Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday Morning Round-up

The holidays have taken their annual toll on the restaurant business, at least in our dining room, but since it is expected, it is not that hard to endure.  Saturday night was on the boring side - we were about 50% off our average cover count for a Saturday - but at least I can usually always find someone to talk to!  Lunches haven't been as bad as dinner, so that's something.  We hope to see things get fairly back to normal next week, and then of course we count on the week between Christmas and New Year's to be better as well.  

Meanwhile, last night's prix-fixe featured the pork and veal cutlet pictured above.  The menu - with a starter of Caesar salad and mocha cream stuffed angel food cake for dessert - was not the most popular, but we were very busy, for a weeknight change.  A few gunners, a few locals coming in after other festivities, a couple of birthdays and so on.  We actually had to hustle a little - it's been a pretty laid-back couple of weeks, we aren't used to having to move so fast anymore!  Kevin loves this more relaxed time of year; he has actually been found in the office now and then, pouring over a cookbook during lunch service.  Of course it helps that he has a terrific crew at lunch.  It took awhile, but he has a group of people now who #1 all get along together and work as a team, and #2 want to learn.  We have had a few large parties at lunch the past few weeks and the line cooks - Brittany, Mandrell and Angie - have been getting the job done efficiently and cooperatively.  Rarely does Kevin have to get behind the line and help, and if he does, they do not become confused or agitated by his presence; they accept his leadership and work with it, not against it.  This is not to say we haven't had any good cooks at lunch before now - we have - but this is perhaps the first group where each one really seems to have a sense of professionalism and kinship toward the job and toward each other.  They are enjoying the work, and it shows.  Not only does this kind of attitude make for a much more cohesive lunch crew, it provides a much less stressful environment for everyone else.

 The oyster fritter is, as always, hugely popular.  When I stop by a table where I see a guest enjoying one, I don't have any doubt that this is a happy diner.  And who wouldn't be?  Look at that thing.  My mouth is watering just looking at that picture, I'm not ashamed to say.  Oysters in a pancake with a lemony sauce, what could be better? Oh, and lemon "candy" on top!  Yippee!

This morning Kevin and I were doing a little seasonal baking.  One thing about working in a commercial kitchen, there is plenty of space, with big pans and ovens to make double batches of cookies a snap.

We were making cookies to serve as mignardises on New Year's Eve.  I was in charge of the cardamom snickerdoodles - of course - and Kevin was making his replica of the white chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies that Meg had brought in on Saturday.  We had quite the assembly line going...

Kevin did the scooping and I did the shaping - until it was time to snap a few photos.  I put them in the oven and Kevin kept doing the scooping.  I took them out of the oven and Kevin kept doing the scooping.  I put them on the cooling rack and...well you get the idea.  We made a lot of cookies.

Isn't a huge convection oven a convenient feature to have in your Christmas Kitchen?

Huge sheet pans and equally large cooling racks are also a big help.  And of course clean-up is a breeze - thanks Debbie!  Ha!

Kevin's lacy cookies came out delicious, if a little large.  Behind them you see a batch of his salted nut brittle - so bad for the teeth, so good in the mouth!

Okay, time to get ready for dinner service...maybe I can snag a little glass of eggnog beforehand...

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