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Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 4, Homework


Even with my new confidence from class... I must admit eggs still make me nervous. But here we go with my homework...

I whisked together three eggs and one teaspoon of water (not milk!)

I made sure to use my non-stick pan.

Turned my stove on high (this part always freaks me out because my stove is from the Stone Age and is completely out of control!) Added a dollop of butter, swirled it around in the pan. Then quickly added the egg mixture.

When egg mixture set, I sprinkled cheese down the middle like this....

Then, used my spatula to flip over one side...

Then the next part is tricky... I couldn't hold my camera and do it at the same time. I was going to tell you to use your imagination but I included some illustrations below that I borrowed from Julia Child since I'm feeling eggspecially nice today (Cheesy? I know, I know, I'm sorry, I couldn't resist)

I grabbed the pan handle from underneath (it feels incredibly awkward which I'm told means that you are doing it right). When you tilt the pan over the plate, the omelette should sort of drop/plop to one corner.

Then with a swift movement of your wrist....


Ok it's a little browner than Richard's but not half bad!

Now for poaching...

Sorry we don't all have egg rings handy... but I thought up a pretty good solution if I do say so myself. Apparently, mason jars are so last year...according to Adam Platt of New York Magazine.
Since Adam says I can't use my mason jars for entertaining anymore, I'll use the tops as egg rings to poach eggs!

I tossed one into simmering water... Then added a spoonful of vinegar because it helps your egg hold it's shape later on.

Cracked an egg into a bowl...

I held my bowl right over the ring and very gently slid in the egg.


And the poaching begins.... It just took a few minutes (you don't want to overcook because the yolk should still be runny)

Again, not as pretty as Richards... but success nonetheless!

I give myself an A!

Okay and here is where I get extra credit... I remember my friend Ilana said that in Israel, eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce is popular for breakfast.

So I gave it a try. I just used bottled tomato sauce and added some red pepper flakes. (Maybe next time I will make my own sauce) I simmered the sauce and gently dropped in an egg. I didn't use egg rings (but maybe next time I will)...

Delish! A new favorite!

Techniques of Fine Cooking 1, Day 4

I don't do breakfast.

When I make eggs they are neither incredible nor edible. It's a prerequisite for my roommates or anyone I am dating to be well-versed in breakfast cookery.

That's why half of me was looking forward to today's class on eggs....the other half of me was...well... shaking in my boots that I'd end the day with egg on my face.

Techniques learned:

Compound Salads, Basic Theory and Techniques of Egg Cookery, Perfect Poached Eggs, Beurre Manie, Croutes, Scrambled Eggs, Omelets, Whipping Egg Whites, Souffles

Omelet with Fine Herbs

Salad Nicoise

Poached Eggs in Red Wine Sauce

Souffle (4 types - chocolate, banana, orange and lemon)


to fully submerge in a simmering bath

composed salad-
A simple salad is simply, greens with a vinegarette. A composed salad has artfully arranged ingredients and is not tossed.

salad nicoise-
common French composed salad, typically made with tuna (in oil), potato salad, haricot vert (green beans), black olives, anchovies and hard boiled eggs

literally "to rise" - typical French light and airy cake made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients. Can be sweet or savory.

sauce meurette-
red wine sauce typically served with poached eggs (also with beef, fish and..ew.. brains). Starts with a red wine base then flavored with vegetables (a mirepoix) and herbs (a bouquet garnis)

nappe- "to coat" - when a liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (the consistency most sauces should be)

Cooking SAT Question of the Day:


a) poach : middle
b) nappe : begin
c) beurre blanc : end
d) beurre manie : finish

Answer: D
A roux is a starting agent when cooking most French soups, stews and sauces. Usually a roux is made of flour and clarified butter.
A beurre manie is a finishing agent to thicken soups, stews and sauces, also made of flour and butter.

Quote of the Day:
"When cooking eggs, and fast or slow and cold." (For example, an omelette cooks fast and hot, a poached egg cooks slow and cold.)

Top 5 Lessons I Learned Today:

1. Eggs really are incredible! An egg has every nutrient you need to sustain life except Vitamin C! The average egg in a NY grocery store is two weeks old. The freshest eggs are in the back of the fridge. (Now that I know this, when grocery shopping for eggs I pull out every carton to reach the cartons in the back. This results in fresh eggs but also extremely dirty looks from fellow shoppers.)

2. When making an omelette never add dairy (oops I've been adding milk all these years.) Dairy makes the eggs to dense. Instead use approximately a teaspoon of water for every three eggs. If you are making all eggs whites, use 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil for every three eggs.

3. In French cooking when something is folded into a triangle that means it's going to be sweet. When something is folded into thirds, that means its going to be savory. Americans fold their omelettes in half. The French fold theirs in to thirds.

