Despite the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is still a few days away- which is also my father’s birthday as a matter of fact- the luck of the Irish was definitely on my side today.
I love writing in the mornings, with the early-day sunshine and a few cups of coffee; it feels fresh somehow. But I had a bit of unexpected business to complete before class and writing had to wait until tonight. No worries. I’m still feeling lucky.
As usual, I park for class and am collecting my things from the back seat of my car. Hat, apron, knife kit (quite a fun bag of tricks, actually!)… check. I notice someone is waiting to pull into the tight space beside me so I stand to give them room, and my door shuts.
Everything I need is inside. I’m outside. Forty-five minutes and sixty dollars later, my car has been unlocked.
And today isn’t just another day of aspic and duck terrines. Next week is our practical midterm exam. We have a limited time to prepare a set menu start to finish on our own to be tasted and graded by our chef instructor. Today and tomorrow are practice days- on the clock- where we’re able to divide the duties with a partner and prep the same meal: once today and again tomorrow.
But in any class of eleven students, there will inevitably be an odd man out. Or woman. And it is my lucky day.
I’m late getting started and organized waiting on gear from my locked car. The hours pass ridiculously quickly, but I’m somehow able to pull off the meal solo. Definitely room for improvement before Monday, but overall not terrible. Huge sigh of relief: I decide that I really did get lucky on this one. I truly can’t complain about getting double practice.
So tomorrow’s menu will be exactly the same as today’s, but hopefully executed just a little bit better. And perhaps there will even be time for a food photo shoot. But if you’re dying to make some sympathy carrot soup in the meantime, you’ll find the recipe below. It’s simple but perfect.
- Salad of Mixed Greens with Herb Vinaigrette
- Purée of Carrot Soup with Mint Compound Butter
- Potato Purée
- Vegetable du Jour (white balsamic roasted zucchini today)
- Chicken Breast Supreme, boned from whole chicken
- Beurre Blanc Sauce
Purée of Carrot Soup, yields four 6-oz servings
- 1 oz butter
- 1 lb carrots, chopped (about 5 large)
- 1/4 lb onions, chopped (about 1 medium)
- 5 cups of vegetable, chicken, or light beef stock
- Optional sachet: bay leaf, couple sprigs of parsley and thyme and a few peppercorns tied into a bundle with cheesecloth
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in a sauce pot. Sweat carrots and onions in the butter briefly without browning.
- Add stock (and sachet if using) and boil until vegetables are completely tender. Remove the sachet. Strain the vegetables and reserve the stock.
- Carefully transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth, adding stock as needed until consistency is silky but slightly thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot as is, finish with an herb compound butter, or top with creme fraiche and finely chopped fresh herbs.