During week 7 of classes at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit, we created the following appetizers and desserts:
Appetizers (pictured in the right-hand set of photos below)
- Brioche, stuffed with cheese and served with champagne sauce
- Frog Legs served on top of potato pancakes
- Poached Chicken Salad with apples
Desserts (pictured in the left-hand set of photos above)
- Pink Praline cake with orange cream
- Gingerbread with hot chocolate sauce
- “Lady Fingers” with champagne cream
Our main dishes and cooking tests at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit this week included:
Class 22: Pike-Perch “Paupiettes” served with caramelized Endive
Class 23: Roasted Beef Fillet with Classic Potato Cake,
“Gateau de Pommes”
Class 24: Roasted Chicken with Morel Mushroom Cream Sauce
Curious what I learned? Here are the highlights:
- What our chef calls a “biscuit,” I call a “Lady Finger.” I’ve never tried a homemade version until now. They are so easy to make; I’ll definitely make these myself in the coming months.
- I didn’t know I even liked frog legs – until now. I had heard they tasted like chicken, and I agree!
- We were shown an alternative way to poach chicken this week; the boneless chicken breast is generously seasoned, rolled tight in plastic wrap (tendons removed, of course), made into the shape of a sausage and cooked in simmering water (80 degrees C) for 20 minutes. The final result is so much juicier and soft than anything I’ve made in the past. This technique is a keeper for sure!
- Preparing and cooking a beef roast is easy; making a potato cake, “gateau de pommes,” is not easy at all. The technique for this recipe seems simple enough, but as I’m finding with many French recipes, there are half a dozen ways to go wrong. I will certainly need more practice before I serve this at my next dinner party. Oh, and if you have an aversion to lots of butter, you may not want to try this recipe at home; our entire class actually gasped in unison during the cooking demonstration when the chef finished the completion of the recipe with 1 cup of melted butter!
- Apparently my knife skills are improving as I surprised even myself when I made my fish “paupiettes.” The technique requires that you cut the fish filet into 4 to 6 paper-thin slices and then roll them around a soft stuffing before poaching the fillets on the stovetop. I was happy to receive such good results this week.
- There are only 2 more weeks of classes in the term – 5 more demos to go. After completing a total of 55 lessons over a 6-month period, my Chef tells me he can see a real improvement in my cooking skills and overall organization in the kitchen; he’s almost impressed. I said it must be due to my broken foot, as I’ve had to be much more focused in the kitchen and no longer have the luxury of running around the kitchen in a panic!
- With the proper cutting technique, we learned that you could roast a whole chicken in 30 minutes if you remove the rib bones and “unhinge” the breasts away from the legs. In my opinion, the presentation is not pretty if left whole, but the taste can’t be beat. This is one recipe where the white meat and the dark meat can be successfully cooked at the same time without the breast meat drying out or the leg meat being overcooked. I thought I knew what this recipe was like until I made it in class. For the technique we used in school, we browned the chicken on the stovetop first and then finished the cooking in the oven with homemade stock and bones.
- Here is how I’ve made it at home, a much simpler version, where I use a brick to keep it flat on the grill.
A Thai Barbecue
- We were recently invited to a Thai housewarming party and barbecue. As luck would have it (and no surprise to those who know me), I volunteered to help prep the ingredients for the grilled kabobs, the night’s main course. I quickly took over the cooking preparations and ensured that all of the wooden skewers were soaked in warm water before grilling, and that all the meats and vegetables were divided onto separate skewers (not cooked together as is the usual practice at most barbecues). These two actions are a must for the best results when grilling.
- During the barbecue preparations, I also removed the tendons from at least 60 chicken tenders, a tedious task I assure you, and one that took about an hour to complete. I do not speak much Thai but I could tell my instructions and actions caused quite a stir, especially when I seasoned the finished skewers with salt and pepper! Unheard of here, apparently. I simply could not let the meat be grilled plainly…my efforts were not in vain; although my husband originally said that nobody would care about my chicken preparation and that I was being “too anal,” at the end of the day my better half said these were the best-tasting chicken kabobs he’s ever had; he loved the soft texture, which was a direct result of removing the tendons that get tough once cooked! My Chef at school would be so proud!
Can you believe there are only two more weeks left in this term? I know I can’t – it’s gone by so quickly! Stay tuned for my next post to find out what the last couple of classes included.
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.