Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Culinary Adventure around the World..... The World Gourmet Summit 2010

Another week has gone by and we've successfully navigated school's strict curriculum and have come away with new knowledge that will serve us well in the future. Here in Las Vegas there is a major annual event being held:
  • The World Gourmet Summit Las Vegas is a food and wine extravaganza including culinary demonstrations & wine-pairing classes, gourmet dinners, and a Grand Gourmet Safari, with over 80 wineries presenting in excess of 150 wines and internationally renowned Master Chefs presenting their favorite specialties.
  • The World Gourmet Summit Las Vegas offers wine and food enthusiasts an opportunity to hear from top Food & Beverage executives from five continents, to meet internationally renowned Master Chefs and celebrity Winemakers, and to rub shoulders with fellow devotees from around the world.
  • They raise money for scholarships for culinary students worldwide and our school is not only a beneficiary but an even participant and location as well.
And since some of the events are held at our school, students are encouraged to participate at these world class events featuring Master Chefs from around the globe! We got to attend the "Culinary Master Class & Wine Pairing" seminar which featured two celebrated Master Chefs:

Rene Mathieu from the Chateau de Bourglinster in Luxembourg who was the Executive Chef for the Grand Duke of Luxemburg (and Chef of the Year in Europe!) and still attends to them as well as having two Michelin Rated restaurants on the castle property! He showed us some of his "deconstruction type" cuisine which blew us away! The ingredients were amazing and the techniques out of this world, not to mention that the flavors of the food were incredible! He presented:

-Birch Bark Smoked Organic Eggs, Salsify Mousse, Cepes and Grilled Chestnuts
-Roasted Scallops with Bone Marrow and Herring Eggs, forgotten Vegetable, Chevril Roots
Mousse and Bay Leaf Jus

We also got to see Daniel Barratier who is the Executive Sous-Chef at The Greenhouse in London, England. He presented some updated Japanese recipes that were visually stunning not to mention offering delicate yet palate satisfying flavors. He showed us:

-Marinated Mackerel with Ponzu Gel and Pickled Cucumber
-Veal "Mimosa", Basil cress, Tuna emulsion and Parmesan crackers

The techniques being used by these Master Chefs give us but a glimpse of the possibilities now being discovered in food today. What an exciting adventure we're on..... Don't think I have to tell you that Rene, my classmates and I came away from the Seminar with renewed enthusiasm about our chosen career path, we had a great time!

I should also mention that quite a few of our instructors at Le Cordon Bleu are certified Chefs of this caliber and also host, sponsor and present several of the events at this week long world food reunion. We are very fortunate to have very experienced, formally educated and globally respected instructors teaching us plus the chance to see and meet leading Master Chefs too!

Following in the upscale mood of the World Gourmet Summit and since we are now seeing all manner of stocks, fonds and veloutes, I thought a more festive recipe was called for, not to mention that with the holidays just around the corner, you'd be thinking of dishes that might work well in your menu's, so with this in mind here are a couple of options. I will keep adding different dishes as I work on building our own holiday menu, and I can promise they will all be wonderful.

Lobster Bisque.- One of my all time favorite soups. There are recipes out there that call for setting things on fire (flambĂ©), chopping up whole lobsters, and that have ingredient lists as long as your arm. That’s all well and good, but what we’re aiming for here is maximum impact with a minimum of frazzled nerves.

1 - 2 cups lobster meat, cooked(you can use frozen, canned or buy one and cook it yourself)
½ cup dry sherry or dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup onion, diced
¼ cup celery, diced
¼ cup carrot, diced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup chicken_stock (if you have lobster stock, use that instead)

Combine the lobster meat with the sherry. Cover and refrigerate. In a hot pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once it stops sputtering, add the onion, celery, carrot (called Mirepoix), salt and pepper and Old Bay. Stir and let cook until the vegetables are translucent and are getting soft.

Add the tomato paste and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the flour and cook for two to three minutes, stirring all the time. While whisking, add the cold milk, half and half and stock and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 1 minute, still whisking constantly. Turn the heat down and let simmer until slightly reduced.

Now, you have two options.

You can use an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. OR Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down on the solids so that you get all the liquid.

Taste, and add more salt, pepper or Old Bay, if needed. Add the reserved lobster and sherry to the pot and simmer for just a couple of minutes, so the lobster is heated through. (Remember, the lobster meat is already cooked so if you bought fresh lobster, do this first and have ready).

Serve with crusty bread and maybe a little sour cream on the top. If you want to be really fancy, sprinkle on a little chopped tarragon as garnish.

Baked in the Pumpkin Soup.- A very unusual and tasty way to serve a velvety soup that everyone will love! Try and obtain a "baking pumpkin" and not a carving one, you need the extra flavor the baking one will give this dish, truly...... the presentation on this one is amazing!

1 whole baking pumpkin, approximately 4 pounds, rinsed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup chicken broth, preferably home made with low salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Heat the oven to 375 F. Make a lid on the top of the pumpkin by cutting around the stem at a 45 degree angle. Make sure the opening is large enough to work within. Remove the seeds and fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop and kitchen shears. Reserve the seeds for another use. Brush the exterior of the pumpkin and the lid with vegetable oil. Oil a round casserole dish large enough to hold the pumpkin and place the pumpkin inside.

Combine the butter, onion, salt, garlic, apples, chicken broth, and heavy cream in the hollow pumpkin. Replace the lid of the pumpkin to cover. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the lid. Add the goat cheese and thyme and bake an additional 30 minutes, uncovered.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and gently scrape some of the flesh into the soup mixture. Puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency, being careful to avoid the sides and bottom of the pumpkin. Or you can scoop out everything and use your blender and then put it back in, carefully. Serve immediately.
NOTE: Cooking in-the-pumpkin was one of the first cooking techniques in "the new world" since casserole dishes weren't invented yet and many stews, soup and vegetables used this very eco-friendly receptacle to make good use of native ingredients. These were used "in the hearth" or straight "on the embers". I've seen puddings, breads and even mousses cooked this way and I must say it looks fantastic, you'll love it!

I hope you will continue to let me know how your recipes come out and if you experience problems, will let me know so we can work those out. With the weekend here I've got hundreds of errands piling up which school doesn't allow for during the week, not to mention homework, that I must attend to but be assured that in the evenings I am busy in my own kitchen practicing and developing more tasty bits to share. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and we'll talk soon.....

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