During week 5 of the Superior course at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit we learned to make these main courses:

  • Class 12: Veal Medallions with Lemon and Ginger Confit
  • Class 13: Lobster Tail Wrapped in Dover Sole Fillets
  • Class 14: Roasted Pigeon with Fava Beans

Class 12 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit: Veal Medallions with Lemon and Ginger Confit

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Macaroni “cake” with roasted veal

It doesn’t get any easier than preparing a roasted veal tenderloin. There’s no real magic – just make sure the meat is cleaned well (fat and silver skin removed), seasoned well, shaped well with string and then cooked to the proper temperature by browning the meat on the stovetop in butter first and then finishing it in the oven—no real challenge or hardship.

I was so sure my meat was “well seasoned” when I presented my dish to the Chef, but alas – I was told I needed more salt yet again! He told me just a pinch or two more, and to remember to add a few flakes of sea salt on top of the sliced meat for the best flavor just before serving! I was so close…

Mackerel fillets with vinegar, cucumber with cream and lamb's lettuce salad; thick veal medallions with lemon and ginger, macaroni cake; lemon pana cotta, strawberries and marshmallows; figs in spicy strawberry wine, cocoa crisp and yoghurt sorbet.

Mackerel fillets with vinegar, cucumber with cream and lamb’s lettuce salad; thick veal medallions with lemon and ginger, macaroni cake; lemon pana cotta, strawberries and marshmallows; figs in spicy strawberry wine, cocoa crisp and yoghurt sorbet.

The big focus for this lesson was what the Chef called a “macaroni cake.” You might call it an elevated macaroni and cheese casserole or pie, since you serve the cooked pasta in wedges, like a pie. It was time consuming to prepare, as individual strands of cooked pasta had to be inserted into a round baking mold in concentric circles before a the custard filling could be added, and then more pasta carefully placed on top. For the first time we worked with a partner; we presented one macaroni cake between two people. Although my partner and I worked well together and were the first group to present our dishes, the end result of the macaroni cake was not particularly appealing, as the center was not cooked enough. It was very disappointing, especially since it’s not possible to check the cooking until you unmold it from the pan. At that point, there’s no way to get it back into the mold. We felt bad, but looking around the room, every group seemed to have similar problems and some were complete disasters. So, we felt bad, but not that bad…

Class 13 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit: Lobster Tail Wrapped in Dover Sole Fillets

Foie gras appetizer, prepared 3 ways. The preparation is a 2-day to process: whether the foie gras is poached, cooked in the oven or layered in a mold (called a terrine), it must set at least overnight before serving. Our chef gave us recipes for a savory fig jam, a mushroom vinegar and a mango chutney that he used as accompaniments on the plate.

Foie gras appetizer, prepared 3 ways. The preparation is a 2-day to process: whether the foie gras is poached, cooked in the oven or layered in a mold (called a terrine), it must set at least overnight before serving. Our chef gave us recipes for a savory fig jam, a mushroom vinegar and a mango chutney that he used as accompaniments on the plate.

We have only worked with lobster one other time. The first time all we had to concentrate on was cooking the lobster properly, de-shelling it and making a terrific sauce. This time, five more elements were added:

  1. After briefly cooking the lobster for just one minute in boiling water, we used an ice bath to stop the cooking.
  2. We filleted a whole Dover Sole and used the fillets to wrap the tail before baking the lobster roll in the oven.
  3. We cooked the claws in boiling water an additional three minutes, placed them in an ice bath and then pan-fried them in butter just before serving.
  4. We used the shells to create a rich lobster stock as the base of a risotto as well as a reduced lobster-cream sauce.
  5. How do you tell when your risotto is cooked enough? Before today, I would have told you after 30-40 minutes of carefully stirring and slowly incorporating four cups of stock for one cup of short-grain rice. It should be done once “creamy” and cooked thru but still slightly firm. Now I’ll tell you what our chef told us:
    • The time should not be more than 20 minutes of cooking.
    • Use 100 g of rice to 150 ml of stock.
    • After 8-10 minutes begin checking the texture: Take 1 grain of rice and smash it between your fingers. Continue checking the consistency and cooking until you see that one grain of rice breaks into 5 distinct pieces – then it’s done!
Pressed terrine of duck foie gras and wild mushrooms; roasted lobster tournedos, zucchini blossoms filled with risotto, confit fennel; soft chocolate cake, pistachio ice cream.

Pressed terrine of duck foie gras and wild mushrooms; roasted lobster tournedos, zucchini blossoms filled with risotto, confit fennel; soft chocolate cake, pistachio ice cream.

Class 14 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit: Roasted Pigeon with Fava Beans

This week I missed my first cooking class in seven months; luckily, I was present for the corresponding demo class or it would have been counted as two absences! The school policy is very strict as you are only allowed four absences per term. If you have more than that, you are a barred from taking the final exam, which ultimately means you cannot pass the class. To graduate you would have to re-take the class and of course, repay the fees for a second time!

Roasted squabs with new potatoes and fava beans.

Roasted squabs with new potatoes and fava beans.

Even though it is completely optional, I decided to rent one of the LCBD kitchens in order to make the dish I missed: Roasted Squab (pigeon). This is not an ingredient I can find in Bangkok and practice at home. It cost $175 for a three-hour rental of the kitchen, the cost of ingredients and the time for one of the chefs to be present while I worked and then to critique my final dish. Usually there are 15 other students with me in the kitchen, so this was quite a unique experience. And, the kitchen chosen for me to work in was the kitchen I had last used in Basic Cuisine, one I had not seen in eight months.

Cold French scrambled eggs with botargo, herb salad and green olive coulis; apple slices with cinnamon mascarpone mousse.

Cold French scrambled eggs with botargo, herb salad and green olive coulis; apple slices with cinnamon mascarpone mousse.

The appetizer for this lesson was basically cold scrambled eggs with gelatin, smoked salmon and smoked salmon eggs mixed in, served as a salad course. Surprisingly, I found I liked it! The smoked salmon eggs are a product imported from Italy, called Botargo. As Wikipedia explains, “In Italy, it is best known in Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine as bottarga; its culinary properties may be compared to those of dry anchovies, although it is much more expensive. Often, it is served with olive oil or lemon juice as an appetizer accompanied by bread or crostini. It also is used in pasta dishes.”

The dessert course was also a bit of a surprise, as we were told this recipe would be considered a “poor” dessert, since the ingredients are so inexpensive and common: butter, sugar, apples, cinnamon and whipped cream. When the Chef was done with the plating, the final presentation was anything but “common.” He made caramel sauce with Calvados, or apple liqueur (every dish we have made has a sauce!); cinnamon mousse with Italian meringue and mascarpone cream; and dried apple slices (the Chef called them apple crisps). To complete the dish, he added a few sprigs of mint and a few fresh raspberries.

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.