In week two of my French cooking course, we palate journeyed through the Germanic Alsace region of northwest France. This week our recipes included Tartlettes Alsaciennes (Alsatian Leeks and Onion Tartlets) and Baked Eggs with Herbs. We learned how to make the most out of one very humble ingredient; the humble egg. One of our class students, Pravin, accentuated the atmosphere of the class by bringing in good quality French wine. Pravin is a Researcher in Sydney and passionate about discovering the art of French cooking.
Our first recipe required that we make our own puff pastry. Armed with tips from world-renown Master Pâtissier, Jean-Michel Raynaud’s new Book, The French Baker, I felt confident about making my own pastry. Ann reminded us to “read the recipes and understand them,” as she scurried around the class offering guidance. The beauty of cooking alongside others is that you can compare texture and consistency with theirs. Everything went smoothly until I rolled out my dough. Its dry texture indicated a lack of correctly measured water. My dilemma was that if I added too much water, the dough would be ruined and if I left it as it is, the baked base would taste dry. Like Mr. Raynaud said at his book signing, “Every ingredient and measurement is there for a reason.” It occurred to me that I should have read the recipe correctly; a chink revealed in my Masterchef armour. At this point I diffidently absorbed my glass of wine. There was also the added disaster of pouring too much of the egg mixture into the tin (must have been the wine). Let’s just say that with Ann’s help I took home a beautiful ruin.
Not everyone in the class had the same issues as I did. Murray and Warrick, two food enthusiasts, literally pulled out a gasp from the class when their piquant tart popped out of the pie tin par excellence! Pravin and his cooking partner also managed to bake Tartlettes Alsaciennes perfectly. My journey into French cuisine in week two was by no mean easy but I did coup a small victory with the Baked Eggs with Herbs recipe. I reminded myself of Ann’s wisdom in week one – that it’s okay to make mistakes. The easier side to my journey this week was getting to know more of my fellow students. I met with a group of three -a mother and two daughters team – as well as Elsabeth. You’ll also hear more about Maria and Lynette in the coming weeks. We all had the opportunity to exchange ideas over the creation of our own recipe in week 6. There is certainly a blend of connoisseur and novice in this class. Here’s to four more weeks of good cooking, great conversation and new friendships. Rester avec moi (stay with me).
To book one of Ann Palmer’s classes, please visit her website.