My ramblings from Pro-Chef French Cooking Class have sadly come to an end after spending the last six months learning techniques, styles, and culinary terms. In the end, there was always a method to the madness.
The first week of testing stressed everyone out – not knowing what recipes would be asked of us, or if we could remember how to make them.
Week 19 – Test 1
Mushroom Veloute, Green Salad with French Vinaigrette, Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Tarragon and Leeks
Most students showed up early for a pre-game huddle and numerous opinions of what we might be tested on. Each student was handed an ingredient list for a three-course meal with 15 minutes allotted per dish. I was so nervous that my hands were shaking. This served as comedy to a very tense situation when I dropped item after item.
Making the Grade
Everyone had points taken off their soup grade for using a food processor instead of a blender… who knew? I think everybody succeeded with the salad, however. I thought my chicken turned out well until the verdict returned – not enough salt. This tends to be an ongoing problem for me.
Week 20 – Test 2
Cheese Soufflé, Pan-Seared Salmon with Herb Scented Beurre Blanc, Apple Galette
Originally we were informed we’d only be getting the names of the dishes. But thank heavens we got the ingredients for the soufflé and the galette crust. Every little bit helps.
First course – soufflé
I’ve made this recipe many times, yet managed to over-whip my egg whites. Blame it on my nerves.
Second course – salmon
I figured this was a no-brainer since I cook it three nights a week at home. While I was busy overcooking the salmon however, my beurre blance sauce separated…. sigh.
Third course – apple galette
It’s hard to destroy apples, and these came out just stunning. But the crust… not so much.
Our instructors grading our dishes. Rona and I thrilled we passed.
The entire class passed the test with various scores. We were just thrilled that it was officially over. Now we could go back to enjoying cooking. To hear Rona tell the story of our testing experience click here.
Congratulations to the graduates of the Pro-Chef class of March 2012!
It was a pleasure getting to know and work with each one of you. Our group is planning to continue our quest for learning with bi-monthly cooking dinners. In the Fall, most of us will move on to Pro-Chef Level Two, featuring ethnic cuisines. Until then I’ll use my new skills to continue experimenting with new recipes. You are invited to join me as the fun continues.
I leave you with my favorite recipe from the class, Cheese Soufflé.
- ½ oz. flour (approx. 1 tablespoon)
- ½ oz. butter (approx. 1 tablespoon)
- ½ cup milk (room temp.)
- 2 oz. sharp cheese, grated (cheddar, gruyere, parmesan)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 egg whites
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt (probably a lot more than I would use)
- Butter, room temperature, for greasing the ramekins
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs or parmesan cheese
- Use room temperature butter to grease two ramekin dishes. Add the grated Parmesan or breadcrumbs and roll around the dish to cover the sides.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, add flour, and cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
- Whisk in milk.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer a minute or two. Remove from heat.
- Beat in the egg yolk.
- Stir in cheese and a touch of salt. Taste for seasoning. Add cayenne.
- Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks.
- Fold ⅓ of whipped egg whites into the flour and butter mixture.
- When not quite mixed, add rest of egg whites and fold a few times until it looks “splotchy white and yellow.”
- Pour into prepared ramekins. Smooth top with a spatula and run finger around rim.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately.
Quote of the Day
”I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.” - Madam Benoit
…and then she paused for thought.
Hope you have enjoyed our adventure in the culinary classroom.
Stay tuned for more classes this fall.