Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back at the cutting board, with terrific sous chef

Don't forget to practice your culinary skills during the holidays.

The admonition from Chef Dan Fluharty came across as a command as much as a reminder. Either way, it was good to have in mind.

Having departed the city immediately after the last day of Culinary Foundations II final exam for a brief trip to Tucson, I hadn't had a chance to put the command/reminder into action. That is until Monday night at the home of my most gracious brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Marco and Thelma Ruiz.

They turned over their kitchen -- and their daughter Luna B. Ruiz -- to me for the evening. Luna as sous chef and yours truly as chef de cuisine cooked up a small storm. We roasted a chicken. We made a sauté of green beans and red bell peppers. We made pommes duchesse, the fancy piped potato that is a beautiful addition to any plate. We concocted a sauce nateur from the chicken pan drippings.

Twelve-year-old Luna was by my side the entire time, taking it all in and pitching in on every task. She absorbed the information like a sponge, even taking written notes on some of the French terminology. It was a joy to work with her, and it was a joy to cook good food in a confident manner for beloved family members.

The Ruiz family clearly enjoyed the evening's repast, dazzled by my still novice but growing-better-by-the-day culinary skills.

Chef Dan, one practice session down, many more to come.

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