"TO ARTHUR, COOK WITH LOVE" JACQUES PEPIN, THE LEGENDARY FRENCH CHEF WHO I GREW UP WATCHING ON T.V., WROTE IN MY BOOK WHILE I PINCHED MYSELF TO MAKE SURE IT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. CHEF PEPIN SHOWED US EVERYTHING FROM "BASIC" KNIFE SKILLS TO DE-BONING A CHICKEN. INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE FOR SURE!
I ALSO ATTENDED ANOTHER DEMO WITH CHEF CESARE CASELLA, THE DEAN OF ITALIAN STUDIES HERE AT SCHOOL. I HAVE HAD HIS FOOD BEFORE, AND THIS TIME CERTAINLY DID NOT DISAPPOINT. CHEF POURED HIS UNCOOKED PASTA INTO HIS SAUCE AND EVERYONE WENT CRAZY THINKING HE SCREWED UP, AND HE EVEN WENT ALONG WITH IT FOR A MINUTE. ONLY TO REVEAL IT WAS INTENTIONAL, AND THAT THE PASTA WOULD NOW SOAK UP THE FLAVOR OF THE SAUCE INSTEAD OF WATER. GENIUS! AND HE IS CHARACTER TO SAY THE LEAST...
WE STARTED WEEK 3 OFF WITH STOCK MAKING. ACCORDING TO AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER, THE GRANDFATHER OF FRENCH COOKING, "INDEED, STOCK IS EVERYTHING IN COOKING. WITHOUT IT NOTHING CAN BE DONE". STOCKS ARE BASICALLY A FLAVORFUL, AROMATIC LIQUID MADE WITH VEGETABLES, HERBS AND BONES. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STOCK AND BROTH (BOUILLON) IS THAT BONES ARE NOT USED IN BROTH. THE BONES LEND A RICHNESS AS WELL AS ADDING COLLAGEN, WHICH GIVES THE STOCK ITS MOUTHFEEL.
ONE OF THE KEYS TO A GOOD STOCK IS PATIENCE. LET THE STOCK SIMMER, NOT BOIL AS THIS WILL CLOUD THE STOCK, TO REDUCE THE LIQUID DOWN TO A FLAVORFUL AROMATIC BASE WHICH MAY BE USED LATER IN SAUCES AND STEWS. ]
WE ALSO LEARNED SAUCES BUT OF COURSE IN THE FAST PACE OF THE KITCHEN I FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES OF THOSE!!!
Here is a little "extra credit"...we have homework which usually involves practicing our knife cuts such as the "cocotte", an almost football like shape. So after my homework was reviewed I took my potato "cocottes" home and made Pommes Rissoles, which are basically potatoes that are par-cooked, air-dried, browned in a hot pan and finished in the oven. They get crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside...delicious!