A week of savoury food for a change
Sunday, November 6, 2011

This past week has been different. We had a different Chef (who spoke only French), we worked in a cuisine kitchen, we had longer hours, and we were learning to make savoury foods instead of sweet. It was a nice change from the usual. But, one week was enough for me to know that I made the right choice in choosing pastry over cuisine. I’m still not comfortable lighting a gas stove with a match, or flambé-ing anything. I prefer to watch someone else do it. In my defense, I did just recently burn my finger!

So here’s all the delicious food we made over 3 days, most of which is sitting in my freezer. I’ve got enough pasta sauce for 10 meals, 4 chicken pot pies, 6 croque-monsieur sandwiches, a savoury loaf, and 3 potato tarts. I think it should come in handy when I’m too tired to cook.

Our first savoury item was quiche lorraine. It's a savoury tart filled with sauteed leeks, pan-fried bacon and a custard made with cream, milk, egg yolks, and nutmeg.

My quiche was left in the oven for 5 minutes too long. Chef taught us how to prevent the filling from sinking in after cooling. You take the tart out when the top (of the custard) has just set, poke a hole with a knife and pour more custard in through the hole so that all the air pockets are filled with custard. Then, return to the oven to bake until golden.

Chef's quiche lorraine with bacon was our breakfast.

Next, we made tarte tatin au chèvre, an upside down tart filled with scalloped potatoes, a generous serving of goat cheese, all wrapped inside bacon, and sitting on top of a puff pastry base. We construct it from top to bottom when making it.

After we pack the tart full, we pour custard in (same as for the quiche) to fill all the holes.

Then, cover it with a circle of puff pastry dough which we made earlier and bake.

Here is the tarte tatin au chèvre after baking.

And flipped over to be served. The fat from the bacon makes a nice caramelized shell for the tart. This is very tasty.

Next, we made gnocchi à la parisienne for another tart. To make the gnocchi that goes in the tart filling, we make pâte à choux (cream puff dough) and instead of piping it onto a tray to bake, we pipe it into hot water to cook.

The gnocchi à la parisienne cooking in simmering water. We don't want the water to boil or else it will break up the thick strings of gnocchi. After 5 minutes, we strain it, cut it up and put it in the béchamel sauce (white cream sauce) we make next.

To make béchamel sauce, we begin by cooking equal parts butter and flour for 5 minutes, known as a roux.

Then we add cream and milk to the roux, thickens the sauce.

Then, we ade the chopped up gnocchi à la parisienne, salt and pepper and the béchamel sauce is completed.

Here is the assembled tarte aux gnocchi à la parisienne. We filled a tart crust with the gnocchi à la parisienne, top it with emmenthal cheese, and a knob of butter. It's baked until the cheese becomes golden.

Next, we made french-style pizza. What is french-styled pizza you ask? The crust is more flaky than chewy, they make their tomato sauce with onions, and they use emmenthal cheese instead of mozzarella. I made my pizza with mushrooms and eggplants.

Here is the baked french-styled pizza. It was so good I took the entire 10-inch pizza home.

Next, we made croque-monsieur, a hot ham and cheese sandwich with béchamel sauce. To prepare it, we slice an entire loaf of sandwich bread lengthwise with the ham slicer.

To assemble the croque-monsieur, we spread béchamel sauce on a slice of bread, cover with ham, another slice of bread, more béchamel sauce, and a generous sprinkling of emmenthal cheese. Then, it goes in the broiler and the gooey, hot croque-monsieur is ready to eat.

If there was a crunchy layer of melted emmenthal cheese on all sandwiches, I think I'd eat sandwiches a lot more often.

Ingredients for the savoury cake: flour, eggs, oil, milk, basil, emmenthal cheese, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.

It's not hard to make. We combine the wet ingredients slowly into the flour, then fold in the chunky dry ingredients, pour into a pan and bake.

The savoury cake looks and tastes delicious! Our class finished almost an entire loaf by lunch time.

Next, we prepared the puff pastry shells (mille-feuille dough made earlier) for bouchée à la reine, basically a french version of a chicken pot pie. To form each of the pastry shells, we cut 2 large circles, cut a hole out of one of the circles and stack it on the other complete circle. When it puffs up in the oven, there will be a hole in the centre for the filling.

The baked puff pastry shells ready for filling. They will be filled with a béchamel sauce.

To make the béchamel sauce for the bouchée à la reine, we start by making a roux (cooking butter and flour), add chicken stock, and then ham, chicken, and mushrooms.

The completed chicken cream sauce for the bouchée à la reine.

The completed bouchée à la reine.

We continued with the puff pastry dough to make an extra-large ham and cheese-filled envelope. First, we roll out a rectangle of puff pastry dough and cover with a layer of plain béchamel sauce.

Cover the béchamel sauce with ham and emmenthal cheese.

And a little bit more béchamel sauce. Don't complain to me about calories, it keeps the filling moist and gooey!

And finally, we cover with another layer of puff pastry, egg wash, carve something on the surface and bake. Can you tell what I tried to draw? Hint: oink oink.

Now can you tell? Ok, so I did over-do it with the béchamel sauce and as you can see, it oozed out of my puff pastry rectangle while baking. It was still good though. I took it home and my home-stay mom ate half of it for dinner.

Next, we made a saucisson en brioche, an enormous sausage the size of my forearm, wrapped inside braided brioche. To make the braided brioche, we roll out brioche dough into a rectangle and cut into strips leaving one edge in tact.

We lift every other string of brioche dough, place a strip of brioche dough horizontally, fold down the lifted strings of brioche dough and repeat.

After lots of patience, this is what you get. Mine is quite messy.

Then, we take the sausage and roll the braided brioche around it.

Here is the completed saucisson en brioche!

We made a madeira sauce with wild mushrooms to go on top of the saucisson en brioche.

Next, we made crêpe sheets.

While the crêpe sheets were still hot, we had to quickly put in the filling (smoked salmon and grilled vegetables) and gather the hot crêpe sheet with our hands into a pouch and hold it together until it sets. We all burned our fingers a little while doing this.

We also made savoury pâte à choux, and filled it with an asparagus béchamel sauce.

And finally, to end the meal, we made a giant cheese soufflé. 

To make a cheese soufflé, you just have to make pâte à choux (cream puff dough), fold in cheese and whipped egg whites at the end and pour into a well-buttered ramekin and bake.

I had to put my finger into the picture to give you a sense of proportion.

A quarter of the way through my soufflé. No, I didn't actually finish the whole thing. It was just too much!

Here's our catering Chef flambé-ing the mushrooms for our madeira sauce with wild mushrooms that is served with the saucisson en brioche. This is why I don't belong in the cuisine kitchen. No way am I going to do that!

One Glorious Comment
  • Lily
    November 6, 2011
    Emily, You look like you're having fun, and I'm glad you finally found your place in the world. I can see you in your own French pastry & tea shop, just like Dessert Trends on Harbord Street. Keep up the good work. You seem like you're finally in your element. Best wishes to you in Paris.