Home > Cooking school > Knives and Fire VI (Week 2)

Knives and Fire VI (Week 2)

Today was soup day. And sauce day.

We began with something unfortunate – a portion of yesterday’s chicken stock spoiled. Either the stock wasn’t cooled sufficiently when placed in the fridge or the fridge itself went bad. These things happen – it’s best to have it not happen, but it does. So. The bad stock was discarded and a new one was started, but there was enough to at least start the soup making today.

We discussed consommé – how to make a “raft” to clarify it. You take ground beef, chopped mirepoix, whipped egg whites and an acid – in this case, tomatoes, and mix it together and then mix it with stock, and set it to simmer. This will eventually form a raft that will filter the impurities out of the stock while adding flavor. We discussed garnishes – both things just for pretty (but with a a flavor that will complement the soup, like precision cut vegetables) and things part of the soup, like barley or noodles.

We were to make consommé, mushroom barley soup, split pea soup (vegetarian), mulligatawny and minestrone.

My job was to set up the mise en place for the consommeé demo. I had to blanch, shock, peel and concass´ 5 tomatoes plus peel and large dice two carrots, wash and large dice two stalks of celery and large dice two onions. The last three would be chopped up in a food processor for mirepoix. I also had to separate 20 eggs. Yeah. The yolks were mixed with sugar and frozen, btw. I also had to make a sachet of aromatics – peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems and thyme. I volunteered. Oh, and ten quarts of stock, although we ended up using 8 quarts plus one quart of boxed beef stock. And we didn’t even use all of that, because it didn’t all fit in the pot. Didn’t matter, though.

The pot was set to simmer. Chef stirred it occasionally until it got warm and then he let it ALONE. Sometime in the next hour, he made a hole in the now solid raft.

Meanwhile, I roasted a pepper and measured out the flour for the velouté demo after lunch. My partner from the day before watched me peel and clean the pepper – he was to pur´e them for the sauces after lunch.

And leads me to the afternoon and sauces. We made sauce velouté. This is a mixture of stock and roux, and therefore good for a kosher kitchen – a way of making a creamy sauce without any dairy. It’s equal parts fat (in this case clarified margarine – yes, clarified *margarine*. This is margarine that has been melted and allowed to sit so that the oils separate from the water. These fats – yucky transfats and hydrogenations and all – cook better without the water.)and flour. These are cooked together until there’s a hint of color – a blond roux as opposed to a white one. Then the stock is added slowly to the roux and stirred (I really missed my silicon spatulas here) until incorporated. Then it is stirred until it comes to a boil and then simmered until reduced and thick – the word is nappé – just coating the back of a spoon. Then it’s strained to get rid of lumps. The recipe then called for salt and white pepper to taste, but chef made three sauces instead.

At the same time.

And we were to do the same.

The sauces were a Sauce Bercy – sweated minced shallots deglazed with wine and stock. Add velouté and maybe more stock, and then monter buerre (finish with butter) with parsley (maitre’d hotel)”butter” (actually, margarine.) Fresh parsley and lemon. Salt and white pepper to taste. Then dill sauce – sweating onions, add velout&ecute; and stock, and “cream” (non-dairy creamer) and then dill at the end, and salt and pepper to taste. Maybe lemon. Then a red pepper sauce – simmer shallots in wine, add velouteé and red pepper purée. Let reduce, add more stock if needed, and then monter buerre with pimento “butter” and salt and pepper to taste.

My velouté came out fine. My sauces? Not so much. In fact, they were terrible. Tomorrow, I’m going to make the dill sauce, the one which was most difficult, again.

I have to admit – I’m starting to wonder if I can actually cook. My knife work is fine – I need to master fire.

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  1. January 13, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I need to master fire.

    My immediate response to this was: nobody ever masters fire. Some people do become well-versed in managing it, however.

    Also, these posts are quite fascinating. I’m intrigued by how much of the vocabulary of the kitchen comes from the French.

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