October 2009


DSC_0002Apologies for my tardiness, dear reader, but in addition to being even sicker than in all my other recent posts, I have also been swamped with studying, and extra classes.  For some odd reason they decided that instead of balancing out our schedule they would just cram a few extra practicals, on top of finals, in this week.  It must have been Tuesday that we made the chicken tarragon, although at this point, with all the facts we’ve been cramming into our heads all week my memory could be faulty.  The chicken tarragon came out wonderfully, and was probably one of my favorite things that we have made so far.  It tasted great and I ate it for lunch, and dinner two nights in a row.  Christ, let’s see if I can even vaguely remember how to make it.  We started by NOT trussing the chicken for the first time, but rather dissecting the thing until we had 10 pieces.  The drumstick and the thigh, the wing, the breast, and the top part of the breast plus the nubbin that comes off of it.  Okay, that’s not its technical name, but at least I remembered all the pieces.  For the nubbin piece and the drumstick we frenched the bone so it would look pretty as you can see above.  The chicken gets browned for a bit just to give it some color, but not cooked through all the way.  Then add some wine, tomatoes, shallots, and veal stock to the pan, let it get hot, and let the chicken cook in it.  Strain it when it’s done, reduce it, add cream and butter, and at the very end, tarragon.

For the veggies, which were oh so delightful:cut them all into petals, or things resembling petals by skinning the vegetables but in chunks where your remove body as well.  You don’t want any pieces with only skin.  We used onion, red peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes (which became total mush after cooking).  Cook them each separately in olive oil on a sautee for whatever time is required to cook them initially.  Then add them to a tray in the oven for 20 minutes.  Crush some garlic and chop some basil to put in there too.  The vegetables are added in layers to a square mold atop a parchment paper to rid them of any oil and then plated after that.  So delicoius, will be making this again.  The picture might look better if I hadn’t wrapped the whole meal in foil together and ridden home with it on my back.  Oh well.

Yesterday we made hot fish terrine, and boy oh boy was it a little of a disaster, but I was so unreasonably sick I didn’t even really care.  You begin by cleaning and dicing the pike perch and then blend it egg whites, cream, and softened butter.  This mixture you mix with chervil and pipe in a mold.  The mold is lined with spinach leaves which have been boiled for a second then dipped in cold water.  They hang over the sides of the mold so you can fold the whole thing up like it’s giftwrapped.  Between each layer of blended perch and the next you want to add two batonets or sticks of salmon (cooked with a sprinkling of wine in the oven for a few minutes) wrapped in spinach leaves.  The whole mold is placed in a pan with hot water (mine wasn’t hot perhaps this is why the whole thing wasn’t cooked enough) and put in the oven.  We also made a beurre blanc to go with it.  Basically I didn’t get my fish in the oven soon enough so it was mushy in the end.  The chef also said that the sauce was oversalted and the fish was undersalted (even though I added a ton of salt before blending it, when you’re supposed to), but then he said I was excused for the day because I was sneezing and coughing so badly that he said he didn’t think I could taste very well anyway.  This is a picture of my friend Greg’s since I didn’t feel like scooping mine up and bringing it home.fish

Today we made the Sea Bream, which compared to all the other fish we’ve made, was practically cute.  We began by scaling it and trimming off its fins.  Then made a slit down the middle of it to remove it stomach and guts, and all the other nasty bits inside of it.  Also cut away the gills from the head to remove the lungs and sharp layers in its neck.  So now the inside of your fish is cleaned out, mop up the blood with a paper towel.  Seriously, it was a little like performing surgery.  I kept wanted to ask the chef to get me a transfusion bag, but I knew he wouldn’t think it was funny.  In other news Chef Lesourde asked me today if I had a husband in Los Angeles for whom I was learning to cook.  I smiled and shook my head no.  This is the Napoleon chef I’m talking about.  A distracting little character who oft interrupts our cooking with jokes we can barely understand anyway.  Although the other day, when the worst translator who ever lived was really butchering a demonstration, he sent her out to make copies of something, and then wouldn’t let her back in when she was locked out.  He laughed hysterically, and even though most of us were on his side as she was ruining the lesson by having to have everything explained to her, a few people got upset enough that he let her back in much to our chagrin.

