Monday, April 11, 2011

In a (long) nutshell

I missed posting some days last week, mostly because I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about much that we turned out. It’s not that it wasn’t good, it’s just not my preference.

So, here’s a little recap of last week:

Wednesday we started with pound cake because that required the longest cooking time. I usually think of pound cake as pretty dense, but this one was nice and light. Maybe it was because everything was started at room temperature or warm, but I would use this recipe again (topped with strawberries and whipped cream, of course).

Our first course was puree of carrot soup. The pureed vegetable soups are all exactly the same, just the different main vegetable. I like carrots and even cooked carrots, so I did like the soup, but it wasn’t one that made me want more than a bowl. I was thinking it would be pretty to have the carrot soup with the pea soup swirled around the center or the outer rim of the bowl for a little contrasting color. In my kitchen someday…

We also made ham and cheese omelettes. Nothing too exciting, although the final plating has the omelette rolled, almost like a burrito, instead of just folded over. One of my omelettes got a bit too done, but was salvageable. They were good – tasted like an omelette.

To go with the omelettes, we had glazed potatoes. These were just regular potatoes, with just a little tournee on them and then roasted with butter and chicken stock to make the glaze. They were good – I prefer hash browns with my eggs.

On Thursday our menu was cream of asparagus soup, trout (that we had to dehead and filet), gnocchis Roman-style and chocolate chip cookies. The trout was served with a browned butter and lemon and caper sauce. The gnocchis are interesting – it’s almost like polenta, but you use semolina flour instead of cornmeal. Then you put it in a pan and let it set. Once set, you top with a tomato-mushroom sauce and bake it until brown. I think that would have been a good side to Wednesday’s omelettes. The chocolate chip cookies were nothing great. All this money spent on school and they show us how to make mediocre chocolate chip cookies. My usual recipe (the one from the New York Times) is much better. Again, when I have my own kitchen…

On Saturday, we made a variation of the asparagus soup. This one had less cream in it and I liked it much better. The asparagus flavor really came through.

The main course was pork medallions served with a reduced stock and sage sauce over the top. Served alongside was ratatouille. This is a good dish to make to practice your knife cuts, since all the vegetables have to be the same size. I like ratatouille, although I’m not sure I’d order it out. Next time I see it on a menu, I’m going to order it to see how the knife skills are!

For dessert we made a pear tart with puff pastry. I think I wrote how we did the pear tarts last week. These use the same filling ingredients (almond cream and poached pears), but it’s encased in puff pastry. It’s a pretty presentation. I liked the tarts last week better.

We spent an hour with the head chef in our beef class, learning different cuts, etc. I think veal comes next, followed by lamb.

Afterwards, we met individually with the head chef (he’s the owner/founder of the school) to talk about grades, attendance, complaints, etc. All is good in that area for me.

As we were meeting individually, the class was watching the chef demo a dessert called “Floating Islands”. This is puffs of soft meringue floating on crème anglaise and then topped with spun sugar. If you didn’t know, crème anglaise is French Vanilla ice cream that has been melted down. Conversely, if you make French Vanilla ice cream, you start with crème anglaise. My partner and I curdled our first attempt at crème anglaise (sweet scrambled eggs, anyone?), so we made it again and it ended up tasting like sweetened condensed milk. An item to practice.

We also did our first attempt at spun sugar. You make caramel and then basically let it drip from a fork, while you pull it. Again, an item to practice…

So, there you have it in a long nutshell. Nothing too exciting, but all good techniques that I will need to know.

1 comment:

  1. all sounds yummy but difficult to make.....glad you're my sister and can practice on me when I come visit