Update 13: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Oh! I forgot to write about the mayonnaise ... it was no biggie. I've made homemade before and this was pretty much the same. I like making it from scratch, but we don't use it often enough to warrant me making it very often. Don't tell, but I do love my Hellmann's in a pinch. :)

Now, on to Session 5:

Tonight I did all 3 demonstrations for this session on Preserving Food. First was Potage Saint-Germain aux Croutons (Split Pea Soup with Croutons). It involved blanching and sautéeing bacon, adding butter and then sweating leeks, onions and carrots, then adding some of my Chicken stock and dried split peas, garlic and a bouquet garni. I brought it all to a simmer for 45 mins, and then puréed in a blender and then ran through the chinois into a clean saucepan. Then I added some heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. It tastes like summer -- like the peas are right out of the garden. Tomorrow, I will sauté some bread cubes in clarified butter to use as croutons, but tonight that's as far as I got with the pea soup. More on that, tomorrow.

Next was Salade Niçoise, which involved Boston lettuce, canned tuna, hard boiled eggs, boiled new potatoes, peeled green pepper, string beans, tomatoes, anchovies, and olives. Each item was prepared according to the instructions and then separately tossed in a vinaigrette of wine vinegar, crushed garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil. Then everything was assembled on a platter. This was rather bland and not so enjoyable. Perhaps in the summer with a cold glass of white and crusty bread, but Chris and I weren't loving it. I wanted desperately to add mustard and herbs to the vinaigrette, but that's not what was in the book's recipe, so I didn't. Seems odd this dish would be in the FCI textbook. It was rather easy (even though tossing each item in dressing by itself was rather annoying) and didn't knock my socks off. And, I got anchovy oil all over the kitchen island when I opened the jar and it exploded. Oh well -- at least the final piece looked pretty.

Finally, was Brandade de Morue (Pureé of Salt Cod and Garlic), which basically ended up looking and tasting like garlic mashed potatoes with salt cod. I had to soak my salt cod for at least 24 hours, changing the water about three times, before I could start this recipe (good thing I looked ahead over the weekend!), then it was basically heating the fish in water and bringing to a simmer until it started to flake. Then, I drained it well and got rid of any bones/skin. Then, I added to a pan of smoking oil and worked the fish into the oil until it was like a paste. Then, I added a bunch of mashed potaotes, garlic, and warmed milk until I got it to a smooth, thick consistency. The GourMESS showed up again and dumped half the potatoes on the floor, missing the pan and getting pieces stuck between the stove and the counter. Lovely. Also, the house smells vaguely of fish. (Sorry neighbors!)

So, after about an hour of clean-up, I am off to bed and will be traveling/on hiatus for the rest of the week. So, then on to Session 6, Working with Eggs early next week, with the demonstration of Ouefs Cocottes à la Crème (Eggs Baked in Cream).

Can't wait!


P.P.S.: Wednesday night: Pea Soup! :)