My final days of the intermediate term arrived! It was time to prepare for the final exam; on exam day I had 2½ hours to complete and present the one dish given to us to by our chef. As I may have mentioned earlier, this one cooking test would be 50% of our entire grade for the term.
The Final Exam at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit
One of the best recipes I made all term was Beef Steak with Bordelaise sauce, so I had hoped to receive this one as my final dish; or, at the very least, one of the two fish recipes. As luck or fate would have it, I was given the one recipe that I failed to complete on time during the semester: rack of lamb with garlic-basil crust. I have since referred to that day in the kitchen as, “The Great Lamb Debacle.” It was a personal low for me and I believe for the Chef also, as so many failed that particular test as well.
Planning for the worst (while still hoping for the best), I had the foresight to practice this recipe at home a few weeks before the exam. I am so glad I did, as I’m sure this is what saved me in the end. While I redeemed myself in so many ways on this recipe, it was “just passable” by the critics on exam day. We had to wait for more than hour after our class to hear the results.
It may not have been the prettiest thing I have ever made, but I got it done. If I were honest, I would have scored myself 75 out of 100.
I had thought I did better than the review I received, as I not only finished the recipe on time, I actually finished early and was well organized; my crust and sauce were just the right consistency and despite the fact that everything tasted good and the food looked good on the plate, the rib bones were definitely not cleaned well enough and therefore, a sub-standard plate was presented. One of my classmates had a much better dish overall (in fact, one of the best of the day!), except for one important element: he burnt his sauce! He failed the exam, and I passed. Similar to last term, I was again ranked in the middle of the class.
Cooking Rack of Lamb at Home
At home, when I had all the time in the world, I spent 2½ hours to prep and clean two lamb racks. In the exam, I did what I could in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Any longer, and I was afraid I would not complete the entire recipe. I hear that practice makes perfect…maybe I’ll get it right on try #6. I wish my Chef could have seen and tasted what I prepared at home; this is my “signature dish,” a recipe I have recreated from a menu item listed in a restaurant in Napa, CA:
Rack of lamb marinated in pomegranate juice, topped with caramelized onions, pomegranate syrup and fresh pomegranate seeds.
The best part of this recipe is the texture of the meat. After marinating for 3 days in the pomegranate juice, once cooked, the lamb cuts and feels like a fillet mignon. I was so sure the chef who originally gave me the recipe had left something out – and he did! My addition to this recipe is reducing the pomegranate juice to syrup with a few Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. After all, French Cuisine is all about the sauce!!
Our Last Day of Class at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit
Unlike last term at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit, our last day of class (lecture #30) was “business as usual” for Chef Christian. Only in the last 10 minutes of class did he reveal the top five students of the term (I was not one of them). No fanfare this time, but we were treated to five awe-inspiring recipes instead of the usual three.
During our last class the chef made:
- Traditional beef tartar
- Pan-fried langoustine, cauliflower “semolina” and curry oil
- “Pastilla” with 14 flavors (fried dough with duck confit and dried fruit filling)
- Smoked eel and foie gras “plisse” (a gelatin mold with 6 layers)
- Chocolate galette (can be served cold as a chocolate mousse OR hot as a bitter chocolate cake)
I suspect in the last class he was preparing us for what’s in store in the Superior class, where I hear we will be given 5 hours for the final exam (instead of 2½ hours) to complete:
- 3 canapés plus
- 2 salads, our choice;
- 1 main course- chef’s choice
I’m excited for the Superior class to start and will share how it goes next term. In the meantime, stay tuned for more of my culinary adventures in Thailand!
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.