[infobox bg="bluelight" color="black" opacity="on" subtitle="Flounder Chowder"]Adventures in Culinary School[/infobox]
Good news, amigos. I've officially passed Level 2 at The International Culinary Center and am movin' on up to Level 3. I couldn't be more thrilled. Levels 1 and 2 have whipped me into culinary shape quick and I've learned an extensive amount of information, skills, and knowledge over the past 8 weeks. I'm also including the recipe I created at the end of Level 2 for "Flounder Your Way" day at the bottom of this post. "Flounder Your Way" day is the first opportunity we've had since starting the Farm to Table program at The ICC to create our own dish using a recipe we come up with and every Level 2 student must do it. It was an exciting and tasty day and so fun to create my own dish to be judged by my chef instructor and classmates. But, more on my Flounder dish later. Let's get back to this Level 1/2 recap...
Levels 1 and 2 both take place in the culinary kitchens, quickly jumping in to knife skills, different ways of cooking vegetables, potatoes, every possible way you could cook different kinds of proteins, eggs, doughs, salads, pastry, and so on. The amount of knowledge I've sucked in during the past 60 days astounds me. I am a completely different person, inside and out, than I was before starting my program. Cooking beautifully is starting to come naturally to me in a way that it never has before. I used to think I was decent in the kitchen before starting school. Turns out I was wrong (ha), but now I'm actually getting there!
My biggest takeaway so far is that Level 1 was brutal, and Level 2 went by in a snap. It wasn't a breeze, no, no, no - but it was actually manageable. I've gotten used to the grueling schedule, spending 7 hours a day on my feet, being completely open to performing for my chef instructor and understanding what fabulous food really is. Coming to school is the most important, critical, and creative part of my day. I'm already beginning to worry about what I'll do with myself when my program ends and I'm no longer in the kitchens at The ICC everyday.
Knowing that it will come to an end, and that in four more weeks I'll be halfway towards completing my program has provided me the opportunity however to think creatively about my own cooking style and food that I love to make outside of class. Participating in "Flounder Your Way" day was a fabulous opportunity for me to show my classmates and chef instructor what I love and can bring to the table. I thought long and hard about the dish I wanted to make, especially considering the endless ways of preparing a delicious white fish like flounder. You could pan fry, poach, braise, grill - the list goes on and on. After thinking of the many variations and not feeling incredibly inspired by them it hit me - soup, and fish soup to boot. I have never been a huge fan of dishes with a seafood base, but I do enjoy a bowl of clam chowder from time to time so I figured I could create a delicious fumet from the fish bones of my flounder and create a final result that even I would enjoy.
Turns out I was right - my flounder and spinach chowder was a hit. Will definitely be making this one again! Enjoy, and wish my luck in Level 3!
Lo's Flounder and Spinach Chowder
[tabgroup layout="horizontal"] [tab title="Ingredients"]For the Fumet: Flounder bones from 1 fish
4.5 oz butter
4.5 oz onion, emincer
Mushroom peels 5 L cold water (or enough to cover the fish bones)
Bouquet Garni (parsley stems, bay leaf, thyme, black peppercorns)
For the Chowder: 3.5 oz butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4.5 oz onion, ciseler
1 garlic clove, minced
12 oz fish fumet
4 oz water
1 potato, small pieces
8 oz heavy cream
1 flounder, chopped in bite size pieces off the bone
6 oz spinach
Salt and Pepper to taste
[tab title="Procedure"]1. Filet flounder and set bones aside for fumet. In a large pan, sweat the vegetables in butter, add the fish bones, and sweat them. Add the water and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and skim well. Cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Ladle the fish stock carefully through a chinois lined with cheesecloth into a clean container and reserve for soup.
3. For the soup, sweat onion in butter and olive oil in a russe. Add garlic and quickly saute.
4. Add fumet, water, and potato and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cream and spinach and simmer until it wilts. Add the flounder and cook 3 to 4 minutes until done.
6. Season with salt and pepper, serve.
*If you need to thicken the soup, add a roux (equal parts flour and butter). Make sure to bring the soup to a boil once you've added the roux so the starch expands.[/tab] [tab title="Notes"]Yield: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy[/tab] [/tabgroup]