The French House Party – A culinary adventure to France (Day 4) part deux

FHP Day 4 028Today’s cooking was ‘intense’, I mean that in a positive way as we must have been in the kitchen for about 6 hours, priceless when you have a Michelin starred Chef on hand to tutor and guide you through the most delicious (and visually stunning) dishes.

FHP Day 4 011Take one Monkfish, head removed and do your ‘thing’ with a sharp filleting knife, we set to work preparing our next dish, Medallions of Monkfish with Saffron.

Sounds simple from the description but the reality was completely different! Removing skin, discarding scrappy bits and prepping two beautiful fillets, learning more knife skills on the way it was a great experience.

FHP Day 4 001The Monkfish was to be served with seasonal vegetables (Fennel, Spring Onions, Broad Beans, Carrots and Artichokes) and a rich sauce, enhanced with some Garlic, Squid Ink and Olive Oil which you can just see in the top picture, it tasted sublime.

FHP Day 4 020The starter we prepared is well worth a mention as it required the use of ‘whipping’ cream, which you may recall was going to be a challenge. Bavarois de poivrons doux sour coulis de tomates acidulées, impressive to say the least, a dish of Pepper and Tomato which was very light but absolutely packed with flavour and tasted delish.

This was one of those occasions where we had to slightly adjust the menu, the cream we had would not whip so the use of a small amount of Gelatine was required to get the Pepper Bavarois to the right consistency for ‘quenelleing’.

IMG_0238Mille-feuille translated means a thousand leaves, and I’ve always fancied a go but never got round to it, until now!

Puff Pastry layered with ‘Crème Pâtissière’ it was surprisingly straight forward to do, and has got me thinking about how I could use the Jelly making technique we learnt in the Salmon Tartare dish on the 2nd day with Robert, to create a  dessert layered with fruit flavoured Jelly and Crème Pât, watch the blog for my experiments on this.

We settled down for the evening and chatted over cheese and wine, in fact that was the routine most evenings when we were not out and about in nice restaurants. Its true to say we did eat quite a lot of cheese, and very nice it was too.

Another day beckons tomorrow and more fun in the kitchen, along with another tour, this time a Vineyard.

 

………………Until next time…………L8ers……….

The French House Party – A culinary adventure to France (Day 4)

FHP Day 2 and 3 151Here is a little starter I ‘knocked up’! We were now in the realms of Michelin Star’s, Jean-Marc was really serious about his food (I am not saying Robert was not, Jean-Marc was just a little more intense). We started to work on our first starter, simply described as Spring Vegetable Vol au Vents, yeah right!

FHP Day 2 and 3 128We were all inspired by the way simple vegetables and puff pastry were taken to a level beyond very good. This ‘simple’ dish did take a lot of work, carefully preparing the vegetables, slicing the puff pastry we learnt some new tricks and techniques, (go on the course to find out what!).

Something that became very evident as we ploughed through the lovely recipe book we were presented with on arrival, the quality of the ingredients was exceptional, no expense spared, and the Chefs was of the highest calibre. I also noticed on a couple of occasions where we drifted slightly away from the supplied recipes, having to adjust as something was not available or drifting as it felt right.

FHP Day 2 and 3 133Having prepared the starter it was time to make some Pasta dough for Lobster Ravioli.   Mmmmmmmmmmm

I learn’t the ‘by hand’ technique in Puglia a couple of years ago on another cooking course, 00 flour is difficult to get in some parts of France so we just used normal flour, and it worked really well. The Kenwood mixer with dough hook did the ‘grunt’ and the pasta machine finished the job really well.

FHP Day 2 and 3 136The pasta dough was filled with a decent amount of the Lobster meat, which had been boiled for about 3-4 minutes in a pot of boiling water.

We used the carcass of the Lobster to make a rich sauce, that recipe is a secret, the whole dish tasted so delicious but was very light. In this part of France they seem to use Cream more than butter to enrich sauces, which brings me onto another observation, its near on impossible to find whipping Cream, i.e. Cream containing more than 30% butterfat, as we were to find out later in the week.

FHP Day 2 and 3 162Last dish was a ‘simple’ dessert of Chocolate Cups filled with home made Vanilla Ice Cream and served with macerated strawberries.

FHP Day 2 and 3 168We learn’t lots of new skills and techniques as we prepared our first meal with Jean-Marc, he was well humored and we had great fun working out what he was saying (his English is work in progress, but better than my French). A couple of the ladies on the course speak fluent French, but Jean-Marc was always prepared to try English first so the rest of us could understand.

Next time we step into the world of Bavarois.

……………………Until then……………..L8ers….