My return to C’est Si Bon: Italian Week

 Jeremy working with another "future" Chef.

Week one has come to an end but it feels that it was only just yesterday when I arrived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. If you haven’t read my previous blog about C’est Si Bon (C’est Si Bon, June 18th 2009), in the summer of 2007 I attended a one week summer Teen Chef program at a cooking school called C’est Si Bon in Chapel Hill, NC.  After a week of cooking fresh ingredients, farms and lets not forget the goat cheese, I wanted more! Dorette (owner of the school and a Culinary Institute of America trained Chef) had asked me to return the following summer as an intern. I would help out with the Kid Chefs day program and also help with the Teen Chef program at night. Fast-forward 3 years later and here I am back again for my fourth summer doing what I love most, cooking and inspiring other kids. The week started out on Monday, waking up at 7:00AM to a hot cup of French press coffee (if you like coffee, I encourage you to try using a French press). Dorette, Yvonne (chef), Trevor (once an intern, now returning as a chef), Tyler, Cydni (both interns), and I started the days prep before the kids arrived. Putting out cutting boards and knives, making the drink for the day, which consists of several herbs (usually mint, stevia, and lemon balm), lemon slices all steeped in water. It seems that every summer I return Dorette and Rich (her husband and co-owner) have a new and interesting herb growing. This year, besides their beautiful cabbage, they have a new herb growing called Stevia. You might think of it as something straight out of Willy Wonka’s factory. The taste is similar to candy yet it's all natural with no artificial sweetener, it’s a plant. The Kid Chefs start to arrive around 9:00AM, and soon Rich begins giving a lesson on taste and smell, and how to train your taste buds. From there the kids are sorted into 4 groups, appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert. Each intern is assigned to oversee a group and then the day really begins. A lesson on knife cutting and safety prepares the kids for all the chopping, dicing and slicing they will encounter during the week. Recipes are given out to each group and the cooking begins.

Some of the Kid Chefs in front of one of the Daily menus

Kid Chefs presenting some of their dishes

Jeremy working with another Kid Chef

Once the dishes have been prepared and lunch has been served it’s time for chores which include washing of dishes, bringing the trash to the compost, wiping down tables and sweeping. On the first day it’s interesting to see which kids are picky eaters and the ones who will try just about anything. There are kids who cook a lot at home and some who may eat out a lot. Finally the interns break down the kitchen for the day and the kid chefs depart. Dorette and I like to end the day with a cup of iced coffee (by then were almost falling over from exhaustion). The day didn’t end there though; tonight's activity was to host a corporate team building event. Team building is when a company sends some of it’s executives to the cooking school to “connect” with one other through cooking. (Chapel Hill and it’ neighboring cities, Raleigh and Durham have a lot of big companies). The co-workers are separated into teams and are given ingredients and recipes. Once they have finished their dishes they sit down to dinner and discuss the evenings events. The team building event was a lot of fun and very different from working with kids.

Tuesday came and went, it was just about the same as Monday, although no day is the same with Kid Chefs. Wednesday seemed to be the most hectic day since the recipes were a little more involved but everyone pulled through and made a wonderful meal. My team made Mostaciolli or Italian biscotti with cracked pepper, anise seeds and a type of gingerbread dough. The kids didn’t like the idea of cracked pepper in their dessert so they submerged their cookies in chocolate and powdered sugar (which happened to be delicious).

 Kid Chefs enjoying the dishes "THEY" created.

Thursday was going to be our “simple day” as the recipes were easy. I guess we spoke to soon and the power went off in the school. We made it through the day though, and made a shark (shrimp) stuffed salmon fillet (pretty good for no power, right?). Before we knew it, it was Friday which at C’est si Bon is Iron Chef day. The kids were split into two teams and given recipes from the week. Each team was required to make a pizza. One team had to make a marinara sauce for their pizza and the other team had to make a pesto for theirs. Team Marinara also made a panzanella salad of Parmesan croutons, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. The dish was sweet and salty and a favorite of mine from the week. Team Pesto made a chocolate panna cotta for dessert adding Nutella and walnuts to the recipe.  Each kid chef is encouraged to use different herbs from the garden and to always change their recipe (but no chocolate chips in the salad).

