Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bon Appétit!!

I love to cook.

There, I said it.

In reality I'm a rather good chef. In hindsight I should have gone to culinary school. Since high school I had always wanted to attend culinary school, not just any school either, but Le Cordon Bleu (preferably the Paris campus). I have always wanted to get 'Le Grand Diplôme' from this institution. Now I've learned there is one in St.Louis MO. Go figure...I use to live outside of St.Louis at one time an was looking for a career change!

However, the affiliate schools (all those in the US) are supposedly not as good as the one in Paris or London. To go to the one in Paris, and get the 'Le Grand Diplôme' (IIRC it's a 9 month program) would cost about $55K and that doesn't include room and board. I'm not sure if the actual 'Le Grand Diplôme' is even offered here in the US. The school in St.Louis only awards a 'Professional Culinary Arts Certificate'.


The reason I'm bringing this up, and somewhat ranting, is that the kitchen is getting closer and closer to getting finished and I'm having major withdrawals. I have not seen my good quality kitchen crap in a long, long time. I think my body senses this.

So, about two weeks ago I decided to cook a gourmet meal for the first time in what seems like forever. Last Thursday and Friday, SWMBO was out of town so I figured her coming home was a good excuse to do it. Saturday night was the night.

I spent a long time Saturday just trying to locate our 2nd tier china (our Cordon Bleu set) as well as the linen napkins, crystal glasses and nice candle holders. I also had to clean up the breakfast nook table and chairs to keep them ready.

With everything set and ready to go this is the masterpiece I endeavored to make.

Harts of Romain salad with Pear & Raspberries - drizzled with Champagne Vinaigrette. The Salad was followed by Broiled Oysters in Champagne/Parmesan sauce. The main entree consisted of Roasted Cornish Game Hen on a bed of Pan Roasted Potatoes infused with Truffle Oil accompanied by a Tian Provençal (Zucchini & Tomato Gratin) finished off with a dessert course of fresh fruit and cheese.

Following are a few photos for you to enjoy. Actually, I'm not happy with the pictures of the food. There is an index of prefixed 'modes' for our camera and I decided to try the one labeled 'cuisine' for the first time. It bleached out the food!!!

Honestly, the food looked a lot better in real life than in the pictures. Everything had a nice color and browning - honest!!. If you don't believe me just ask SWMBO!!

This is our little tavern table given to us as a house warming present, my parents, when we moved in. They also gave us the chairs. However, the table is backwards...there is a small drawer in the front.

On the table you will find a nice French Baguette. The little ramekin holds seasoned olive oil for dipping. There are also some wedges of baby Swiss and Munster.

Serving as the centerpiece, and our dessert, is a small selection of fruit. I had wanted fresh figs but those are extremely rare to get in our area. There is a store that has them, periodically, but I wasn't able to get by pick some up because SWMBO came home early and threw a kink in the plans.

Here's the salad, but the Champagne Vinaigrette has not been added yet.

Next up is the Broiled Oysters in Champagne Parmesan sauce.

I'm REALLY disappointed in this picture. The actual dish was bubbly and nicely browned.

This was by fare SWMBO's favorite dish of the night. The sauce was extremely silky and succulent.

Let's take a quick break from the food for a second.

This is a Tangine - every home should have one. These little doohickeys are some of THE BEST cookers in the world. You will not believe how moist, and succulent, your food can be till you use one of these babies.

This is the Cornish Game Hen with Pan Roasted potatoes infused with Truffle Oil that was roasted in the Tangine.

Absolutely perfect (!) and the potatoes had a velvety, buttery, texture that was out of this world.

The Tian Provençal.

This was an excellent accompaniment to the hen and potatoes.

The caramelized Vidalia Onion that made up the bottom 'crust' of this dish imparted the perfect balance of sweetness to it.

Note that the Zucchini, towards the top of the dish, is more brown than the rest. keep this in mind for my next rant.

And there you have it all together.

Again, the camera washed out the colors, especially on the hen. On the bright side, the hen was so well roasted it just about melted on the tongue. for the rant...

