It all started with a bright-eyed, hansomely adorable French chef who, when saying “pear” it sounded more like “bear” and when describing the process of using a “moo-zaar” to start the vingear-making process, it took us a few turns to understand that we were discussing starting a “mother“. I remember the first night of culinary school, 1 short year ago. I remember the feeling of childhood excitement but also the intense worry and nervousness reminiscent of publicly reciting my thesis in a crowded audiotorium. I remember not knowing how or understanding why I’d gotten myself into that unaccustomed situation – why I’d decided to go to school for the third time or why I’d chosen to remove three nights of free time from my schedule. And today, I still don’t understand why I chose to go to culinary school, for I have a career, a great job, and was quite happy as-is. Sure, I do love to cook, but I can cook at home without knowing what a zabaione is and without knowing how to make challah from scratch.
It all started with the bâtonnet: 1/4 x 1/4 x 2 inch cuts of carrots and whatever else we could get our eager knife-wielding hands on. And then julienne (1/8″) which, when cut into cubes becomes brunoise. And my least favorite – the tournée. Who, besides the French, really cares about football-shaped vegetables? I surely did not – my stews are just fine with cubes, please and thank you. But I figured it out long enough to pass the practical.
And two quarters later, after Chef Pierre taught us to cook without measuring, to ‘taste & season’, and to adjust as needed, we entered the realm of baking and pastry. A class for the scientifically-minded (yes, me – on some days), we learned about yeast and gluten formation, and we learned the difference between baking sodas and powders, bread and pastry flours, the intricacies of baking, of measuring precisely, and of totally screwing things up. I managed to, with Caroline’s help, botch some blueberry muffins a couple of times, but we also made some killer bread, layer cakes, and pies along the way.
And although I never took the French bistro class, I did make that daunting zabaione and drizzled it over some summer berries. After all, what better time to learn how to make it than on your practical?
The final quarter consisted of lectures and a class about healthy cooking. We got to construct our own virtual business from name to business concept to timeline. I made a trendy bed & breakfast in Chicago called ‘Marmalade’. Along the way, I realized that virtual wasn’t so virtual after all – and if I had it my way, I’d open that B&B in a heartbeat. And I’d sell the mess outta some marmalade all the while.
And maybe we won’t be making blueberry muffins or even blueberry cakes. Shoot – if we know what’s good for us, we will steer clear of those little berries from here on out – both of us! But we definitely will not steer clear of one another, for we’ve really constructed an awesome friendship along the way.
1 lb fresh berries, your call
3 egg yolks
3 T Marsala or other liquor/liqueur (Madeira, Port, Grand Marnier, etc)
2 T water
1.5 T sugar
Divide berries into two serving dishes. Whisk remaining ingredients in medium metal bowl and place over larger saucepan of simmering water (don’t let bowl touch water). Whisk constantly until mixtures becomes thick and foamy, ~5 minutes if whisking briskly. Drizzle over berries.