First of all, let me use a Staubtuch to wipe off the dust from this blog. You might have noticed the lack of posts of late, particularly from moi. “Real” graduate student life took over and I personally didn’t have time to properly cook moreso to engage in a hobby. Sorry about that. Hopefully the developments the past month may alleviate things.
Anyway back to food, back in January, since I didn’t have time to celebrate my birthday as I did last year, I gifted myself with a cooking course.
With my co-foodie Janet, we searched for a good cooking course in Saarland and we came across Kochkultour. Kochkultour is a cooking and pâtisserie school here in Saarbrücken hosted by the Plana Küchenland showroom. Recognized by regio-guide as the top cooking school for the past three years, courses are taught by Saarland-native Kai Mehler, who came home to Saarland after years of culinary experience in Germany and abroad.
The school offered a plethora of short courses that take about 4-6 hours depending on what is on the menu. Owing perhaps to its reputation, a lot of the courses were fully booked. Since I didn’t want to wait so long to actually go to a cooking course, Janet and I opted for the New England and North American cooking course entitled On the Road which still had 8 slots left.
Before the cooking even started, we were offered sparkling wine, which I gladly had a glass of. On the dinner table were slices of freshly prepared focaccia and Gänseschmalz (goose fat). On one hand I regret not purchasing a jar of the Gänseschmalz. On the other hand, my hips are probably better off without it.
Corn chicken breast with mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce
Fortunately for us, but perhaps not so for Kochkultour, the course had only 6 students. This way all six of us were involved heavily in the preparation of the dishes. Say for example for the mise en place, each of us had an at least one ingredient to chop. I was happy I was far away from the garlic and onion station and was tasked to chop potatoes (both normal and sweet) along with Janet. As a team, we selected and cleaned the mussels for the clam chowder. And we all were involved in beating the eggs for the mayonnaise. We were allowed to shine every so often. For example, Janet prepared the base for the clam chowder and I showed my master skill in separating egg yolks from egg white. (Please hold the applause)
Janet with Chef Kai Mehler
Thoughts on the food:
Waldorf Salad: Preparing the mayonnaise from scratch was a new experience for me and it’s something I would do again if I’m going to prepare Waldorf salad. Only maybe next time I’ll probably use an electric beater instead of beating the eggs to submission with a wire whisk. From the taste point of view, I enjoyed the mixture of the sweetness of the apple with the tangy flavor of the lemon juice and the bite from the curry. I don’t think Janet was a fan. I have had Waldorf salads before and for the most part whoever prepared them was a little heavy handed with the mayo. The one we prepared was light and perfectly stimulated the appetite.
Clam chowder: The moment the chef opened the package, I knew we weren’t going to prepare a traditional clam chowder because instead of clams, we used mussels. Since I have never been to New England, I didn’t have the faintest clue whether this was an acceptable variety or not. Don’t get me wrong. The soup was tasty and creamy. It’s just that the purist in me was screaming “Those are not clams!”. I nevertheless finished my bowl and craved for another one.
Corn chicken breast with mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce: Amongst all of the dishes we prepared the main course left the smallest impact on me. Maybe it’s because we used chicken breast, which I think is blandest cut of meat ever. If I remember correctly, we seasoned the chicken breast with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Then they were pan-fried skin side before they were place in the oven. If I were to repeat this dish, I would use chicken leg quarters instead of the breast.
Brownies: The ironic thing about the dessert is that the part I enjoyed the most was the one that wasn’t on the menu. Before we even arrived, the chef prepared some blueberry ice cream which he served on the side with the brownies. It would have been nice to learn how he prepared it but after learning how much the churner cost, I just turned my attention to enjoying the taste. The chef admitted that the brownies could have been taken out 2 minutes earlier as it was a little dry for a brownie. I would have repaired it by cutting it across and spreading some chocolate cream in the middle and then I’d cover it with chocolate glaze. Hmmmm chocolate…
Out of respect for the chef, I will only share the recipe for the Waldorf salad in a later post since a lot of my relatives wanted the recipe. The rest you can learn if you attend the next On the Road course.
Two very satisfied students
I highly recommend to anybody living on this side of the Bundesrepublik to attend one of Kai Mehler’s cooking courses. He matches his culinary knowledge with an enthusiastic teaching method and an engaging demeanor towards his students. The price is affordable given that it already includes the ingredients used, the drinks, and the use of the kitchen. The booking information you can get from the Kochkultour website.