March 25, 2015
Looking for a new place to eat lunch? We invite you to try the delicious menu at Bistro Verde, Lincoln Land Community College’s student-run café, located in the Workforce Careers Center. We are open Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. From March 26-April 22, you can enjoy a fine dining experience while assisting students working toward a career in the culinary field. See below two of our diners’ favorite recipes from the menu!
At Lincoln Land Community College’s Workforce Careers center, the emphasis is truly on the word workforce. This state-of-the-art building, open since January of 2012, has a variety of hands-on programs, such as auto body, welding, HVAC and culinary arts, and the focus is on creating graduates who are ready to enter the workforce. We are able to do this by providing students with real-world learning experiences during school.
In the Culinary Arts program, part of a student’s learning experience is to run an actual working café that is open to the public. During the fall semester, the café operates as Bistro To Go, offering soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods and a variety of coffee drinks, all to go. During the spring semester, the café operates as Bistro Verde, with the verde in reference to the many ecologically green practices the building has implemented. Hospitality degree-seeking students manage the dining room, while Culinary Arts students prepare all the orders. Baking and Pastry students provide breads and desserts.
Not only do the students carry out the day-to-day duties such as host, server or cook, they also have the opportunity to consider operations from a management viewpoint. Culinary students develop the menu by testing, standardizing and costing recipes. Students rotate out among multiple functions such Executive Chef for the day, overseeing prep work, developing specials, expediting orders and inventorying product for the next service. Hospitality students act as General Managers, taking reservations, creating a floor plan, visiting with each table to ensure they had an enjoyable experience – and determining how best to handle the situation if the guest did not. Although instructors are nearby to observe and oversee, the push is on the student managers to take the initiative on decision making. They also review reports after each service to analyze sales, costs and product mixes. The students end the semester by creating a week-long “snapshot” of a restaurant’s financial statement, analyzing labor and food costs versus sales.
Bistro Verde operates the first half of the spring semester as a casual bistro to allow students time to learn the basics of operating a “sit down” restaurant, such as greeting guests, taking and preparing orders, carrying trays, operating a Point of Sale system and handling money. After spring break, we advance into a fine dining theme, which gives the students another learning experience – more polished service in the dining room and more complicated components to cook to order for each dish in the kitchen. For our casual bistro service (just completed for the semester), some menu options included tomato soup, a Vidalia onion tart, chicken and waffles, a stuffed roasted acorn squash and a daily flatbread special. From March 26-April 22, we will be offering Italian fine dining options on our menu such as arancini with marinara sauce, grilled polenta with mushroom ragu, balsamic marinated pork chop, and prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with blue cheese and pears. Below you will find the recipes for our tomato soup and our stuffed chicken breast.
Bistro Verde is open 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Reservations are required and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 786-4613. In lieu of tips, we request that each diner fill out a comment card which we use to better train the students. As for Bistro To Go during the fall, keep an eye on LLCC’s website for updates. We look forward to seeing you soon at Bistro Verde!
Tomato Soup with Cheese Crostini
- 2, 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, stems removed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ baguette, sliced think
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan
- Olive Oil, as needed
Heat tomatoes on the stove in a large saucepot on medium heat.
White tomatoes are cooking, sweat onion, garlic, and shallots in vegetable oil in a saute pan on medium heat for about for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are translucent.
Add vegetables to pot with tomatoes, along with basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Let cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Puree soup in blender or using immersion blender until smooth. Return back to saucepot and add heavy cream. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
While soup finishes simmering, assemble and toast crostini. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush top of each baguette slice with olive oil. Mix mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and sprinkle on each baguette slice. Toast on a cookie sheet in oven until cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls and set crostini on top of soup.
Prosciutto wrapped Chicken Breast Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Pears
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 thin slices prosciutto
- 3 ounces gorgonzola blue cheese crumbles
- 1 pear, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons salad oil
Make a pocket on the thicker side of each breast. Using a sharp boning or utility knife, cut into the breast about 1/2 inch from one end. Create a pocket, slicing to within about 1/4 inch of the other side.
Stuff each pocket with about one-quarter of the gorgonzola and pears, distributing it evenly throughout the pocket and to the ends. Press on the top of each breast to close the pocket.
Season both sides of chicken breast with salt and pepper.
Wrap one piece of prosciutto around each breast going, over the pocket you stuffed. Secure with toothpicks.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the breasts to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 2 – 3 minutes per side. If the oil seems to get too hot, reduce the heat to medium. If necessary, use cook in two batches if not enough room for all of them in the pan.
Transfer the breasts to a baking sheet and bake until the chicken and filling reach 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately.