Lesson 24 – A hint of foie gras

It’s the second to last week of school and at last, I remember to get someone to take a photo of my day’s work.

Chaussons aux champignons and poached pears with orange syrup

Chaussons aux champignons and poached pears with orange syrup

I don’t poach fruit very often. If I’m making a dessert I tend to go for a recipe that is high in added sugar or has lashings of chocolate. So it’s going to be great to learn how to poach and serve pears, especially as Chef says the stock syrup we are making can be used for a wide range of fruits.  He delicately scores around the pears so that the skin around the core remains intact and looks attractive on the plate.  When it has been gently poached and cooled down, Chef demonstrates how to cut it so that it flays out on the plate.  It looks amazing, especially with the orange glaze that’s laced with grand marnier.

Poached pears with orange glaze

Poached pears with orange glaze

The savoury dish today is chaussons aux champignons.  Delectable puff pastry filled with a mixture of mushrooms, ham, cream, parsley and, wait for it, foie gras.

Foie Gras puree at $100 a tin

Foie Gras puree at $100 a tin

These chaussons are like baby vegetarian Cornish pasties.  There’s a danger that they will fly apart during cooking if there isn’t enough egg wash binding the half circles together.  They cook quite quickly so we’ll have to keep a close eye on the oven.  The huge Rational ovens at each end of the room are incredibly efficient and sometimes we use those instead of our under bench ovens.  It’s a great source of tension because the constant opening the door can ruin a dish and some people just can’t help themselves.  We come up with a plan today.  When a group of us is ready, we put the trays of pastry mounds into the oven at the same time, set the timer, and agree that we wont open the door until we think they are ready.  It works.  They are crispy golden bite-sized morsels with a flavoursome filling and a hint of foie gras.

The week ends on a high note and I rush home.  I’m on a mission  to source what I think is one of the best pastry cook book I have ever seen.  Chef passed around his copy of  Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon Bakery” during the demo.  It’s packed with recipes, hints and photos and it’s a must- have.  Keller is an award winning American chef who owns restaurants and bakeries in California, New York, Vegas and Beverley Hills.  Basic Cuisine school might be coming to an end, but I might just be heading into a pastry phase.

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