Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lesson 3: Lessons Learned

There are two lessons to be learned through the menu for Lesson 3: Roux and Flour-Bound Sauces, and Liaisons. I can confirm, as stated in the last post, that I had my first failure.

First the positive. Roux and Flour-Bound Sauces were used during this meal to create the bechamel sauce for the Gratin of Hard-Boiled Eggs. I felt successful completing this, taking care to whisk so that the sauce would not burn to the pan. It surprises me that the sauce turns out with a sweet flavor at the end.

Now for the big failure. As you have read from the previous post, my first attempt at using a liaison to thicken a sauce resulted in a thin sauce with chunks of floating egg whites. I know exactly what I did wrong, and it mostly had to do with being lazy. Instead of scooping out a little warm sauce to pour in the bowl with the egg whites, I instead used the bowl with the egg whites to scoop up a little warm sauce. By doing this, I didn't get enough sauce to actually warm up the egg whites enough so they wouldn't boil when I poured them into the pan.

I have to admit, that this failure has increased my concern over my ability to learn to thicken sauce using a liaison. My concerns are magnified by both the importance of sauces in French cooking and the fast approaching Thanksgiving holiday. The first being that I understand the importance of sauces to French cooking. The veal was great on its own, but it could have been spectacular with the sauce. The second being Thanksgiving, a day I have hosted and cooked for my family for the past few years, and for two years before that in my college apartment for my roommates and friends. At each Thanksgiving I have yet to make gravy, this being the my most notable use of using a liaison to thicken a sauce. I typically leave this to my grandmother or mother who both use corn starch as the liaison. The last two years I have been trying to observe and learn, but mostly just watched from afar. Knowing that I have failed with the egg yoke, this year I feel more determined to attempt the same technique to make gravy, hopefully learning more for the next time I will need to thicken a sauce.

In addition to the lessons outline in the book, I was also able to learn to hard-boil eggs properly, and enjoyed picking up the Les Halles cookbook to read some more. I think Bourdain does a good job of teaching his way through the recipes in that book as well. When the eggs are properly hard-boiled, they spin way better than hard-boiled eggs that are's kind of fun to see them spin like a top!

My final thought is that I have been amazed at the desserts, with the exception of the caramel custard, the desserts have been the highlight. The Chocolate Mousse was easy to make and a real wife pleaser!

1 comment:

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

Alton Brown is also a great teacher to help with simple things that can confound you in the kitchen, like boiling an egg and making a sauce that does not break.
I make much tastier more beautiful eggs I can photograph and scrumptious sauces today because of his simple and clear and very rememberable instructions.

I find him quite superior to Tony Bourdain ( I have read all of Bourdain's books and seen just about all No Reservations epis)
But I do love Tony's humour and respect his knowledge...

But with Alton's simple culinary science approach, the answers to simple kitchen problems stick with you so that you can work your way through any recipe debacle (like sauces of all types) with ease and confidence...

Check out Alton Brown, winner of many James Beard awards, I am sure he will rock your world.
Everything that he teaches is applicable to you working through Le Cordon Bleu @ Home in your Home.

I am not certain where you live, but he is just about the only program worth watching on the Food Network.
Bon Chance...!