If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you know in the last few weeks I’ve learned how to make duck, beef and fish in my classes at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit. During week 9, the focus for the week was chicken and fish.

Week 9 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

Class 25:

  • Gnocchi Dough
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Cutting a Chicken & Preparing a Fricassee
  • Turned & Glazed Vegetables
  • Poached Fruits
  • Italian Meringue
More "turned" vegetables; the potatoes are half the size of my ball point pen! In class, the Chef made homemade traditional Gnocchi with baked potatoes. I made a similar recipe at home using sweet potatoes; both were as light as air.

More “turned” vegetables; the potatoes are half the size of my ball point pen! In class, the Chef made homemade traditional Gnocchi with baked potatoes. I made a similar recipe at home using sweet potatoes; both were as light as air.

Class 26:

  • Scrambling Eggs
  • Hot Fish Terrine
  • White Butter Sauce
  • Preparing a Bavarian Cream
  • Crème Anglaise
The fish terrine is baked in a bread mold lined with blanched spinach leaves; the frozen dessert shown here was served with whipped cream (the shape of which is called "quenelle") that is almost bigger than the actual dessert!

The fish terrine is baked in a bread mold lined with blanched spinach leaves; the frozen dessert shown here was served with whipped cream (the shape of which is called “quenelle”) that is almost bigger than the actual dessert!

Class 27:

  • Fileting Fish: Sea Bream
  • Preparing and Braising Guinea Fowl
  • Deep Fried Puff Pastry
"The best cabbage I ever made!" The Chef braised the cabbage and sausage separately, then made a casserole using a gratin dish. He topped the cabbage with imported French Sausage, braised fancy-cut carrots and Guinea Fowl; at home I used smoked baby chicken and spicy pork sausage instead of the ingredients used in class, as well as my slow-cooker before combining the ingredients at the end for beautiful rustic side-dish.

“The best cabbage I ever made!” The Chef braised the cabbage and sausage separately, then made a casserole using a gratin dish. He topped the cabbage with imported French Sausage, braised fancy-cut carrots and Guinea Fowl; at home I used smoked baby chicken and spicy pork sausage instead of the ingredients used in class, as well as my slow-cooker before combining the ingredients at the end for beautiful rustic side-dish.

Here’s What I Learned During Week 9 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

  • I finally discovered that when butchering a whole chicken you could remove the leg tendons one at a time, instead of trying to remove them all at once with “one pull.” I’m glad I asked the advice of a fellow student for his secret, as I just don’t have the strength to remove them quickly all at once. This is a quite revelation!
  • The Chef worked with Guinea Fowl this week; basically it’s a small black chicken. The meat is much darker than a regular domesticated chicken and the taste is much “gamier.”
  • I’m sure it sounds a little strange to hear we passed around butchered animal parts in class, like the head of a chicken or duck or a partially filleted fish. Oh, and many of us took photos. I was just happy most of our classes were in the afternoon and not at 8 a.m. That would be way too early to see such blood and guts!
  • At home we decided to smoke some game hens (using our outdoor smoker) and to make one of the cabbage recipes our Chef made in class. I had seen some frozen small chickens at our local market and thought these would be perfect until we actually unthawed the packages and found I had really purchased whole baby chickens, with the head and feet attached. I, of course, could easily butcher them, but was quite shocked to see how scrawny and thin they were! In this case, I’m glad I bought two.
  • For the record: My husband thought the braised cabbage with sausage I made was the best cabbage he’s ever had! Keep in mind, I had to make a few substitutions: The sausage used in class was, of course, imported from France and not available here in Bangkok, so I used a spicy Pork sausage instead; I did not have any duck fat on hand, so I substituted bacon fat; I did not have any homemade chicken stock, so I added fresh, raw chicken wings to the cabbage while it was cooking (a trick I learned in class). Voila – I had a perfect side dish to accompany our smoked chickens.
  • My husband also tells me all my vegetables taste better when they are presented in the tiny shapes I have learned in school! He now, apparently, even likes turnips!
  • It is near the end of the term and I am still struggling with getting the right shape on “turned potatoes.” A friend from another class told me she spent several hours per week practicing her “turning” skills. Really? Now she tells me! She says she bought KILOS of carrots and potatoes at her local market every few days on her way from school to practice. Now that’s dedication! I guess that’s why she was in the “top 5” last term. I think I’ll be lucky to be in the “top 10” this term.
  • Anyone can have a “bad day” in the kitchen. Mine happened in class 26 where we made a Fish Terrine. Despite a few setbacks, my final dish came out surprisingly well, better than most (if I were the judge). I think the old saying must be true: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that counts.

Grading for Week 9 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

Here are this week’s recipes and critiques:

Class 25: Poulet Sauté a l’Estragon (Sautéed Chicken with Tarragon)

  • I received good marks on butchering the chicken into 8 pieces and showing proper cooking techniques on the legs as well as the breast.
  • The sauce was good, but still under-seasoned.
  • Although I presented four “turned potatoes” on the presentation plate, I was supposed to complete eight, so I’m sure a few marks were deducted from my overall score.

Class 26: Terrine De Poisson Chaud, Sauce Beurre Blanc (Hot Fish Terrine with White Butter Sauce)

  • My sauce this time around was excellent. I have made this many times, so I would not have expected anything less.
  • The terrine itself looked quite good and the inside piece of salmon was cooked perfectly, but the texture of the terrine was off due to my earlier missteps in the kitchen.
  • The taste still lacked proper seasoning!

Class 27: Fillets de Daurade Poeles au Fenouil (Pan-Fried Sea Bream Fillets with Fennel)

  • The fish fillets looked good.
  • I didn’t have any problems with my cooking technique. The one-sided cooking was very good and the Chef was pleased.
  • The fish seasoned well. The sauce (called Beurre Blanc) seasoned well, too, but it could have been a little thicker.

What else?

This week, the Chef made two special desserts as a preview of things to come in the Intermediate class. Luckily we are not yet expected to prepare this kind of decoration! Although you may not be able to tell in the dessert on the left, there was a very elaborate design to start that was made with a piping bag before it was flambéed. Notice that the bottom dessert (puff pastry with pears) has 4 sauces on the plate!

Here are the two special desserts made by our Chef this week and a book recommendation (considered to be "the bible" of French Cuisine) to further our study in the culinary arts.

Here are the two special desserts made by our Chef this week and a book recommendation (considered to be “the bible” of French Cuisine) to further our study in the culinary arts.

I’ll continue to update with classes through the end of the term. Stay tuned for week 10!

Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.