The four course meal this time was:
1)\tShrimp fritters with a dipping sauce
2)\tRed snapper with port/vinegar reduction and wild mushrooms
3)\tFilet of beef with root vegetables and a horseradish sauce
4)\tPears poached in wine with mascarpone mousse.
I did nos. 1 and 3.
There was some significant chopping for the fritter. First, I had to mince a lot leek. The recipe said slice (“emincer”) but Chef and I agreed that cut small would be better. It also said to chiffonade mint and cilantro, but again we thought that mince made more since. I also minced some ginger. The leek gets sweated (no color) in butter; season, throw in the ginger at the end and cook for just a little bit then set aside.
The dipping sauce is a reduction of several elements. First, a ciseler of shallot, sweated (in oil this time) no color. Then we added this amazing Moroccan spice combo that had something like 20 components. I forgot the name and don’t have access to my binder, but it is apparently not easy to find. Some chef at the school made a huge batch. I took some home. Anyway, two tablespoons of that get added to the shallots, it smells intense. Then add some balsamic (60 ml) and red wine (300 ml), reduce by half. Then add 75 soy sauce and 600 chicken stock and reduce again until you get it just slightly thick but still quite runny. Well short of nappÃ©. Chef said you could use an arrowroot or cornstarch slurry if you wanted but this way makes a more intense sauce. You just get less of it. The dipping sauce, reducing:
Meanwhile, peel and de-vein shrimp. This is rather a PiTA. Not that I have not done it before, it’s just not my favorite task. But we did it. It’s not really that hard, it just takes forever.
Now, the recipe said to use the shrimp whole. But we agreed that made little sense. It would be hard to fold the fritters and when you eat them they would easily come apart. So we chopped the shrimp. Then mix with the leek/ginger mixture and toss in the cilantro and mint. At this point, the shrimp is still raw. Here it is before the herbs were added:
Next, I learned about something really neat: wonton wrappers! They sell little pre-made squares of pasta dough. Perfect little squares, very thin. Wonderful. You lay them out, add your filling with a spoon, and then you can make your wonton (or ravioli would work just as well) in a number of ways. We brushed the edges with an egg wash and then laid another square on top then used a biscuit cutter to make circles. Then we used a fork to press the edges together. But you could just as easily leave the squares whole, or use one wrapper, by turning up the corners. (We did that with the last one since we ran out of wrappers.)
The recipe said to deep fry them all but I wanted to steam some to see how they came out. So we fried about two thirds and steamed the rest. They were both very good, but I think the steamed were a little better, more delicate. The best way might have been to pan fry them for a combination. The fried dough was very chip-like. Anyway, they were quite good.
Here are the fried ones, plated:
Here are some of the steamed ones:
They don't really look cooked, but they were.
Now, unaccountably, the recipe for the beef called for poaching. We were all appalled by this. We had this lovely whole tenderloin, who knows what that must have cost. Poach it? What are we, Irish? 50 years ago?
So we roasted it whole. Honestly, this was a little disappointing to me as it was not that creative and I certainly already know how to do it. But it’s what the others wanted to do.
I forgot to get a picture pre-trim, but here it is trimmed and tied:
It was aggressively seasoned, to say the least. Chef took the lead:
Actually, this is a complaint I have. Chef Tim does too much for us. I would prefer it if he made us do everything and just corrected us. I literally had to stop him from plating at one point otherwise he would have done everything. It's fine to plate one demo, but that should be all.
Anyway, the roast cooked surprisingly fast, barely 45 minutes. We did not brown it on the stove. We cooked it in convection oven in family kitchen. Someone inadvertently browned it by turning up our oven without telling us, but the result was great. I guess I did not get a picture of it resting. Chef said he thought it was overcooked, but that just confirms for me that he is a vampire; to me this is perfect beef.
The sauce was rather meh. Hand-whipped cream with grated fresh horseradish (something I had never seen) and salt and pepper. I mean, it was fine for what it was, and better than your typical prime rib joint horseradish sauce but I am just not that into horseradish sauce. Topped with chervil and chives.
The veg was baby carrots (not the machine cut kind, the genuine little carrots), baby turnips (another veg I have never seen) radishes, all cooked a l’aglaise, shocked, then reheated in butter at the end. I don't think I've ever had a cooked radish before. It was interesting. The cooking changes the flavor profile entirely. Not bitter at all and very mild. Here they are after being par-cooked, but before the final saute:
Chef reiterated something I knew but needs repeating: when you buy carrots with all that greenery up top, remove it ASAP. It’s just sucking water and flavor out of the carrot.
Lastly, we made braised baby fennel (not on the recipe book, this was an ad lib to add some green to the plate. Slice them in half and then brown the cut side in oil or butter. Once well browned, deglaze with stock, season a little, bring to a boil, add a parchment lid, turn down and simmer until tender. Chef Tim said that there is nothing special about a parchment lid, it’s just a stop-gap measure used in kitchens that have no lids. This is not what Chef X. and other books say, but who am I to dispute the point. Chef Tim also said there is no point to a “chiminÃ©e” ever. This was definitely not Chef X’s view.
Fennel is delicious.