DSC_0001Anyway, filet the fish (we had two fish today, which must mean we are getting faster).  Then start making the fish stock with the bones.  After it boils move it to a lower heat for about fifteen minutes, then strain it and start to reduce it for the sauce.  This dish was also made with fennel, hooray, I’ve never worked with fennel before and I love it.  We just had to julienne it (cut it into ribbons) and cooked it with olive oil, salt, a little sugar, and a little water on the heat.  They should remain just a little crunchy and be cooked but not soggy.  At the end stir in some dill (which I messed up and switched with the chives I should have added to the sauce).  Once I realized my mistake it was already too late.  The other mistake I made was adding too much water to my stock initially and then not pouring enough out when I began to reduce it.  Then when I added the cream and butter later it would have had a much better consistency.  The fish I managed not to butcher, neither the cutting nor the cooking, and am about to have it and the fennel for dinnner.  Also, with this we left the skin on and cooked them atop paper and oil on a high heat for about two minutes on each side, skin side first.  Promise to post a picture in this post of the fish in a bit.

Tomorrow we’re making a ridonculous pistachio log cake that I will completely devour.  Unbelievable.  Also in cuisine we are making breaded veal, spaghetti (from scratch!), tomato sauce, and I think that’s all.  Three classes tomorrow, holy Christ.  And a class on Halloween.  I can’t believe next week is our last week of school.  I believe our practical exams are Tuesday and Wednesdays, Thursday is graduation.  Then the tone of this blog will drastically switch shapes for a couple months until school resumes… to be continued 🙂

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DSC_0002This week has been chaotic.  Wednesday was the pastry exam, and Thursday we attacked the beef stroganoff, which I’ve never really eaten before, somehow.  The recipe itself was fairly simple to execute, but what I liked even better was the excellent stir-fry I was able to make with the leftovers.  Just added some sesame seeds, broccoli, and cooked the whole thing in a pan with a little soy sauce.  But anyway, back to the practical.  The chef took a while cleaning all the fat off the meat in the demonstration, so I just knew it would take me a while.  And it did, but the chef stressed that it was super important to get all of the fat off for this recipe, which later made sense because the little meat pieces were so perfect and delicious in the end.  Cut the meat into bite size pieces and let them marinate with a ton of paprika until you’re ready to cook them in the end.  Then the sauce is made by adding some tomato paste and seeded and peeled tomatoes, paprika, and some other stuff to a pan, when the sauce is about ready add the cream and let it cook a little while longer.  The sauce was delicious.  At the end, sear the meat DO NOT COOK IT! The chef was very clear.  I overcooked mine a little and it was literally on the heat a minute.  When it’s done add it to the sauce and stir it in.  Don’t forget the rice, which is the way we always make it.  Cut up half an onion and cook it with melted butter in a pan, spread out the rice over it, and put it in the oven.  Separately prepare boiled green beans, cooked carrots, and zucchini, and right before you’re ready to serve the rice stir them into it.  Make sure all the vegetables are the same size.  You can’t really see the sauce in the picture because I didn’t want to ride my bike home with it in my backpack.DSC_0009

