Day 1: Butter, Cream and Chocolate – The Holy Trinity.

7 Sep

I’ve always hated the first day of school. Even though I’m now in my mid 20’s and one would argue this isn’t real school in the traditional sense, it’s still scary nonetheless. New people, new environment, new routine, same old sweaty palms and knotted stomach. To make matters worse, I wasn’t entirely sure I was in the correct spot upon arrival. The school is discreet with no signage on the outside and nothing but an ornate black door between you and a world of culinary command. Somewhat bewildered, I was met by a very friendly man who escorted me to a small room where a neat stack of paperwork was awaiting my arrival. They handed me my apron, I handed them back my signed documents, and my life for the next four weeks officially began.

The only other student is a modelesque Ukrainian woman named Anna. She is 24, newly engaged and is doing her masters in international business at a school in Geneva, Switzerland. Right away we discovered numerous things in common, and I was instantly relieved that I wasn’t paired with a fat and hairy wannabe chef from Azerbaïdjan with a strange thing for feet. Hey, with my luck it could happen. But I digress. What I’m trying to say is that these are basically private cooking classes with a friend, taught by a world renowned chef. Yes, I’m a very lucky girl.

Alas, the menu for Day #1:

  1. Gateau de Saumon en Feuiletage
  2. Salade Verte et Haricots Verts
  3. Petits Meolleux Chauds au Chocolat

We began by skinning the salmon. Anna executed this was delicacy and finesse.  My attempt looked as though it had been hacked up by one of the less calculated and inexperienced serial killers on Criminal Minds. Luckily for me, the esthetics of it didn’t matter as we then cut the salmon into small pieces, mixed it in a food processor with fresh dill, and set it aside while we learned how to make a simple béchamel sauce. After the sauce was done, we added it to the salmon and dill, processed that for a few minutes and baked it in a thin puff pastry.

The salad was equally simple and even more delicious. We boiled some green beans and let them cool while we soaked and carefully washed the buttery Batavia lettuce leaves. The dressing was an uncomplicated and traditional mix with finely chopped shallots, sherry vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

It was probably a good thing that the main course was light and delicate because the dessert sure wasn’t.

For this decadent, warm, and oozing-with-choclately-goodness treat, we melted dark European chocolate with water, while slowly adding butter and cream. At an even more tentative pace, we then added eggs, flour and sugar, all the while constantly mixing the combining ingredients. We poured the mix into ramekins, baked them for about 8 minutes, and served them with coco powder and fresh cream. Yes, more cream. You will soon notice that this is a common trend in French cooking. Cream and butter. And as you can imagine these two french necessities give everything an unbelievable amount of flavour and complexity that is well worth the extra pounds gained. Did I mention that we all sit together after the food is cooked and enjoy our exploits with a couples glasses of wine? I have a feeling I’m going to be eating a lot of plain salads and unseasoned chicken breasts when I head back to Canada…

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3 Responses to “Day 1: Butter, Cream and Chocolate – The Holy Trinity.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The French Basics « Shortt and Sweet - 10/10/2011

    […] pastry) is an integral part of French cooking. Whether it’s a savory pie (like the Gateau de Saumon en Feuiletage) or sweet tart (like the tartes aux fraise), it’s clear that the French like they’re food […]

  2. Dinner for One « Shortt and Sweet - 21/10/2011

    […] green beans and proceeded to make the Salade Verte et Haricots Verts first mentioned in the post Butter, Cream and Chocolate – The Holy Trinity. Although I somewhat cheated by buying the lamb balls already made, I couldn’t resist the […]

  3. Comfort Food « Shortt and Sweet - 27/10/2011

    […] later, I had a juicy golden brown bird, along with some garlic and chive mashed potatoes, and the salade verte et haricots verts with the shallot French dressing that we learned to make in our first day of classes. I’ve made […]

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