About the Salads

Spent a week just getting the hang of things; then a week more or less doing pastas; then came a week or so on salads and other stuff that originates in the big walk-in cooler. This is the Garde Manger position (that's French; it's Cuarto Frio in Spanish); Cold Kitchen in English. And a very typical starting role in the professional kitchen since it doesn't involve large chunks of expensive protein products (meat).

The salads we have are fewer than the 41 pasta combinations - so that's nice. But the action starts with the very first order and goes pretty intensely all shift long.


  1. Madre (Mama, Mother) - sliced tomato, mozzarella & pesto (I forget what this one's usually called [in Italian])
  2. Chicken Brochettes (with mustard vinaigrette)
  3. Brie (w/ balsamic vinaigrette)
  4. Spinach (honey & balsamic vinaigrette)
  5. Seasonal - melon, raisins, nuts, duck ham (balsamic vinaigrette)
  6. Goat's Cheese (chevre) (balsamic vinaigrette)
  7. Red Spinach (with honey-chicken) (sherry reduction & balsamic vinaigrette)
  8. Tower of Vegetables (with pesto)

And there's a bunch of other stuff that the Cuarto Frio has to prepare too; like carpaccios, brochettes, gazpachos, terrines, some lasagnas, and the occasional melon (dessert).

I'm really writing all of this up as a study-aid. So I'll (possibly) remember it all when I'm working.

I did a recipe for the spinach salad already. I'll get some of the other ones written up too.

Work Sure Gets in the Way of Posting: Spinach Salad

Here's a bad picture (phone-camera) of a Spinach Salad (Ensalada de Espinacas):

Spinach is a touchy, fragile, green leaf vegetable. The resto gets bags of prewashed spinach and after a couple of days they're usually ½ "dead" and not viable for use in a salad.

Yesterday I was making salads on the fly (as the orders came in) -


  • Spinach leaves
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Buffalo Mozzarella cheese (pearls)
  • Mushrooms
  • Pine Nuts
  • Bacon
  • Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette
    • 1 part Balsamic Vinegar (Modena)
    • 1 part honey
    • 3 parts Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)


  1. Dump spinach into a single serving salad plate (sort of an super-deep plate)
    • Sort out and discard any badly smashed up leaves
  2. Place 4 pearls of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese symmetrically around the edge
  3. Place 5 (mini) cherry tomatoes non-symmetrically around the edge (cut in half of they're big cherry tomatoes & place them with the cut face down)
  4. Slice a mushroom, vertically, superfine (if you can get 25 slices from a 1" mushroom you're doing alright)
    • Arrange circularly in the center (place the 1 'end' pieces in the center first and surround with the slices in a overlapping pattern
  5. Sprinkle Pine Nuts (stuff is not in the photo from this point on)
  6. Pour 65 ml (¼ cup) vinaigrette over the salad
  7. Microwave a large tablespoon's worth of bacon and
    • dump over the salad (arrange untidilly over the mushrooms)

Drop by the restaurant and you can cover for me during my break

Segovia, Spain

It's a holiday in Madrid on August 15 (tomorrow) so today is what's called a "bridge"day (puente).; the day between the weekend and a holiday that gives an extra extra long weekend (4 days).

I'm not working so I decided to go to Segovia for lunch.

The aquaduct. 2000 years old. Phone-camera. Sort of fuzzy edges.

Segovia is only 60 km (40 miles) away and I took the "old roadway" instead of the main highway, it takes 10 whole minutes extra and you don't have to pay €6,05 in tolls (each way).

The obvious attraction is the aquaduct; built by the romans in about the year 50. Still standing. Good workmanship I guess.

Lunch was traditional slow roasted suckling pig preceded by Morcilla (a riced-up version of black pudding).

Cochinillo for one. Wine: a very nice house Rioja. Water: Vichy Catalan (bubbly)

The place was Restaurante Duque; which has only been around for 111 years; but it's still nice. The meal went for under €40 (starter, main, wine, water, coffee). As an aside we will recall that Botin, in Madrid, is the oldest restaurant in the world.

9 Sauces

I forgot to list the nine sauces

  1. Roasted Tomato
  2. Pesto (Basil & olive oil)
  3. Burro (butter & Parmesan)
  4. Bolognesa (meat and tomato)
  5. Rabiatta (spicy tomato with ¡anchovies!)
  6. Gorgonzola (a rich cheese)
  7. Fábula (shrimp & wild mushrooms)
  8. Porcine Mushrooms
  9. Stir fried vegetables

This post made with Windows Live Writer (Beta). We'll see how it looks. Maybe with a map.

Note: Inserting the map abended a little bit and the location that displays is not what I plugged in.  But it was fun to try.

Working in the Italian Restaurant Kitchen

It's been a while since I've really worked on someone else's schedule and got paid for it. Damn, but it's tiring.

I've been working the salad & cold-stuff station because the person currently doing it is leaving next week and their replacement failed to show up last Monday. I've also been doing the pastas the last couple of days. Easy enough - except for trying to remember the 12 combos of pasta/sauce for 5 different tables at once; without having anything written down. The chief chef just shouts out the orders from the other end of the kitchen and I'm supposed to catch it in one go. It's Not happening quite that way yet.