Friday we did pork medallions with charcuterie sauce and pommes dauphine.  It all turned out to be little more than pork chops and tater tots.  But who doesn’t love tater tots I ask you?  We began by cleaning off the pork, and making them pretty.  Then cooked them first on a high heat to brown them and then on a lower heat to make sure the inside was cooked.  I ended up slightly overcooking my insides because the chef said it was a little dry.  It was just so hard to tell when they were done.  I must get better about being able to tell just by touching the meat.  There is this badass trick that they taught us, of course, none of us are really good enough to use it well exclusively.  But it does give you a good idea kind of what the meat should feel like.  Touch the tip of your second finger to the tip of your thumb in an O.  Now feel the muscle below your thumb in your palm.  That’s blue or very rare.  Now touch the third finger to your thumb and feel the muscle again, that’s rare.  And so on.  Fourth finger to thumb is medium, and pinky to thumb is well done.  You can gauge how the meat should feel by how tough that muscle is.  Cool, right?  Anyway, when the meat is done keep it warm in foil.  The potatoes we peeled and boiled til they were soft, then put them warm through a scythe.  So now they are super mashed.  Then make a choux pastry.  Add the choux and mashed potatoes to a bowl and mix them up, add them to a piping bag with a large tip.  Pipe directly into the hot oil fryer and cut them in with a knife.  You want them to be about, well, tater tot size.  They were so delicious we stayed after class to make more.  The chef was rushing us out of there since he wanted to go home so in class we only were supposed to make six or seven, enough to plate.  The charcuterie sauce was fairly simple and delicious.  In the pan you cooked the meat you’ll want to make the sauce.  Veal stock goes in, and off the heat stir in butter and mustard and chopped parsley.  Voila.

DSC_0012This weekend has been sublimely warm compared to the last week.  It’s not even that warm, which means I must be developing into a real Parisian.  Progress has been made on the bike trip front.  My train ticket is booked to Amsterdam, and the hostels are booked.  I’m off right now to look for a rack and fenders that will fit on my bike, dear god, I hope to find some.  Last night I decided to try something I’ve always wanted to try: potato crusted salmon.  But I wanted to add wasabi into the potatoes for a little kick.  Grate the potatoes (or since I didn’t have one I used my mad knife skills to ribbon them).  Add a little flour too so the potatoes will stick.  But I still wanted the wasabi to be a more prominent flavor.  Maybe a thin layer between the potatoes and salmon.  We’ll see, I shall continue the experiment.  Either way, it was super delicious and I’ll probably make it again a bunch of times.  Wednesday is our cuisine written exam and there is much studying to be done, wish me luck.

Alas, it has been quite a week, and we’re only halfway through it.  Monday I attended an knee-weakening demonstration for the canette.  Canard is duck, so canette is duckling.  Beautiful specimen of meat, and most wonderful to eat.  In the demo the Chef roasted it in the oven, and my mouth watered over this thing I would soon be taken home to feast on.  Then after class I realized I would be missing the practical to attend to my medical visit for the carte de sejour.  A pox on France and its bureaucracy!  Sadly the form getting only took about fifteen minutes, and I had to miss the whole practical, but at least I was able to eat everyone’s finished dishes after class.  I only hope, and have this horrible feeling, that this one dish I didn’t get to do will be the one I have to make in the final exam.

Speaking of exams, I have been absent from cyberspace because of my desperate need to cram.  The exams work like this: for pastry and cuisine we have separate written exams for the two, and two practicals.  They post a list of ten dishes we might have to do (at this point we have already received them), and on the day of the exam two dishes are selected.  We pull from a hat or something and get one of the original ten.  Half the class gets one and half the other.  We have to prepare it without methods or amounts, hopefully having memorized all ten recipes, just in case.  The written exam for pastry today went fairly well.  It was based on all the little comments the chefs have said during the last months, and the ginormous glossary at the back of our binders.  It would have been helpful had they separated the pastry from the cuisine terms, but unfortunately they were all in together.  There was also a portion where we were given 6 potential recipes to memorize and would have to fill in missing ingredients and amounts from an unknown one.  I wish this had been a bigger portion, because I had those suckers down pat.  But the exam went fairly well I think as I wrote down a ton of the questions on my hand to check the answers to afterward.  I think I fared well.  But we’ll see as our scores are posted publicly sometime next week I believe.

Tonight was our second to last French class, and I realized I’ve actually learned quite a bit there in combination with school.  We had to write out directions for a recipe of our own creation.  I just did a simple mushroom omelette.  But knew how to write out directions like cut this, add that, mix this, as well as amounts, weights, and ingredients.  I have to say, it’s pretty exciting.  So my kitchen French is rapidly improving, thank heavens, but my street French is almost none as proven by this silly incident this weekend when some guy asked me out on the street and it took me five minutes to figure out what he was talking about.  Undeniable proof that the smile and nod doesn’t always work.  Tomorrow we are making beef stroganoff, and attending our first demonstration for working with chocolate, which is too hardcore and unbelievable.

DSC_0003Friday, we attended a demonstration for veal cutlets, Grand Mere garnish, turned potatoes, and jus.  It was fairly straightforward, and going in, our primary thing to focus on was not to burn the trimmings as the cutlet cooked atop them, because if we did the jus would taste burnt.  Then we had a couple hours for our break and then we returned to do the cooking.  As the other classes finished theirs and adjourned to the locker room they warned us that everyone in their class had let the meat burn and ended up with strange, paranormal jus, so we made a point of being particularly careful.  The first step was trimming the skin bits off of the veal cut, and frenching the bone, which you can see in the picture.  The trimmings were saved though so don’t toss em out.  Brown the veal in a pan of hot oil, then take it off adding it to a tray with salt and pepper as you brown the trimmings.  When they are brown, add the veal back to the pan and allow it to cook atop them.  Ours cooked about thirty minutes or so.  Make sure to unstick the trimmings to prevent them from burning, and prevent yourself from ending up with a nasty jus.  I again thwarted myself in that department, but we’ll get to that in a second.  Meanwhile you want to turn your potatoes (someday we’ll do an in depth lesson on this, once you get the hang of it it’s sort of fun, but at first it is so not).  Boil the potatoes, and dry them, then cook them on the stove in hot oil until they are a lovely golden brown, and adhering to the number one cardinal rule of French cuisine: don’t forget the salt.  The veal turned out quite well, despite the fact that I could not get the smell of my hands for the remainder of the night.  Perhaps at some point it did come off, and the smell merely lingered in the nasal port of my frontal lobe.

The Grand Mere garnish seems to be a popular thing because we’ve done some combination of it several times now.  For this one it was a combo of lardons, mushrooms (or mushies as I now abbreviate in my class notes), and baby onions.  Boil the lardons first to bring off any impurities that they are holding in. This doesn’t seem like a necessary step until you do it and see all the nasty bits that come off of them.  Then when they are cooked in just a little oil they will brown evenly and beautifully.  Cook the mushrooms in the bacon fat, because who wants any of that to go to waste?  In another pan glaze the onions by adding salt, butter, and enough water to lift but not cover the onions.  In practicals we also cut baking paper into a circle to act as a cover to keep in more heat, but allow the water to evaporate up the sides.  When the water evaporates you have to keep an eye on them and flip them around in the pan as they begin to brown so they do not brown on one side more than the other.  When all three of those were done I chopped a little parsley, cooked them all in butter for a second in the same pan and added the parsley on, removing them from the heat.DSC_0001

In other news, my bicycle arrived this Friday after much chaos and miscommunication.  Thanks to it, and the team of people it required to ship it, I had a weekend of bliss riding around, learning which cobblestoned streets to avoid with my 26” tires.  Twas a beautiful thing to have bike grease on my hands once again.  It seems with a few weeks of intense riding, and a safe route, this bike trip to Amsterdam may again be a possibility.  This weekend was also the Bicycle Film Festival here in Paris and I was able to get out to at least a portion of it: a party last night at some bar at which there were so many familiarly clad cyclists that it made me feel at home and miss home all at once.  And, there was some serious bike porn locked up just outside the bar.  Alas, this week begin our finals so my time to ride is limited.  Wednesday is the first, and now I must return to memorizing my pastry recipes.  Next time I’ll explain how these finals work exactly, and what happens if you fail.

