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basic cuisine – La Gourmandista

Cooking in progress...

Etiqueta: basic cuisine

Sea Bream with Fennel Julienne and Star Anise Sauce

Part of the culinary adventure is having the chance to work with new and different products. The land, depending on where we are, delights us with its richness. However, I think we are not always conscious of it, or at least, personally speaking, I wasn’t. Now, every time a product whose name in French (or even in English) I am not familiar with comes out of the refrigerator, I make my research to know if it’s lack of knowledge or culture on my part, or if in reality it’s something new for my palate because of an ingredient that is not commonly used in my country. And the case of “Sea Bream” was just one of the above.

As it turns out, I had never eaten them. I investigated and finally found that they are captured and consumed in Mexico, but this city rat had never seen them before… Another very beautiful discovery was fennel. Stop the lashing readers, but neither had I tasted fennel -at least consciously. Thus, after the demonstration given by my Instructor Chef, and as receptive as possible, I participated in the plate’s tasting. I reacted surprisingly, since I used to think I wouldn’t like fennel. Don’t ask why, I just knew that. What was marvelous is that I had loved both, the fish, and the side accompanying it.

I went home very happy, for my taste had been enriched today. The following day I had my practical. I can’t whine; the results were quite fine, however, the julienne was a bit thick, and it took me a long time to cut. A friend was coming for dinner at home, so, my excuse for practicing the dish was excellent, since it was included in the list of the pre-selected exam recipes I could get, I went to get my groceries and reproduce it once more, just in case I got it as my final evaluation.

I’ve got to confess that I only prepared a couple recipes for said exam. I felt quite comfortable with the class practicals. I only focused on knowing the procedures almost by heart in order to not forget any of the steps that the recipes followed.

Exam day was here. I was a nerve wreck. The allotted time was of two and a half hours. The only thing I was stressed about was not finishing on time. I entered the kitchen and took the second station. I blindly selected a recipe among the ones the Instructor Chef who was going to be with us during the exam, offered me. I turned the sheet of paper; I had gotten the sea bream. I was at ease.

The exam duly started on time. I started by obtaining the fish filets. The time passed by literally in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, I finished on time, no difficulty whatsoever. I had a panicky moment, but someone gave me a hand to help me take the filets out of the skillet and avoid their being burnt. I was very pleased at the result, and the only thing keeping me from obtaining my Basic Cuisine Certificate was the delivery of my grade.

Butter in Traditional French Cooking: Why is there so much in it?

Until I came to live in France I watched a lot what I ate. Then, I came here and it all changed. Why? Very simple. The products I was used to getting were no longer available. I had to adapt myself to not having things such as nonstick spray to avoid using oil, or 2% milk that would not upset my stomach, or even my delicious manila mangoes… they don’t even know they exist in these latitudes. And I don’t intend to sound like a whiner, it’s just a mere few examples on how diets tend to change also with the rest of our lives when we move to new places. So, instead of having papaya with lime juice and salt for breakfast I quickly (and needless to say, happily) switched to croissants with marmalade or baguette with butter spread and marmalade if no pastries were available.

But after just a few classes at the well-renowned institution teaching me the foundations of the French Culinary Arts, I found I had to embrace using an additional ‘little bit’ of butter. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about desserts, sauces, tarts, fish, or whatever one might feel like having, there’s always a vast potential for that tiny extra ‘noisette de beurre’ to be used in the preparation we shall taste.

The other day, in the middle of a demonstration class I even had the nerve to laugh out loud when the Chef promoted putting what seemed to me as a pound of butter -of course I am exaggerating as much as possible- to the Sole Meunière which tasted delicious and whose recipe requires frying the fish in bubbly melted butter. And, I didn’t mean to be or sound rude at all, but this way of cooking, though it’s quite tasteful and I can’t deny that I am liking every day a bit more, it surely is very different from those health charts we used to have back in grade school or which are distributed by nutritionists when one wants to lose the uncomfortable love handles acquired with age, lack of exercise, and sedentarism… oh, and McDonald’s. Hahaha!

Then again, it may be healthier to have the little extra yellow fat to make food shine or taste better than stopping by the drive-thru.

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