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Remember when we did the cooking course in Amsterdam at the Kookstudio in March of last year? That was the so called beginners course and we followed the advance course after that but when it was finished we kind of felt we wanted to do some more. The problem is that you can find loads of cooking workshops in the Netherlands but not a lot that actually teach you about product and techniques rather then simply following a recipe in a class.

I am not interested in someone showing me a recipe and telling me that I can follow the recipe. I know I can do that by myself at home if I so desire. I am interested in finding out how to treat the various products, how to recognize good from bad and how to cook from scratch really. So…. after some discussion between Tom and myself we decided to do the same course we did last year again… Is that silly? Our reasoning is that we got so much information that it’s hard to remember it all plus we do look differently at things compaired to last year. But anyway we signed up again and last saturday was our first lesson.

And I have to say it’s actually very usefull doing this for the second time. When you are trying to learn something new at school it’s the power of repetition that works there too right? It’s the same in cooking class. The first lesson is all about cutting, making mayonaisse and roux and transforming that into croquettes and cutting fresh fries from potatoes. So ok, probably not the most exciting lesson to do for the second time, but still I found it useful. I remember from the first time that all that information was quite overwhelming. The second time around I was more like; ‘Oooo, now I get it!’ 🙂

As far as cutting goes; I know how it should be done in theory and I have becoming much much better in cutting but it is still work in progress. I guess that is really a case of practice makes perfect (and using good knifes)

What I did do this time around that I had not done before is that I made a basic salpicon (base for a croquette) in the Taurus Cook. It’s supposedly a machine that does most of the work for you. It cooks, blends, mixes etc and it – or so I have been told – perfect for making a roux or for making soup and sauces. To be honest; when I saw the thing I was a bit overwhelmed. I mean; making a roux is fairly straightforward when you do it on the stove so why would you even spend all that money on a machine that makes the whole process look more complicated then it really is?

But it was new and I did want to see if it would do the job better in the machine then if you would do the same thing by hand. The machine has a couple of buttons but what you basically have to do for each step of the process is to set the right temperature, the mixing speed and the time required for each ingredient. Unfortunately you still have to do the chopping yourself.. 🙂 I would have thought a machine like that should do that as well. If you’re gonna be making life easier then why not add that functionality as well. But it doesn’t so chopping the ingredients is still required but that is really the only work you need to do.

You add the onions, cook for about a minute, then add the next ingredient and so forth and after a couple of minutes out comes a salpicon. In terms of speed and ease of use it gets good points from me. Once you’re over the initial hurdle of getting familiair with the various buttons it’s really quite simple. The biggest disadvantage is the fact that it’s really hard to taste in between the various steps, so adding salt and pepper or other seasonings during the process is not easy and becomes a bit of a hit and run kind of thing. We could have used a bit more seasoning as the taste was very bland.

But before we could transform the salpicon into little croquettes it had to be chilled in the fridge. As soon as it came out it became apparent that the “perfect” process in the taurus does not make a “perfect” salpicon. The structure was just wrong; very plastic and rubbery almost. We did roll them into balls and fried those, but apart from the taste that wasn’t as it should be, the texture of the thing was just not good. You know when you make it the traditional method on the stove I think it is almost the imperfections in the process that make it perfect…. Does that make sense?

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In this case everything was cooked at the right temperature for exactly the right time but probably the gluten in the flour therefore got activated more bringing it all together much more then if you put it on the stove. I don’t know… I am getting way to technical here…lol  🙂 Bottomline is; easy to use, but the results were very disappointing. It would be interesting to see what the machine would do to a soup, but quite franky I fear it will do the same. Plus…. the biggest drawback is the fact that I miss the action!! What is the fun in cooking if a machine does it all for you?(I know for a fact that there are many people out there that would buy it for that reason alone.. But not if you love to cook!!)

I love my tools such as the Magimix and the KitchenAid but they do not do all the work for you. They merely make it a little bit easier. This machine is different in that it does it all. I certainly would not bother spending money on a machine such as that. But that’s just my opinion ofcourse.

I did find it interesting to be able to try out a machine like that and it does look impressive with all the steam coming out don’t you think?

Next week is going to be the chicken and poultry lesson. One of my favorites!!

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