“Les fonds sont pour la cuisine, ce que les fondations sont pour la maison.” Auguste Escoffier
“Stocks are to cooking what foundations are to a house.”
My third session of class began with a vegetable soup demo, consisting of carrots, turnips, cabbage, potato, celery, and leeks. One important element of the lesson was the “mirepoix” which is a combination of equal parts onions and carrots used to flavor stocks and sauces. This turned out to be the tastiest vegetable soup I’ve ever had and the best part is…I made it! Actually, my favorite part is that I get to control the sodium and unnecessary chemicals that you often find in canned soup.
Please let me emphasize the importance of cutting (taillage). I never thought twice about the size of my cuts when dealing with vegetables, but they impact the aesthetic value of the dish AND cooking time.
We haven’t been following the textbook much in class because the chef-instructors have stressed technique over recipes. We’ve also been fortunate enough to experiment with all kinds of oils, such as truffle, walnut, pumpkin seed, sesame, and grape seed. This is nice because I can try cooking with different flavors and figure out my preferences before I invest in a whole bottle.
Session three was dedicated to making a relatively quick and easy chicken stock using fresh bones, a roasted butternut squash soup, and a hearty lentil soup.
Four important rules to remember when making stocks:
1) No salt
2) Cold water
3) Never boil
4) SKIM SKIM SKIM!
Next up was learning “roux” which is a mixture used as a thickener for stocks and soups. Luckily, it’s an easy ratio to remember: equal parts flour to fat. The fat can come from any source, but in this case we used butter—2oz flour and 2oz butter. From this step, we added either milk (to create the mother sauce “béchamel”) or stock (to create “velouté”).
Mother Sauces (sauces mères) in French Cuisine:
Hollandaise-egg yolk and butter based
The classes have been quite challenging thus far and are definitely keeping me on my toes. (Read: I’m absolutely EXHAUSTED afterwards.) I’m thankful to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, though, since I know this is helping me grow to be a better cook.
Annnnd, very much overdue are pictures of my wonderful knife/utensil set: