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Dossier Title pageI’ve been putting off writing about the Superior Cuisine final exam in some ways as it marks the end of my journey at Cordon Bleu.  It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago I had a dream to earn my Cuisine Diploma at the famous French school and now that dream has become reality.  I suppose with any accomplishment one sets out to achieve the moment you attain it is a bit bitter sweet for although you’ve dreamt of the moment arriving it’s fleeting when it does.

From the basics of chopping vegetables to advanced butchery skills, I’ve learned so much and I needed to bring all my focus to this last hurdle.  The final cooking exam is 4 hours long and believe me, every minute of that four hours was required.  We would cook our own recipes for the exam from a “panier” or basket of ingredients given to us 2 weeks earlier.

There were restrictions of course, with specific ingredients that must be used.  Venison, oysters, foie gras, red kuri squash, trumpet mushrooms and 30 cm long tubular macaroni.  Macaroni?  Isn’t that Italian?  Having not used macaroni through any of the lessons it definitely was there to challenge the class.  Another specific instruction was to deliver one of three different sauces, Diane, Grand Veneur or Poivrade Sauce.

Prior to the exam we were to hand in a dossier in French of the dishes we would prepare including a drawing or photo of the plating for the dish.   We were to cook and plate 4 identical dishes on exam day for a verrine and a main course for the judges.

I spent hours painstakingly reviewing the ingredient list wondering what I would do with oysters.  Forgive me please but I really don’t like them, as I find them overly salty and fishy.  As I had little experience with oysters, I wanted to keep the verrine rather simple so I decided on a Mediterranean theme of ceviche.   The base was a fresh tomato jelly topped with oyster ceviche and a delicate little tomato rose.

The main course of venison filet and shoulder I would prepare two ways, roasted and braised respectively, with accompaniments of one composed fruit garnish and two simple vegetable garnishes.  The villainous item in the panier, the long tubular macaroni would become a trumped up mac & cheese.  I do mean trumped up with trumpet mushroom ragout!

I was determined to practice a few untested theories on my dishes before the atelier to ensure I would not be in a huge mess.   Finding venison shoulder turned out to be a bit of a hunting expedition (pardon the pun).  My good friend Gigi (aka Cindy) was visiting me in Paris and was up for a challenge and agreed to seek out the venison shoulder while I was in class.  What a sweetheart!

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oyster ceviche

Tomato Jelly

2 Tomato, chopped

1/4 tsp Tabasco

1/4 tsp sugar – if your tomatoes are sweet or in season sugar will not be necessary

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 Gelatin leaves

 Method

  1. Soften the gelatin leaves in cold water.
  2. Place the chopped tomatoes in the Robo and blend to a rough puree
  3. Decant the tomatos to a chinois and press to release the juice into a saucepan.
  4. Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the gelatin leaves to the warm liquid and stir to dissolve.
  6. Pour into the verrines carefully ensuring the levels are even and set in the refrigerator for 2 hours until gelled.

Oyster Ceviche

4 Oysters

10 sprigs of chives, minced plus 4 sliced in halfhalved

4 sprigs of parsley

25 goOnion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tomato, seeded & chopped brunoise

1 lime, juice and peel

1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

 Method

  1. Shuck the oysters;
    1. Clean the outside of the oyster under running water to remove in loose grit or barnacles.
    2. Open oyster shell with an oyster knife over a bowl to catch; cut the muscle and release the oyster from the shell.
    3. Dice the oyster meat.
    4. Place the bowl with oysters and juice in the refrigerator
  2. Combine the minced chives, onions, garlic, tomato brunoise and lime juice in a bowl.
  3. Add the lime juice, Tabasco and chopped parsely.
  4. Add the oyster meat and juice; cover with plastic and refrigerate up to 3 hours until plating.
  5. When ready to serve, spoon ceviche on top of tomato gelee and garnish with a half sprig of chive.

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