The start of Contemporary

Unbelievable as it may seem I’m now in my last cooking class.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time at the moment to go into too much detail.  I’ll just say that this is the best class ever.  No recipes – just ingredients and your own creativity.  The instructor stresses small plates though they’re not required.  Why wouldn’t you want to though?  Frankly, at a fine dining restaurant I find large portions to be barbaric.  If someone is going to spend a lot of money why would you want to fill them up on just one main item?

Today’s task was to take one main ingredient and prepare two plates using different cooking techniques.

Disclaimer – at this point I’m just using the blog for myself, in that I’ll just be posting production notes for my own future use.  Perhaps this will be interesting to some of you, perhaps not.  You’ll at least see where I went wrong (or right) and what to avoid or what to add.  Please feel free to comment on what you may have done differently.

Here goes:

Seared sea scallops, seared foie gras, deep fried leeks, balsamic reduction:

General method – the name says it all.

What went right?  The foie gras (I was the only person to use the foie gras – I couldn’t believe it) which was a nice inclusion to the dish, the leeks, the general plating, good execution on searing the scallops (people may think they’re easy to cook but they can go so wrong so fast).

What went wrong?  The balsamic reduction which ended up setting up just a bit too much and was more akin to candy than a sauce.

What would I do differently?  Fix the balsamic reduction – no need to add so much sugar or reducing as long.  Maybe also think about deepening the flavor of the reduction itself by steeping herbs (I did use thyme) in it, a little cayenne.  May also consider a gastrique in the future as well.

Poached sea scallops, marinated beets, curry beurre blanc:

General technique – poach the sea scallops in a court bouillon, marinate beets in red wine vinegar/tarragon/olive oil.  Curry made from mixture of ground ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, ground cardamom?

What went right?  Well conceived dish – the basic concept and the plating were both really appealing.

What went wrong?  What the fuck did I do to those beets?  They ended up being pickled and required sugar just to make them palatable.  Need to review some recipes I’ve made in the past.  Had to make the beurre blanc twice – the first one broke when I was warming it back up (didn’t realize that just the stove tops were so hot).

What would I do differently? Fix the beets, consider making a roasted red pepper coulis to sauce with as well, could even have made tarragon or chive oil (or really any number of varieties here) just to bring more complexity to the table.

Overall this was a great start to the class.  Tomorrow we have to do essentially the same thing except this time we know the ingredients and have time to prepare a menu.  I’m leaning towards duck though monkfish sounds appealing as well.


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