Welcome to week #2 of my ‘Cook Along Book Club’! This week we cover Lessons 7 – 11 in Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques – a great reference guide to help you brush up on cooking methods and techniques from very basic to oh so fancy I’ll probably never use it.

Lesson 7 was a Duxelle of Mushrooms. God I felt fancy. Basically it’s just a mixture of mushrooms chopped very very finely and cooked. But man, I had my pinky up when I would use it’s proper name. And what would one do with very finely chopped mushrooms? In many french dishes it is used as a coating, stuffing or seasoning. Simple and easy but adds a lot of flavour. I can honestly say with this one I felt I learned something cool that was so easy I wonder why I wasn’t doing it before.

Lesson 8 (how to peel and seed a cucumber) was interesting. Not because it was hard – it was actually very easy. Interesting because I realized this was the first time I recall ever seeding a cucumber. How could this be? But somehow it is – I don’t think, before this week, that I have ever taken the seeds out of my cucumbers. But luckily I was able to do it like a pro and losing my cucumber seed virginity was painless.

I was amazed how many steps there were in Lesson 9 – how to clean salad. While I went through them this time – I did feel like it took me twice as long to clean a head of lettuce than it normally did. Did anyone else feel this way?

Then on to Lesson 10 – Tomatoes. I actually felt like a pro here – only because it was exactly, step by step,  like peeling peaches – something I had just made a video on the other week! If you’d like to learn how – take a look at the video below and replace the peach with a tomato.

Finally this week was Lesson 11 – Glazed Onions. I admit, I did not go out and find tiny white onions… I used giant onions I picked up from the market last weekend and just cut them into chunks. I’m not sure how much this changed the final product because I probably wouldn’t have eaten much of it either way. I’m not a huge onion fan. Onions in dishes – ok, onions on their own… not so much. So I am definitely not the expert here – but from what I could tell they turned out very nicely.

Next Monday is a holiday – so I’m going to do double duty the week after and not post anything next week. In English – no book club next week, Lessons 12-23 (picking one of the stock lessons 12 -14, and skipping lesson 21 Aspics) posted on Monday September 13. Still so much to cover in Jacques Pepin’s Complete techniques, but we are off to a great start!

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