Cooking course is back!!

20100306-_MG_1688

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?

20100306-_MG_1692

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!!

20100306-_MG_1705

Simone van den Berg

Food- and travelblogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Loves to taste good food the world over. She also loves to share travelstories, delicious recipes and ok, cat pictures too. She sometimes feels the need to get really healthy for a while, always mingled with periods of insanely delicious sweets and other decadent treats. Lives together with Tom and their two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer

10 comments

  1. Fabulous Simone – am a BIG fan of cooking classes and like you – I prefer to learn the whys and why nots rather than following a recipe. Can’t wait to see what this series of lessons brings us.

  2. Good on you for giving it another go Simone…it will only just re-enforce what you have already learnt in the last year. Like Trissa, I look forward to seeing your series of lessons through.

  3. It’s been a year alread? Wow! I do remember when you talked about the first course but it seems like a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I am just in denial that time flies! Hehe. I’d like to see how that machine works, but I wouldn’t let it do all the work for me, especially if you can’t taste your creation to adjust seasoning. That is just not right! Hehe.

  4. It’s been a year alread? Wow! I do remember when you talked about the first course but it seems like a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I am just in denial that time flies! Hehe. I’d like to see how that machine works, but I wouldn’t let it do all the work for me, especially if you can’t taste your creation to adjust seasoning. That is just not right! Hehe.

  5. I’ve haven’t taken a cooking class yet (unless you count that one time, when I was 11 years old – and I certainly didn’t develop an interest in cooking then). I agree that these classes should be about technique, and not just specific recipes. I’d like to take a sushi class. And a class that teaches you to use your knives properly (I actually know one, but it’s always full!). And also a pastry class, something that would help me with presentation…

    I don’t use many electric gadgets in the kitchen… For example, I always make my cookie/pie/pizza dough by hand, even if I know the Cuisinart food processor gets it done quicker. I actually have a very silly reason: I don’t like cleaning the Cuisinart!

    Enjoy your class!

  6. These are my kind of classes too! That machine is very interesting as I’ve never heard of it before. I think I like the old-fashioned approach better!

  7. I think it’s so cute that you and Tom take classes together.
    If you all want to pull your money together and fly me over, I’d give you a knife skills lesson 🙂 Just saying!

  8. Oh, this sounds very interesting. I’d love to take a cooking class. Look forward to see more of what you’ve learned 🙂

  9. Ha, I never heard before of someone who took the same class twice! What a great idea. And a humble one! It makes sense…

  10. I’d take a class like that! I have never heard of that machine, but I can’t imagine buying it–it would take all the fun out of cooking, I’m thinking…

    Croquettes, though. YUM! Great photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *