During week 9 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit, we learned to make the following dishes from French cuisine:

Class 28 focused on:

  • Stuffed cabbage with veal sweetbread for the main course
  • Pigs feet with foie gras on toast as an appetizer
  • Sweet flan served with strawberry soup for dessert

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In class 29 we made recipes highlighting flavors of the Caribbean using techniques common to French cuisine (pictured below):

  • West Indian pork stew as the main course
  • Deviled crab salad as the appetizer
  • Pineapple ‘Ravioli’ with beetroot chutney, piquillos sorbet and saffron sauce for dessert

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Intermediate French Cuisine: Stuffed Cabbage

Again, the techniques we are learning in class continue to astound me – usually in a good way. What I thought might be a simple dish to prepare (stuffed cabbage) actually required quite a bit of skill. Of course, we couldn’t just make small stuffed packages or parcels with the cabbage leaves – that would not be at all challenging. They had to be filled and assembled in a circular fashion so that at the end of cooking the head of cabbage kept its round shape and the stuffing was evenly distributed. In my opinion, the presentation was better once it was cut in half to show the inside layers.

This dish was one you would serve “family style” in French cuisine, with at least 4 portions.

Intermediate French Cuisine: Pigs Feet with Foie Gras

Who knew pigs’ feet were quite so tasty? I never thought I would see pigs feet and duck liver together on my plate! It was definitely a magical combination – something you might see on a fine-dining menu. Because this is considered a “rustic” dish, I’m not sure you would find it on 3-star Michelin menu but I hope it would make it to a 1-star Michelin menu. I would definitely order it!

Intermediate French Cuisine: Sweet Flan with Strawberries

The flan was not the usual custard I am used to seeing; it was more of a soft cake topped with a dollop of creme fraiche. In French, the shape presented is called a “quenelle.”

I was most excited to try the “strawberry soup” which was actually plated as a sauce on the side. I think I would have preferred the “soup” served as an actual chilled soup as a first course – not unlike having a cold cucumber or beet soup. Why not try the flavors of strawberry and white pepper? I bet it would be great on a hot summer day…

Class 29: West Indian Pork Stew

The final dish we made in class actually hails from the Caribbean, a French Territory. The star of this dish was the not the stew itself, but the array of condiments or garnishes you add at the end as well as the combination of exotic spices. Think of a Caribbean-inspired curry: it takes a combination of 12 individual spices to create this exotic spice combination.

I actually made this earlier in the year at home; a student from last term shared it with me during her last week of culinary school before leaving for her home. This was quite possibly one of the best stews I have made in recent years.

In class, my meat was not quite tender at the time I needed to present it to the chef – 1½ hours is not long enough to get the meat soft. According to our chef, it would have been had I diced the meat finer at the beginning. I told him in 20 more minutes it will be almost perfect! By then of course, I would be late and receive a “0” for the day’s work, so I had to get graded on what I had at that moment in time.

All of the dishes the chef made representing the Caribbean were the best of the term! He made an interesting sorbet with piquillos peppers (from Spain) and espelette powder (a mild chili spice). Some of us could not get enough. I imagine it’s one of those dishes that you either love or hate. We also sampled a deviled crab salad. I’ll definitely be making these recipes at home!

Intermediate French Cuisine: Pineapple ‘Ravioli’

Of all of the desserts from this term, this one had the most “high-end” plating. The Chef created the “raviolis” by making paper-thin slices of pineapple that had already been cut into a decorative flower shape.

The beet chutney was placed in between several thin layers of the pineapple to mimic ravioli on the plate. The chef made the pinwheel decoration out of “meringue fingers” using Swiss meringue as the base and topped it with a sprinkling of espelette powder (a type of chili powder). In my opinion, the star of the show was the red pepper sorbet!

Even though this was not a pastry class, during the term we learned to make 3 kinds of meringue:

  1. One made with granulated sugar (French Meringue)
  2. One made with cooked sugar (Italian Meringue)
  3. One made with cooked egg whites and sugar (Swiss Meringue) – highlighted in class 29

I suspect these are the type of technically complex recipes to expect in our next term, “Superior Cuisine.”

The final exam is next week, during which I will recreate one of 10 dishes chosen by the Chef. For the final exam, we are to study these 10 recipes:

  • Class 2: Veal
  • Classes 7 & 10: Duck (1 of 2 recipes)
  • Class 9: Beef
  • Class 12: Chicken
  • Class 13: Bean stew with sausage
  • Classes 14 & 15: Lamb (1 of 2 recipes)
  • Classes 18 & 22: Fish (1 of 2 recipes)

Our notes are not allowed in the kitchen, so we must memorize the cooking steps. The Chef will tell us which recipe we will prepare 30 minutes before our exam!

Stay tuned for my final post of the term; I’ll share my class results and last thoughts on my time studying intermediate French Cuisine. I will then have 4 weeks off before beginning a 3-month term of “Superior” French Cuisine.

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.