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    Monday
    Nov182013

    Pear workshop

    I signed up for a pear workshop where a chef from USA Pear came to teach us about pears: where they grow, nutritional value, the different types that exist and recipes that use pears. Apparently pears with the skin contain 6g of fiber which is the equivalent to eating three apples!

    After the introduction, we started working on various pear recipes. The menu started with pecan and blue cheese crackers topped with a pear jam, a parsnip and pear soup, and finally a pear and rice cake coated with breadcrumbs and fried. It was topped with goat cheese, a balsamic reduction and a caramelized pear. The entree was a roasted chicken with a fig sauce topped with roasted pears. And last but not least, pear crumble with a chantilly cream. Yum!

    Monday
    Nov182013

    Potages continued

    Today the chef prepared lobster bisque, consommé, French onion soup and Borscht.

    The chef committed murder for the lobster bisque. To alleviate some of the guilt, the lobster was killed instantly by piercing a knife into the back to severe the nerve instead of plunging it into a hot bath. The lobster bisque was okay, but it doesn't nearly compare to the bisque my dad makes. The same goes for the Borscht, which is a Polish soup made with beets and beef.

    The consommé was our task for the practical class. The technique for cooking consommé is interesting because you basically mix lean ground veal (beef or chicken) with brunois carrots, leeks and celery, tomato paste and an egg white. Add chicken stock to the mixture and stirring constantly over high heat you wait until the proteins start to coagulate. The mixture will create a layer on top of the broth known as the cork. After this stage you stop stirring and return the soup to a gentle simmer. If the cooking process is too strong the clarification process will not work.

    After the soup is done cooking for approximately 30 minutes, you carefully remove the clear broth a little at a time and pass it through a chinois fitted with a coffee filter. In the end you are left with an extremely clear broth. Garnish it with cooked brunois carrots and leeks.

    Monday
    Nov182013

    Potages

    Potages are a more refined version of 'soup'. Today's menu included lentil soup garnished with strips of pork belly and croutons, creamy sorel soup, vegetable soup garnished with julienned carrots and leeks, and a creamy mussels soup infused with saffron.

    For the practical we prepared the vegetable soup which consisted of a base of potatoes and leeks, which are puréed after cooking. Cream is added at the end to give it a velvety texture.

    During the practical class, a classmate working beside me accidentally added too much salt to his soup - it was to the point that it was inedible. I felt terrible for him because he had three options, the first one being to add more water, but by doing so it will change the texture pd the soup, the second option is to redo it and lastly to leave it as is. He decided to leave it hoping that by adding the cream it will reduce the saltiness. Anyway, near the end he tried that and it still didn't work. So when I was ready to season my soup I suggested he give me some of his soup to me and in return I would give him some of mine to level out the saltiness in both of our soups. Of course, we had to do this secretly because the chef would have recoiled if he saw us mixing our soups. But to my argument I didn't want to see food that could have been fixed thrown into the garbage. Anyway, we served our soups and the chef commented that both of ours had the perfect seasoning, lol! See a little teamwork can go a long way!

    Monday
    Nov182013

    Cigarettes & madeleines

    Madeleines are yummy mini sponge cakes flavoured with either lemon or orange zest. They have sweet little pregnant bellies with a slight crispy exterior and a soft fluffy interior.

    Since we used silicon moulds instead of the metal ones, the bumps weren't as pronounced. The chef said this is because the heat distribution is better with the metal moulds than the silicon.

    Monday
    Nov182013

    Eclairs & religieuses

    This practical was an epic fail! I accidentally over whipped my pastry cream when adding the cocoa powder and as a result the cream turned into a soupy mess! Have you ever tried piping a liquid?! I'm not sure how I did it, but I managed to fill the eclairs with the cream. The fondant icing was also a challenge - it was too thick and did not spread evenly over the eclairs and religieuses. The only good product for today was the pâté a choux - the chef said it was done well.