Bonjour! France is easily my favorite place in the world, and the language just drips romanticism and good food. Food just sounds better in French, or at least in a French accent. Would you prefer Burgundy Beef Stew or Beouf Bourguignon? A Grilled Ham and Cheese or a Croque Monsieur? I think I've made my point. I was lucky enough (or smart enough... you decide) to take French in high school, and although I'm far from fluent, I think it has been incredibly helpful in culinary school and in the culinary industry in general because just about every technique or ingredient has a French origin. Just think... brunoise, macedoine, parmentier, julienne, batonnet, roux, demi glace, bechamel, veloute, souffle, I mean the list in endless. Even in America we have French Fries, French Toast and so on. The French have infiltrated our English terminology without even intending to. They don't call French Fries "French Fries" in France. They're just Pommes Frites, plain and simple, fried potatoes (technically pommes de terre means potatoes and pommes mean apples, but you get the picture). My obsession with France isn't limited to the kitchen, but follows me in every facet of life. My decor consists of a plethora of Eiffel Tower-shaped knickknacks, picture frames, clocks, French photos, and so on. I also adore French cinema and French music, especially that of Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf. I should've been born French.
With that said, today I started my Classical French Cuisine class! My excitement for this class pretty much started before I ever applied to culinary school. It would inevitably be very special to my heart. Day one was a full production day. We are a self-sufficient kitchen, which means we produce all our own stocks from scratch each day, as opposed to getting them from another kitchen or using a base to make it, as most other kitchens do. Depending on the dish, some students work alone while others are paired up. This changes on a daily basis as the menu is completely different each day. I worked with another classmate to produce Pommes de Terre Anna, or Potatoes Anna, for production today. We washed and peeled over a dozen potatoes (I can't actually remember how many... there were a lot!) and then used the fancy schmancy mandoline to slice them thinly. This was my first time using a mandoline, and we didn't have finger guards on these, so I am proud to say that I not only entered class with ten fingers, but I'm typing this blog entry with all ten as well :-D We also clarified massive amounts of butter, both for our dish and for most of the others produced in our class. Butter, as you know from Julia Child and every other French influence, is a staple in French cooking. Our potatoes where shingled in small frying pans, layered and lightly drowned in clarified butter, with a touch of salt and white pepper between the layers. They were covered with a cartouche (or circle of parchment paper), baked, then uncovered and finished until nice and golden. We also are lucky enough to make nice show plates in our class, so I have some really gorgeous pictures to share today!
Pommes de Terre Anna = Buttery Deliciousness!
Crème Crecy (Cream of Carrot Soup)
Consomée Julienne (Consomée with Julienned Vegetables)
Moules á la Marinières (Mussels, Mariner's Style)
Homard Thermidor (Lobster Thermidor)
Tournedos Chasseur (Beef Tournedos Chasseur)
Perdreau Rôti Dijonnaise (Roast Partridge Dijon Style)
Caneton Bigarade (Duckling á l'Orange)
Bagatelle (Carrot Salad with Asparagus) (Salad is Served LAST in Traditional European Cuisine!)