|Name:||9 Nights at Dubrulle Culinary Institute||Contributor:||Roger Leroux|
|Description:||Flavourful Stocks, Contemporary Sauces, Vegetables, Salads, Meats, Pastry, Desserts, Shellfish, Seafood||Posted:||2002-05-31|
|Key words:||cooking school, basic, intensive||Category:||Other|
|Ingredients:||I just finished taking the "9 Day Basic Intensive" from Dubrulle Culinary Institute and was asked to write it up by my good friend Dave Mather, and I figured you guys would have at least passing interest too.
Glenys Morgan, graduate of the Cordon Bleu in London, England, one of the contributors to the "Girls Who Dish" series of cookbooks, and a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier (http://www.ldei.org), taught the class. She was wonderful - she really has a "teacher's instinct" and has a very engaging personality. She's worked a lot with Jacques Pepin and others.
Dubrulle is a professional chef and hotel management training institute in Vancouver, BC. In addition to the full fledged professional culinary, bread, and pastry programs, they have what they call "Serious Amateur" classes, and they're aimed at people just like me - people who love to cook, and love to experiment. Most of their classes are one-evening affairs often taught by the head chef of some of the best restaurants in the city
The "9 Day" part is bit of a misnomer - it's three nights a week for three weeks from 6-10pm each night.
The class description in their catalog says:
"This class is for any beginner - those starting fresh or starting over. From understanding how recipes work to shopping savvy, each day builds towards the next. Begin with the Essentials - the first class focuses on knife handling techniques and culinary terms to get started. Each of the eight classes that follow combines techniques and the best ingredients in recipes that reflect contemporary tastes and trends: Flavourful Stocks, Contemporary Sauces, Vegetables & Salads, Meats, Pastry & Desserts, Shellfish & Seafood, Breadmaking, Poultry. Taste the difference a stock makes in a risotto, reduce a port sauce for lamb, create perfect pastry for any pie or tart, sear a stunning scallop appetizer, shape a perfect baguette and learn to dress the most simple perfect salad. Learn organization, about cookware and utensils and develop a repertoire of skills."
I've been cooking since I was 9. So why did I take this class? Well, because I thought it would be a lot of fun, and more importantly, the 6-day advanced intensive (more on that later too) which is a sequel to this class requires that you know everything in the basics class... This class is all about technique.
The class is limited to 12 people, and we often worked in groups of 3, but some things we did individually (e.g. everyone had to make a baguette and pie crust by themselves). The cost for the course is $856 ($800 + tax) and includes everything - food, wine (red and white), and three helpers and a dishwasher to take care of all the cleaning up.
Each day was focused on one particular topic, as follows:
1. The Basics
4. Pastry and Desserts
6. Fish and Shellfish
8. Vegetables and Sides
The sessions were very hands on. Glenys would start each session with a Q&A and then give us a lecture for about an hour (give or take) and also do a little demo. We would then get to go make things. Some times, Glenys made things for us (e.g. braised duck legs on poultry night) to eat simply because there wasn't enough time for us to make it ourselves, so there was definitely a mix of us making things, and having some things demo'd.
In the notes for each day, I'll put  around items that were made for us.
The mise en place was usually done for us so we could focus on cooking and technique rather than slicing and dicing and measuring (though a little more on that later).
|Preparation:||Day 1 - the Basics
This was a day to learn about different kinds of knives, culinary terms, different vegetable cuts and dimensions (e.g. julienne vs. matchstick, brunoise vs. small dice), and to get comfortable with using a chef's knife. We also spent a lot of time discussing kitchen hygiene, cutting boards, ingredients and how to select them, eating seasonally, oils and butter, salt, pepper, herbs and spices...
Things I found out: I really like using an 8" chef's knife best (this is what they use in the school), so I'll be replacing my 10" one (which I can use for other things). I understand why I like Trident knives and not Henckels (blade shapes are different and I find the Trident easier and more natural to use - Henckels are perfectly good knives). I can dice onions (and garlic and shallots) in no time flat now because of some (in hindsight obvious) cool techniques. You shouldn't peel garlic before you crush it in a press (the crushing releases a lot of bitterness, which the husk absorbs if you leave it on).
Techniques focused on knife-work, cutting the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, etc into the right sizes, using the knife right, and we made some pretty basic stuff.
- tomato and garlic bruschetta
- caramelized onion, leek, and potato chowder
- [green salad with shallot and herb vinaigrette]
- [caramel baked pears]
Day 2 - Sauces
This day was, well, all about sauces in all its guises- flaovoured and infused vinegars and oils, coulis, salsas, compound butters (aka flavoured butters), emulsion sauces, reduction sauces, and starch thickened (both starch and flour). We focused mostly on emulsion and reduction sauces, since those are the most currently "popular". Glenys gave us a list of menu items in restaurants around the world just to show us that we can make them too - once you know the technique, the flavouring part is easy.
