Thursday, January 28, 2010

And the star of the culinary show is ... a simple soup

Today's three-course menu in Culinary Foundations III included two of the most complex dishes we have had to learn, both from deep within classic French cuisine.

Yet, the two tastiest parts of the meal were the simplest: chunky tomato soup and sauté of Brussels sprouts chiffonade with julienne of red peppers.

The tomato soup was hearty and most flavorful. It was simple -- tomatoes, chicken stock, a little onion, seasonings and fresh mint -- but hit the spot perfectly. The difficulty in cooking tomatoes for a soup or a sauce is their acidity. Deal with it by using salt or a little sugar or honey as neutralizing agents. In the case of my soup today, salt did the trick.

The main course provided some complex flavors, too, following the challenge of its assembly. First was veal cordon bleu, which is like the classic schnitzel -- two pieces of veal pounded flat, then wrapped around cheese and prosciutto before being breaded and sautéed.

The accompanying starch was pate a choux, which is an assembly of mashed potato, egg, flour, milk, more egg and butter, combined in a series of folds, whiskings and heatings. The resultant thick batter is piped in small cylinders or droplets into a deep fry until golden brown.

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