Monday, June 8, 2009

a belly full of bechamel

Today we worked on another mother sauce, bechamel. It is a white roux based sauce that is mixed with milk (and burns you really bad as I experienced while straining it through the chinois.) We also did a knife skills tray, mornay sauce, cauliflower gratin, and creamed spinach. After class we all felt overheated and full of cream, ready for a nap.

It was pretty calm today, and three students were out so there were only 12 of us in the kitchen, which made for speedy cleanup at the end of the day. We got to practice tourne-ing potatoes during our extra time.

Here is our mise en place tray in the morning:

And my knife skills tray (which Chef called beautiful):

Here is the roux for the bechamel sauce:

Which gelatinizes as you slowly add milk in batches. That means as the water molecules in the milk are added to the flour of the roux, they expand and soak up all the water, hence the gloup of roux/onion:

Then you add the milk in:

And let it simmer. Since it is milk (and flour), it has a strong tendency to scald/burn on the bottom or edges. Surprisingly no one in our class burned theirs, and Chef was proud of us:

Mise en place for creamed spinach:

Sweating shallots in butter, then sauteing the spinach for the creamed spinach:

The finished product with bechamel added to it:

Here Chef demonstrates cauliflower gratin by buttering the dish, adding the cauliflower (which has been mixed with mornay sauce... that's bechamel with Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses added), then topping it with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and cubes of butter to help it brown:

My blanched cauliflower:

And my presented cauliflower gratin (which Chef loved the flavor of):

We were all pretty full after tasting our dishes (we also made mac & cheese with our leftover mornay sauce). A tip to bring out the flavor of your cheese sauce is to add some balsamic vinegar, it helps the flavors pop:

But I still ventured over to the Asian kitchen to see what they offered, and got the vegetarian pad Thai to pick at a bit:

With its side dish of "street food":

When we got back to class we practiced tourne-ing potatoes for a bit, thats turning potatoes into 7 sided football shaped pieces, which is one of the hardest cuts we learn here:

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