Thursday, 26 January 2017

EXAM CAMP!! Puff Your Pillows and Roll Your Dough !!

What a complete blast! One whole day during our semester exams Chef opens his kitchen up to a very special group of students in Monarch Park ... all of our developmentally delayed students and those with special physical challenges. Today was the day! Woo hoo!!
In the morning we all get together and make lovely pillows of spanakopita, and in the afternoon there is just time for ooey gooey decadent cookies. Nothing lasts any further than the bus-yard at the end of the day. Everyone goes home exhausted.

The first challenge is getting everyone to have their hands and fore-arms washed up half way between the wrist and elbow ... and keep sweaters and shirts up above the elbows. Lots of soap and hot water. HOT water. Not cold water. And soap. For the students who cannot stretch enough from their wheelchairs we have a basin and washcloth system, so that every single student can get their hands into mixtures and try to hold the tools. No one is left out today ... and in this wonderful school no one is left out ... period. Monarch Park is like that. It is 2017.

First we finished up making the filling for spanakopita which Chef had started. This meant crumbling almost 2 kg of feta cheese. About half a kilo of cheese got eaten immediately!
All the crumbled cheese is inspected by senior students who have taken our culinary arts course and know what is needed. Some got sent back for re-crumbling. Finally ... everything was ready to stir together and have the flavours adjusted and finished.

Then the phylo pastry was prepared ... three layers, laminated with a thin layer of melted butter. Everyone is taught to only carry phylo on the BACK of their hands (so there are no punctures from fingertips by mistake). Then a small ball of filling is placed on the end of a phylo laminated strip, and folded into a nice triangular pillow!

Then ... Into the oven for a while ...

And ... Presto! Kaboom! Instant delicious ... beautiful spanakopita.
My executive sous-chef for the day, Julien, laid these out for me. Julien is a grad of our culinary arts program.

Everyone took a noontime break and returned in the PM for a shorter stay ... so cookies were made. Oatmeal (and raisin) cookies ... it is Robbie Burns Day and no oatmeal should go unappreciated.

FIRST do our mis-en-place

SECOND stir things together

THIRD flop all the dough onto a very clean counter

FOURTH roll the dough into little balls and put on baking trays

FIFTH bake

SIXTH cool down then EAT!! Here's Julian enjoying delicious!

Thanks to every single adventurous, brave, loud, enthusiastic student who took part today, and to the legion of wonderful teaching staff and teaching assistants ... you folks rock these kids' world day after day.

As my friend Chef Terry Port says, "I bid you good eating!"

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