What a whirlwind these past few classes have been! Lots of practicing chopping veggies, watching demos, learning French terms, measuring butter, and sautéing meats. I’ve heard it said before that many chefs don’t like to bake because they don’t have the patience to measure out ingredients and I definitely agree. Now I understand why cooking demos on TV look so simple…everything is already measured out! I prefer to use whatever I have in my refrigerator to throw something together in a bowl, taste as I go, make changes accordingly, and voilà!
Session four was dedicated to preparing fish for cooking, including poaching salmon and learning how to filet branzino. To accompany the salmon, we steamed clams, roasted tomatoes on the vine, and made pearl onions in a deliciously rich butter sauce.
The branzino came whole, so I had another adventure in gutting a fish. Practice might not equal perfection as evidenced by my cuts last week, but after some assistance from the chef-instructor, I achieved a more presentable filet. This fish was served with ratatouille, which was packed with tasty vegetables. The skin also had a powerful flavor from the fresh garlic and thyme. What a difference it makes when using FRESH herbs! I usually don’t leave the skin on when eating fish, but having dealt with the branzino from start to finish, it was less daunting and actually tasted crispy and delicious.
Session five was all about poultry. We trimmed the European-style (semi-boneless) quail, leaving the skin intact, which made it perfect for stuffing. After salting the quail and adding pepper and garlic, I stuffed the breast with sausage, and repeated a similar process with the leg, creating what the chef-instructor referred to as a lollipop. The sausage-stuffed sautéed quail was served with pearl barley (finished with walnut oil, currants, & pine nuts) and a beet salad.
225 g peeled and seeded cucumber
500 milliliters yogurt
4 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili oil
1 tsp minced garlic
Next up was chicken fricassée which reminded me of a marsala sauce I often make for friends and family.
We kicked off session six with buttery rice pilaf, maple-braised pork cheeks, and baby turnips cooked glacer à blond. This meat was so tender you could cut it with a fork. It was my favorite dish I’ve made in culinary school thus far!!
After a quick lunch, we learned about different cuts of meat and the method of grading. For our next dish we prepared a filet with red wine sauce, sautéed mushrooms, endives, and bok choy. It was my first time cooking a steak in the oven, and it turned out very tender and flavorful. I love that I’m learning how to deal with all these different types of meats, fish, poultry, etc. from start to finish. I have to admit, though, I’ll probably still pay the premium for the pre-cut fish filets.
A few nights ago, I made one of my favorite meals: stuffed squash (mom’s recipe)
One of my favorite new things is reading other health, cooking, fitness, and beauty blogs. From the foodie blogs, I gather inspiration for new meals and other delicious treats. I recently made espresso chocolate almond bark …
…and a quinoa side dish (both from Evan Thomas, The Wannabe Chef)
Evan’s blog is always funny and informative, filled with great pictures and easy recipes.
I would love to hear from everyone and see some of your tried and true recipes in the comment section below! Until next time, bon appétit everyone