Man oh man, these last few days have been tiring ones.  Wednesday we had two demonstrations and learned to make beef tournedos. pomme frites, turned artichokes, and bearnaise sauce.  In pastry we learned the brioche and the raisin buns.  Due to our all night party it was impossible to stay awake.  By the time I got to French class I could barely keep my eyes open, and neither could anyone else.  Luckily all we had to do was watch some of Ratatouille with the sound turned off and yell out verbs or vegetables we recognized.  There are absolute signs of improvement.DSC_0002

In practical the next day, the beef turned out to be really easy to make, unfortunately I took missteps with yet another sauce.  I’m not even really sure where exactly it went wrong.  It could have been that I didn’t weigh out the wine and the vinegar as they went in, but I asked the chef and he said it would be fine.  So I think the problem with the Bearnaise was likely that I let it get too hot when I was whisking it on the heat, and it solidified some, becoming impossible to press through the strainer.  Or maybe I added too much clarified butter at a time.

DSC_0006The beef was brushed with oil and put onto the grill.  The thing the chef said, but I couldn’t taste, was that it would have helped to clean off the grill first because he could taste everyone else who grilled their steak before me.  I was careful to get my fries fried soon into the practical though so I wouldn’t have to do it in used oil.  In the practical we also had to turn a couple artichokes, which was good practice because they will be on the final, we have been promised.  They were even easier to turn than last time; I think I am gaining knife control.  Just like today I turned the potatoes and preferred the paring knife to the turning knife because I could do the curve better with my own hand rather than the curved knife.

After cuisine we had a pastry practical.  The brioche was easy to make.  It looks amazing, but it is mostly because the oven knows what it is doing.  We measured out the stuff for the dough, and it was mixed all together in a machine then redivided.  The loaf looking one was braided.  The little and big upside down mushroom were made by rolling one into a round and rolling the other out, one side thinner than the other.  Plunge the second one into the first really digging your fingers down and in so it will rise properly.DSC_0004

The raisin buns, pictured at the top, were made with the same dough as the brioche.  Then it was rolled out flat.  Spread some pastry cream in a thin layer on top of it.  Sprinkle raisins over it, and roll the whole thing up.  Make sure to squash one end into the counter a little so it will be easier to seal when rolled.  Then slice them as thick as you want them, and bake.  Egg wash, of course, and once again during the baking.  Time to party, veal chop update tomorrow.

DSC_0083The other day was perhaps the world’s longest day, albeit a good one, though we all paid for it dearly today.  We had two practicals Tuesday, the veal and rice pilaf, and croissants and pain au chocolat.  The veal was much easier to trim than it looked like it would be in demonstration.  Just watching the Chef do it I thought to myself, that is going to take me forever.  Luckily it didn’t.  The first thing to do was cut the veal into squares and bring it to a boil to get off the impurities.  Meanwhile we began working on our broth by simply adding carrots, onions, leeks, and celery whole to water along with thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves.  While that water heated, we strained the boiled veal and ran cold water over it.  We added the meat to the vegetable water, and once it came to a boil we turned the heat down to a simmer and let it cook for a while.

The rice pilaf was done by chopping an onion finely so the pieces looked about the same size as a grain of rice.  Melt butter in a pan and add the onion, cook it, but do not allow it to color.  When it is done add the rice, a bouquet garni (thyme and bay leaf), generous salt, and water.  When the water boils add the whole pan to the oven.  For our quantity, 200 grams of rice, it was 18 minutes in the oven, and I found that time to be perfect.  Some people who left theirs in longer for just minutes found it overcooked.

