….well so said the English author Shirley Conran in her book, ‘Superwomen’, aimed at busy women in 1975…. but is it?
Lesson 3 included some of the techniques we’d learned in weeks 1 and 2, plus a few more. As has been the case in the past few weeks, Chef added a few more things to impress upon us to be creative when we cook and cut down on waste. Today the lesson covered; Milk batter for Apple Fritters with Chantilly Cream, Crumbed, or breaded, Sole fillets, involving taking four fillets off a whole fish, and Stuffed Mushrooms, which involved first making a Duxelle ( a delicious mushroom mixture) and clarifying butter (known also as ghee). In addition to what was on the syllabus, chef added Caramel Sauce for the Apple Fritters, Tartare Sauce for the fish as well as fish stock from the fish bones (war on waste!) and a heavenly balsamic reduction for the Stuffed Mushroom. The new ‘cooking’ technique we covered, apart from filleting the fish, was deep frying.
The highlight of the lesson for me was filleting the Sole (also known as Flounder)…. I love the technical stuff (dweeby mature age student that I am). Chef explained that from a flat fish you get four fillets and as it was for the boning of the chicken thigh in lesson 2, once you know the technique, it is not too hard to fillet a fish 😏. First remove the skin; this is done by cutting across the tail, salting your fingers to ensure good grip is achieved, and deftly with some strength, pulling the skin away from the tail toward the head. Next cut along the backbone, and at an angle starting from the thickest section (the head), ensure your knife carefully follows the lines of the bones so as not to leave any fish behind. Viola a fillet emerges! Trim the fillet to make it neat. Repeat to remove the second fillet and turn the fish over & do the exact same on the other side to produce four fillets. Don’t forget to reserve the bones for stock (did I say ‘war on waste.’?). Now that you have the fillets, prepare the bread crumbs, flour & egg wash with which to crumb your fillets. We made fresh soft bread crumbs and I was wondering if they would stack up against my ‘go to’ Panko crumbs… the answer was a resounding ‘hell yes’. The deep-fried Sole was delicious and very attractive on the plate with the ‘additional’ tartare sauce, a wedge of lemon and a sprig of dill.
We then moved to the making the Mushroom Duxelle. Using the brunoise precision cut, we cut the onion, button mushrooms and garlic and mixed these together. In a hot pan add the clarified butter and the duxelle mixture … cook it out. If wet, the addition of some fine bread crumbs was recommended. Chef gave us free rein to season the duxelle mixture as we chose and apart from salt and white pepper I added a good pinch of cayenne pepper 🌶. The mixture was left to cool whilst we chopped our parsley (lesson one). Taking our peeled field mushroom, we generously ‘stuffed’ away, placed the stuffed mushroom on tray and baked it to perfection.
We then started the Apple Fritter. Now, I am not a desert person, preferring cheese at the end of a meal over a sweet, but this little gem was lovely, both on the plate and on the tooth!
Chef first showed us how to make the milk batter we would use, but for a contrast he also made a yeast batter which he used on his fritters. We peeled, cut & battered 5 thick slices of apple. Tips were given re how to place the apples in the hot oil to avoid them sticking to the basket (don’t you just love tips!). Once they were golden brown & puffed they were removed from the hot oil and rolled in cinnamon sugar (by now the whole class was excited). At this point I’m thinking, “oh man, they look just like a doughnut ” , which just happens to be one of my husband’s favourites. The fritters were plated on a bed of caramel sauce, a spoon of Chantilly cream & adorned with sliced strawberry …. very pretty!
Not only was every dish today lovely in it’s own way, achievable in a home kitchen, looked great on the plate and made for good eating, it was also a lesson which highlighted to me that class P1182 was now operating as a team.
My personal favourite dish today was the stuffed mushroom with balsamic glaze, so in answer to my question, is “life too short to stuff a mushroom” my answer is when it tastes this good…absolutely not. If you come to my home for dinner, you just might find this on your plate, either as a first course as a side …..and where as I am a busy women I am certainly no Superwomen 😊.
Bon Appetit & happy cooking!