Thursday, September 23, 2010


Our final week of cooking showcased the culinary world of Russia. We made Borshch Moskovsky (Moscow style Beet Soup); Blini (Buckwheat Pancakes); Kulebiaka (salmon in pastry); Grechnevaya Kasha (Buckwheat Groats); Chahohbili (Georgian-style Chicken); Loby (String Beans in Sour Cream Sauce); Syrniki (Sweet Cheese Fritter with Berry Kissel)
This menu was very good...the Borshch is what most people know; a beet soup. This soup can be served cold or hot and is usually garnished with a dollop of sour cream. I thought it was really good; kind of reminds me of a potato vegetable soup. It's made by rendering bacon in a pot, sweating some garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Then add cabbage, potatoes, beets, red wine vinegar, stock (or water), sugar, tomatoes and simmer. Puree the soup or leave it chunky...

I made the Blini pancakes and the Kulebiaka; blini is a Russian pancake made with buckwheat flour. The batter is made with yeast and allowed to rest before pouring onto a hot buttered pan. Serve with caviar, meat, fish or even fruit. The kulebiaka is a puff pastry filled with a rice filling which consists of rice, onion, mushrooms and dill. The filling is placed on the puff pastry and then a salmon fillet is placed on top, then more filling on top of the fillet. Bake the pastry after decorating it and creating holes for steam. As you will see in these pictures I made a salmon head...

Kasha was made by Maria and it is basically buckwheat groats mixed with bow tie noodles. The desert was a savory desert; syrniki with berry kissel. Berry kissel is a sweet fruit topping kind of like a jelly...the syrnikis are sweet cheese fritters made with; cottage cheese, egg yolks, flour, sugar, salt and butter. Then they are fried in a pan with some oil...they are VERY VERY GOOD!

Overall great class and awesome menu...another great class with Chef Bill!


During Germany week we made: Kartoffelsuppe mit Miesmuscheln und Lauch (Potato Soup with Mussels and Leeks); Rahmilinsen mit Salat (Lentil Ragout with Greens); Kalbslebersteak mit Roter Zwiebelmarmelade (Calf’s liver with red onion marmalade); Schweinelendchen im Schwarzbratmantel (Pork Tenderloin in a Dark Bread Crust); Rotkraut und SpƤtzle (Braised Red Cabbage and Spaetzle); Mohncreme mit Rotweinbrinen (Poppy seed cream with pears in red wine). Ok I still can't pronounce most of those words but if you look carefully you will see words in them that sound just like English; example - Schwein = swine = pork...awwwww get it now?
The food was great; I made the Lentil Ragout which is a warm lentil salad. You saute some bacon and then add carrots, celery, onion, leek, garlic; saute till soft and add stock, cream, herbs, spices, cooked lentils and potatoes. Simmer this mixture until the potatoes are soft and add honey and vinegar to the warm ragout. Spoon some of the Ragout over baby greens and tomato wedges for garnish.

The Braised red cabbage was very easy to make also; it consists of sauteed onion in butter, apples, sugar and red cabbage. All of this is braised in red wine, red wine vinegar, water and red currant jelly. You thicken the mixture with some cornstarch and it's served with the yummy pork rolls which Mike made. I've made these pork rolls before and you can get my pictures and recipe by searching this blog. Mike stuffed the flattened pork tenderloin with dried fruit (apricots, cherries, cranberries) and topped with bacon just as I did prior. When the pork is finished you slice it on the bias and place over top of the cabbage. Also accompany the pork with a very good portion of German dumpling or spatzle. Spatzle is made my pressing a batter made of flour, nutmeg, salt, egg, milk and butter through a colander into boiling water. Strain the spatzle and toss in melted butter...YUM! Maria also made a potato leek soup which was accompanied with mussels and leeks...overall the weeks menu was excellent and the spatzle was spot on...hahaha!

Pears in Red Wine Sauce

France - Chicken Marengo

Napoleon Bonaparte, malaria, refrigeration and the man on the moon. We made the dish infamous to the battle of Marengo fought on June 14, 1800 in Piedmont, Italy. You are probably wondering about the first sentence and how malaria, refrigeration and the man on the moon have anything in common with Chicken Marengo; well to find out you will have to watch James Burke's episode called Eat, Drink and be Merry (watch below).

