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This blog is for the purpose of all things related to the kitchen. This includes recipes, cool gadgets, and little anecdotes. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Guest Blog Post by the Master Chef....Brian Koenigson

Hey guys, my name is Brian Koenigson and I’ll be your narrator this evening. I am currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts and Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management program at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey. Today I’d like to talk about my Thursdays. In school, on this truly glorious day of the week (one day after hump day!), I have a six and a half hour class called Quantities Food Service. It is in this class that I am taught how to cook fifty portions of a five-course meal that the cafeteria sells to the general public as an upscale alternative to the lunches they normally serve.
Every time we serve a meal, the professor (a former executive chef of the premier establishment, Tao in Las Vegas) chooses two people to be the production manager (who are in charge of making things run smoothly and efficiently as well as making sure all the different components of the meal are completed in time for service) and a sanitation manager (who are in charge of cleanliness in the kitchen and making sure all safety and health regulations are followed to a tee). Today, finally, it was my turn to be production manager. I’ll give you a rundown of the menu.
Fresh, out-of-the-oven Focaccia bread with a Tomato, Basil and Vinaigrette salad on top
A Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup
Baked Italian Salad of Tomatoes, Zucchini and Mozzarella
Homemade Lasagna with Ground Beef, Fresh Marinara Sauce, Ricotta Cheese and       Mozzarella
Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
 After all the recipes have been handed out and the various ingredients checked in, it’s time to start. My teams’ objective was to finish making the fresh marinara sauce by the time the lasagna noodles are cooked perfectly al dente. All the members of the class are at different points in their professional cooking careers and sometimes it is difficult to work with members who aren’t as experienced as you. I didn’t know making a simple marinara sauce could be so difficult to make with three people. I guess the saying is true, ‘Too many chefs spoil the soup.’ There is no doubt in my mind that if one person had been making the sauce it would have been done sooner and more efficiently. Not to say that it was not done on time or tasted poorly, in fact it was quite the opposite but sometimes if you want something to be done right you just need to do it yourself.
The only major nuisances we had all day came from the baking team. One mistake (of many) was measuring the amount of flour needed for the recipe completely wrong and after wasting time mixing it with water and yeast they realized what they had done. All the bread that was made for that day’s meal was finished within minutes of service time and the students working the station were driving the professor crazy. However, everything else in the kitchen seemed to run rather smoothly. Everything was finished in time and all the components to each dish came together right before the cafeteria opened. After all the food was labeled and sent up to be sold, the class cleaned the kitchen and all the dishes we had used that day. Our professor went up stairs to be the spokes-person for our meal in the cafeteria, getting the word out that certain meals had been made by the schools very own culinary program students.
            Our meals at the cafeteria had sold out and the day deemed a success. I was happy with the products we were able to put out and we received only compliments. Now I have to wait until next week when I’ll be a lowly cook and some other student will be running the show.
Thanks for your time and keep it real.

Brian's Famous Carrot Basil Soup
1 onion
3 carrots
1 potato
1 chili pepper
5 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of water
chopped basil
1 bay leaf
pinch of nutmeg
juice of lemon
50 ml cream or non-dairy creamer
salt and pepper

1. Cut all the vegetables medium diced.
2. Saute the onions until golden, then add the carrots and sweat them off for a few minutes.
3. Add the potato, salt, pepper, and chili pepper (like you would find in a pizza store). 
4. Stir in chicken stock, water, basil, and bay leaf.
5. Bring it all to a simmer, and let it cook until the vegetables are tender. 
6. Add the cream or non-dairy creamer and the nutmeg.
7. Using an immersion blender, blend thoroughly until smooth. 
8. When ready to serve, put into bowls and squeeze some lemon juice over the top of each serving and garnish with a few roasted pine nuts. 

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  1. i don't understand. where are the gram crackers?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I think there are going to be ants.