Mastering the Art of French Cooking – “The Class” (Class 1)

I got the most thoughtful Christmas present ever from Craig and Connor (confession: back in October, I happened to place the Kitchen Conservatory's schedule on the desk with this class annotated “THE perfect Christmas gift for Mom.” Hint dropped and taken).

It is a month of hands-on classes where I hope to Master the Art of French Cooking, or at least learn a few classic Julia dishes to add to my repertoire. I’ll be noting those keepers as “in the box” (as in the recipe box). Basic lesson from week one: the French wrote the language of food and codified it by developing “the” rule book. Follow the rules and it’s not complicated. Week one’s menu:
Amuse-Gueules au Roquefort
Cold Roquefort Cheese Balls – Rolled balls of butter, Roquefort, and bread crumbs, not worth the calories, my least favorite dish of the evening.

Moules a la Mariniere
Fresh Mussels Steamed Open in Wine and Flavorings – My hands-on contribution to class, extremely simple, quick, and THE best recipe of the evening. But I would sell my soul for good mussels. IN THE BOX.
Paupiettes de Boeuf
Braised Beef Rolls – Chuck roast, thinly sliced, pounded, then stuffed with ground pork and veal, braised in wine and stock with aromatics and herbs. While perhaps time consuming, surprisingly not difficult, impressive. The mustard sauce perfectly compliments the melt in your mouth meat. Comforting bistro fare.

Braised Rice and Onions - French risotto and easy – no stirring! Classic Julia, “Boil (rice) for 5 minutes - exactly.” Though it may be heresy, I made this again on Saturday night with brown rice, and it was still delicious. Definitely “in the box.”

Carottes Glacees
Glazed Carrots – Differing from traditional glazed carrots with maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey, these tasted purer, simpler, and indeed EYE CANDY. Would work well with a roasted chicken, pot roast. Unfortunately, Craig does not do carrots…. "on the edge of the box."

La Tarte Des Demoiselles Tatin
Upside-down Apple Tart – A French classic, baked like an upside down apple pie, and when flipped to serve, the apples are soft, sweet, and perfectly caramelized. In doing some quick research, legend has this dessert resulting from the Tatin sister’s hotel in the the Loire Valley in the last 1800s. Sister Stephanie accidently put the apples in the tart plan first and recovered by placing the pastry on top of the simmering apples prior to baking. Voila!

Craig and Connor want this IN THE BOX, but I'm not a baker, and I veto.
Until next week, Bon Appétit!

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