Bouchon – Lessons in Baking

Well hello there! It’s been a very long time since I have blogged. A lot has happened in the time I’ve been away. Here is an abbreviated rundown of some of those things: I joined Weight Watchers, I’ve lost 55 pounds, I’ve become a yoga instructor and I had surgery on my left shoulder which has left me somewhat incapacitated. My life is not too complicated, what a blessing.

Because of the Weight Watchers, I have had to curtail some of my baking and cooking activities and focus on eating healthier. As you might imagine, this has been a bit of a challenge. I still have an occasional baked good or sweet treat but nothing compared to my former lifestyle. Alas, it’s worth it to feel healthier and to have confidence in my appearance again.

My sweet mother-in-law was gracious enough to send me an early birthday present. For several years now I have had Thomas Keller’s bistro cookbooks on my Wish List. Knowing full well that I did not in actuality “need” them but my 50th birthday is looming and well, I wanted them.

You can purchase these yourself at: Amazon.com or BarnesNoble.com

I like to think I know my way around a kitchen but … these recipes are written for professional chefs. The recipes are complicated with ingredients that are not always readily available at your local Kroger. Mostly, they are time consuming.  So much so that I am taking three days to make a Quiche Lorraine. It’s a true education into how professional chefs prepare food at Michelin starred restaurants; which in today’s fast paced world is nothing like how the average person cooks at home. Nevertheless, I am resolved to conquer them. Well, maybe not all of them but I’m going to give it an honest effort.

All of this to say, this weekend shall be consumed with cooking and baking for my dear, dear husband’s 50th birthday. Since my husband is more of an introvert than extrovert and prefers to hide out in our house for the entire weekend (if you could hear my voice right now you would hear some serious attitude) I shall be cooking and baking to make his day special.

What’s on the menu you ask? Quiche Lorraine, German chocolate cake, New York strip, macaroni and cheese, and beer. I began this endeavor on Friday afternoon by preparing an Onion Confit, a Bouquet Garni, and a basic pie crust. I also made mango/avocado salsa, pork chops and salt roasted fingerling potatoes because we had to eat dinner too. Needless to say, I was in the kitchen all freaking day. It was fun and EXHAUSTING!

Onion Confit? What the heck? It sounds French and fancy. It’s not. Onion confit consists of evenly sliced onions (eight cups), 1/4 cup of water, and four ounces of butter. All of which is cooked at very low temperature for two plus hours and stirred every half hour. Simple enough but a commitment. Also, it’s covered with a parchment lid. Huh? It took three tries to create this. Something I’m certain my craftier friends would have done in one attempt.

Also, Bouquet Garni? It sounds so fancy. It’s fresh herbs wrapped in leeks. Simple enough. I grow the herbs in my garden and I can get leeks. The end result is amazing. The onions are so naturally sweet and the herbs make them even more fragrant. It was so worth the effort.

That’s as far as I got. The pie dough is in the fridge and next I’ll put together the custard and cake. First, I need a springform pan. I could have sworn I had one. I guess I’ll be making a trip to the local bakery supply store aka: Bed Bath Beyond. Ugh.

 

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