Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Culinary aims for the weeks ahead

Having worked through last weekend – this is beginning to feel like a very long stretch now – I’m looking forward to a nicely extended weekend, starting on Friday.

And the obvious first thing to do on Friday is to get myself down to Borough Market, which then raises the very pleasant question of just what culinary projects to set myself for the weekend.

Something that’s been tempting me for quite a while if foie gras – not the paté, but the fresh stuff. And at Borough, there’s a stall that sell it. It’s not cheap, of course, but I am wondering whether to get some, eat a little myself for Friday lunch and then make the rest into a paté. We’ll see.

This weekend really does have to see a test run of consommé – I think I’m going to try a mushroom one, as it’ll be much cheaper than trying game. The main thing is the clarification, anyway.

I also need to tie down ideas for the big eating days – and then make sure that all my favourite suppliers are going to be at Broadway Market on Christmas Eve. I’m away the previous weekend and it’s getting dangerously near to needing to place orders and check such details.

But another project I now have in mind is completing the classic ‘French mother sauces’.

This is one of those fascinating pieces of information that I discovered when looking up something else – in this case, hollandaise, as a result of Friday’s risotto.

Apparently, these sauces are the foundation of classical sauce making. They are:

Velouté – done this via a couple of Gordon Ramsay pasta recipes;

Bechamel – done this too;

Tomato – pretty obvious;

Espagnole – done this too, for the sour brown shallot sauce that I serve with our Boxing day ham every year;

Hollandaise – not done this yet.

So, actually not very far to go on completing the ‘set’. Interestingly, I saw a definition online for a “more contemporary definition of mother sauces”, which was vinagrette, demi glace, beurre blanc, aioli/mayonnaise and sauce a la crème.

Now I’ve only ever tackled one of those – the aioli – so that leaves me with a whole new set of challenges in future.

But one of the reasons I want to learn hollandaise in particular is that it’s considered the key to béarnaise, which I’ve once with steak and would love to be able to make.

So, that gives me a series of things to think about – and if one thing’s certain, Borough will give me plenty more to think about.

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