First of all, Happy Birthday Julia Child! She would be 100 years old today!
On Monday evening, my mom and I took the Viking Cooking School class, Inspired by the Hit Movie Julie & Julia – Mastering French Cuisine. Little did I know beforehand how valuable and fun this class would be. We were greeted by Sandra Kolka, who taught the three-hour cooking class alongside her sidekick, chef Hopeton Hibbert. We were two of nine students, ranging in age and cooking experiences. They welcomed us with a beautiful wine and cheese set-up and once everyone arrived, we got down to business.
- Frisée Salad with Crispy Bacon and Poached Eggs
- Beef Bourguignon
- Buttered Noodles with Sweet Peas
- Classical Chocolate Soufflé with Grand Marnier Crème Anglaise
- Knife skills
- Poaching eggs
- The importance of using fresh, natural ingredients vs. packaged, chemically-enhanced foods
- The more butter, the better
We began by prepping the Beef Bourguignon. This recipe requires several mis en place steps including preparing the meat, cutting and sauteing vegetables, measuring ingredients and combining them together to cook for two hours. The smells from this dish kicked off the myriad of intoxicating smells that enveloped the room for three straight hours. I’m pretty sure heaven has a smell, it smells like beef bourguignon. Why don’t they make beef bourguigon-scented candles?
Once the dish was slow cooking, we moved onto poaching eggs and making a dijon vinaigrette for our salad. Poached eggs are a new like of mine, so learning the process behind perfecting them was very interesting. Essentially, you boil water with a light vinegar, then crack the egg carefully above the water, letting it drop in and form into a Chinese dumping-like ball.
At the end of the class, the frisée salad leaves were topped with the poached egg, crispy bacon and homemade Dijon vinaigrette. People are always saying to me, “Make your own dressing! It’s so easy!” Well, now I’m officially convinced because this vinaigrette was to die for. This was hands down the BEST salad I’ve ever eaten – mostly because it tasted far too devilish to actually be a salad.
Then came the grand finale – Chocolate Soufflé with Grand Marnier Crème Anglaise. One student signed up for the class solely to learn this recipe (and impress the ladies with it!)
First step: la crème. This involved several tedious heating and tempering steps. The end result? A mind-blowing, deliciously sweet cream that essentially tastes like melted vanilla ice cream – good vanilla ice cream that is.
The soufflé required its own set of specific instructions. We used a precious, French chocolate. Since I’m the world’s worst note taker, unfortunately I can’t tell you what that name is. The batter was poured into previously buttered and sugared mini casserole dishes and placed in the oven. When they came out, we gracefully dolloped three spoonfuls of the crème Anglaise in the center of each cake which resulted into a dessert that looked too pretty to eat.
The salad itself filled me up, so it took enormous strength to combat the Beef Bourguigon. We served it over buttered noodles and sweet peas…just the way Miss Child likes it. As divine as it was, I eventually hit a wall and could no longer mangée. A few delicate bites of the soufflé was all I could muster up. My only complaint for this class is that leftovers aren’t allowed. Needless to say, when I woke the next morning I experienced withdrawal.
If you’re interested in taking a cooking class, be sure to check out Viking’s class offerings. The state-of-the-art kitchen was an honor to work in and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, knowledgeable and entertaining. Allez, allez!
For more pictures from my cooking class, click here.