Friday, December 19, 2008

Lesson 4: Lessons Learned

Here is my own picture of the Pineapple Sorbet

The lessons from menu 4 are Crepes and Sugar Syrup, or rather I should qualify that these are the two NEW lessons. Skills learned through previous lessons in Roasting, Deglazing and Roux and Flour-Bound Sauces were also needed.

This illustrates clearly how the progression of skills from one lesson to the next is really critical. Having practiced making Bechamel for the Oeufs a la Tripe I was better prepared for what to expect, as well as more experienced and therefore much more comfortable with whipping up the Bechamel sauce for the Gratin de Blettes.

I appreciate this progression as a teaching and learning tool, as well as confirmation of one of my reasons for choosing Le Cordon Bleu AT HOME. I do have a bit of concern that making each dish in order will be a challenge when selecting fresh ingredients, of which I have not had too much difficulty up to this point. However, I am going to go to check out the current fish selection today in order to do a little reconnaissance for Lesson 5 and Lesson 6. I am worried about the timing of these two dishes, as they both contain seafood, of which scallops and mussels would be best fresh. My guess is that scallops could be found frozen, however not ideal I am sure, and mussels will only be available if fresh. I hope that the timing will work out just fine, but I have no idea. As for other fresh ingredients, I feel fortunate to live in an area with a very moderate climate year-round, as well as a place fairly rich with agriculture. Therefore I can usually find most of the vegetables and other related items (with the exception of pearl onions when I need them) pretty easily.

Maybe I should get back to the main event...lessons learned through menu 4!?!

Crepes--As explained in the lesson, crepes can be "served hot or cold, rolled into cylinders, folded into triangle shapes, or even stacked one on top of another" (23). I followed the directions, making the batter, which by the way is very simple, and letting it rest. I used an old crepe cooking contraption my mother let me borrow that consisted of a round electric heating element and a pan that you place upside down on top of the heater. You are supposed to heat the pan up and then dip the bottom of the pan into the batter, flipping the pan upside down back onto the heater to cook. This definitely helped keeps the crepes very thin, and was much easier than using an omelet pan. The ones I cooked in the omelet pan were much thicker. The crepes were easy to roll up and I had great results with the dish. Overall, something I found pretty easy, although I would buy two crepe pans (as instructed) for next time as well as give myself more time to cook the crepes.

Sugar Syrups--Another lesson that I thought was pretty straight forward and easy, requiring some patients to allow the liquid to heat up on low heat so that all sugar is dissolved prior to boiling. Nothing to exciting here, until the simple syrup was combined with the pinneapple and frozen in the ice cream maker...then...magic!

As for the other lessons, roasting the leg of lamb will take some additional practice to get the proper doneness all dialed in (although who knows the next time I will buy a leg of lamb and roast it again?), but deglazing the pan with water was a breeze and produced my favorite sauce so far!

I am not so sure that I learned it through this lesson, but I confirmed that entertaining is definitely more complicated than cooking for family at home. I do enjoy entertaining, as I enjoy sharing good food with others at least as much, or even more, as I enjoy eating good food myself. Having extra people around was helpful as I used the extra helping hands around the kitchen to help with grating cheese and making crepes, both required more time than I had budgeted.

All in all, I have to say again that this was my favorite meal so far. I am sure glad to have the confidence from making all of these dishes pretty much failure free the first time around so as not to embarrass myself too badly in front of my guests.


Kathleen said...

Really enjoying your blog. A lot of the lessons in the book are indeed ones that are found in the actual Le Cordon Bleu in Paris curriculum. Keep up the good words.

Mark said...


Thanks so much for the words of encouragement! I appreciate you taking the time to read about my learning experiences, as well as having taken the time to share your thoughts.