03 October 2011

Week in Review #7: Beth V. and Her Daughters

Now, as they say, we're cooking. Culinary Foundations II is in, I suspect, the biggest kitchen I'll ever get to be in.

And class is a strange type of torture, actually. Because, yes, we're now cooking in cooking school. But, we're starting off with the basics. A quick glance at our syllabus shows that we start with stocks, which we then turn into sauces one week. Or soups the next. Then we work our way into salads and vegetables and fruits. A vinaigrette here and there.

There's nary a protein in sight. I'm starting to feel like the entire program is like building one complete meal in extreme slow motion. Which I guess is a good way to teach concepts, but goodness am I always hungry.

The basic schedule alternates demonstration days and cooking days. We made chicken and veal stock on our first hands-on day, and I learned that fatty veal bones browning in a hot pan are prone to frighteningly tall flames.
Simmering chicken stock.
Veal stock in progress.
Though we learned of her in Foundations I, we were formally introduced to Beth V, the mnemonic device used to remember the five "mother" sauces of French cuisine: béchamel, espagnole, tomato, hollandaise, and veloute. She's like Roy G. Biv, except she smells better.

It's not common to see these sauces as-is on a menu, though it's much more common to see their "daughters" or derivatives. For example, I've only seen béchamel with cheese added to it, which would then formally be called a Mornay sauce. Add macaroni to that and you've got mac 'n cheese. Or, ladle it over a sandwich with a fried egg and you've got a croque madame, which is exactly what I did with the béchamel I made in class.
In related news, I kinda sorta had my first catering gig over the weekend. Kinda sorta because my mom hired me (for the price of a plane ticket) to cook two dishes for my dad's birthday. I made paella and, with a recipe straight out of my school book, gazpacho. I think it turned out pretty well.

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