Week #2 of garde manger. We started out the class by tasting 42 different herbs and spices and attempting to identify them. This is not easy to do. Next week we’ll have to not only recognize them but also be able to describe them, i.e., sweet, bitter, pungent, woody, etc. After an interesting lecture on tea sandwiches and appetizers we broke into groups to start preparing our assigned dishes. I can’t even remember the last time I made a tea sandwich but it’s been years. We had a long list to prepare in groups of 3 at 4 tables. Each group was responsible for making a type of sandwich and then we would each create a platter of the different sandwiches. We also made chorizo puffs, corn cakes and our own creation with either fillo dough or puff pastry. Our group, Lisa, Eric and I, made the deviled ham sandwiches. We had to first make mayonaise for the class. It sure takes a lot long to make mayonaise than you would think, and Eric did an excellent job. My one good idea of the night was to make our deviled ham sandwich have a southwestern influence. I added cilantro, roasted poblano pepper, cumin, and cayenne, cut the bread into rounds, then rolled the edges, after brushing them with soft butter, into finely chopped cilantro. Our platter of tea sandwiches was so-so. The tomato flower and cucumber fans were unnecessary and we didn’t spread our egg salad filling out to the edges of the bread (details get us every time). Chef Sively did, however, really like the deviled ham sandwich. Score! We learned that curry flavored egg salad does not go too well with pumpernickel bread. Our other dishes were good, although we slightly undercooked the chorizo puffs. We used pate a choux pastry for the chorizo puffs. This is the same dough used for cream puffs and it’s a little tricky to make and cook, however I now know how it should feel when it’s done–light and airy, not heavy like ours. The corn cakes were a little overdone but tasty. The biggest criticism of the night was our failure as a class to worker smarter and save time. We could have pooled our efforts to make all the choux pastry dough, and we could have worked together to creat a big bunch of puff pastry bases for everyone to share to save time. We were all assigned to create our own puff pastry or fillo appetizer but it took so much time to make all the other things most of us didn’t get our individual creation done in time. Mine was very simple, cheddar parmesan twists, but lacked any special flair. I was struggling to get anything done by the time I made them. My area was a big mess and we were still trying to get group stuff done.
 
There is much more to culinary school than simply cooking!