In-Depth 2022 #6

I’ve recently been trying to make ther recipes needed to make my recipe, and I decided to start with making pesto, specifically arugula pesto for the pan-fried mozzarella dish. I’ve also been slightly adjusting my menu to its final form with some help and tips from my mentor.

For the pesto, my mentor generously gave me his own recipe for the sauce. I first combined some garlic and coarse sea salt into a mortar and pestle before crushing it all into a smooth paste. I then added the basil and arugula together a bit at a time, crushing the leaves until they were pretty fine, with some small portions of leaf still present.

After I incorporated all of the basil, I added the pine nuts a third at a time and crushed them all into the pesto. Then, I added my pile of grated Parmagianno Regianno and incorporated it into the sauce. I found that the Parmigiano helped bind everything together, creating a denser mixture instead of having a super crumbly mixture that wasn’t coming together. Finally, I added the olive oil a bit at a time, incorporating it into the sauce and making it smooth. I then added the sauce to a glass container, to which I added some extra olive oil on top to prevent oxidization. So now if you’re wondering why the sauce looks super oily in the pictures below, you know why.

Upon tasting the fresh, homemade pesto for the first time, I was blown away by just how much stronger and brighter the flavours of the sauce are. The freshly crushed garlic in this sauce is much stronger than the refrigerated and store-bought sauce’s garlic because its flavour has been dulled. This stronger garlic taste helped add a punch to the sauce, as well as a subtle spice to the sauce’s flavour as well. The freshly crushed basil and arugula in this sauce were also much stronger in flavour too, in comparison to the sauce’s store-bought counterpart. This is the second time that I’ve been completed blown away by how much better the homemade version of a dish was in comparison to its store-bought version, with the other time being when I made homemade chicken stock.

For my menu, I was given the advice from my mentor to stop writing “plate talk” for my descriptions as the descriptions are just meant for you to just list the ingredients in the dish. Plate talk, which was what I had originally done with the sensory words such as “aromatic” and “crunchy,” was recently clarified to me as what I should be saying when I’m discussing the menu with customers at a restaurant, as I am trying to sell the items on the menu. I shouldn’t include plate-talk in my actual menu descriptions themselves as it clutters the menu and makes viewing it an unpleasant experience. I have switched the position of the antipasti so that the menu goes hot-cold-hot-cold for the first four meals instead of hot-hot-cold-cold like my last menu. This way, the menu synergizes better together and flows between one meal to the next more smoothly.

How will I present my project on In-Depth Night?

For In-Depth night, I will most likely be only able to make one dish and not my original plan of a full-course meal due to how little time we have for the event. For my full-course meal, I will be instead posting a blog post showcasing the dishes I made for the meal onto my blog. This way, I will still be able to fulfill my original goal of making a full-course Italian meal, while still having an achievable demonstration of my skills for In-Depth night.

For the dish I will be making on In-Depth night, I will be making gnocchi. The process of making gnocchi is quite long, but I think that making pasta on In-Depth night will allow me to show more of the technical elements of cooking I learned. Some of these elements include temperature control, kneading, shaping, and seasoning. To cut some time off the cooking process, I will have to bake and mash the potatoes ahead of time as that step alone takes about an hour and a half. The audience will be able to interact with my project during In-Depth night by asking me questions about what I’m making, watching me make the pasta by hand, getting to smell the dish, as well as getting to hear about some brief background on Italian cuisine and gnocchi.

Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for my final blog post!