  • Ravioli (normal) with one of 9 sauces
  • Ravioli - asparagus w/ cream & Parmesan sauce
  • Ravioli - Spinach w/ cream & preening
  • Ravioli - Special (spinach) w/ truffles, smoked salmon, spinach leaves, cream
  • 3 pastas (ravioli, tagliatelle, gnochis) w/ 9 sauces
  • Tagliatelle (normal) w/ 9 sauces
  • Tagliatelle - Spinach w/ vegetables
  • Gnochis w/ Gorgonzola sauce
  • Spaghetti w/ 9 sauces
That's 41 possibilities - not counting little innovations that people come up with like "I'll have Bolagnese sauce with a touch of plain Tomato sauce please".


Crepes: French Pancakes

This is (some of) what I was doing last night at the new resto.

It would be good to have a small old very used cast-iron frying pan whose bottom is "crepe-sized". Or teflon might work. About 6 or 7 inches.
These reheat well; they're good cold; and probably freeze okay.
Makes a whole lot; about 40 or so

  • 1/2 kg flour, general purpose (1 lb)
  • 1 l milk, whole (1 quart)
  • 8 eggs, whole, medium
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Flour, milk, eggs in a big bowl
  2. Mix well (with a big stick mixer if you've got it)
  3. Add salt, pepper, olive oil
  4. Stir (I used a fork)
  1. 1 T oil into the pan (this can't be done on a griddle)
  2. Heat - really hot - almost smoking
  3. Swirl oil around the surface and sides of pan & pour off excess oil
  4. Ladle (yes, use a ladle; it works - pouring doesn't) some mixture into the hot pan
    • to cover the bottom - thinly
    • probably you have to swirl the pan slightly to cover the whole bottom
  5. When the top has started to set... is not all liquidy... the bottom will be done
    • Shake or tap or bang the pan to loosen the crepe
  6. Flip into the air and catch the crepe, midair, with the pan, top side down
    • wait for the crepe to come to the pan; don't raise the pan to find the crepe
    • or use a wide, long spatula that is at least as long as the crepe
  7. Cook the 2nd side of the crepe for just a few (10?) seconds to set the batter and color slightly
  8. Flip onto a plate and proceed to the next crepe
  1. The first crepe of each batch is usually a disaster
  2. Don't make them thick. This is a thin batter - not pancakes. More like the consistency of my mom's christmas gravy [not the color, the consistency]
  3. Flipping in the air is really not as hard as it seems; and looks real fancy once you get the hang of it.
  4. If they land badly, half folded, in the pan you can manually rearrange them
  5. Broken crepes taste good too
  6. This is even more fun when you have 2 pans going at once
  7. Crepes can be filled (maybe I'll do some recipes for that later) or rolled and decorated (e.g. pour some coulis or liqueur over them, sprinkle with fine sugar)
  8. Don't buy a fancy auto-folding electric crepe maker. Get a nice little cast iron one instead and pass it, eventually, onto your grandkids

Lemon (Pepper) Paprika Chicken: Take 2

Fast, dead easy, keeps well. The only trick is that you need a pressure cooker (or you have to use the useful poaching instructions I put in the notes below).

What with the new job and all, summer, sun, vacations for the lucky ones - - I needed something fast (to not heat up the kitchen) and lasting (so it could be "grazed" on from the refrigerator while I was at work)

Short version:

  • Rub spices on & in chicken
  • Brown in some olive oil
  • Pressure cook for 15 minutes on high
  • ¡ Tah Dah !
  • 1 chicken; whole, clean, no guts
  • 2 T paprika
  • 2 T French Provencal herbs
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 bottle white wine; cheap (or a box)
  • 1 lemon; juice of
  1. Pour 2 T olive oil into the pot; med-high heat
  2. Wash the chicken (if you are so inclined); remove pin feathers
  3. Mix dry herbs, salt, pepper & paprika together
  4. Rub onto and into chicken
  5. Put the chicken into pot and fry to brown the beast somewhat
  6. Pour wine and lemon juice into the pot (it won't cover the bird - no problem)
  7. Put in the chicken
  8. Close the lid; pressure on high
  9. Cook 15 minutes (after the steaming starts)
  10. Release pressure, remove chicken, rest (the chicken) at least 10 minutes before cutting it up.
  1. When browning the chicken
    • Don't keep turning it over; leave the poor little thing alone
    • Be daring. Brown it more than you think is okay. Not black though.
    • Don't be finicky about getting the whole thing evenly browned. We're not picky.
  2. Maybe toss in some whole cloves of garlic. I would have if I had thought of it at the time)
  3. A whole bottle of wine is too much for a single chicken. Remove and reserve a single glass for the cook.
  4. Poaching method (without a pressure cooker)
    1. Bring liquids to a light simmer with the chicken in the pot
    2. Simmer for 15 minutes (not too hard 'cause it'll dry out the meat)
    3. Turn off heat and leave in the liquid for an hour
    4. Turn over after 30 minutes (half way through the above mentioned hour)
    5. Remove, cool, cut
  5. I don't bother doing anything with the liquid mixture; I just toss it out.
    • Some time I'll write up how to turn it into a really nice sauce (mostly that consists of reducing and straining)
  6. Go out and get a pressure cooker someday; they're really useful
That's it

New Job: Take 2

Okay, this time I realy do have a new job. Locked in. Contract signed. And actually worked the first day today. So there.

Simple cookery in a small chain (14 restos) here in Madrid that does Italian-Argentinian. Not fancy gourmet cooking at all. Modest; but I'm sure there's lots to learn. And it's really close to home.

And they work you in quick there. Usually the first day at a new place is cutting vegs and making salads; this place has me trimming meat and doing pasta and the occasional salsa (sauce) on the very first day. Although, more in line with past experience, I also hand-cut 10 kilos (22 pounds) of potatoes to make fries.