Good things come wrapped in caul fat
Goodness. Already I've fallen behind. At the end of last week we made fruit cakes, fruit tarts, ratatouille, stuffed lamb shoulder and simmered Provencal vegetables. Oddly enough, I adored the boring-sounding simmered vegetables. The lamb was pretty delicious too, but class taught me that I am not a great lover of fruit cake or fruit tarts (as if I needed to be taught that I don't love fruit cake! I guess it still enjoys some respectability in France and doesn't suffer from the outsider status that it is accorded in the U.S.).
That being said, the fruit we used in the tarts was top-notch. Once again I am in awe of the produce situation in this country. The papaya actually tasted good. Is it just me, or does papaya often have an unpleasant fishy flavor? Not this one. And good god, the strawberries, the pineapples, the apricots. Apricots are another trickster fruit in America. Finding a good one is rare indeed, but they often tempt me into buying them with their pretty colors and their cute, fuzzy exteriors. As Seinfeld said, "Fruit's a gamble. I know that going in."
The simmered vegetables were scrumptious. We began with an absolute cornucopia of green items, which forced us to practice knife skills (and peeler skills, which is not something I would have anticipated being a challenge). I peeled some baby carrots into bizarre rectangular shapes that Chef Pouy kindly deemed "modern art". We worked with baby leeks, baby zucchinis, fresh peas, baby fennel, asparagus, tiny tomatoes that were so sweet they tasted like jam, turnips and other things that I'm forgetting. I am noticing that the vegetables get cooked longer here than I would probably choose to do them at home. I like a bit of snap left in the carrot and the asparagus.
Working on the stuffed lamb shoulder was fun mainly because we got to work with caul fat. YEAH CAUL FAT! When it made its first appearance, I got pretty excited. I'm a big caul fat person. If there was a Caul Fat Advisory Board, or a Caul Fat Promotion Campaign, I'd be involved. "External Stomach Lining! It's Offal-ly Good!" See how great I'd be?
Anyway, we made tidy little rolls of pork stuffing and lamb that were snugly encased in the wondrous fat, then seared on the stovetop and roasted. Mmmmm.