We started the day cooking the Lobster with bortsch consommé from last week.
Next we had a demo where the chef prepared pig’s trotter stuffed with foie gras and wild mushrooms, which was braised and then glazed with the reduced braising liquid.
Next, he cooked onglet steak, which is a tougher cut of beef, with fondant potatoes, beef jus and egg and chive vinaigrette.
The last lesson was finishing and presenting our plated desserts.
It turned out to be another chef John day as we had had him for the previous practical and demo and we had him for this class too, which was surprising as he is a cuisine chef, not a pastry chef.
My plated dessert (we had to design our own) is a white chocolate mousse with a raspberry jelly centre, encased in a joconde sponge with an orange and cardamom sablé base and an orange glacage. It was topped with a fresh raspberry and a white and dark chocolate lattice circle. On the plate is a tuile crisp, fresh raspberries, chocolate curls, mango coulis and creme anglaise.
Chef Eric took us for the demo again today and cooked a first course of scallops cooked with vanilla, and a beetroot and apple emulsion.
Then pigeon breast in cabbage, stuffed pigeon legs and wild mushrooms.
The pigeon breasts and legs were removed from the carcass and the bones used to make the sauce. The thigh meat was used to make a stuffing with diced chicken liver, foie gras, truffle, ham and shredded cabbage. This stuffing was used to fill the thigh skin and the leg poached and then browned. The breasts were layered with foie gras and some stuffing and then wrapped in cabbage leaves and caul fat, pan fried and roasted.
Chef Christophe gave us a lecture on tuiles today. He made 4 different types: normal biscuit type tuiles, sesame seed tuiles, poppy seed tuiles and brandy snap tuiles. He made them in lots of different shapes.
Next chef Gilles prepared the mise en place for beef Wellington.
This involved making some puff pastry, duxelle of mushroom, chicken mousseline, crepes and stuffing a piece of beef fillet with foie gras and truffle slices then searing it all over and then chilling it all.
In the next class chef Neil completed and baked the beef Wellington. The puff pastry was rolled to size, crepes were laid on it, the duxelle and mousseline were mixed and spread on the crepes and the beef placed in the centre and wrapped the crepes and pastry around it. A lattice of puff pastry was wrapped around it, egg washed and baked. It was served with slices of globe artichoke, green beans, sautéed mushrooms, slices of potato shaped into leaves and a sauce made from the beef trimmings.
Lastly chef Neil made a trilogy of foie gras. He made a foie gras mousse foam, a slice of poached foie gras on diced pear, fig and grapes with a port reduction and a poached slce of foie gras on lentils.
Today chef Neil continued with the foie gras terrine. He gently cooked the marinaded foie gras in a low oven, then laid it on sheets of clingfilm and rolled it into a sausage shape and chilled it overnight.
Next he prepared the salmon. The salmon steak was baked with a herb and almond crust and served with a cabbage leaf ballotine stuffed with salmon mousseline and stuffed cabbage and a mushroom flan (a savoury set custard) and turned mushrooms.
Next was the frozen nougat which was a blend of melted white chocolate, whipped cream and italian meringue with chopped cherries, and frozen until firm. A rectangle was cut and rolled in crushed pistachio praline and served with some praline, raspberry coulis and brandysnap basket.
Chef Gilles took the demo today (he has taken all but the 1st 2 cuisine demos this term) and cooked a couple of dishes from the Basque region of France which is in the south west along the border with Spain.
The first was chicken cooked basque style. The legs were braised with onions and red, yellow and green peppers and a little epilette pepper. The sauce was then reduced and liquidised. The breasts were rolled in cylinders and wrapped in Bayonne ham and baked in the oven. The chicken was served with a rice pilaf, some strips of peppers and a crisp baked shard of Bayonne ham.
Next the chef cooked a dessert which was a sweet pastry filled with a rum flavoured creme patissiere.
Then we had another practical with chef David, cooking the duck legs and foie gras. My, and several others, duck legs were not cooked in the time given to us in the class – 2 hours of cooking in duck fat. There is no definite time for cooking these – they’re cooked when tender – and long slow cooking is preferable to faster cooking. However they were almost tender and the potato salardaises was cooked well.
So was the foie gras. It’s amazing how much fat comes out of the foie gras as it cooks. It’s actually cooked in a dry pan and the fat runs out as it cooks. However I managed to cook it well and the sauce for both dishes was lovely.
Several people didn’t want their duck legs so, even though I only cooked 2, I came home with 5. Yummmmm.
We started today with the duck breast dish from yesterday and preparing the duck legs for the confit. We each had a whole duck to butcher, i.e. remove the breasts and legs and chop up the carcass to make the stock. We also had chef David taking us for the practical which was a change for us as we had only had him once before and that was in the 1st week of basic cuisine. He was very organised and a good teacher.
There were quite a lot of garnishes to prepare for the duck breasts (beetroot, celeriac, apple and pear segments, orange and lemon segments and zest julienne) which took everyone in the class quite a bit of time. Plus there was the duck butchery and salting and marinading the duck legs for tomorrow’s lessons.
All went well and my duck breast was cooked to the desired pink while the skin was crispy, the sauce was tasty and all looked good on the plate.
Next we had a demo on dishes from the Perigord region of France, famous for foie gras and truffles.
The chef confited the duck legs from yesterday and served them with salardaises potatoes (sliced potatoes cooked in a tin in duck fat with garlic) and a sauce of duck stock, madeira and diced black truffle.
The chef also prepared foie gras. The foie gras was sliced thickly, pan fried and served with a Sauternes and duck stock sauce, with a garnish of peeled grapes. We all got to taste the foie gras and it was delicious.
Lastly we each had a tutorial with chef Gilles where we got our average mark in cuisine for this term so far. I was pleased to find that I was currently 2nd in the class and doing pretty well. I hope I can continue the good score.