We were shown how to make infused oils (both spice and herb), mayonnaise (an emulsion of course) and beurre blanc sauces (gastrique, i.e. acid base, plus lots of butter, and flavouring).
We went and made mayonnaise. By hand. With a whisk. Then we made beurre blanc sauces. Since we had four groups, each group made something different. My group made smokey tomato aioli with our mayonnaise, and a Provencale beurre blanc sauces; the other mayos were whiskey mayo, rosted red pepper and sundried tomato mayo, verde mayo, and [sauce tartare]; the other beurre blanc sauces were tomato and basil, raspberry, and another Provencale.
Things I learned: Whisking egg whites by hand is a pain in the ass - this is not exactly news to me, but it was such a PITA that I thought it worth mentioning. ;-) Homemade mayonnaise is acidic enough that you don't need to refrigerate it - not that I wouldn't, but you should let it "set" on the counter for about an hour before you do fridge it. Also, if you use homemade mayo in e.g. potato salad, you don't have to worry about it going bad when you take it in a cooler to a picnic, whereas commercial mayo can start to go bad as soon as it gets warm. I also decided I don't really care for beurre blanc sauces, mostly because of the mouth feel/texture, but they taste delicious.
Glenys likes to have us eat something as soon as possible in the class, so she made us a nice green salad with vinaigrette. The point of all the sauces was to try them with different foods, so Glenys and the staff made roasted chicken breasts, broiled salmon, asparagus, and new potaoes. And then of course we tried all the sauces with it. For dessert we made Zabaglione sauce over [baked apples].
Day 3 - Stocks
Stock is really easy to make, it takes time once you get it going. Fish stock takes 30 minutes, chicken stock 2 hours, veal stock 6 hours. We talked about light vs. dark stocks, i.e. roasting the bones before you make the stock or not, which is entirely dependent on what you're going to make with the stock and what kind of flavour you want.
Things I learned: Not much really, since I've made stocks before, but it was a very fun class, especially since we had such premium stock to work with.
- poached sole with a cream reduction sauce (using our fresh fish stock)
- pan saut?ed chicken breast with pan sauce (using our fresh chicken stock)
- risotto (again using our fresh chicken stock)
Day 4 - Pastry and Desserts
This was one of the sessions I was really looking forward to since pastry is not a forte of mine. I vacillate between perfect flakiness and skeet rocks.
We basically made pate bris? and pate sucr?, and used them for different things. We had a discussion about puff pastry, but we didn't make any because it takes 2 days to make (mostly because you need to chill it thoroughly between rollings) and so out of scope for the class. Dubrulle also has a 4-day pastry class where you do get to make some. It's on my list of classes I want to take.
Pate bris? is the classic butter and flour flaky crust, although you can also use lard. Glenys' suggestion was to use butter if the dish was sweet, and to save lard for savoury dishes. She also said about Crisco that it was "made in a factory, and therefore not even real food."
Pate sucr? is kinda like giant cookie dough that you work over and over and over again without ever having to worry about how it'll turn out - it'll always work out great.
We also made custard for cr?me brul?e, and a French chocolate cake, which we saved for eating later in the week (has to set for at least a day), and then Glenys demo'd a really yummy lemon curd that's really easy to make and can be frozen for later use.
Glenys also demo'd a torta rustica which is an Italian savoury pie which uses layers of different goodies for something that looks fabulous when sliced. This one had spicy salami, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, saut?d kale, prosciutto, and some other things.
What I learned: I now know how to make sure I always have decent pastry, and some nifty tricks (again, obvious when you know how!) to get the crust into the pie dish without fuss. The other thing was that if you're going to make and freeze a pie (or any pastry), freeze it uncooked and you can toss it right into the oven for baking.
- [leek tart with crumbled cheese - gorgonzola or goat cheese - using puff pastry]
- [torta rustica - essentially a giant Italian layered pie]
- apple pie
Day 4 - Bread
Mmmm, fresh baked bread... Is there anything better? This was one of the other sessions I was really looking forward too since I like making bread by hand, but haven't been very adventurous. After all, isn't bread hard? Difficult? Mysterious?
No, bread is really simple. Really really simple. Again, if you know the technique, then you can flavour things as you like.
Glenys did a demo of the breads, and then we did them. Simple as that. We used fresh yeast which gave a much nicer flavour than the dry stuff I've used in the past- as a bonus, fresh compressed yeast, which is readily available in several shops here, can be tossed into the freezer and you just scoop off as much as you need when you need it. Keeps up to six months.
The most fun was when we ate dessert - we got to torch our cr?me brul?s. I think it's genetic for guys to like fire, and well, the chance to play with a propane torch was just too fun.