Yet again I ruin everything by being too impatient to reduce the stupid sauce.  This one would have been so good, rich, but good.  Start with a roux, 30 grams of flour and 30 grams of butter, whisk them together over heat.  Add milk, and make sure to whisk all the goop away from the sides of the saucepan.  Add 500 mL of broth (which has now been strained and the meat has been set aside to keep warm).  Allow this mixture to reduce, ah, my oft fatal flaw.  When it reduces (say by half), pour it over 2 whisked egg yolks to thicken it, and keep the whole thing warm by doing a ban marie.  Add about two inches of water to a saucepan and get the water warm, but not hot.  Place the bowl with your sauce in the saucepan (the bowl should be bigger and get stuck so that the bottom does not sit in the bottom of the saucepan).  Check the water frequently to make sure it is not overheating.DSC_0080

The croissants and pain au chocolat were overwhelmingly good.  I was kind of surprised because normally I can’t eat more than a bite of that stuff, but I think I am developing quite a sweet tooth.  I ate 3 pain au chocolats and forced myself to throw them out before I devoured any more.  The ratio of delicious to easy to make is surprisingly comparable for these pastries.  You only do three turns on these versus a puff pastry, and then roll them out.  This incorporates the butter nicely.  Then you slice the croissants into triangles, roll them and coat them with egg wash.  Same for the pain au chocolate except you cut them into squares and roll in two chocolat bars so they look like ding dongs when they’re about to go into the oven.  Also, for the pain au chocolat make sure to trim the ends so you don’t have extra dough coming off one side.

Later that day we attended a mad party for all the kids in basic at Le Cordon Bleu at one of Guy Savoy’s restaurant.  Is it sad that after all we’ve learned we all thought the food was just okay?  The duck they served was incredibly good, as was the mushroom soup.  But the fish crusty thing I couldn’t eat was apparently weird, and everyone was put off by the dessert.  It was tart, but I liked it.  It was some jellied grapefruit (or in French, pamplemousse) type thing.  We must just be used to having sweet things.

DSC_0035After the dinner some of us went out, first to the Great Canadian Pub as I believe it was called, and then salsa dancing.  Actually almost none of us were salsa dancing.  But there was some jumping, eclectic dancing, and waving of a Tour de France flag that we stole.  It was sweet, and class the next morning was absolute torture, for those of us that made it that is.  There is so much to update, the beef tournedos, raisin buns, brioche, and veal cut.  But my long-awaited bicycle arrived today, and it is of the utmost importance that I ride it immediately.  The beef, breads, and veal soon, dear reader.  Je suis fini.

DSC_0011Much to catch up on.  Friday we had two demonstrations: one for the dish we did today, Fried Shrimp and Tartare Sauce.  We also saw a demo for pastry in which we learned Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Windmills, Oranais, and the preparation for Brioche.  The shining refers to the thought I kept having as the Chef applied a coat of egg wash (whisked yolks) to all these things before and after cooking.  It was a lot of wash.  Tomorrow we will do a shining of our own as we are making the Pain au Chocolat and Croissants.  At least in pastry they use egg wash on everything here, because they say that people like to buy shiny things.  I guess they have a point.  By the time we got out of two demonstrations on Friday, I was ready, as I always am, for the weekend to commence.  Friday night my throat was scratchy, so while the rest of the group did laps at Aquaboulevard, I stayed in and caught up on my rest.  Saturday morning I had French class, which involved a walking tour of several really nice restaurants and chocolate places like Fauchon.  It was cool, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have rather been sleeping.  After class, a classmate and I grabbed sushi, then I went home and napped until 7 at night.  When I woke up I was struck with the thought, great I’m late to the party again, and jumped out of bed, and jumped in the shower.  Our adopted Group A-er, Damla, had prepared a Turkish feast since it was her night to host.  We even got to try this strange anise flavored liquer that is clear in the bottle, but becomes murky when added to water, as it is supposed to be served.DSC_0007

The girl went all out and made cucumber, onion, tomato salad, a lentil and beef dish, some bean salad, and most notably, the most insane meatballs I’ve ever had the privilege of consuming.  Their apartment was also straight out of a hobbit fairy tale, with its strange built-in knick knacks and amazing woodwork.  It was completely charming even though the bathroom door was only a makeshift.  The night took us from her house to a late-night walk.  We ended up at Hippopotamus, which is kind of like a Dennys that happens to have a bar and serve things like carpaccio, a foie gras burger, and beef tartare, which is what I had.  Nothing like raw egg on raw beef at 4 in the morning.  When I think of the strides I have made in digestion I am simply amazed.

