Thursday, September 10, 2009

Intro, and So Far at Le Cordon Bleu…

I started attending Le Cordon Bleu Las Vegas on July 7th, 2009. Since my goal is to ultimately become a food writer, I figured I should probably blog about my experiences.

Foundations I (one, not I as in me) was fine and easy. We learned about different herbs and spices, different cooking techniques, knife skills, kitchen equipment, things like that. I didn't have much to say back then so I'm starting this blog now. That block (we go in six week blocks), I had Communications, as well as Sanitation. I have straight As so far.

I'm almost four weeks into block 2 right now. I am taking culinary math and Foundations II, where we actually cook and get graded on it. So far, I believe I have As in both classes. Anyway, let's get to my first real entry, now that that is over with.

Let me just say that cleaning an entire professional kitchen is really hard, as in, takes 20 people an hour to do it hard. I mean, we have to wash all our dishes, but we’re usually cleaning as we go, so I have no idea why it’s so tedious.

I’m in Foundations II right now, which is pretty basic cooking. I have two chefs, Chef Kupper and Chef Mary. Chef Kupper is incredibly long-winded and likes to "motivate" us by yelling or being "relatable," but we all love Chef Mary.

So far, we’ve made stock, sauce, soup, rice and grain dishes, and potato dishes. I’m posting this now because it’s just getting interesting. In fact, we’ve been polishing off everything we’ve been making for the past few days. This is bad for two reasons:

  1. If Devin wants anything from school, I’m going to have to make it again.
  2. I am really, really full on the drive home.

I’ll post the dishes that we’ve made each couple of days, and I’ll post the grade my team got on each one. If it’s less than a 4 (an A), I will post the reason.

Here’s the grading scale.

4 = A

3 = B

2 = C

1 = D

0 = F (This only happens if you don’t turn something in)

Any infraction gets you knocked down one point, so if something is undercooked, it would be a 3. If it was undercooked and underseasoned, it would be a 2. I hope that makes sense.

I’ll start with Tuesday’s dishes, so I’ll have three days worth of dishes here. We had Monday off, and hopefully I can post again tomorrow with Friday’s dishes.


Lentils in Cream (4)

This is a lentil dish that incorporates garlic, some herbs, mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part each carrot and celery), clarified butter, chicken stock, and heavy cream. It was delicious, almost like a creamy lentil soup.

Hummus (4)

My team chose me to make this, which is smart considering the facts that a) I’m Lebanese and b) they’ve all already had my hummus. It turned out perfectly, as it usually does when I make it.

Falafel (3- we added too much flour; we had to because one or more of our ingredients was too wet when we added it to the mix)

I have had falafel a few times, but I had never made it. I like its spice- lots of cumin and coriander. You can’t go wrong with chickpeas, either, or using a deep fryer.


Pommes Puree (4)

This is really just very finely ground mashed potatoes. We used the food mill to get them really fine and smooth. It was really good, especially with the bacon we fried on the side when we had a bit of extra time.

Pommes Anna (4)

This is a dish made from very thinly sliced potatoes (watch your fingers on the mandolin, though!) layered in circles in a pan that contains hot clarified butter. Each layer gets some more clarified butter, and once the pancake like potato thing is formed, it goes in the oven. It’s supposed to be cut into wedges for service, but we tore into it after the chefs tasted it too fast for that.

Pommes Frittes (4)

French fries. All we did that isn’t super obvious is blanch the fries (fry them once) before the final fry, so they got fried twice. Ketchup with Tabasco sauce mixed in is really good.

Pommes Dauphine (Pommes Duchess) (4)

You need Pommes Duchess to make Pommes Dauphine, but we weren’t graded on the Duchess itself. Pommes Dauphine is a really fancy name for really nice tater tots. The Duchess is just potatoes, butter, egg yolks, and seasoning. To make the Dauphine, we added a Pate au Choux, which is water, flour, salt, eggs, and butter, so we would be able to make more of a dough that we were able to bread. We formed cork-sized pieces, breaded them (flour, egg, bread crumbs) and fried them. They were the nicest tater tots I’ve ever had.


Gratin Dauphinoise (4)

This is a casserole made of thinly sliced potatoes layered with gruyere cheese. The sauce used to bind it is milk, heavy cream, egg yolk, and thyme. It’s seasoned with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. We baked this one for 45 minutes, and it turned out heavenly. I think the four of us (plus two people from other teams who stole some) ate the whole thing in five minutes.

Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce (4)

If you’ve never had fresh gnocchi, try to make it. It’s not difficult, and it’s so much softer than the kind from the store. I don’t think I’ll ever buy gnocchi at the store again. Vodka sauce is my favorite pasta sauce and always has been, and I’ve made it before, so that was my pet project today. It came out perfectly!

Rosti Potatoes (3- too thin)

Chef called this the hangover food, because all you really have to do is heat butter in a small sauté pan, grate some potatoes that are halfway cooked, and form them into a sort of pancake. It was like a really nice hash brown. We made three of them, and the one we turned in for a grade was too thin, so we got knocked down a point, but it was still delicious.

Stay tuned for more news and recipes from Le Cordon Bleu.

Small update. Today is Thursday, and for dinner, I’m making Dauphinoise and the gnocchi with vodka sauce. I told you I’d have to make more for Devin when I eat it all at school!

No comments:

Post a Comment