Lesson 55: Cuisines of Normandy & Brittany, France

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I risked my life today getting to class.. well at least getting to the train station.  I woke up to blue skies and figured the roads were cleared and the day would go smoothly.  Not so.  My dad was on his way to work and realized just how bad the roads were and turned around to come home so that he could prevent my death and drive me to the train station.  Apparently some people don't have much confidence in my driving skills ;)   .. Rightfully so.  I was first to admit that there was no way I could have driven on those ice-coated roads.

So it usually takes 20 minutes to drive to the train station from my house.  Today it took about 45 minutes.  We were literally driving on a sheet of ice.  My mom saw a car sliding sideways along the road across from our street and my dad and I saw a van try and turn on the road we were driving on and drive straight through a mound of snow.  It was a very adventurous morning!  Once I finally made it to NY, it barely looked like it even snowed.  I planned on tons of snow mounds and puddles along the sidewalks and even sported my fancy rain boots!

I was glad that I made it to class today because it was our first day of regional French cuisine.  Chef Erica gave us a short, but informative lecture on the cuisines of Normandy and Brittany.  Then we began cooking the recipes for the day.  Our group divided up the recipes and got right to work.  The day went very smoothly and we even finished up early! (The first time this module!)

First, we prepared duck confit, which is a 3-part recipe that will take part over the next few lessons.  We fabricated the duck legs and coated them in a salt/herb mixture.  They are being pressed and refrigerated overnight until we begin the next step tomorrow.  

Buckwheat is a crop that is grown in this region of France, so Chef called up for crepe pans so we could make buckwheat crepes with an apple topping and fresh whipped cream as an extra treat for the day.. mmmmm!!!
I was glad to get the extra practice with making crepes since I missed "crepe day" in module 2.  I definitely messed up the first couple, but wasn't too upset, since it made for a nice little snacky :)

My favorite recipe today was the "Souffles d'Alencon en Timbales" aka a Re-inflatable Cheese Souffle.  I was amazed at how these souffles re-inflated after being baked the first time.  We de-molded the egg and parmesan souffles and topped them with a mushroom cream sauce.  They immediately de-flated after the sauce was poured on top and weighed them down.  After baking them in the oven for another 10 minutes, the souffles absorbed the sauce and swelled up.  So cool!  They de-flated a bit again right before I took this picture, though..boo.

The"Cotes de Porc Normance" aka bread pork chops with apples was a very simple, yet rich and elegant French dish.  

Al and I worked on this final dish, "Homard a l'Americaine" aka Lobster in a rich tomato cream sauce.  We dispatched and cooked the lobster pieces in batches.  After removing the meat, we sauteed the lobster shells, mirepoix, garlic, tomato paste, cognac, fish stock, veal stock, white wine, madeira, dry sherry, a mix of chopped herbs, peppercorns, and saffron.  This whole mixture simmered for about an hour.  We placed this mixture in a robot coupe to puree the shells in the sauce.  This turned out a bit disastrous when the sauce splattered all over Al and Aaron..quite funny though ;)     After straining off the mixture, we added heavy cream and a roux to thicken the sauce.  We added the lobster meat back into the sauce and served it in a rice pilaf ring that Jess prepared:Note: This is actually another group's plate.. I thought it looked really pretty!

We served the plates "family-style" and enjoyed tasting all of the food at the early hour of 4:15.  We all commented that we haven't finished this early to be able to taste all of our food together in a long time.  Usually we are all rushing towards the end of class to clean up and go home.  Today was a great day!

I can't believe tomorrow's Friday already.  The snow day in the middle of the week threw me off!


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