I am back from semester break having been assessed as ‘competent’ in the courses covered in semester 1. The class has graduated to one of the big kitchens, Kitchen 10, where we each have our own stove and single bench space. For the next few weeks class P1182 has a new chef, after which time Chef Troy will take over. The pace is definitely kicked up a notch and I must remember to have breakfast, as today the first break I had was 3pm (we are not in Kansas anymore). No complaints though, I couldn’t be happier!
Over the next three weeks we will be working on stocks, sauces and soups. Stocks form the foundation of sauces and soups and the ‘saucier’ is considered to be one of the most valuable of the station cooks in the kitchen. It is the quality of the stocks and sauces which turn a good dish into a great dish & they are simply indispensable. In this first class we were required to individually make a White Chicken Stock, a White Fish Stock, and a Fish Veloute sauce. We made two dishes, Poached Whiting with Parsley Sauce (using the Fish Veloute sauce) and a Chilled Carrot, Orange & Corriander Soup. As a class we also made Brown Beef stock which is to be used in a future lesson.
Even though I have been making stocks forever, there is always so much more to learn. There are some simple basics to follow; the ratio is 10 parts water (100%), 5 parts bones (50%) and 1 part vegetable (10%), the size of the mirepoix (diced onion, leek, carrot & celery) is dependent on how long the stock will be cooked, for a brown stock roast the the mirepoix as these go with the roasted bones & White Fish Stock has no carrot in the mirepoix.
Once the stocks were made attention was turned to the making the soup, filleting and poaching the whiting and making the Fish Veloute sauce. The whiting were tiny…. Chef joked that we really needed the grandparents of these tiddlers! Being so small made it more challenging than usual (and I find filleting fish a challenge already) and as this dish will be included in my end of semester assessment, I will need to practice my filleting over the next few weeks. A good tip regarding cleaning & filleting fish is, scale from tail to head and fillet from head to tail.
The soup we made today, a chilled carrot, orange and corriander soup, was very straight forward and served chilled with a quenelle of cream. It was very tasty but I think I would have preferred a dollop of cream fraiche or sour cream, however there was none on hand. If you are interested in the recipe just let me know and I will post it!
I love soup & cook it a lot in Autumn & Winter, I also order it frequently when dining out in the cooler months. Something rings true about, ‘Chicken Soup is good for the soul’…. my soul is warmed, comforted and nourished by all varieties of soup; chowders, sea food bisques, refined consume’s, spicy Asian Laksa’s and hearty country vegetable and meat soups. Beethoven is quoted as saying, “Only the pure of heart can make a good soup”…which says something about it’s regard. Below are a few photos of some of the soups I have enjoyed making and ordering when out and about over the last few months. I have also included a recipe for a variation I make of a fabulous Lee Bailey soup, Black Bean and Macaroni…. I look forward to the next few weeks and bringing to you a small view to my happy place.
Black Bean & Roasted Capsicum Soup
This is a delicious soup which really is a variation of one of Lee Bailey’s from his fabulous book, ‘Soup Meals’, published in 1989 by Clarkson N. Potter Publishers. I adore his recipes and books and often gain inspiration from them. I did use dried beans, but tinned Black Beans would work although it would not take anywhere near an hour to cook in the stock with the tomatoes. Be adventurous and make your own version.
- 1 cup Dried Back Beans
- 2 litres Stock – chicken or vegetable (approximately 8 cups)
- 2 Bay Leaves – fresh or dried
- 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 65 mls Olive Oil (approximately 1/4 cup)
- 1 Onion (large) (large dice)
- 2 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tin Crushed Tomatoes (@ 400g) (drained )
- 40 mls Red Wine (2 tbsp)
- 5 gm Sugar (1 tsp)
- 65 mls Balsamic vinegar (1/4 cup)
- 1 pinch Chilli flakes (to taste)
- 1/4 tsp White pepper (can use black if preferred)
- 2 Red Capsicums (Bell Peppers) (roasted, peeled and cut into medium dice)
- 1 squeeze Lime juice
- 250 g Cooked Macaroni (1 cup)
- 2 tbsp Parsley (chopped medium fine)
- Place beans in in large heavy based pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and take off the heat, leaving covered for 1 hour
- Drain beans and return to pot with 750 mls (3 cups) of the stock. Bring to the boil and then turn down to gentle simmer. Add the bay leaves and thyme and simmer until the beans start to soften, around 1.5 hrs (they will still be firm to bite).
- Whilst beans are cooking sauté the onion until translucent, add the chopped garlic and the chilli flakes and cook for a minute.
- Add the drained tomatoes to the onion mix and stir through. Add the tomato and onions to the cooking beans. Continue to cook until beans are done – if using dried beans about another hour. Ensure to keep an eye on the beans and add stock if required.
- Continue to cook until beans are done – if using dried beans about another hour. Ensure to keep an eye on the beans and add stock if required.
- Once beans are cooked, add the wine, sugar, balsamic vinegar, remaining stock, salt and pepper, the balance of the stock and the squeeze of lime juice. Taste and adjust flavours as needs be.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley and with a rustic country style bread