Saturday, 19 January 2013

French - Week 1: steamed mussels!

After taking Culinary Art I last semester, I signed up for 2 more classes this term, French Bistro Cooking and Italian cooking. The French class is a 10-week long course. Our teacher, Chef Klaus Mueller, is surprising not French, but German-born. He is a well travelled chef who has worked in many many countries. Unlike Culinary Art I, this course seems a lot more intimidating to me. Most students taking this class are either pursing a culinary degree or a career in the field. And then there is me, whose original intention of taking this class was that I will be guaranteed to have food to pack for lunch the next day.

Week 1.
The first class was demonstration-only. Five dishes were made by Chef Klaus: chilled Vichyssoise (cold potato/leek creamy soup), Salad Niçoise (a traditional French salad with red wine/mustard dressing), Soufflé Au FromageBouillabaise avec Rouille (fish/shellfish stew), and Moulles Marinière (steamed mussels in white wine sauce). A few key points shared by the chef: salad Niçoise should be served at room temperature which makes it tastes better; soufflé needs to be served as soon as it's prepared, or the soufflé surface will collapse; don't use salmon for fish stock/stew, it's too fatty. 

My favourite dish of the night was the steamed mussels. Since I didn't get a chance to make it during class, I tried it at home the following day. Here's the recipe.

1 tbs butter
1 package (usually 2 lb) PEI mussels
half onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 springs of parsley
1.5 cups of dry white wine

1. De-beard, wash and drain the mussels. Don't soak the mussels in water.
2. In a pot, melt the butter
3. Sweat the onion, add garlic, parsley, salt/pepper to taste
4. Add white wine, simmer, reduce the volume to 2/3
5. Add mussels to the pot, and cover it up to steam. The mussels are ready as soon as their shells start to open up. It takes roughly 5-8min, depending on the heat.

It was served with sour dough bread and balsamic vinegar/olive oil.

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