Posted by: njbrown | August 17, 2009

Fluted Mushrooms, Omelettes and Salmon Soufflé

August 17, 2009

As much as I tried years ago, I never mastered the fluted mushroom. I could do a decent approximation by painstakingly carving around the mushroom, but it certainly wasn’t the quick and seamless technique demonstrated by the young chef at the Four Seasons school. It has remained an irritation that the technique is so illusive. So today, my day off, I began the day again trying to achieve a well-fluted mushroom. Julia’s picture in The Way to Cook helped, and I could see that in trying to have all the flutings intersect in the middle of the mushroom cap, I had made problems for myself. By about the 7th mushroom, I was starting to get the hang of it. I’ll continue another time. When Julia first wrote of fluted mushrooms, they were much-used in haute cuisine garnish, but today I don’t know if anyone cares. If I can learn to do it, though, it will be an achievement.

That’s the nice thing about returning to cooking at this point in my life. I’m doing it primarily for myself – for the pure enjoyment. George will get to eat it, and that will be nice, but there is no pressure on me. I certainly am not trying to be the ultimate hostess, as I was decades ago. By the end of a dinner party after hours of preparations, I was ready to collapse, my nerves in tatters. Not really an enjoyable experience.

The first thing I felt I really mastered in my cooking career was the French omelette. Now that I have a copy of Mastering…again, I see that Julia did, indeed, teach the shake and stir technique I was taught. I think I will stick with it since it always works. At the beginning, I can’t remember how many eggs I sacrificed to achieve success, but once I did, I could turn out a lovely omelette – filled or unfilled – in the approximately 20 seconds that Julia describes. For years I had a wonderful pan that I only used for omelettes and never washed, but my dear son began using it to fry eggs, and it lost its well-established non-stick coating. I now have a new one, and the first try I definitely had a sticking problem. However, using Julia’s salt treatment, the second try was almost perfect. My son has strict instructions NOT to use this pan!

Tonight we’re going to have salmon soufflé. I haven’t done a soufflé for many years, so we’ll see how it goes. I remember making chocolate soufflés, cheese soufflés and spinach soufflés in years past, but I don’t remember doing a fish soufflé. Last week I went to a function at what may be the best restaurant in our “foodie” town. It is supposed to be the only restaurant that serves soufflés. I ordered the lobster soufflé in eager anticipation, only to find that the small bits of lobster provided little flavor. As well, the chef had put in pieces of asparagus that seemed to jolt the texture. One day, I’ll try to do a flavorful lobster soufflé.




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