- Use frozen bread slices to cut your croutons prior to sauteeing – you get a perfect shape.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir your soups, you can ‘feel’ the consistency much more accurately, you don’t scratch the pan, and the handle don’t get hot
- Add a pinch of sugar to your mayonnaise and it will go from dull to dazzling (courtesy of Nic)
- Rendered bacon lardons (cubes) make vegetable soup magical. (I know, bacon isn’t a vegetable, but hey – it’s in the recipe!).
Pretty close to complete mayhem in the kitchen today. (I’m secretly convinced the purpose of today was to make someone blow a gasket, but no one did.) We had our first exam today (I think I got most of the answers except a few mayonnaise derivatives), and the minute the exam was over, off to make 3 very different soups. I got reprimanded for taking a minute to look up the answer I missed on the quiz.
The first soup was a split pea (rendered bacon lardons, split peas, leek/onion/carrot mirepoix, garlic, bouquet garni (bg), vegetable stock, s&p, heavy cream) topped with croutons sauteed in clarified butter, and chervil. Ours was a tiny bit watery, but good flavor. The second soup was a Potage Cultivateur (Farmer’s vegetable soup), using our previous vegetable stock and involved delicate taillage – correctly cutting each vegetable into small paysanne tiles ( ½cm by ½cm by 1.5mm). We nailed the flavor on this one, but my taillage didn’t make the cut….. are the guests really going to notice the vegetable taillage if the flavor is right?…. I guess they will if your guest is the school examiner. This was served with toasted baguette with Gruyere au gratin. We all had to do several things at once and though these soups sound simple to execute, they weren’t and it only left us 10 minutes for lunch and then off to create a ‘raft’ for our consommé.
A raft????? Who has ever heard of a raft in cooking???? I guess it was appropriate for the ‘survivor kitchen’ day. A raft is a mass of julienned vegetables, denatured eggs whites, and other gunk that forms at the top of a consommé as you cook it that traps all the impurities. With careful manipulation the raft become thicker and thicker. You eventually break a hole through it to ladle out the consommé and put it through a china cap, cheese cloth, and a chinois (that’s three strainings). But the clarifying isn’t finished yet, you then use about 20 sheets of parchment paper to soak up any remaining oil micro-drops from the top. Talk about perfection. I’m not a big consommé fan, but we got top marks for ours. Just before serving, Miyako added some of her perfectly macedoined (½cm cubes) of turnips and carrots which looked amazing.
It was fresh Challah bread from the bread class, and home to write out tomorrow’s recipes. Last night when practicing ‘turning’ the potatoes, I started to get ‘the magic’, so I ran out and bought more potatoes to keep practicing. The chef said they were starting to look much better.