Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lesson 5: Lessons Learned

The lessons from menu 5 are Mayonnaise and Creme Anglaise.

As the instructions on pg. 31 note "Mayonnaise is very easy to make if you follow a few rules." I would agree that mayonnaise was easy to make if you follow the rules and have a third hand. So I would suggest, don't make mayonnaise alone. Instead find someone to pour the oil for you while you whisk. If you are so inclined, they could also give you a whisk break when your arm is tired.

The rules that are so helpful would be to bring everything to room temperature before beginning and adding the oil drop by drop until the sauce begins to emmulsify. Then adding the rest more quickly is just fine.

As for the Creme Anglaise, I wrote about my failed first attempt in the previous post. I would say the lessons that I took from making this are that the temperature tollerance of creme anglaise is much lower than a boil and the best judge for me on being done was that the frothy top caused by whisking the milk into the egg yolks dissapeared. This will be extremely helpful as through menu 8 there will be a need to make creme anglaise for various desserts.

The additional lessons that were pretty evident to me are:

1. Cleaning whole fish is not my strength.
2. I am improving my skills in some of the following ways:
-I feel better at finding fresh ingredients at a variety of stores, most notably having success this time at Trader Joe's.
-My knife skills are improving as evidence in the salad.
-My ability to plan and execute a more complex meal has improved.
3. I am continually excited and impressed with the flavor of the dishes and my desire for French cuisine continues to increase. This was a close second, to the leg of lamb, in terms of a flavor and a really well made meal.

I still need to work on a few things, in particular cleaning fish. I would also like to increase my speed in the kitchen without having the quality of my work suffer. My photographic skills need to be worked on. However overall I continue to be very excited about all of the things that I am learning. 

I also feel that by sharing with others (and everyone sharing their thoughts and comments with me) has been an invaluable experience as well. I guess what I am trying to say, is that by blogging I have found an additional learning experience that so far has exceed my expectations. So thanks for reading, and thank you even more to those who have shared their suggestions and comments.

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