Yesterday we took an inside look at the preparation that’s involved in a personalized cooking class with Fabrice Lemonnier — whose Daglan-based business is Your Own French Chef — and reviewed some of the lessons we learned. The students? My wife Jan, my sister Karen, her husband Mark, and I.
Today let’s see how all our efforts added up. We’re going to the plate!
We’ll start at the beginning, with the entrée, which was pan-fried pieces of monkfish with a truffle and beurre blanc sauce, served on celeriac purée with a “sail” of crispy black ham from the Périgord. In yesterday’s posting, we saw the monkfish being de-boned and trimmed, and the ham slices being cut and then baked. Meanwhile, our chef had cooked cubes of celeriac in salted water, drained and puréed them, and then shaped the purée into quenelles — oval-shaped morsels of smooth and creamy vegetables. Here is Chef Lemonnier placing the pieces of fish gently on the celeriac quenelles:
Next, Chef Lemonnier drizzles some of the beurre blanc sauce (dotted with small pieces of black truffle) over the fish and the celeriac quenelles:
And here is a look at the final dish, with the decorative ham slice in place, ready to begin our lunch:
For our main course, or plat principal, we were making tournedos of veal with seared foie gras on top, served with potatoes and green asparagus. Here is the chef, placing the seared foie pieces on the plates:
As a final touch, Chef Lemonnier spoons some sauce over each main course. At the start of the morning, he had started to reduce a full bottle of red wine to create a simple sauce, but didn’t like its taste. So he switched gears quickly, and sautéed trimmings from the veal roast to create the base for a rich, dark sauce. Here it goes, over the meat:
Now let’s have a look at the salad, made with thinly sliced chicory (Belgian endive), fresh walnuts and leek sprouts, and served with Roquefort cheese:
We’re nearing the end. Now it’s time for final assembly of the desserts — the panna cotta we had made earlier in the morning, allowed to set in small glass bowls on top of strawberry purée; an accompaniment of fresh strawberries; and a decorative topping of chocolate:
With coffee, we had mendiants au chocolat — chocolate candies known as “beggars,” that we had made by melting chocolate, spooning it onto a tray in small circles, and sprinkling nuts and raisins on top. Here, our chef is carefully lifting the candies off the tray:
So there you have it. The morning we spent in cooking class evolved into a delicious lunch, accompanied by Chablis for the entrée and several bottles of Sancerre rouge to enjoy with the veal. And the conversation around the table, with Chef Fabrice and his wife Samantha, was every bit as enjoyable as the conversation at our first cooking class, last fall.
Who knew that education could be so much fun?