Verslag van een (Engelstalige) cursist
Yesterday was the first day of the cooking class that Tom and I had been looking forward to for months and it really exceeded our expectations!! It’s a 6 week course; every saturday for the next 6 weeks we will be spending the afternoon in the kitchen you see above which is located in Amsterdam.
I had a family-shoot in the morning, so I was a little anxious that it would take too long and we would be late, but I was home on time to go to Amsterdam. Of course we did not take into account the dramatic parking facilities in the centre of Amsterdam, so we spend 10 minutes looking for a parking spot. We finally managed to find one at the Hobbemakade (for a “meager” 20 euros!!), but then -obviously- we still had to walk to get to the studio, so we arrived a little past 12. Class was planned to start at 12.30 with lunch beforehand, so actually right on time.
The group is quite large; I think about 13/14 people, but it seems to be a fun group. Our teacher is Rob, who has owned two restaurants and basically has spent most of his life cooking or at least doing something with food. The aim of the course is to teach us to start cooking without recipes or cookery books, by giving us the basic tools needed to be able to make decisions on how to cook something or what to throw into a mixture.
The first lesson was all about cutting; techniques on how to hold your knife and how to cut various vegetables. We used leeks, onions, carrots and potatoes to practice. Ehhmm… do not look at the photo for the best technique though…;-). Then Rob showed us how to make a good mayonnaise base, how to make a roux, how to make the best homemade fries from the potatoes we all had been cutting. I made a fabulous mayonnaise which is now here in the fridge, so I have to think of a good way to use it this week, as it will not last forever… Making the mayonnaise was actually quite simple; just a little vinegar, an egg-yolk, some mustard, stir until it starts to form bubbles a little, then slowly add the (sunflower) oil until it starts to bind and then you can pour the oil in quicker until it reaches a firm consistency. You can then add whatever you like to make a mayonnaise to your taste. Basic flavour would be to add salt, pepper and some lemon juice… Anyway; I might think about something to use the mayonnaise with this week, so I can take some good photos of it as the ones taken during the course are obviously not the best (taken with my little compact with very bad lighting conditions in the kitchen…)
The lesson ended with everyone baking their fries (first pre- baked of course!) and eating them with our own lovely homemade mayonnaise! We learned an awful lot in just one afternoon, so much that we will probably forget half of what we learned right away. During the kitchen session you don’t really have time to write stuff down and Rob teaches so much that it is hard to remember it all, but I think the keywords here are practice, practice, practice!
The next lesson will be all about finding the perfect ingredients (how to distinguish a good chicken from a bad one) and how to prepare them, cut them, fillet them etc. Next lesson is going to be about birds and vegetables, then meat, then sweet stuff and at the end we have to prepare a three course dinner for two from scratch. Going to the market buying fresh produce and then making something out of that!
Rob has already shown us the importance of preparing a broth as a base of quite a lot of things (ragout, sauce, soup) and how to make one. Well kind of…. So now we have a week to make sure we are going to use our knives in a proper way without cutting off our fingers and trying to use the stuff we learned… and finish off my mayonnaise… If anyone has any good tips on what to do with mayonnaise other than eating it with fries…?
Today we’re going to have a luxurious lunch at a restaurant in Haarlem. Friends of ours invited us as a kind of belated birthday present so I’m really looking forward to that!