Friday, November 7, 2008

Lesson 3: Cooking and Eating

One thing that I have enjoyed about the recipes in the book is that they seem to be set-up to really work from one course to the next without having to do too many things at one time.  I don't know the techniqual cooking term, but if I were to create 3 menus, each 3 courses, I wouldn't be as successful at making them work together so well for the cook.

Like Lesson 2, Lesson 3 allowed course 1 to be made, then a short finishing step or two for the second course could be done while we talked and others sat around watching in the kitchen. Then a short break to complete the dessert, allowed for time to clean most of the dishes.  I like this, and will try to plan my Thanksgiving meal and other meals I plan in the future to reflect this time progression.

Going back a step, to the beginning of cooking, I made the mousse on Saturday morning.  I knew this would be okay because the recipe said that the mousse would be good to make up to two days before, and that making it early would actually make it better.  I love whipping egg whites to a stiff peak, as I am always amazed at their increase in size.  I also like the folding the chocolate into the egg white. This was a great opportunity to use water goblets that my wife is so proud about having (although we rarely use them).  I poured the chocolate into the goblets...see my picture (it is one I like).

Sunday came and I began prepping at 3:45, knowing that the veal would take about 2 hourse to cook.  I had thawed the thick veal shanks for two days, and when removing them from the fridge, there was a lot of liquid that filled the plate. I boiled the veal for 15 minutes, strained the liquid, made a roux in a large pan, added the veal and covered to cook. I also peeled the onions, and cooked the mushrooms.

Next came hardboiling the eggs. This is something that I have changed the way I prepare because of this book and the Les Halles cookbook. Previously I had been taught to hard boil eggs by placing eggs in a pan, covering them with water, bringing the water to a boil and boiling them for 20 min. Les Halles instructs "HOW TO HARD BOIL A FREAKING EGG" on pg. 69 to place the eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, cover, turn off heat and remove from the water after 10min to a cool in a water bath. Le Cordon Blue AT HOMEdirections say to boil water (with salt if desired) and then add the eggs and boil for 10 min. Then remove to a water bath.

To me, two things come to mind about the differences in each cooking directions: 1. My previous cooking obviously boiled the shit out of the eggs and 2. The French directions made me think the eggs wouldn't be cook. I followed the directions for Le Cordon Bleu and found the shells to come off very easily and no crazy grey yokes on the eggs. I knew for sure the eggs were great, when a few days later I tested the extra eggs to see if they were hard boiled...I spun one on the counter and it kept spinning like a crazy gyroscope or just wouldn't stop!

The eggs needed a Bechamel Sauce, which I made and then left on a double boiler until ready. I didn't find this to be challenging, and I was very careful to make sure I didn't burn the bottom of the pan and ruin the sauce. When it was time, just before the veal was ready, I sliced the eggs, placed in a pan and covered with the sauce. Broiling this made everything brown and crispy on top, resulting in a surprisingly sweet, soft and tasty egg dish. Very rich, however some went for seconds.

Back to the veal, I added the onions to cook for another 30min before adding the mushrooms and then attempting to learn the lesson of using egg whites as a liaison. I thought I understood the process and what was to happen with the egg and sauce to make it perfect. I removed the veal and vegetables, leaving just the sauce; whipped the egg whites, and attempted to temper the eggs before pouring them all into the sauce. I did this by scooping up some of the liquid into the boil, mixed and then poured it into the pan. As soon as I did this, I knew I had failed...truly failed for the first time!

What resulted? Thin sauce...extra thin and runny sauce...with floating scrambled egg yokes that made white, floating chunks. This disappointed me, however everyone else eating with us brushed it off and enjoyed the veal without the sauce.

Without the sauce the veal really needed salt, however the vegetables were tender and perfect. The veal fell off the bone, which had some great marrow inside that I enjoyed digging out and eating...awfully tasty.

My wife wasn't convinced to try the veal, but she did approve of the egg dish (which I probably won't have a need or desire to make again). She of course was excited about desert...just look at the I need to say more?

Overall...I enjoyed cooking and eating veal, and the egg dish went well with this menu, but the winning of best in show for this menu had to be the dessert! I failed on one account, it was not the mousse.

1 comment:

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

I do alot of food photgraphy and the image that you have posted of the 6 glasses filled with mousse chocolat is just brilliant...!
Food images are ever so much better in naturale light.