First Day of School and Everyone’s Sick – Bon Appétit

One of the great joys in life is knowing that everything going “right” is never a reality. This first day of Le Cordon Bleu is no exception. My youngest has been with a cold for the a couple of days and we are waiting to see when our oldest begins his turn.

So as we wait, Kristi decided to try it on for a while. In my mind I imagined this wonderful meal with the beautiful place settings that she enjoys setting. Both boys would eat to their heart’s content and I would receive praise for such fabulous cuisine. Instead, René tried everything but ate almost nothing.

Charles ate like a king, but he is only a year so pickiness is not yet developed. And Kristi, my precious wife, was just not in much of a mood to eat. But despite it all, I think the food came out wonderfully.

The first course, Cucumber with Mint, is one of my favorites. I have had variations on this recipe before but I made it according the the book and the simplicity of the flavors was a perfect start to the meal. I had to use packaged mint leaves that were slightly wilted but the taste seemed only slightly less “minty” than fresh leaves. Success!

Cucumber Salad with Mint

Cucumber Salad with Mint

The second course consisted of the Roasted Chicken and the Sweet Peas, Chervil and Onions. I had to change exchange the chervil for parsley because the parsley was fresh as opposed to the chervil in a plastic package.

I wasn’t willing to pay the extra price for the slight variation in the two. The bird in the recipe is cooked on each side and then on it’s back for a really nice browning effect and overall doneness.

I could have let it in for 10 more minutes in the last cycle but I had a 4 year old anxiously awaiting food of any kind, which when given he didn’t eat. The meat was cooked well enough but instinct just said, “10 minutes more.” I have had roast chickens with many more spices involved but the rather subdued fresh taste of the chicken really paired well with the rest of the meal.

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

The peas were an easy bunch to cook. But no one can deny the power of the magical combination of butter and sugar!

Sweet Peas, Chervil, and Onions

Sweet Peas, Chervil, and Onions

For dessert it was a Fruit Salad with Cointreau. For those that don’t know, Cointreau is a French made orange liquor. The taste is rather subtle but the liquor is used in many mixed drinks. This is my first time using it for cooking, or more correctly, not cooking.

Though it was my most expensive item to purchase for this meal, it made the most difference in the taste of the dish. After it sat mixed with the other ingredients, it came off with such a sweetness and satisfaction that really ended the meal perfectly.

Fruit Salad with Cointreau

Fruit Salad with Cointreau

For my first day at Le Cordon Bleu via Becks’ Kitchen, I feel quite successful. Every dish tasted well balanced and nothing too dramatic, like throwing an entire dish away, happened along the way. Though I had a sniffling, un-eating family around me, it came off as close to perfection as I could imagine.

Take yourself to France with this lovely tune by Debussy:

Today the Cooking Journey Begins

It’s Sunday morning and I am excited to again begin my journey down the path of Le Cordon Bleu. I say again because I received this book as a gift a number of years ago but only made it to lesson 3 before having to abandon my goal of its completion. I consider myself a “follow through” kind of guy, but hey, I’m no where near perfect.

As you can see in the picture, the recipes for this meal are not that complicated. My biggest concern thus far has been trying to pronounce the French titles rather than the English. I have resorted to putting them into Google Translate and letting it speak while I attempt to copy. My wife and I both attempted Cointreau (you’d think we’d at least know how to pronounce such a popular liquor!) and utterly failed. No wonder most people just say Triple Sec.

Back to the recipes . . . I have made all of these dishes or at least done all the techniques asked for in my previous cooking experience. I’m confident but I am sure something will through me for a loop, including my two boys being contained by my wife as I cook.

The sheer electricity of this piece is how I feel things will go when I finally get down to cooking!

Dreams of Cooking in France Kitchens

Often I find myself longing for a much simpler life. As a matter of fact, I find myself working towards that life all the time. But it becomes ever so obvious when I have to shop at the American supermarket. Yes, it is a fantastic country that I live in, but it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect; especially the food!

I am about to begin my journey into the world of Le Cordon Bleu, but before I do I must have ingredients before start cooking. I have been through the list a number of times and checked our cupboard for any missing items. It is encouraging that the list is small. It means that I have the staples and only need the extras to make the meal happen. This is a huge thing for my first meal because the budget is tight.

As I stroll down the aisles at the supermarket, I am disappointed with the selection I see before me. I was hoping to make only one trip to one store today but normal food items that I would expect to see are either not present or in such freezer burned state that I just cannot justify spending my money on them.

This is the point at which I long for living in a place, like I Romanticize about France, where I can walk to the market on a daily basis and buy the evening meal items from locals knowing that they grew the product with as much heart as I put into my business. But alas, I must find another store, a specialty store to pick up the remaining items (by remaining I mean fresh mint, bakers/superfine sugar, and among all things . . . fresh peas).

After wrapping up my shopping, it is time to store everything in a fridge that I find appalling only because it takes up so much space in our kitchen and we never have enough food to fill it because the food we buy actually goes bad if we don’t eat it (i.e. it’s fresh). Tomorrow is the big day and I hope that my cooking is appreciated by the most particular critic, my son René. He’s almost 4 and the hardest to please.

I may not have the joy of shopping in the daily markets of France. I still do dream of such a joy. But I will do my best to enjoy every aspect of life including learning the art of cooking. Le Cordon Bleu begins tomorrow so stay tuned for the menu.

What more appropriate song than La Vie En Rose to start things off when it comes to dreaming go the Romanticized view in my mind of living in France: