I always look forward to my day at Ryde TAFE and this week was no exception. Today’s lesson was the second part of ‘Basic Methods of Cooking’, where we use varied cooking methods to produce a few dishes. This week it’s Grilled Field Mushroom & Pear Salad, Grilled Sirloin steak with Sautéed Potatoes, Braised Red Cabbage & Compound Butter and Steamed Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce.
Our chef for this semester is very knowledgeable, helpful & kind but he rightly expects people to listen and follow instruction and is firm on rules, as a few in the class today became aware. It’s early days so students are still learning the ropes and as always, some pick up quickly and some take a little more time. For the most part everyone helps each other, if someone makes a mistake and needs to redo something we all share some of what we have prepped with them & if someone is late and their trays have been broken down and ingredients removed from the kitchen, again we share. I am sure as the course goes on, our teacher chefs will expect more and more of us; i.e., the honeymoon will end eventually.
Even though I was taught ‘mis en place’ in my days working at a cooking school in Sydney, and use it at home, in class it is taken to a whole new level. I really enjoy the preparation before cooking and notice that I am bringing even more of this practice into my cooking at home.
We start with the compound butter. Loving French food, compound butter is not new to me, I have been making it for many years. Last year my husband Aron & I went on a Truffle hunt outside Canberra & I purchased a few that were found on the day ; I used one to make a batch of Truffle Butter which stores brilliantly in the freezer. At work there is a wee joke about me and my Truffle obsession…. let’s just say that it also has something to do with the odd snort I at times emit when laughing 🐖. Over a few months I’ve used the Truffle butter on steak, in pasta and to finish off risotto 🤤. I am so excited that it’s almost Truffle season again, oink. oink! Anyway… Chef made one large batch of herb compound butter to share which had us all chopping curly parsley (lesson 1). The finely chopped parsley was added to unsalted butter, which was seasoned and a dash of Worcestershire sauce added before beaten to perfection in a stand mixer. The butter was tuned out and rolled in plastic wrap in a log shape to be cut into disks later. BUTTER!!!, is there anything more delicious…well apart from Truffles?!
Onto entrée….marinade made (oil, chilli flakes, crushed garlic) we tossed in the pealed mushrooms and cut pear… be sure to use a firm pear as it has to stand up to being grilled. Heat a French grill on the stove and after the mushrooms and pear have spent time soaking up the marinade cook them until ready…. be gentle! Also cook your sliced and oiled Ciabatta bread until toasty & brown. When ready to plate, place the field mushroom on the base, top with a mixture of rocket and parsley salad, balance a few slices of grilled pear, add a few more salad leaves, arrange your Ciabatta and spoon over the marinade to dress the finished dish. Chefs, as usual, was a little more ‘elegant’ than mine…sigh!
By now the potatoes are cooking in boiling water on the stove and we move on to the braised cabbage. The shredded cabbage and finely sliced onion and green apple are sweated off in a hot saucepan with a tablespoon of oil. It’s about now that Chef gives us the ‘heads-up’ that this dish will be in our revision assessment in a few weeks. (no pressure!). Once sweated down, some brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and red wine is added and a dash of water (the water is important as some of the class were soon to find out). A cartouche was made and placed on top and it was cooked this on an extremely low heat for 30 mins. Those who either did not add a dash of water or who did not have it on a low enough heat had extra scrubbing to do as theirs burned when we were at break. Coming back into the class I was relieved that mine was ok so shared with someone who had burned theirs.
Back from break and French Grills ready we start multitasking. Having sliced the potatoes we started cooking them in clarified butter whilst at the same time cooking the seasoned Sirloin. Once the sirloins were done and rested (don’t underestimate this step), the potatoes were seasoned and a few fresh thyme leaves were added. Plating was simple enough…. potatoes, cabbage, steak, butter….. yum. Here you see Chefs, in which the potatoes were flatter on the plate resulting in a much better looking dish than mine…which resembles …well …. a burger! I will be working on the plating of this dish to ensure I get it right for my assessment.
So far we have grilled, sautéed and braised….now for pudding which is steamed. Who doesn’t love Steamed Date Pudding ? This is one of the easiest puddings to make & I think I’ll cook it for Easter Sunday dinner for the family next week. Today it was plated with the easiest of caramel sauces (brown sugar, cream and a dash of vanilla) and cream…. it was a lovely end to the menu. At Easter I think I’ll serve mine with homemade French Vanilla ice cream.
As I’ve done in past weeks, I will be cooking a few of these recipes at home this week – perhaps with some elements changed. I already feel my confidence growing and I am starting to feel quite at home in my chefs whites 😊.
Bon Appetit & happy cooking!