Baked camembert

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Sometimes I can’t believe how long it takes me to actual make a recipe that is on my list. Especially when said recipe is as easy as turning on the oven and involves only three ingredients. Also when the recipe in question is nothing short of pure bliss when it comes out of the oven a mere 10 minutes later. Also when I have technically already made this recipe several dozens of times while working in a restaurant… But somehow never got around to making it in my own kitchen. I guess it just takes that one trigger that makes you think about a recipe that you used to make/ want to make/ haven’t made in forever. For me, it was a trip to the grocery store. We were in the cheese aisle when Jé saw a specially marketed cheese that was made for being baked, or rather microwaved. It came in a cute little wooden basket-like packaging that you just had to heat up and… Amazing! Fondue in a neat little package! Jé was intrigued and wanted to try it, despite the fact that we had no idea what kind of cheese it actually was. Because who doesn’t want to eat melty, gooey, hot cheese and call it a meal? Enter the baked camembert. I gently shooed him away from the mystery cheese and picked up a camembert instead. Continue reading

Poulet Vallée d’Auge (roast chicken with apples)

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Normandy is a region known for several things: cows and amazing farm-fresh butter and cream, beautiful cliff-lined coasts, the D-day beaches, Camembert, Livarot, Neufchâtel and Pont l’Evêque cheese, and of course, all things apple: Calvados (an apple Brandy made in the sub-region of the same name), hard cider and Pommeau (an apple liqueur), to name a few. Imagine a recipe that combines several of these gems into one succulent dish and you’ve got the Poulet Vallée d’Auge, which just means chicken from Vallée d’Auge, a small sub-region in Lower Normandy. It’s just as rich as you might expect, but the tart and sweet apples cut right through all of that richness, bringing balance and amazing sweet and savory notes.

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An adventure in catering

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For the last few weeks, I’ve been working my butt off in a local catering company, producing in mass some of the most appetizing food I’ve ever seen in my life. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember my last two internships during culinary school were done at this company, and I was very enthusiastic about them. I’m still enthusiastic, albeit exhausted. I had no idea when I interned in March and April just how busy they could get in the middle of summer what with all the weddings, big-ticket events and parties to cater. We’ve been working incredibly long hours and my feet are killing me, but I’m learning a lot and making money doing it!

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Culinary school, the end

It’s over! I can’t believe how fast these past few months went by. I can remember back to my first day, so excited to be in the kitchen and so eager to learn, and I realized that even though I’ve learned so much, my attitude hasn’t changed one bit. I’m still as avid as I was that very first day, still yearning to know more with a million questions brewing in my head.  I still believe that this is my path and I’m so happy to have finally found it! Continue reading

Culinary school, week twelve: an internship

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It’s official. My last internship is over! I’ve got two days of school left, but no kitchen time. We’re just back to wrap things up and finalize all that we’ve done over the last three months so that our programme will be validated. My internship, which lasted one and a half weeks, was crazy and great. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired, but I never once questioned my place in the lab as I tore the coral from fresh scallops, heated blocks of foie gras to melt the fat and rolled them in hazelnuts, prepared 300 tomato, mozzarella and bell pepper bouchées, etc., etc. Continue reading

Culinary school, week eleven (macarons, tartar sauce, wine-braised rabbit and more!)

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Oh my GOD! My last week of culinary school came and went so fast that I really can’t even believe it’s actually over. I’m crossing my little fingers that after my third and final internship, when we have to come back to school for two measly days to wrap things up, we’ll get one last session in the kitchen. I really, really hope that this isn’t quite the end yet. It’s been so magical being in the kitchen every week, and learning so much, and I don’t want it to end! Luckily this week we really went out with a bang, using ingredients that I’d never used before, making beautiful layer cakes, perfectly light French macarons, the world’s best tartar sauce, and so much more. Let me tell you all about it!

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Culinary school, week ten

I had my very first day of class on Friday this week, because a snow storm shut down the entire region of Normandy! I missed classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (all kitchen days!!!) and on Thursday we had a job forum at the unemployment office. There were lots of different employers there that had job offers, so I dressed myself up all nice, handed out my resumé and charmed as many of them as possible! My one day of class was filled with English (really!?!?), hygiene and working on my resumé, which is clearly finished, which is why I’m writing to you all right now!

Basically, it was a very disappointing week, especially since it is our second to last one! I tried my best to keep up by cooking at home as much as possible, but since we were snowed in I couldn’t make it out to buy ingredients I needed, like cherries and cream for a Black Forest cake, or more butter croissants. I did manage to make some delicious potatoes fried in duck fat, some arugula pesto with cashew nuts and a blood orange tart, all of which I’ll be posting about soon. Except maybe that tart. It wasn’t exceptional and I was pretty disappointed. The curd started out a vibrant red-orange and ended up a dull pale orange once the eggs and sugar were whisked in. And it lacked in taste. I added some orange blossom water and caster sugar on the top that I caramelized with a blow torch, but it just wasn’t quite good enough. I guess I should just stick to lemon tarts!! Speaking of, I haven’t published Jérôme’s famous lemon tart recipe on here yet, I should probably get on that!!

Anyway, even with cooking at home, I definitely missed my chefs and the time we should have had in the kitchen. We missed so much, and I know that we’ll never have the time to make it up. Next week we’ll be doing our last lunch service at school, so that should be a highlight. Then, it’s off to my final internship. This one will be 10 days instead of a week, so I’m very excited to learn even more about this company and put my newly aquired culinary skills to the test, yet again. And an important test it will be, because I need to show the world that I’m ready and employable. I certainly feel ready, hopefully the professional chefs that I’ll be working with will agree!!