Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Techniques of Fine Cooking: Entry 4 (The Perfect Protien)

The Menu

Egg Plate

I love themes. I'm a big fan of dress up parties. I often consider making playlists around ridiculous categorizations like like "songs with state names in their title." So you would think that a class entirely devoted to one ingredient would be an awesome opportunity for me to dress in white pants and a yellow shirt and break out the jingles about eggs but somehow it just didn't work. At the end of the class when I sat down to a plate of eggs eggs and more ovum I felt vaguely ill -- eggs are heavy and need to be balanced with some other food stuffs (ideally crispy potatoes, a huge bloody mary, a scone with home made jelly, and a few sprinkles of lobster meat... I really need to go back to brunch at Applewood). However, while they didn't make for a great meal all together most of the recipes in the class were very good and I am certain that I will now be able to completely wow the next young man to show up in boxers in my kitchen on a Saturday morning (now taking reservations!).

We had a substitute instructor for this class who had an entirely different teaching style. He did a lot more demonstrating and a lot less lecturing which sounds better than it turned out to be. The lack of lecturing left me with no notes on this class so I suspect it may be difficult to recreate the recipes at home and the constant demonstrating often led to watching instead of doing. I think most of the other students considered the sub a step up personality wise -- he was easy with the compliments and forced his assistants to do all of the grunt work(cleaning our stations, watching sauces boil, mixing the instructor's drinks). I have to admit that I missed the feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating a totally edible meal despite the stifled giggles, raised eyebrows and taunting coming from the teacher. The substitute assigned an assistant to each of the tables to help us make all of our dishes (well, except for the ones he made entirely for us like the red wine sauce...) which was kind of nice as there was always someone available to answer questions. He also told us exactly what to do so we didn't have to plan out the production of the meal. This made for a fairly laid back class where everyone got to have a hand in making every dish (as opposed to previous classes where the task divisions often left some people married to losers like braised celery for the entire evening) but I missed the hustle and bustle.

Omelet with Fines Herbs

French Omlettes

These may look a little sad but I promise you they were pretty awesome. These are French style omelets, which means they're much less well done than what you're typically offered at Denny's. I think a lot of Americans would balk at just how runny the eggs were when we took them out of the pan but it made for a very creamy mouth feel and so far I seem to be salmonella free.

Salad
Nicoise

Nicoise Salad

WOW. I know it just looks like mounds of somewhat boring ingredients but this salad is amazing. The eggs, potatoes, tuna, and olives all work together to give you this creamy salty crunchy little explosion of utopia in your mouth. This was incredible easy (and could be made easier by not peeling the tomatoes and eliminating the string beans) and seems pretty healthy -- I may go on a nicoise salad kick next week (which means I'll eat it every single day until I'm so sick of it that the mere thought of further consumption will leave me retching... this is how I often ruin food for myself).

Poached Eggs in Red Wine Sauce

Poached Eggs in Red Wine Sauce

It looks pretty but I was skeptical of this recipe from the start -- red wine and eggs? eww. Unlike many of the other students I like soft eggs -- I think oozing yolk is just another term for yummy dip for my bread (in fact as a child I used to call over easy eggs "dippin' eggs!"). So while a bit hesitant I was open to the concept of this recipe but ultimately the sauce kind of ruined things. I was able to finish one egg without gagging like a few of my dining partners but with every bite I thought, "Poor wasted wine, I could have made you into a nice spritzer."

Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate Souffle

This is the recipe I was most excited about. I've never made a souffle before mostly due to cooking urban legends that claim that in order to do so your entire house must be devoid of sound. I live a rock and roll life style that refuses to be silenced by the likes of a rich desert. Also I like to have Engaged and Underage on at full volume while I cook (clad in the light of a 17 year old marrying a 25 year olf boy with a slight addiction to meth all of my cooking mistakes just melt away). The souffles turned out amazing, unfortunately I don't think I can take any credit for this outcome. During souffle preperation our assigned assistant stood guard at the dueling kitchenaides and wouldn't really let any of the students get in on the egg whipping action. i'm tempted to try making a savory souffle as this week's homework but I'm not sure if I can afford to risk the effects of more eggs and butter on my thighs.

Observations

1. Clarified butter, where have you been my whole life? Making our omelets in a pan coated with this magic lubricant resulted in a perfectly yellow surface with no ugly brown bits (well, except for that one that I over cooked...). The instructor demonstrated a sunny side up egg, an over easy egg and scrambled eggs and all were beautiful as well. When I expressed my awe he offered to help me make a pot of clarified butter to take home so now i have 8oz chillin' in the fridge and another 24 ready in the freezer -- I really should plan a brunch to show off my skillz.

2. Tuna in a jar! Apparently somewhere in the word they sell tuna in oil in a resealable jar -- this is brillant and I must find a source as currently I can't really finish an entire can of tuna and don't wanna keep an open can in the fridge stinking up my milk.

3. I had heard that we'd learn to make french style scrambled eggs in this class. This involves using a double boiler and stirring the eggs into almost a custard like consistency (like described here) -- I'm sad that this didn't happen since apparently this makes for an awesome dish. I'll have to make a point of trying this on my own.

4. 4 weeks of class and every menu had a salad on it. I can now make a vinaigrette with my eyes close, both legs hobbled and a dagger through my heart.

1 comment:

alia said...

we can save you from the egg/butter peril. really.

please.

:*)

me