I've said this before - Saturdays are nice and a little more relaxed. Today was the same. We usually have service around 12:30 or so and then we are instructed by the head chef of the school on meats - different cuts, how they are served, etc. Sometimes it's hard to stay awake, but it's really informative, and information I will definitely use. He wasn't there today, so we were back in the kitchen for a bit this afternoon.
Today's menu was a lovely vegetable soup, along with coq au vin and an apple tart and tourneed potatoes (the 7 sided ones - I'm getting better at them, considering how many times we've made them!). We work in tables of 2 or 3. My table today had 3 of us and we worked very well together. We each took one of the items and were responsible for that one, although we helped each other out, tasted everything as we went along, so that it all came together. I've never been one to taste as I'm cook, but I'm realizing how important it is - that's how you get the proper seasoning. So, I encourage you to taste as you go. You won't be sorry!
My main responsibility was for the vegetable soup. The hardest part was dicing (same size!!) all of the vegetables - turnips, leeks, carrots, celery, potatoes and then adding cabbage, green beans (or we used peas instead) and some bacon. Once everything was diced, you started with the bacon, just to get the flavor going, add all the vegetables, the chicken stock and then let it simmer until the vegetables are done. I love the cream soups, but this was so nice and tasty. It's more of a winter soup because of the types of vegetables, but easily adaptable to summer. While I would make the soup again, I did get a blister on my finger from chopping all of those diced vegetables!
My classmate, Joan, did the coq au vin. We've made it before and I really like it (we "revisited" it). It's a chicken stew with a good amount of red wine added. You finish it with sauteed mushrooms, pearl onions and bacon. It's French cooking - you get butter, cream, eggs and bacon in almost every dish. The chicken is braised in the oven with the red wine and chicken stock (and vegetables) for a good amount of time until the chicken is done and the sauce has reduced. I liked it so much, I'm going to make it again tomorrow.
Another classmate, Samantha, did the apple tart - Tart Tatin. You make caramel, lay the apple wedges in it and then top with dough and put it in the oven until the dough is done. When it's done, you flip it onto a plate, so it's basically upside down apple tart because the crust is on the bottom. We used puffed pastry for our dough because we had it in the freezer. It was very good, but I would have included cinnamon in the recipe. Apparently, the French don't like cinnamon too much, which is why we didn't include it. It would have also been wonderful with some cinnamon whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream.
In the afternoon, we made the rest of our Madeleine cookies with our dough from the other night. They were so good that I came home tonight and made the dough for them. It's chilling now and I'll bake them off in the morning and take them to church to hand out. Can't keep that kind of thing laying around here, I'd eat them all!
Like I said, a good day. Tomorrow I'm going to make the coq au vin and am also going to make shrimp ravioli. Next week is stock week at school - learning how to make chicken stock and veal stock.