Cream of Mushroom Monday

I lucked out this morning when our Chef cancelled our quiz – score!  Somebody spent a little more time watching football this weekend than she did studying.  Today’s lecture and production focused on SOUPS – specifically, cream soups.  We are all about the mother sauces right now, so we made veloutés and béchamels, and learned how to use them in making creamy soup – yum! 

My group made cream of mushroom – so we started by dicing up two pounds of white button and shiitake mushrooms.


While my partner was elbow deep in ‘shrooms, I got the rest of our mis en place together – green onions, garlic, and fresh thyme.


Once the prep was done, it was time to cook!  We started by sautéing the aromatics in some clarified butter…


And then added the giant load of mushrooms, sautéing until they were soft.



Once everything was cooked and softened, we dusted the entire mix with flour to form a roux base, and whisked in hot VEGETABLE stock!  My group made our soup vegetarian just me for :)


We simmered until all the starch had cooked out and the soup had reduced a bit (sorry for the disgusting pot – it’s VERY hard to keep the classroom kitchen clean!).


Finally, we finished our soup by whisking in heavy cream, and seasoning with salt, white pepper, and some Worchester sauce.


Mmmmmmmmmm.  So nice to have a veggie option to sample!  I LOVE shiitake mushrooms!


We did a few other things in class today, but none that were too easy to photograph.  A lot of sauce making is very fast whisking and tempering so that things don’t burn.  My classmates are all really good sports about me shouting – “hold on let me take a picture!” – but sometimes it just can’t happen.  I did get a few shots of my white tarragon cream sauce – a velouté based compound sauce.   I started by simmering shallots in white wine and reducing it by 50%…


And lined up my mis en place – fresh tarragon, heavy cream, and chicken velouté.


Whisked my heart out until the starch was all cooked out of my sauce and I had a lovely silky smooth tarragon cream.


See what I mean about how messy this kitchen gets?  We are all so cramped for space in this particular classroom – it is a battle for burners!


We took a short break at 11:30 for lunch, and I had an AMAZING PB&J sandwich – PB2, Tra
der Joe’s
apricot preserves, and a super thick slice of Great Harvest bread from Kath (and Matt!).  This one was even better than last week’s – so soft and full of nuts and good crunchy stuff.


On the side I had a few spoonfuls of the vegetarian mushroom soup and my grapefruit.  To be honest, I was sick of all the cream in this soup by the time lunch rolled around because we taste so much while we’re cooking, but considering they made it veggie just for me, I figured I should have some!  Between the soup and the creamy sauces, by the time class was over I felt like my insides were lined with heavy cream – ugh. 


Some people have left comments wondering why I pack my lunch instead of eating the food we make at school.  There are a few different reasons – the first being that  I don’t really know what went into a dish unless I’m cooking it myself.  This presents problems from both a vegetarian and health conscious perspective. 

A lot of times Chefs or students will offer vegetable dishes, potato pancakes, etc. because they are vegetarian.  But even with vegetarian options, most of the food made in school is swimming in butter sauces and heavy oils, which my body can’t handle on a daily basis.  Remember this is every day for me.  Also – those vegetable dishes are few and far between, and I never know what will be offered on a given day.  For example, check out my classmate’s plate from today…


That’s a lot of meat, starch, and sauce!  Not a veg in sight.  (Sorry Jeff!)  So I’m better off planning ahead and ensuring that I have a healthy option that will keep me full through my next class or work shift.   Just like at last night’s Super Bowl party – if you want to make sure you’ll have something healthy to eat – bring it yourself!

I had a HALF day today – so awesome!!  I am home early because our teacher gave us extra time to work on our Menu Planning projects.  As nice as that was of him, I think I’m going to go take a very much needed NAP.  :)  Giveaway post tonight – check back!