This week at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit we made the following in the practical kitchen:
- Savory Guinea Fowl and Cabbage Pie
- Stuffed Quail with Foie Gras and Raisins
- Stuffed Trout with Morel Mushrooms
A Note About Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms are one of the most expensive mushrooms you’ll find in the store. Beware: They can be toxic if they are not cooked. We are told that every professional chef is taught this.
According to a story told by our Chef: A few years ago, a particular up and coming Chef who wanted to give his VIP guests a taste of “nouvelle cuisine” prepared and served a “ceviche” using morels at a very high-end dinner event. Every patron there that night became sick and this Chef has never been able to work in France again!
Appetizers & Desserts
I have found it is so easy to make a pie crust for a quiche, other savory pie or a dessert tart; our Chef can whip one up in less than 10 minutes. I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy with a frozen or pre-prepared crust ever again!
For dessert this week our Chef made us an easy version of chocolate soufflé, a raspberry-almond tart & a white plum frozen parfait.
Grading at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit
During the course of this term we have learned how to debone a chicken, guinea fowl, quail, lobster and now trout within 20 minutes – or even 10 minutes if we can! You don’t want to be late to present your dish to the Chef. I was 4 minutes late on my last cooking test. I now know that ½ a point is deducted from your daily grade for every minute late; after 5 minutes you receive a “0” and are not allowed to present your dish for tasting.
Of all the days to present a less than perfect dish, on the day of our “mock” final (where we were graded in front of the entire class and four Chefs tasted our food), things didn’t go as I planned. There are a lot of things that can go wrong – more than I had imagined. Having one of the worst looking plates of the day is not fun, especially when at the end of the day my stuffed trout actually tasted really good. Of course this was after I spent 5-6 minutes at home getting the sauce to the perfect consistency. My husband and I agree: this was the best-tasting “2-point” dish I’ve ever made!
Note to self – Stay calm and just remember these basic rules in the French kitchen and you can’t go wrong:
- Cook the protein to the right temperature
- Make sure your garnish is well-cooked and not burnt
- Well-season everything
- Have your knife and butchering skills on point
- Make sure your final presentation looks good, is well balanced AND you have a good sauce
Oh, and it has to taste good (of course), without too much lemon juice, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, wine or tomato paste, thank you. And yes, over-salted anything is not good, even to a French Chef who loves salt!
Chef Paul Bocuse
When learning more about the Lyon region we were introduced to Chef Paul Bocuse and his contribution to French cuisine. Most notable is the fact that the restaurant that bears his name (and he still oversees) has held 3-Michelin stars for more than 52 years! The mystic surrounding the this honor is great, especially when you learn that keeping your Michelin rating is not guaranteed from year to year. Once received, it can be taken away, or your restaurant could be downgraded if “the Establishment” decides the highest standards of excellence have not been met or upheld. As a French Chef, you definitely don’t want to become complacent in your craft!
Stay tuned for more of my adventures at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit next week! In the meantime, follow me on Facebook for mid-week updates from 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.