Today we started off with a demo with chef Eric on the subject of cooking eggs, then we had a couple of practicals.
The chef demonstrated lots of different ways of cooking eggs.
Scrambled eggs cooked in a little butter and finished with cream were served with a croute (circle of bread cooked in a little clarified butter) and smoked salmon.
Eggs Florentine – poached egg on a bed of cooked spinach, topped with sauce mornay and glazed under the grill (called a salamander).
A soft boiled egg.
Oeuf sur plat – cooked in a buttered ceramic dish over gentle direct heat until the white just cooked.
Oeuf en cocotte – cooked in a ramekin in a bain marie in the oven until almost set and finished with a little cream around the yolk.
Deep fried egg – an egg broken into hot oil and a couple of spoons used to form the white around the yolk and deep fried until the white is golden and crispy and the yolk still runny.
Omelette fines herbes – omelette with parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives, chopped finely.
Then we had our first practical which was to make the blanquette de veau, or white veal stew.
Chef John took us for this practical and turned up 10 minutes late, when we have been told that we must be there at least 10 minutes before class. This means that we start late and setting up does not get done before class, cutting into our class time.
One of my classmates said to the chef that it wasn’t good that the chef wasn’t on time when we had to be, which seemed to annoy the chef greatly, and told the class that we weren’t his only responsibility and that if he was late for class because a previous class had run late, or for any other reason, it was just tough and ‘I don’t care’! And wasn’t going to discuss it.
Can’t say I am particularly impressed with the attitude. He merely needed to say ‘Sorry I’m late. Previous class ran late. Thanks for being patient’ or something like that, but he does give the impression that he really doesn’t care. He spends half of the time in class on his mobile phone and everyone has commented on it within our group.
Having said all that, he didn’t keep any signs of anger towards the class and happily answered any questions and helped students as needed.
Making the veal blanquette went well. Not too hard, though my sauce was just a little thick. Quite a light flavour to this stew. Would probably have more flavour of the veal was cooked in white veal stock, rather than just water. The rice pilaf was also fairly simple though if I’d used a narrower pan, there would have been less evaporation of the stock and the rice wouldn’t have got browned around the edges. The chef was fairly happy with it all though, just noting the above points.
Then we had another practical, cooking the pork cutlet and mashed potato. Chef Gilles took us for this practical, which was good as he gave us the demonstration of this the day before and is very friendly to students (but not above chastising the class when necessary).
I had a fairly thin pork cutlet which made is quite hard to tie into a round shape as the string kept slipping off the thin edge, but I did have lots of trimmings with which to make a tasty sauce. Being so thin, it took only 10 minutes in the oven, once browned, to cook it through.
The potatoes were straightforward though, disappointingly, I didn’t find any gold when doing the panning. The drum sieve did create a fine mash though and it was wonderfully rich and tasty when finished with milk, butter, seasoning and a little butter.
The sauce had a great rich flavour and I managed to balance the honey, lemon mustard well. Chef Gilles liked it a lot and apologised for eating half of it!