The Last Supper

16 Oct

Most days at La Cuisine de Marie-Blanche we would make a full meal in the morning, enjoy it for lunch, and then either focus on French basics in the afternoon or we would partake in our Art de Vivre classes. However, having already completed our final exam the day before (passing of course with flying colours), and not really having much more to learn in terms of pastries or place settings, we were instructed that we would make two full meals to finish off our course. TWO! Our mouths were salivating, but our already stretched-out stomachs were quivering.

 The morning meal:

  1. Saumon farci en croûte
  2. Beurre blanc
  3. Gâteau au chocolat
  4. Crème foutée au café

The afternoon meal:

  1. Veau Orloff
  2. Sauce blanche au fromage
  3. Tarte aux pommes à la cannelle

Although the saumon farci en croûte (aka. salmon in puff pastry) was somewhat reminiscent of the infamous koulibiac that keeps coming up in posts (refer to A Snowfall in Russia), the flavours were quite different, with a lighter feel and a bit more colour variation.

We began by checking our salmon for bones, and while keeping the skin on, seasoned and baked it skin-side up with a small amount of water and oil to avoid sticking. After it was slightly cooked from only 10 minutes of oven warmth, we set it aside and started on our other fillings. We combined a small white fish (really any kind will do) with sardines in the food processor along with one egg, a chopped shallot, a bit of cream, and salt/pepper, and then added some freshly boiled spinach leaves. Once it was well mixed into a thick paste, we gently stirred in pine nuts and added some more salt and pepper. Like the pâté de sardines in the post Minimal Chewing Required, or the terrine de foies de volaille in the post Peel Me a Grape, you can taste the raw mix by placing a small spoonful in boiling water until it cooks. This method allows you to test if it’s seasoned correctly.

We greased a baking pan, placed a sheet of puff pastry on top, and proceeded to layer the centre with cooked pureed spinach, the fishy mix, and our salmon, which was skinless at this point. We topped that stack off with yet another layer of spinach and “stuffing”, folded up our pastry, trimmed the edges, decorated it with our beloved forest pattern, glazed everything with an egg, and baked it in the oven until the crust was golden brown.

To accompany this delectable and rather aesthetically layered dish, we made a simple beurre blanche by sautéing finely chopped shallots with wine and vinegar. Once it was reduced, we added cream, butter, salt and pepper to taste, and strained it all to remove the shallots. If you’re into a more rustic look, skip the last step and leave the delicious shallots in.

For dessert we enjoyed a beautiful flourless chocolate cake, which came as a pleasant surprise considering that at this point I was looking for any excuse to eat fewer complex carbohydrates. Granted there’s still plenty of butter in this recipe, but the concept of no added sugar as well, was somewhat reassuring as we used pre-sweetened dark chocolate. That means it’s healthy right??? Sure…

After melting the chocolate and then slowly mixing in the butter, we added egg yolks and saved the whites for yet another wonderful meringuey melange. To be quite honest with you, I would have been slightly disappointed if we didn’t have one last go at hand-beaten egg whites on our last day. So there I went, beating away, somewhat forgetting that I would have to hand-whip our upcoming cream-based topping as well.

Once the whites were fluffy, we folded them in with the chocolate mix, poured everything is a greased shallow dish, and placed it in the oven to bake.

As mentioned, we made a whipped cream topping with a delicious coffee infusion. Whipping cream isn’t rocket science, but remember that when you’re adding flavouring of sorts, you must always fold it in as opposed to continuing with a beating motion. If you don’t do this, the consistency will turn into a chunky watery mess that no one will enjoy.

So that was meal #1. But oh, we’re not done yet. After a short break we were back in the kitchen working away at round two.

The first thing to do when making the traditional eastern European dish of Orloff is to roast the veal in the oven with onions, thyme and a bay leaf until it’s half-way cooked. At this point you remove the veal roast and set it aside to cool as you work on your duxelles (as previously described yet again in A Snowfall in Russia. Although the koulibiac was a bit of a headache to make, this is turning out to be a rather useful post…) and sauce blanche.

To make a sauce blanche, melt 4 tbs butter, add 1 tbs flour and ½  a cup of cream. Then add a pinch of nutmeg, a small handful of grated emmental, salt and pepper to taste, and a small amount of milk if need be, although the sauce should be quite thick.

Once the veal was cooled and the duxelles and sauce blanche were ready, we sliced the meat, placed it on an ovenproof baking dish, and spread a generous helping of duxelles in between each layer. We then topped it off with some thinly sliced ham, covered it with our sauce blanche, sprinkled everything with emmental and baked the mountain of goodness until it was a cohesively cooked bundle.

Our last and final dessert was yet another delicious apple tart recipe, this time wonderfully seasoned with cinnamon.

The apples in this recipe are skinned and cut into small chunks, which are then fried with butter, cinnamon and sugar in a deep-dish pan. While we were softening and flavouring the apples, we baked a puff pastry crust moulded to a baking circle in the oven. Note that in order for the puff pastry to remain flat, you must perforate the bottom with a fork and cover it in tinfoil to weigh the whole thing down.

While that was cooking, we made up a mix of eggs and cream, and once the crust was slightly baked and the apples soft, we removed the foil and added a thin layer of this eggy-creamy mix to the bottom. We then followed with the apples, and topped it all off with the remaining mix. After the tart had been baking for about 15 minutes, we removed it, sprinkled it with confectioner’s sugar, and put it back in the oven to bake for another 5 minutes. When ready, we removed our sweet treat from the mould, and enjoyed each bight with thick cream and warm conversation.

So after all that our “last supper” was really more like a last lunch AND a last supper, as we gorged our faces yet again with more food than I could have ever previously conceived possible. Of course the day was also filled with family-portrait-esque photos, lots of hugs and goodbyes and of course our little graduation ceremony where we received our diplomas.

An amazing month of cuisine, culture and growth – I could not have picked a more perfect school in a more perfect city to accomplish my goals. Merci à toutes les personnes a La Cuisine de Marie-Blanche!

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One Response to “The Last Supper”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Digesting the Experience « Shortt and Sweet - 19/10/2011

    […] The Last Supper: Truly going out with a bang (or a very full stomach), we made two complete meals on our final day including an amazing fish and pastry dish, flourless chocolate cake with coffee whipped cream, a very rich roast veal covered with thinly sliced ham, grated emmental, and sauce-blanche, and an apple-cinnamon Parisian pie. […]

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