying a mandoline, but have started to notice that anytime anyone mentions one, they also reference loss of at least one finger, so maybe it’s not a good idea. Could you find out where your fabulous co-student got her hat? I know I need one of those, and there’s no threat to my fingers…

    • arfoodie February 24, 2010 at 9:49 AM #

      I’ll ask her about the hat. I think she already told me but I forget. There was an issue…at the beginning of the year, we were told we’d need black hats, preferably those sold by the school, but they were backordered. I think she said it was from Michael’s or something like that.

      I got a super cool one from Culinary District in Hot Springs. Believe it or not, that’s the only store in sorta-central-Arkansas that has proper chef hats. Mine is a skullcap with a little elastic in the back.

      As for the mandoline, I’ve got to say it is the most fun kitchen toy ever. Go for it! But always, always always use the included safety guard or buy one of those chain-mail looking gloves (they’re either sold near the mandolines or as an oyster-shucking glove). The advantage of using the glove is you don’t get the holes in your product created by the prongs in the safety guard. But they’re not cheap, so I don’t have one yet!

      For the mandoline itself, don’t cheap out; you’ll be disappointed with a cheapo model. I love my De Buyer.

  4. darnold23 February 28, 2010 at 7:54 PM #

    Great post! I also love my mandoline…great tool. Years ago back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I learned the way to a perfect boiled egg. A never-fail hardboiled egg, that is. Always use old eggs, start in cold water, bring just to a boil, cover the pot and remove from heat. Leave until cool. Roll the egg around in the palm of your hand under cold, running water. The shell will literally slip right off. Don’t cheat. I haven’t poached eggs in a bit, but yours looks great:)

    • arfoodie February 28, 2010 at 10:58 PM #

      Debbie, thanks for coming by! That’s pretty much the technique for the hardboiled eggs we used in class. The hangup, I think, was the big pot on the induction stove that I was unfamilar with. 😉 In any case, it turned out OK.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Wide-Eyed Pork Tenderloin w/Maple Red Eye Gravy and Matcha Salted Egg « Fancy Pants Foodie - March 31, 2010

    […] is heating (or holding), cook one or two eggs over easy or medium in another nonstick skillet, or poach ‘em if you know how. After the flip (or extraction from poaching water), sprinkle with matcha salt and freshly ground […]

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