Sunday as usual was devoted to cleaning the apartment, ironing uniforms, and general life-maintenance.  Today I set off to school, once again with my Epipen and steroid pack dutifully in hand.  Since according to my lovely blood tests handling shrimp is most likely of any shellfish to cause a reaction, I figured if I could just get through today I was home free.  Cleaning the shrimp went perfectly fine, even though I have never done it before.  The shells were easy to get off, though the digestive tract that must be removed was a little difficult to find at first.  Then the shrimp (tails on) were placed in a tray in the fridge along with some olive oil, parsley, and garlic.  Right after I thought everything was cool my hands started to get really red, puff up, and become unbearably itchy.  That threw me a little bit, as I wanted to keep an eye on them in case them got worse, plus I stopped working for a few minutes just to itch them.  It was fine.  After a few minutes, and some heavy rinsing, the itch went away, and I continued.  We also had to make a cheese souffle, which was relatively straightforward.  Just be sure to put a circular piece of paper in the bottom of your ramekin before you butter and flour it.  Also, the Chef said we should have buttered them more generously.  This will help it rise properly.  Also do not sprinkle cheese against the edges for the same reason, and do not wipe with your finger the sides of the ramekin or the souffle will stick to it and not rise evenly.  The quiche went in the oven for about 15 or 20 minutes on a baking sheet that had been warming with the oven.  Be careful not to disturb it while it is cooking, if you must check on it do so very carefully or the whole thing could collapse.  The point is that it has to stay at that constant temperature to cook correctly, and if you disturb it you could mess that up.

Now back to the shrimp.  We made mayonnaise, and boy this is where I almost really ruined things today.  Somehow I didn’t get down in my notes to add the oil to the other ingredients (egg yolks, mustard, red wine vinegar) a little at a time.  This is the most crucial part of making an emulsion, and I will never ever forget how to do it for the rest of my life.  The Chef came over and looked at me very concernedly, “Haven’t you ever made mayonnaise before?”  I was like no, I don’t even buy mayonnaise.  Although he seemed to think the latter part was a leg up on most Americans.  So whisk in the oil a little at a time, and it’s actually easy to make mayo yourself.  Then we added chervil, parsley, and some other tiny green chopped finely.  We also added shallots and capers, though later the Chef said I should have added more to give the sauce more “character.”  He explained it like this: you have a beautiful woman but she has no character, and you have a woman that looks okay but she has a lot of character.  I was like, thank you for that, Chef.  This Chef in particular we call Napolean.  He is little.  Even with his Chef hat on, and the platform shoes he is rumored to wear, he is short.  He is fascinated by the fact that I am from Los Angeles and is constantly distracting me by throwing up the Westside sign in class.  Then I threw back an Eastside sign, and completely blew his mind.  He was excited to tell me today that he threw up the new sign to his girlfriend over the weekend, and she was impressed.  He also kept asking me to flex while I was trying to whisk my egg whites.  Very distracting for a tiny man, and what a talker.

The last step was to dip the shrimp in the batter (potato starch, flour, some other stuff) and then into the hot oil.  I think I may have scalded my retina today with some of that hot oil, but it burns less when you blink a lot.  Holding the shrimp by the tails you hang on to them for about 5 seconds then let them go in, and remove them once they are lightly browned.  This concludes today’s lesson.  Tomorrow we do the croissants and pain de chocolat as previously mentioned, and in Cuisine we are making rice pilaf and traditional veal stew, which does not look like what I would picture as stew, the sauce is white, but holy Christ it is delicious.

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