For the third challenge, which I didn’t advance to, I was really grasping at straws for and idea worthy of the Project Food Blog competition. My first two entries, I thought were sound and felt confident that I did a good job, but every idea that I had come up with for the third round sounding lame and gimmicky. I had just finished reading The Soul of a Chef, by one of my favorite authors Michael Ruhlman. As I find all of his books, it was very inspiring and thought provoking. When I reached the end of the book there were some soulful recipes from the three outstanding chefs featured in the book: Brian Polcyn, Michael Symons and Thomas Keller.
Because of this book, I decided to apply the idea of soul to blogging and participating in the Project Food Blog competition. Of the 1888, people who entered only 655 actually took the time to submit an entry for the first round. Why? I am sure there are numerous reasons: ideological differences, time commitments, feelings of inadequacy etc… but for those of us that did place themselves on the chopping block, what was the common thread that bound us together? Did we are share the soul of a food blogger? Would that soulful element shine through our words and images and liken our fellow blogger to cast their votes for our entries? We are all pushing through this competition for a variety of reasons be it finding a new audience, getting more page hits, exploring fresh ideas, cash and glory etc… Regardless why we are here the winner will possess this incalculable element that is not on the judges scale, soul.
The key to successful party planning is preparation and organization. While I am proficient in the preparation, I am just average in the area of timing and execution. I blame this on my perpetual habit of overdoing it and making things more complicated than necessary. So I decide only 3 courses!
“Caesar Salad” – Parmigiano-Reggiano Custard with Lettuce and Parmesan Crisp (Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook)
Spicy Smoke-Roasted Pork Loin with Green Apple-Horseradish Sauce
(Adapted from Brian Polcyn)
Cream of Walnut Soup
(Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook)
Once I identify my recipes, I print them out and in this case photo copy them to be placed in a binder. I hate getting my cookbooks or notebooks dirty. I then go through the recipes and make a cumulative shopping list sorted by category: produce, dairy meat, pantry etc..
Next, I start brainstorming a schedule, analyzing what items can be made ahead and ordering the steps I need to do chronologically. The time I spend preparing the schedule is really the key for me to make complicated menus for large parties, particularly Thanksgiving, which I begin research and prep in early October.
Where I get dans la merde is my timing. I quite often under estimate the time it will take me to compete certain tasks and I know I will improve with experience, but I often neglect to include pauses to clean up. I have this weird tick that I can’t cook in a messy kitchen. I need a blank canvas so to speak before I can begin the next task.
Once I found out that I didn’t make it to the 3rd round, I gave up my photographic efforts and focused on enjoying a great meal with friends. Everything turned out fantastic, with only one small snafu. The parmesan custard didn’t solidify well. When I unmolded it it was cooked, but not formed.
Good luck to everyone who advanced to round 3. I will do my best to read as many posts as possible and cast my votes.
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