- pizza Marghareta (tomato puree, basil, bocconcini) using pre-made focaccia dough
- [honey-wheat boule - round loaf]
- [Tuscan bean soup with herb focaccia]
- cr?me brul?e
Day 6 - Fish and Shellfish
As the title implies, we did fish and shellfish. Yum... Fish is one of the things I tend not to make much at home, though I can't really tell you why. To some extent, it's because I have "west coast salmon fatigue" - it's a nice fish, but... Tuna on the other hand, nice fresh tuna, mmm...
We spent a lot of time talking about seasonality of the fish, how to pick good fish and shellfish, the difference between prawns and shrimp, even the latter are often called prawns... Then it was all spot demos, go make it, demo, go make it, ...
What I learned: I still like tuna best of all. ;-)
- crab cakes with fresh mango salsa
- moules marin?res (mixed clams and mussels in white wine shallot sauce)
- scallops finished with Pernod, and Thai coconut ginger cream sauces.
- [salmon en papillotte]
- [fillet of sole a la Meuni?re]
- [flash baked salmon with tomato beurre blanc]
- [grilled cod]
Day 7 - Poultry
Poultry! Duck, chicken, and quail were on the menu this day. Again, the same lecture-demo-cook sequence was followed like on fish day.
What I learned: A quick and easy way to truss a whole bird without having to use any needles or put holes in the skin, that also doesn't leave any twine lines on the skin. The other Really Cool Thing was how to butterfly a whole chicken so you can cook it whole on the grill in less than 20 minutes.
- classic roast herb chicken
- "skillet roasted" chicken with fresh herbs
- duck breast with green peppercorns
- [braised duck legs with prunes and dried figs]
- grilled quail on a [green salad with balsamic vinaigrette]
Day 8 - Vegetables, Sides, and Soups
Holy schmoley. A whole whack of ways to maximize the flavour of your vegetables, and a very interesting lesson in restaurant food preparation.
I'm sure we're all familiar with blanching vegetables (and even herbs). If you aren't, it involves a pot of boiling water and a bowl full of ice water. Put the vegetable into the boiling water, and then shock it in the cold water. Some vegetables you leave in the boiling water only long enough to scoop them back out, others you cook until done or almost done.
Once you've blanched your veggies, you keep them in a sealed container with a moist cloth in your fridge for 3-5 days (depending on the specific vegetable). What restaurants do is they cook the vegetable a minute short of completion and then when your meal is about to be plated and sent out to you, they just toss it in the skillet to heat through and ta-dah...
- [yam (orange sweet potato) timbale with gorgonzola cream sauce]
- [mixed vegetables in a sesame drizzle (asparagus, grilled asparagus, grilled beets, green beans)]
- [mixed vegetables in a maple balsamic sauce (baby squash, grilled green onions, grilled asparagus, grilled fennel)]
- roasted wild mushroom soup velout?
- roasted pepper soup velout?
- [caramelized onion and potato gratin]
We also made some skillet glazed root vegetables (turned potatoes and carrots) and stopped short of finishing them to have them with our food on the last day.
Day 9 - Meat
There's just something fabulous about meat. If there's anything I like about being about top of the food chain, it's meat.
Again, by this point we're just reinforcing all the techniques from earlier (sauces, knife handling, preparation, etc). We had a very interesting discussion about how restaurants prepare meats for clients - these are all tricks we can use at home too. They just prepare things ahead, refrigerate, and then finish when needed.
- herb crusted rack of lamb with [mash potatoes with fennel (this was amazing!) and Glenys' sweet and sour cherry shiraz reduction sauce]
- beef tenderloin with green peppercorn sauce [with lemon roasted potatoes]
- [prime rib]
- [brined pork chops]
- [marinated and seared flank steak]
- [braised lamb shanks]
- the turned glazed root vegetables we made the night before
A very dense protein night!
At the end of the class, we all got lovely certificates Suitable For Framing (tm).
This is just a summary of what we covered and did, but you can see that we maxed-out our four hours each night. If I went into detail, this would be doubled in length, and frankly, I'm not Peter Mayle when it comes to culinary writing.
The helpers really made life easy for us - we didn't have to do most of the prep work (although of course we did some) and for the most part everything was measured out for us on nice trays. They also did all the clean up.
|Notes:||I'm already looking forward to the 6-day advanced.
The 6-day advanced is described in the catalog as:
"For those who've cooked their way through the Nine Day Intensive Basics, the Advanced course is here to polish techniques learned and practiced. Those fundamental skills are applied to a menu-driven class that develops another layer in the search for flavour, texture & beauty in food. We'll cover advanced saucing, infusions - sweet & savoury, refined soups like consomm?, plated desserts, gelati & sorbets, confits, wok-smoking, sausage-making & new ideas for pastry & desserts. The daily five-course format allows anyone to be a well-prepared cook and host with strategic planning and menu concepts. Each menu will feature wine choices and we'll discuss the key bridge ingredients that guide the pairings."