4. How to make perfect hard boiled eggs:
-Put eggs into a pot of cold water
-Bring to a boil
-Shut off burner and remove from heat
-Put on lid, let eggs sit 13-14 minutes.
-Don't peel the eggs until you are going to use them

5. Souffles are a huge pain! Totally random analogy I know...but I couldn't help but think how much souffles are like cats. They both need to be coddled, stroked and stirred in an extremely particular way, in a very certain order... one wrong move can send them careening over (souffles) or running for the hills (cats). When you do it right the reward is fulfilling, fantastic and blissful. When you do it wrong you end up with a disappointing heap of mush (souffles) or a scratched arm (cats).

Day 4 in Photos:

When making an omelette place your filling in a line perpendicular with the handle of the pan. (This is the French way... Americans mix the filling with the eggs.)

Hold the pan like this.. Then fold the side of the omelette nearest to the handle over in thirds like a letter (Sorry! You will have to use your imagination...didn't take a picture of this part!)

Then flip! Voila! Omelette perfection!

When poaching eggs...these nifty rings are great to have... They help keep the eggs shape (so does adding a tablespoon or so of distilled white vinegar). If you don't have rings like this, you can use a cleaned tuna can with the top, bottom and label taken off.

Once the water comes to a simmer, delicately "slide" the eggs into the rings.

If you did it right it should look like this. After 3 minutes simmering in water your eggs are done!

The final product... poached eggs with red wine (oeufs en sauce meurette)!

Beautiful broken yolk!

Cutting tuna for the nicoise salad

More cutting tuna...

Tuna steaks in a row

Searing the tuna...

Almost all seared...

Getting ready to compose the salad...

And more...

My group's banana souffles.

A duo of souffles - chocolate and banana.



lemon souffles.... These rose quite well... "Textbook example" according to Richard.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to Cut Leeks

Day 3, Homework

Guilty as charged! I didn't do my homework tonight :( I guess my punishment is having to confess on this blog...

I give myself an F-. I'm planning on going home to Connecticut this weekend to make my Dad a meal with my new cooking skills...You can be sure some sort of braised dish will be on the menu and I promise to report back!

Techniques of Fine Cooking 1, Day 3

Ahhhh braised meat... Who doesn't like it? It's rich in flavor, falls apart with the touch of a fork and gives you that warm delicious feeling on a cold winter day.

On Top Chef Season 5, there was an episode where the cheftestants had to cook a "Last Supper" for a celebrity chef. Jaques Pepin wanted his last meal to be squab and peas. Wylie Dufresne said his final meal of choice would be eggs benedict.

My "Last Supper" would definitely be some sort of braised meat. I probably wouldn't want to cook my own last meal (how did I go off on this morbid tangent?) but now that I know how to braise, I can make my "Last Supper," any day. It's really not as hard as I assumed it would be!

Techniques learned:
Brown and White Braising
Reduced Pan Sauces
Deglazing and Reduction
Preparation of Shellfish
Whipping Heavy Cream

  • Mussels Steamed in White Wine
  • Braised Lamb Shanks
  • Braised Leeks
  • Warm Lentil Salad
  • Belgian Endive Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
  • Chocolate Mousse


semi-submerge in a liquid, covered or uncovered, stove or oven. You usually use primal cuts (tough) meat for braising

between the knee and ankle

brown braise -
braising with searing first

white braise-
braising without searing first

- vegetable where the seed and pod is what you are going after (a lentil is a legume, an a classic accompaniment to braised meat)

- literally "foamy." Creamy dessert typically made from egg and cream.

Top 5 Lessons I Learned Today:
1) How to stud an onion... I had never heard of a studded onion but apparently it's good for infusing flavor into a liquid certain dishes. We used this studded onion to flavor our warm lentil salad. To stud an onion you cut it in half through the root and "pin" a bay leaf to the center of the onion with cloves (much like you would pin a photo to a bulletin board with pushpins)... I think my onion is very handsome...quite the "stud," no?

2) You can braise vegetables...I don't know why this never occured to me... When you braise vegetables you typically use a "white braise."
White braise = don't sear first
Brown braise = sear first

3) A little trick with mussels... I've been making mussels for awhile now, it's one of my favorite dishes so I didn't learn anything too life changing...However when I check my mussels to make sure that they are alive before I steam them, I usually tap them to see if they close up. Richard pinches them. I found I liked this method better... I have officially converted from a mussel tapper to a mussel pincher!

4) Lamb is yummy! I hated lamb before this class (or I thought I did). This was the second lamb dish I ate this week and enjoyed (we made lamb chops on Day 1). I didn't just like the braised lamb....I loved it!

5) "Read your recipe all the way through...then read your recipe all the way through...then read your recipe all the way through again." We very narrowly avoided a disaster with our chocolate mousse today and our clafoutis yesterday. But if we had read the recipes all the way through both times we wouldn't have had a problem.

Day 2 in Photos:

searing lamb shanks

more searing action...

herbs for lentil salad

closeup of the shanks...

braised leeks

The final product: Braised Lamb Shanks, Rosemary Braised Leeks, Warm Lentil Salad, Belgian Endive Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette