Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cooking in Paris: Part Une

Typing the title of my post fills me with glee, yet again! Yes, I took a cooking class while I was in Paris.  Wouldn't it have been a sin against God had I NOT taken a cooking class there?!?! I think so.  That's why months and months before I went, I started researching cooking classes. My research led down the foodie road to Promenades Gourmandes and Paule Caillat.  Paule has been teaching cooking classes in her home for several years now, thanks to a blog post written by David Lebovitz. In this post, Paule shares her family secret for french tart dough. I'll write more about that later on in the post!

I booked several months in advance and on the day of class, 5 students (including me, the only American, I might add) met in front of Patisserie Stroher for a priceless stroll through the open-air markets to purchase some ingredients for the meal we were set to prepare. This particular street is loaded with history, Patisserie Stroher is the oldest store front patisserie in Paris (opened in 1730).

 Based on questionnaires that we completed before our class, Paule composed a menu, fir for the French: cheese souffle, stuffed veal with a dijon creme fraiche sauce, pureed celery root, braised endive and a fig tart.  Oh, and a cheese tasting too. After picking up ingredients for our meal, we headed to the Marais arrondisement where Paule works and lives. It's so stinkin' Parisian! :)

The first dish we started working on is the cheese souffle (my first savory souffle).

The base of any cheese souffle is a bechamel sauce, a classic French sauce. The bechamel sauce is made of butter, milk and flour.  You melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and whisk together, until it comes together as a paste. Then you add warm milk and continue whisking until it thickens (should cover the back of your spoon). Add the cheese to the bechamel sauce and incorporate til it melts.  In this case, our souffle was made of gruyere, comte and parmesan cheese.

Egg whites are separated from yolks and the whites are whisked together in a separate bowl until stiff.The egg whites were then folded into the bechamel sauce before added to individual ramekins and baked for 20 to 25 minutes. To give our cheese souffles a little crust, we sprinkled some grated cheese all around the ramekins before we added the souffle batter.
 And......Voila! I was quite surprised by the texture of the souffle - so light, airy and the luscious notes of the three cheeses perfumed your palette ever so gently. A beautiful first course to our meal! Stay tuned for Cooking in Paris: Part Deux.......

1 comment:

  1. oh my word! you must have been in heaven! the menu sounded wonderful - and the cheeses must be to die for! looking forward to the rest of the meal!