Remember the comment I made in regard to the browning of the Tian?


I hate our range!!!

What should have taken me a total of about 2 to 2-1/2 hours to make took well over 3-1/2!!! The electric range we have came with the house and is from the 70s. In the beginning it worked great, but over the past couple of years it's started to get worse. It's hard to regulate the burners (like most electric models) and the stove no longer cooks evenly and we are not too sure of the temps.

As most cooks will tell you "gas is where it's at".

So, we are looking at getting a gas range (keep this in mind).

I would love to get a professional grade range for home use, such as a Viking VGSC or Wolf R304, but the average price for one of those is $5K for a 30" rang. Either would have to be in Black though. While I love to cook, the price is a bit steep...but then again, if you did something to make money using it...... (thanks for the thoughts Sandy!)

Now if money, and space, was not an object I would have originally thought an AGA Classic Cooker would fit the bill. It retails for just a measly $18,553.00 and again, it would need to be in Black or Hunter Green (it is English you know).

Then I saw this bad boy...

It's the 'Château 150' from La Cornue in France. Heck, why would you let a meager $36,000 (that's the starting price) stand between you and your culinary creations!!

Anyone out there have one of these they'd like to donate to the cause? I would name the kitchen after you for this puppy!

Okay, let's get back to Earth.

You are going to start noticing less detailed posts, especially pictures, of the kitchen. We are getting close to having the kitchen back together and at an 85% completion rate. I will throw a few tidbits your way every now-n-then, but I want the big picture to be a surprise.

Okay, I hear you asking "Why just 85%?". Good question.

The floor and cabinets are going to have to wait till Spring. There's more than a couple reasons for this but the main one is the floor. I don't remember if I told you about our problem with the range and the floor, so here it goes.

Back in May a friend's son graduated from high school. It wasn't until July that we were finally able to give him the card in person. Well, when we went to get the card all we found was the envelope - the card, as well as what we were giving him inside it, was missing. We figured out that it fell behind the counter or the range. We moved the range out, but didn't find the card.

When I went to push the range back in place it wouldn't go back in. The flooring was so bad it was collapsing under the weight on the right side at the space opening. The only thing left to do was place a large, long, plank on the floor; get my 3-ton floor jack (with a board to distribute the weight of the range while lifting); jack the thing up and roll it back out. I then built a 1/2 thick plywood floor cover for the space. With this in place the stove when back in easily.

So, we now know that the floor under the range has gotten worse. In order to fix it right all the cabinets, sink and appliances will have to come out. The prep area floor will then be repaired. Since we were waiting till Spring to replace the cabinets we just figured that it would be easier to fix the floor then.

What this boils down to is that the kitchen 'should' be completed, with the exception of the floor and cabinets, before the holidays. This 85% completion will allow us to get somewhat back to normal for the Holidays.

One last thing... We have decided to hold off on painting the house till Spring (I'm holding out hope we might still get it done before November). It has been too wet to work on stripping and painting and we have read it is to be a wet Fall as well. I really do not want to get the house stripped and then have all that wood exposed to the elements. True, there is a lot exposed now, but it's less than the whole house.

Oh, one last thing. It has also been so wet that the septic tank pumper can't come and empty the tank so it can be filled in. Right now we have no idea when it will get done.

Hey - just so you know, I hope you enjoyed the food segment. I'm thinking of doing this more often. The next gourmet dish to attempt might be Caille en Sarcophage.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~


Sandy said...

What a feast! What a lovely table (even if you say it's backward) and the table settings are beautiful. If I ever win the lottery, I'll donate to your stove!

Kate H. said...

Hey, Larry, thanks for the idea! I'd never heard of a tian Provençal before I read this post a couple weeks ago, and I decided to make one for a choir party I went to tonight. Not as much of it was eaten as I would have liked, but that's because I way underestimated the prep time and got to the party an hour late, when most people were moving on to dessert.

All the veg was from my garden, picked fresh, except for the garlic. And oops, I forgot to take a picture of it! Oh, well.

Larry said...

Well...was it tasty?