Last week I had to take a last minute business trip, so I had to miss the last night of my Culinary Arts Class. I was really bummed because not only did I pay for it, but I was really looking forward to it. We were going to be talking about Moist Cooking Methods. So it looks like I will have to try to teach myself that topic, and report back with how my recipe goes. So stay tuned. I will probably get to it after I get back from the South Beach Wine and Food Festival that I will be attending NEXT WEEK!
Last week’s class was all about Grains, Potatoes and Vegetables. We talked about all of them, but the focus of the class was making Risotto. As you all know, I made Risotto for the first time about a month ago. I never made Risotto before and I saw the Cooking Light recipe for Lobster Risotto and decided that I needed to make it. I’m so happy it turned out well since I spent $35 on Lobster to go into the dish. I think it goes without saying that I would be quite ticked off if the dish was a failure.
For those of you that aren’t very familiar with Risotto, it is rice that is cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. Risottos are usually made using short-grain rice with the stock/broth being added gradually while the rice is stirred frequently. Cooking it this way leads the rice to release its starch giving the final product a nice and creamy texture.
The broth that you use may be meat-based, fish-based, or vegetable-based. There are many ingredients you can add to give your risotto flavor. When I made my risotto in class, I cooked my rice in onion and butter to coat each grain with some fat. Then I started to add in my chicken stock gradually (which by the way should be hot) and I stirred it gently. I continued to do this until it was done. You’ll have to taste it several times to make sure it’s ready. Just make sure that you don’t add the broth too soon. The broth has to be absorbed before you add in more. If you add it too quickly your rice will not be done once you add in all of the broth. I just chose to add Parmesan cheese to my risotto. And let me tell you – it was perfect!!
My next risotto experiment is going to involve a really good smoked bacon. Bacon makes everything better, doesn’t it?
What’s your favorite Risotto flavor?
Last Tuesday was Week 2 of my Introduction to Culinary Arts class. The topic of that class was Classic & Contemporary Sauces. It was a very interesting class and I learned a lot. It really has me wishing that I went to Culinary school after I graduated high school. But back then I didn’t realize I wanted to go there, if that makes any sense. Now, over 15 years later, I finally realize what I want to do!
Although there are an endless assortment of sauces, there are only 5 “Mother”sauces. Any sauce can be created with a little modification using one of these 5 sauces:
- Béchamel – The Béchamel sauce is your basic white sauce. This sauce is perfect for making a cheese sauce for Macaroni & Cheese.
- Velouté – The Velouté sauce is a white sauce using stock. It’s a good sauce that goes very well with meat and it’s simple to make. The thing you want to remember is when using this sauce you want to pair it with the same meat as the stock you are using. So you want to use beef stock when making beef, chicken stock when making chicken, etc.
- Espagnole – The Espagnole sauce is a brown sauce. The basic method of making Espagnole is to prepare a very dark brown roux (cooked flour and fat), and add several gallons of veal stock, along with browned bones, pieces of beef, pounds of vegetables, and various seasonings. This takes many hours or even several days to make.
- Hollandaise – Hollandaise is a sauce made with an emulsion of egg yolks and fat. It is commonly used in the classic dish Eggs Benedict. Chef made this in class so we got to watch how he made it. My confession for the week is that I’ve never tasted Hollandaise sauce. But I vow that I will do that one day soon.
- Tomato – One of the most popular, the Tomato sauce is a wonderful sauce to make in large volume. It can be used in so many different sauces and it freezes very well too.
The dish that I made in class was Chicken with a Brandy Mustard Cream Sauce. It was truly to die for. I really enjoyed it and I need to go to the Liquor store to pick up some brandy so I can make it at home. Recipe available upon request.