The large wooden doors closed behind me as I left The Culinary Institute of America. Cool drops of rain pelted down from the gray skies, bouncing off my umbrella .......... the day seeming to mimic the way I felt walking through those doors for the final time this week. Though my brain was bursting with a plethora of new knowledge and inspiration, my heart was sad to know that this was the culmination of a wonderful adventure..............
............. I spent the last week pursuing a dream; studying French cooking at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. You can read more about it in my previous four posts, but I'll sum it up by saying that this has been one of the highlights of my life. My first glimpses of the incredibly beautiful, chateau-like exterior of the campus nestled high on the wooded hillside overlooking the Hudson River took my breath away and the passing week did not disappoint in any sense.
We spent our final day focusing on the Bistro and Brasserie style of cooking that France is so well known for. We learned that the two terms are generally used interchangeably and have come to represent food that's simple, affordable, casual and fresh. Although I learned a ton each day this week, this probably was my favorite day as these recipes are ones I will tend to prepare on an everyday basis.
I loved my personal assignment; a delicious salad Frisée aux Lardons (Frisée Salad w/ Crispy Bacon) and Steak Frites (Pan-Seared Steak with French Fries), a selection you'll find on just about every bistro/brasserie menu in Paris. I tried to document some of my recipe preparation with photos along with other pictures of our final day's experience.
Thanks for sharing this amazing adventure with me. Your enthusiastic responses have made it even more fun! I hope I can go back one day as I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. There are a bunch of other Boot Camps I'd love to attend as well as a myriad of wonderful continuing education classes. If you'd like to see what the Culinary Institute has to offer, check it out here. I can assure you that you'll not be disappointed!
Oh, and one last thing. My mom passed away about a year and a half ago. She raised six children pretty much on her own, as my dad died when I was nine. She was quite the gal; you can read more about her here. Due to the fact that she was a widow for so many years, I never expected that there would be an inheritance. This past spring however, after her house sold, we all received a small check. I was surprised and decided, rather than purchasing something of temporary worth, to do something special with it, in her memory. I wanted it to be something that would not only be meaningful and memorable for me but also for Scott as she thought the world of him ........... from day one! (That wasn't the case with all the boys I brought home :) ) With Scott's love for photography and my passion for cooking, these learning adventures we've been on for the last week seemed to be exactly what I had in mind for my unexpected treasure. They've proved to be way beyond what we could have imagined so we just want to say ................. THANKS MOM! We love you!!
P.S. Be sure to check back as Scott will be sharing his photography workshop experience at The Institute of Culinary Education, located in the heart of New York City. He's learned all kinds of wonderful tips and tricks and has been inspired to new levels .............. I can't wait to see all his new techniques!
|My Mise en Place tray for my Steak Frites|
|My frisée soaking in cold water before a whirl in the salad spinner.|
|Holy cow, have you ever seen a spinner like this? I think you could probably take a swim in it after you've spun your greens!|
|My lardons getting all golden and crispy. Lardons are simply thick cut cubes of bacon that are slowly rendered to make them crisp and delicious.|
|We cooked our fries the French way, once to blanch them and then the final cooking to a golden perfection. They were delicious and disappeared like hot cakes!|
|I cheated and ask Chef Bruno to arrange my plate. I wanted to see his presentation and I thought it was beautiful!|
|We had a wonderful pasta-making demonstration by Chef Bruno. He honestly had the dough made in less than 2 minutes!|
|It needs to have just the right moisture level.|
|He showed us how to turn it out without making a schweinerei.|
|Rolling it thinner and thinner .......|
|What a cool trick this was; he attached the two ends of the pasta dough ........|
|............... which made it much easier to work with. You don't have to keep putting the dough back into the machine.|
|You do have to be a bit of a gymnast though .......|
|oh, and speaking of the gym, there's no need to go if your making pasta Chef Bruno-style!|
|Three sheets all read to be sliced.|
|Oh my, this pasta was better than anything you could buy in a store!|
|Can you guess what these are?|
|We learned the trick to make them plump and tender; a soak in cold water and a short cooking time.|
|This is Christina, one of our helpers each day. I am sad that I didn't get to learn how she can make a mountain of dirty dishes disappear in no time flat! Maybe it has something to do with her beautiful smile.............|
|Our culinary team along with our fearless leader, Chef Bruno. I loved meeting all of you, you made the week even more fun! Au revoir, till we meet again!|