Eat Drink and be Merry FULL EPISODE

Now that you have watched the episode that was aired on PBS in the early 1980's; you can understand the big concept of the Chicken Marengo dish. Our version is pictured here to the right...
As a matter of fact we all played a roll in making this dish; as you can see there are a lot of components. There is of course piped mashed potatoes which you can see to the right. Croutons in the shape of hearts as you can also see to the right, fried eggs (one for everyone) and of course shavings of black truffles. But the mass of this dish would be in the chicken and the shrimp. In the original crayfish was used and anything else the cooks could find on the battle field. The chicken is made by lightly seasoning the pieces of chicken (one bird split into eight pieces) and lightly pan fry all sides. Remove the chicken and place aside. Next brown mushrooms, shallots and garlic; add tomato paste and chopped tomato to the mushroom mix. Add wine to the mix in the pan and reduce; then add the chicken to the mix with 12 ounces of demi glaze, espagnole sauce or brown stock. Bring this mixture to a simmer and slowly stew/braise for 25 -30 minutes. Add the cleaned shrimp or crayfish at the end of cooking to the sauce and cook till done (about 2-3 minutes). Top the chicken and shrimp mix with fried eggs and pipe the finished mashed potato around the side of the plate. Of course finish the dish by adding some croutons toasted in butter in a saute pan and shaped like hearts.

The rest of the evening we made braised endive which was braised in an oven at 350 degrees and seasoned with salt, sugar, butter, oil, and lemon juice. Tomato Clamart (clamart = peas) which are pictured here...they are tomatoes which are peeled and cored; then filled with cooked peas. You finish them off in the oven with a slice of butter on top. Of course season with salt and pepper...

A blast from the past we made beef consomme with vegetables and Maria made warm oysters on top of zucchini. That was an acquired taste I must say and the beef consomme was the same technique we used in fundamentals by making a raft, basting it and then straining the ladled soup into container. Overall the food was great and Chicken Marengo is a masterpiece within itself!

Bologna, Italy - Pasta Making

Chef Morena Merighi came by our class in mid August and gave us a "true" demonstration on homemade pasta!

We were very fortunate Chef Morena came by the school to have dinner a few nights before and decided to come back and share with us her expertise. Chef Morena is from Bologna, Italy and has been making homemade pasta for years. We learned all they use in Bologna is flour and natural added salt, oil, etc. The salt she says, comes from the salted water the pasta is boiled in; and the pasta takes on the sauce it is paired with. She made for us a sauteed onions simmered in balsamic vinegar sauce for the tortelloni or tagliatelle we made. Chef Morena also invited us to par-take in the pasta making with her; and filmed the evening. The videos are posted on YouTube; here is one of them...


Chef Morena made for us homemade Ragu; not the meat sauce in a jar sold in stores, but the real Bolognese favorite. Here are two recipes of classic Bolognese Ragu; one by Emeril Lagasse - classic ragu bolognese recipe and the other by Mario Batali - ragu bolognese recipe.

Chef Morena obviously had her own recipe but the two above may suffice for you. She showed us the difference between Tortelloni and Tortellini. Tortellini was made to look like a belly button because the chef it is credited too was in love with a woman's navel...weird I know! But the big difference between the two pastas are the fillings and the size. The tortelloni are bigger and are traditionally stuffed with a cheese mixture of; Ricotta cheese, nutmeg, parmesan, salt and pepper. The tortellini are smaller and are stuffed with a mixture of mortadella and prosciutto. Chef Morena made the Tortelloni with a clarified butter/sage sauce. The sauce is extremely simple and consists of melted butter/olive oil and ripped pieces of fresh sage. Always toss the portioned pasta into the desired sauce and serve twirled or stacked in the center of the plate. Below you will find some pictures of our visit and another part of evening's video...Thank to Chef Bill (mgourmet).

Tagliatelle al Ragu
Tortelloni Butter Sage

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