I'm studying the Grand Diplome at Cordon Bleu in London

Posts tagged ‘Basic Cusine’

Day 3 – Actually cooking – Wed 18th January

Today’s demo class was making more salads but this time we were actually cooking something!
The dishes today were salad italienne and potato salad with boiled eggs. The chef made his salads and plated them up:


Salad Italienne is macedoine of carrots, turnips and green beans plus peas in a little mayonnaise, garnished with tomato petals, hard boiled egg quarters, salami and fresh anchovies. Macedoine is another cut of vegetable, this time 5 mm dice. Both the carrot and turnip had to be cut to this size, evenly, and the green bean, once cooked was cut to 5 mm lengths. The peas are that size already! Each of the vegetables need to be cooked separately as they have different cooking times, then refreshed in cold water to stop the cooking.

We used new potatoes and cooked them whole, then peeled them when cold. The eggs were boiled for 10 minutes exactly. We used our timers which came in our knife kits to time the eggs. They were then refreshed in ice water to cool them before peeling.

Then we made mayonnaise. We started off by mixing a little vinegar, mustard and seasoning together. Adding a little oil, I thought I had split my mayonnaise already, but realised I hadn’t actually added the yolk yet! Once I did, it emulsified easily and I was able to keep adding the oil and made nice, thick mayonnaise.

The tomato petals were simply a skinned tomato, cut into quarters lengthwise and the seeds removed.

Both salads used some mayonnaise. The salad italienne was pushed into a small cup and then upturned onto a plate and decorated with the salami and anchovies, and egg quarters and tomato petals arranged around it. The potato salad was spooned into a couple of leaves of little gem lettuce.

At Cordon Bleu you take home the food you make in practicals so you get to eat what you make. Both salads were pretty tasty and didn’t last long.

Here are my plated dishes:


Day 2 – more cuts – Tue 17th Jan

Today the chef in the demo class asked how many people had cut themselves the previous day in the practical. There were about 60 people in the demo. Almost half put their hand up. Only the 1 person had required stitches though. The chef showed absolutely no surprise at the number that had cut themselves. This must happen at the start of every term when the new students arrive.

Today’s demo and practical were more cutting vegetable and making a few simple salads (uncooked). The salads were a salad of julienne of carrot, a sliced tomato and onion salad, a simple green salad, a peeled and sliced cucumber and a red cabbage salad, each with a vinaigrette dressing.

Here are the chef’s salads as he plated them:

In our practical we just had to make the carrot salad, the tomato and onion salad and the green salad and dress them with vinaigrette.

But first we had a 4 hour gap. The demo was from 8 to 11 am and the practical class from 3 to 6 pm. Fortunately I only live 10 minutes walk from the school so I could go home. Some students live much further away so have to find other things to do.

In the practical, we had to Julienne the carrot (cue people cutting themselves), slice the tomatoes and onion, chop a little shallot and parsley for the carrot salad, wash and dry all the salad leaves. We used 5 leaves in the salad: round green lettuce, oak leaf lettuce for the dark red colour, lamb’s lettuce (a small green leaf), watercress and chicory or belgian endive.
Somehow the girl working next to me managed to cut herself on a lettuce leaf! She was cleaning and sorting her leaves and all of a sudden she was bleeding on them. She has since claimed that she must have cut herself earlier and hadn’t noticed. I think that we just need to watch out for sharp lettuces!

We had to make 2 different vinaigrettes, one just oil and vinegar and seasoning, the other included mustard which helps to emulsify the vinaigrette.

Chef David, the chef for this practical, was quite happy with my carrot julienne today and my presentation, though there was plenty of room for improvement. They tasted quite good and I’m not a big salad fan.

My wife must have agreed as she ate the green salad as soon as I got home, and she’s a carnivore.

1st Classes – Monday 16th Jan

The 1st day consisted of a demonstration lesson, followed by a practical and then a lecture on health and safety in the kitchen.

The demonstration was on basic vegetable cuts. The chef demonstrated how to cut julienne of carrots and leek, finely chop an onion and shallot, slice an onion into thin half rings, chop parsley and make a bouquet garni.

The practical session that followed was us trying to emulate the chef. What it turned out to be was a count of how many people could cut themselves with their brand new and very sharp knives. All class, one person or another seemed to be running up to the chef to get a blue plaster on one or more fingers. Why blue plasters? It’s because there isn’t really any blue food so if the plaster comes off, it will show up in the food before it reaches the customer!

Within the 1st hour, one chap had cut himself so deeply that he had to go to the hospital to get a couple of stitches. Oddly enough it was on his right hand, which is the hand he would be holding the knife with. Usually you end up cutting the other hand. No one knows how he did it.

It was pretty slow going creating the julienne of carrot. Julienne is basically matchstick size pieces, about 5 cm long and 1 mm wide. You start by cutting the carrot into a square block of the right length, cutting 1mm slices from that, then cutting the slices into 1mm wide sticks. Very fiddly and I will need to do lots of practice at this one.

My evaluation at the end of practical was that my vegetable cuts weren’t fine enough. However I didn’t cut myself. Hurrah. At least one third of the class did, some several times.

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