 Dorette and a Kid Chef working with Pizza dough

Kid Chefs and their creations

 They were judged on presentation, taste, sanitation and teamwork. Each team put on a hilarious skit to present their dishes. Team pesto won by a half a point, they asked what they won and I told them the ability to cook (they gave me a look).

Kids CAN COOK!!!!! This looks so good you can taste it!!

Friday ended with a Kid Chefs leftover dinner with a couple of Dorette and Rich’s friends (someone has to eat the leftovers). To say that I slept like a rock is an understatement, I really could have slept all of Saturday. On Saturday we went to the farmers market and picked up the turkeys which Dorette and Rich raise until Thanksgiving (I’m not joking).  Well, one week down and two to go, next week is French week and I’m already preparing the coffee.
Keep on cooking!!

Here are two of my favorite recipe’s from Italian week!
Sicilian tomato, pepper and crouton salad
from the C’est si Bon kitchen

Prepare the tomato and pepper segment of the dish a day or two ahead of time, chill and combine with the sautéed croutons just prior to serving time.

For the tomato and pepper part

4 large fresh tomatoes (or 16 roma's)
3 red or yellow bell peppers
1 medium red or vidalia onion
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the croutons

About 1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups french or italian bread, cut into 3/4" cubes
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
large handful each of chopped fresh parsley and fresh basil
romaine lettuce

Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces.  seed the peppers, chop them and the onions the same size as the tomatoes.  heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, then add the tomatoes and peppers.  reduce the heat to medium low until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.  stir often during the last five minutes, keeping a careful watch so it doesn't burn.  remove from the heat and add the vinegar, salt, and freshly cracked black and white pepper.

Cool and store in the refrigerator. Prepare the croutons by heating 1/3 cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  add the bread cubes and brown the cubes on all sides, adding more oil if necessary.  it's important to watch the bread carefully so it doesn't get too brown.  these can be kept covered at room temperature for a couple of days and reheated briefly in a pan, tossing quickly.
to serve, mix the fresh chopped herbs, garlic, and the croutons with the tomato and pepper mixture.  arrange a leaf or two of romaine on a plate and add a mound of this wonderful salad.  Serve with a glass of red for a light cool dinner.

Italian boned stuffed chicken breasts, pollo disossato farcito
from the C’est Si Bon kitchen

OK, you can bone the entire chicken but you can also stuff boneless breasts or thighs. or a turkey breast would be nice too.

For the chicken:
1 chicken, weighing about 4 pounds
or 3 pounds breasts, thighs, or turkey breast

For the stuffing:
medium sized onion, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or rendered lard
sprig of rosemary
sprig of marjoram
1 cup dry white wine
salt & pepper to taste

For the filling:
1.5 pounds ground veal
1/4 pound salami (mild)
3 eggs
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano
1/4 pound sharp provolone
2 ounces raisins (optional)
2 ounces pine nuts (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
bunch of parsley

Bone the chicken, rinse it, and dry it well. If using turkey breast, butterfly it. 

Cut the provolone into thin sticks and mince the salami and the parsley. Rinse and drain the raisins and the pine nuts. 

Combine the ground meat with the eggs, parmigiano, salami, raisins, pine nuts, parsley, butter, and white wine, and season the mixture with salt and pepper and mix well. 

Put the chicken, breasts, or thighs or turkey breast on your work surface and distribute stuffing, being sure to evenly space the provolone through the mixture. when you have finished stuffing, tie the bird, breast, thighs.  

Put the chicken in a pot with the butter, oil, onion, salt, pepper, rosemary, and marjoram. Set it on the stove and gently simmer it, covered, turning it frequently. when the chicken and the onion begin to brown, sprinkle some of the wine over it. let the wine evaporate, sprinkle some more over the bird, and repeat the cycle until you have finished the wine; by now the bird will be well browned, and to finish the cooking you should sprinkle a ladle of boiling water or broth over it. When it reaches 140 internal temp (for a whole deboned bird or large turkey breast this could be as long as 1 1/2 hours), remove to a cutting board and reduce the sauce. 

It is easier to slice if you let the bird cool and so let sit for at least 10 minutes, 20 if you can. slice and place on a platter. spoon the sauce over it; cover the serving platter to keep warm. serve additional sauce on the side.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeremy! Sounds like you are having fun and working hard. I had hoped to see you while you are in NC, but I guess it won't happen. C'est dommage.
    Keep cooking and writing about it!