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Mama Deb
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Knives and Fire IV (week 2)

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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.


I'm enjoying reading your recaps very much.

If you don't mind a few technical questions: how much sugar went into 20 egg yolks for freezing? What was used to flavor the split pea soup? And what went wrong (if you know) with your sauce?

And a kashrus question: are there separate kitchens you'll be learning in or is this an entirely dairy-free course?

I have no idea how much sugar went into the several dozen (there were several rafts made with 10 eggs each)of egg yolks left over. The split pea soup was made with supermarket low-sodium vegetable broth (and it tasted very nice, btw).

As to what went wrong - let's see. I began with too much margarine for the two sauces requiring margarine. I let the onions overcook and get color for the sauce requiring onions. The red pepper sauce was not reduced enough to get a good nappé. The soy milk curdled in the bercy sauce. And I didn't season any of them at all with salt and white pepper.

This course will be entirely dairy-free.

I've had very bad results with soy milk and margarine and heat. Anything more than a low flame and that combo, I guess the oils in the margarine, react with the soy badly. Rice milk is much more forgiving, when the object is creaminess, in my experience.

I'm sure you'll get the hang of sauces, they're not a one day learning curve. They're so specialized that they have sauce masters in the highest-end restaurants, someone who does sauces and gravies and nothing else. That says a lot, IMO.

I love your reports, btw. :)

How did you know the stock had gone bad? Was it slap-in-the-face bad after only 18 hours?

Stock is a perfect growth medium for bacteria. It stank and bubbled.

Wow, that's fast work. I guess the reason I've never seen anything like this in even a fairly casual home kitchen (hi Mom!) is that our pots of stock are so much smaller, so they get chilled a lot faster. hm, I also do a first straining when the stock is still pretty warm, but it goes into a cool pot, not the nice heat-holding stockpot.