My first week has been a whirlwind. As I explained before, there are two types of classes. Demonstrations are when the chef cooks 3-5 recipes and we watch, take notes and ask questions, then taste a few bites of what he prepared to see how ours will be expected to taste as well; and after, either later that day or the next day, we have a practical where we go into our little kitchens and each prepare one of the dishes ourselves. In the practicals, we have a chef observing us watching for how organized and clean we are, and then when we are done we present him with our dish and he comments on the taste and presentation.
In cuisine practicals this week, we made a Potage Cultivateur: a tasty vegetable soup that utilized our paysanne vegetables, which is a type of knife work when everything is cut into miniscule triangles. Who knew you could spend so much time cutting veggies. If you look carefully, you can see some floating triangles in the picture below. Next we started working with stocks, so for our second practical we made Sole Limande avec Sauce Bercy (Lemon Sole with an Herb Sauce). For this we had to filet the sole (removing the four filets), skin the filets, break down the skeleton, remove the eyes, and take out the blood. I’m glad that I now know how to do it, but it wasn’t too fun. My hands finally stopped smelling like fish 2 days and 100 washes later. With the fins, bones and head we made a stock, which we later used to make the herb sauce. When I told my dad about the fish butchering, he didn’t seem to impressed, but I would like for people to know that it was not easy and it’s not the same as filleting a trout or salmon on a camping trip. Soles are very thin and flat! (I didn’t get to snap a picture, before the chef tasted it in practical, so the picture below is the one from the demonstration.) In the third practical, which took place this morning…Saturday at 8:30 am, we first made Fond Blanc de Volaille (white chicken stock) and from that Suprême de Poulet Velouté, which is just a fancy way of saying poached chicken with a creamy, chicken-ey sauce. Luckily the chickens had their heads and feet removed (I guess that’s not always the case), but there were still a few black and white feathers left so we to singe them off using a torch. I know it looks bland in the picture, but that’s how we were instructed to present it, luckily it tasted delicious. Oh and the leftover chicken made for a great chicken sandwich this afternoon. All of the recipes are for 4-8 servings, so I end up with a lot of food to bring home. Yes, I am the silly looking girl on the metro at 8:30 at night, surrounded by chic commuting Parisians, carrying a huge tupperware of sloshing soup, but what can I say, I’m a poor student and have to make the most of all the free food I can get.
The way my schedule worked out I only had one patisserie practical this week and we made Diamants (diamonds, aka the most addicting cookies ever). There is no liquid in the dough, so the coin-sized cookies are crispy and flaky and crumbly and scream to be eaten by the handful. I left half of them at school for other people to enjoy and took a full ziplock bag home for me, myself and I. They are so irresistable that I have been trying to hide them from myself, which is very difficult in a studio apartment that has a kitchen with no cupboards. One of the girls in my class told me she froze hers to keep from eating them all this week, but I admitted to her that they are so good that I don’t think I would be deterred and would probably eat them straight out of the freezer.
Monday seems to be unofficial tart day, because I am making a Tarte aux Pommes in patisserie and a Pissalderie in cuisine. Wish me luck, I’ll report back on how they turn out.