Pop Quizzes for Adults at Le Cordon Bleu

I have now completed two weeks of my second term at Le Cordon Bleu – Dusit culinary school in Bangkok, Thailand. That means six lectures and six cooking tests plus a surprise “white exam” on French culinary vocabulary words we learned in the basic cuisine class last fall. This exam was a “wake-up call” to be sure, as most of the students did not seem to have a clue as to meaning of these words!

I noticed immediately that the chef had stopped writing the vocabulary words that related to each lesson on the white board, which he had done last term. I meant to ask about this on the first day, but failed to do so as there seemed to be so many other things to think about this term. Since we were already exposed to all of these terms, it is now taken for granted that we have memorized them. This is just another aspect to study in the days and weeks ahead, along with the Tourné cut potatoes.

Technology is a Wonderful Thing

Even though I had studied my vocabulary words last fall, to be honest, I had not looked at the definitions since. My recent dilemma is that I wanted index cards to make old-fashioned flash cards to study. I thought this would be an easy thing to find in Bangkok. Not so, I’m afraid! Since I could not locate what I wanted, my husband said, “There must be an app for that!” referring to my iPhone or iPad. Sure enough, I downloaded one for free and within minutes I was able to easily input what I wanted. I can shuffle the cards around, and, much to my delight, I can even have the words spoken in French or any one of 10 other languages as well as share the cards on all of my electronic devices. And finally, I can share the cards with friends, but I’m afraid the other students in my class are going to have to figure this out on their own — not that this is a competition or anything!

Four Things I Have Learned So Far in the Intermediate Class

  1. Don’t take anything for granted. Anything you learned after completing 10 weeks of lectures and cooking in basic cuisine still applies this term. You can be tested on that information at any time.
  1. Make sure to use the correct equipment and the right knife for each job. I lost points on my sauce because it was “grainy” at the time it was presented to the chef. In a rush, I failed to use the fine-mesh strainer, called a Chinoise, which is an essential element in a French kitchen. Much to my dismay, I had used a different strainer that day — there are three different sizes at our disposal at every workstation.
  1. It is standard practice that every sauce must be strained, even a Hollandaise or the base for ice cream, crème anglaise.
  1. What I thought was going to be the hardest lesson in week 2 turned out to be one of the easiest so far — working with live lobsters. I was certainly impressed with myself, and this time so was the chef!

Here is a picture recap of the recipes we made during week 2:

  • 2 appetizers using langoustine
  • 3 main courses
    1. Monkfish wrapped in bacon
    2. Roasted Guinea Fowl
Week 2, Lessons 4 and 5: Upper left, an appetizer of fish mousse terrine with langoustine, an herb-sour cream sauce and a side salad of bitter greens. Upper right, a buckwheat crepe with langoustine and white sauce with bacon appetizer. Lower left, monk fish wrapped in bacon with fish jus, cauliflower with Mornay sauce and turned artichokes. Lower right, roosted guinea fowl with chicken jus and turned apples.

Week 2, Lessons 4 and 5: Upper left, an appetizer of fish mousse terrine with langoustine, an herb-sour cream sauce and a side salad of bitter greens. Upper right, a buckwheat crepe with langoustine and white sauce with bacon appetizer. Lower left, monk fish wrapped in bacon with fish jus, cauliflower with Mornay sauce and turned artichokes. Lower right, roosted guinea fowl with chicken jus and turned apples.

3. Butter-Poached Lobster

Week 2, Lesson 6: Butter poached lobster, lobster jus and rice pilaf with golden raisins

Week 2, Lesson 6: Butter poached lobster, lobster jus and rice pilaf with golden raisins.

What lessons have you learned through cooking, either at home or at work?Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, Google + or any of my other social media accounts!

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.