Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 7: Soup du jour

I love this cute little dinner roll. It looks like a bread pomegranate!
(I snipped the top with scissors.)

8:20. Looking for the coffee. Crap. It's just getting put on. I need a coffee this morning. I woke up a bit achy with a sore feeling in the back of my throat.

"OK! Here it is! You've got 10 minutes to get a soup going with the vegetables I give you!" Chef C tosses my partner and I some old mushrooms and some really nasty looking tarragon.

We decide! Cream of mushroom! We start preparing a soup without much of an idea of what we're doing. You wash, I'll cut! Chef C comes around and chastises me; my way of cleaning mushrooms is way too slow. There's no more mirepoix in the bucket! We have to cut up some onion! celery! and leeks! But we can't find any leeks! The class is given a bucket of chicken stock, but I locate some veg stock in the back of the fridge. Soon every station has some sort of soup simmering away and my partner and I are still scrambling to get the veg in order. Soon we're chopping and adding to the pot as fast as we can. Somehow we manage to catch up.

At one point Chef C is back at our station giving us hell for chopping up 1/4 of a potato for our soup. "What do you need potato in there for? You're confusing yourselves! Keep it simple!" Out go the potatoes.

Fifteen minutes later I'm back at the demo table cradling my daily steaming cuppa joe. I have noticed lately, how good I feel in the morning after one cup of coffee. Maybe it's because the school demands I be alert, but I have actually stopped a few times and thought, "Wow! I feel great right now!"

We get a demo on basic bread making and are sent back to our station to finish our soups and make a few loaves. After we complete our loaves, my partner and I check out the soup, and decide to blend it. Into the blender it goes, and comes out a mushy grey colour. Ick.

We forgot the tarragon! We managed to save a few leaves which we tried to mince but they just mucked together. We threw them in anyway. My partner was tempering the cream when it was time to plate.

We finished quickly and filled our bowls and looked at our "soup du jour". It was a uniform grey and really needed something. We threw some thyme leaves on top, although it had little to do with our soup. We agreed if anyone asked, we'd tell them we used thyme instead on tarragon.

At the table, we all had different soups. I tried them all, but didn't swallow any as they all had been made with chicken stock. There was mint and spinach (no thanks), carrot and tumeric (turned every utensil they used bright orange), pear and rutabaga (interesting, but couldn't eat a whole bowl), and carrot and coriander (more coriander please!).

By the time we'd made the rounds and sat back down at our own bowls again and tasted, we'd realised one thing. Our Soup Rocked! Somehow it had come together and it was delicious!

My partner and I were pleased.

FOR KATE: I asked about secrets for crusty bread and was told it was very difficult to get crusty bread from a loaf pan, the moisture is too contained. For crusty bread it needs to be on a cookie sheet and even better - a baguette. We used not even a drop of oil at any part of the bread making process and baked them on 2 stacked cookie sheets, (double sheeting so the bottoms don't burn), the top one lined with a thin layer of corn meal.

We also made a perfectly square pullman loaf which went into a metal pan with a sliding lid, all the moisture was contained inside, and that loaf was really soft. I would have gotten a picture of it, but it was whisked away and wrapped up before I had the chance. Maybe tomorrow!


  1. Did you make that???

    And number 2: Dad is trying to find the ancient Chinese secret to making perfect flaky chinese food batter for chicken on google. It either a) tastes too much like baking poweder or b) surrounds the meat in a solid chunk. He has cooked about 14 chicken breasts and is as picky as you are about it. Can you find him the ancient Chinese secret? Oil too hot? oil too cold? Beer? Less baking powder? More? He will not rest till this mystery is solved.

  2. 1. I made them all!

    2. My gosh! That's where I get it from! He might have to wait a week, Asia week is coming and it'll be on my list of questions to pick people's brains about!

  3. Hey, your bread looks great! I made rolls like the top picture... but I think yours look better.
    No oil at all?
    I actually don't want crusty bread. I want my Mom's bread! That is - softer, more chewy bread. Also, I can't make anything decent with whole wheat flour.
    Now where does one get a loaf pan with a sliding lid?

  4. We told told whole wheat flour has sharp bran in it, so when you knead it the bran cuts up the gluten strands ad the result is dense, dense bread. So you have to use half whole wheat and half white flour.

    I'll let you know how our pullman loaf goes today, when I poked it with the thermometer last night it seemed very soft.

  5. I've always used just part WW with part white, but it still comes out like muck. Maybe I should try rye bread.