After a relaxing weekend in the city, it was back to school early Monday morning. We started the week off with a lesson on product identification. In other words, we learned countless fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as how each enhance and flavor food. After many demonstrations from our chef instructor, we started cooking the classic French dish called ratatouille. This dish is a rustic stew of tomatoes, onions, red and green peppers, eggplant, zucchini and many other ingredients. The completed dish was deep in flavor and a wonderful balance of savory and sweet. My first experience with ratatouille was definitely a memorable one.
Once we completed the ratatouille, we moved onto a more composed dish, roasted beet and goat cheese timbale with apple and vinaigrette. We used a ring mold to stack our roasted beets, then added a layer of goat cheese. We then topped it with a salad of frisee, parsley, chives and chervil dressed in a olive oil, shallot, tarragon, apple and white wine vinaigrette. It was incredibly fun to make and really tasty! The beets were sweet, and they paired perfectly with the salty goat cheese and acidic vinaigrette. It was really fun learning to make this dish, as well as round out our lesson on product identification.
Tuesday was another full day and one of the hardest lessons yet because we learned the infamous tournage. Dun dun dunnnnnnnn! Learning to cut a seven sided, football looking shape out of a small vegetable is very tedious. Our chef instructor made it look so easy, shaping the bright orange carrot with ease! Then when it was my turn, they looked more like lumps of coal rather than footballs. We practiced on carrots, turnips and potatoes, prepping for our two dishes called garniture bouquetiere and pommes rissolees. The garniture bouquetiere is basically a traditional French technique to plate many vegetables, by themselves or around a protein. It was interesting learning how to cook all the different vegetables, especially since most were in tournage form. It was also a great learning experience for time management, since we were working on many different items all at once and they all needed to be hot for the final plate presentation. All in all, I feel like I’m learning so much at the International Culinary Center, and I love knowing the best is yet to come.