I have to report that I am thoroughly and happily addicted to Kona coffee. We brought back a few pounds of java from our fall trip to the Big Island. It is so smooth and intoxicatingly good – a very satisfying cup – that softly nudges me into the day.
This morning, the Kona is brewing, I’m also enjoying fresh blackberries with farm-fresh vanilla scented yogurt – so good! Lastly, I’m also thrilled to be able to take better photographs of the dishes we create in class with my new iPhone. No more yellowy pictures, the iPhone is really amazing.
Last night, was all about stuffings (Farce)…stuffings are composed of cooked or raw finely chopped ingredients. Stuffings can be used into terrines, pâtés, galantines, ballottines and spread on croutons. Stuffings in the French kitchen go way beyond what I considered a stuffing. For instance, Chef demonstrated a mousseline, made with chicken, egg whites and cream. He macerated the chicken in a food processor then mashed it through a fine drum sieve called a tamis. Afterwards, added beaten egg white and lightly whipped cream to form a lighter then air mousseline that can be made into a terrines, quenelles, etc. Chef also made chicken liver pâté and we were able to snack on it with crusty baguette slices later in the evening.
Our main dish and dinner for the night was a Paupiette de Boeuf (Stuffed Escalope of Beef). Chef hauled out a top round of beef and trimmed off the excess fat. He sliced the meat for our mise en place (prep work). We covered the slices of top round with plastic wrap then flattened the beef with a mallet. It was comical, at one point I didn’t know if I was working in a kitchen or a wood-working shop with the constant banging echoing throughout the stations.
Our stuffing was ground pork, mushroom duxelles, and fresh herbs that we prepared a little ahead of time. Once our meat was thin enough, we placed a few tablespoons of the stuffing on the meat and proceeded to roll and tie it. Dusted lightly with flour and seared in a sauté pan, the meat was set aside until the braising liquid was prepared. Once we sautéed our mirepoix, we returned the beef to the pan and added veal stock, bringing that up to a simmer then covered to cook for 20 – 30 minutes. In the meantime, Chef decided we should all make rice pilaf to go with our dish so we sprinted to get that together.
Once the meat was cooked, we removed it and kept it warm, we degreased the sauce and reduced it – sound familiar? The sauce was finished with a little butter swirled around the pan, we plated the beef which was sliced on a bias and we napped the beef with sauce and used a ramekin to form the rice on the plate. All four dishes were presented to Chef, who commented that the sauce was reduced too much and needed some salt and the plates could have be hotter. Overall, the flavor of the beef was underwhelming, meat stuffed with meat…my only choice was to dig in since it was my dinner for the evening.
Our last dish after dinner break was stuffed vegetables (tomato, zucchini and mushroom caps). We prepared a stuffing that consisted of sautéed smokey bacon, mushroom, tomato and zucchini trimmings, garlic, shallots and thyme. We cut the zucchini into 2 inch lengths, stood it up on its side and scooped out three-fourths of the flesh. We hollowed out the tomatoes and prepped the mushroom caps as well, then seasoned and sautéed in a little oil to gain color. We added freshly grated parmesan to the stuffing mixture, then carefully filled our vegetables. Returned to the sauté pan, our vegetables were standing at attention dressed with a touch more of parmesan. We added a few tablespoons of chicken stock to the pan and placed it into a 350 degree oven to complete the cooking process.
My partner, Marcella, and I plated our veggies on extremely hot plates, not trying to make that mistake again. We arranged 1 tomato halve, 1 zucchini and 1 mushroom cap in single file on the plate with a sprig of thyme in the zucchini. Chef enjoyed the presentation, and said our zucchini was cooked properly and the plates were sufficiently hot. Phew, some redemption at last!