Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Like a Chef: The Brasserie Cicou Workshop Series

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce. Grilled Hanging Beef Tender with Herb Butter, Romaine Salad with French-style Vinaigrette and Homemade Fries. And Creme Brulee with a perfectly torched top. All made by me...

Brasserie Cicou's Do It Like A Chef Workshop Series is a unique hands-on activity where you can learn both recipes and cooking techniques from one of the best French restaurants in the metro. And for one day, I did it like a chef, had a lot of fun, and pretty much impressed myself at Brasserie Cicou...

Chef Cyrille and Anna Soenen's Brasserie Cicou brings the rustic and traditional flavors from France with their signature dishes. Inside, the elegant and spacious interiors are just the perfect stage for their wide range of dishes. But today, I get to step inside Brasserie Cicou's famed kitchen...

Brasserie Cicou's young Executive Chef, Jill Osias, leads the workshop, starting with a quick tour of the kitchen and the different stations where our dishes will be prepared. For this workshop, Brasserie Cicou's young and skilled chefs shared their expertise and culinary secrets with three signature courses, starting with the tedious, delicate yet elegant Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise sauce. For a kitchen novice like me, even cracking an egg is a serious task, and seeing Chef Jill Osias crack a few eggs with ease and grace was just, well, amazing.

Creating Eggs Benedict is a four-step process, from extracting clarified butter, creating the rich and smooth Hollandaise sauce, delicately poaching the egg, and assembling the intricate Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. Seeing Executive Chef Jill Osias and her young team go through each of the phases in creating the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict was an experience in itself, and witnessing all these in an actual working kitchen added to the experience. The kitchen was also busy preparing dishes for the early weekday lunch crowd at Brasserie Cicou, and the sounds and aroma of Brasserie Cicou's kitchen made the workshop so much more real. With clockwork precision, each station proceeded with the day's lunch orders with efficiency.

Each step in the preparation of the three dishes are demonstrated by Chef Jill Osias and her team, giving each of the participants an up-close look. Handy little tricks, like a rolled-up damp towel for holding a mixing bowl firmly, is one of those cool hacks you could use in your own kitchen.

The different components of each dish are demonstrated, revealing in detail practical tips in preparing each course. Using the freshest and finest produce and ingredients brings you one step closer in creating that perfect dish. For the workshop, the participants were formed into three teams, one for each dish to maximize the kitchen.

As Chef Jill and her team walk the workshop participants through each step in creating the dish, the workshop takes on an informal yet fun and informative vibe. Now that blow torch is really cool, gotta have one of those...

The first course is done and plated, Brasserie Cicou's Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. At Brasserie Cicou, the eggs benedict are given an extra touch, a few minutes in the Salamander or broiler for that distinct lightly seared top.

Next up, the signature main, Brasserie Cicou's Grilled Hanging Beef Tender with Herb Butter, Homemade Fries, and a side of Romaine Salad with Vinaigrette.

And finally, for dessert, the elegant Creme Brulee. After quickly reviewing each of the different steps for the three courses, it was our turn...

With aprons on, it was time to be the chef at Brasserie Cicou's spacious kitchen and recreate the dishes prepared earlier by Executive Chef Jill Osias and her team. Eggs Benedict, Hollandaise sweat. With the help of Brasserie Cicou's chefs (R), we set about in preparing our dishes.

With the support and encouragement from Brasserie Cicou's chefs, I successfully cracked an egg. Make that three eggs, cleanly and perfectly. Using your hands, separating the yolk was surprisingly easy. So far, I was off to a good start. With the separated yolks, it was time to prepare the Hollandaise sauce. Start with clarifying butter in a saucepan, and after a few minutes, remove the milk solids at the surface. As you whisk the yolks in a baine marie or double boiler at a constant pace, slowly pour the clarified butter in a thin stream. Remember to constantly whisk the yolks as you pour the hot clarified butter. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and continue to whisk until the volume doubles. You know it's done and ready when you raise the whisk and the sauce flows down like thin ribbons. Then set aside and prepare the poached egg. In a sauce pan, fill with water until it simmers. Add some vinegar and mix in a circular motion. As the water spins at a slower rate, slide the egg to the simmering saucepan. That day, I made my very first poached egg...and plating my dish above was just so immensely satisfying. One dish down, and on to the next...

My very own Grilled Hanging Beef Tender, cooked to medium rare and topped with my own Herb Butter, with a side of Romaine lettuce drizzled with my own vinaigrette and Homemade French fries. Underneath the French fries is another dab of Herb Butter for even more flavor...

And I learned some pretty cool tricks along the way too. Like double frying your potato wedges for that crisp outer layer. And using the finger test to check the doneness of the steak. Preparing herb butter. Rinsing the fresh crisp greens properly. And creating the simple yet classic Vinaigrette the French way with red wine vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, and honey. All these combined for a rich medley of flavors on a plate. And it becomes even more fulfilling knowing you created all the components of the dish. 

Always save room for dessert. At Brasserie Cicou's Workshop, I get to prepare a classic dessert, the indulgent Creme Brulee. It's a deceptively simple dessert, do it wrong and you'll scramble your eggs. As you pour the hot milk and cream mixture, you'll need to constantly whisk the eggs to prevent it from being cooked. Once the desired texture is achieved, simply pour into ramekins, then place the ramekins in a tray filled with hot water before baking in the oven.

Torching my Creme Brulee was the fun part. But the real fun starts when you savor each of the three courses you prepared in Brasserie Cicou's kitchen. Understanding how it's made, and actually preparing each dish adds a whole new perspective, and a better appreciation of the dish. My Do It Like a Chef Workshop at Brasserie Cicou covered three courses, with an appetizer, main course, and dessert, for only P 1,500 net. Each workshop is limited to only 12 slots, so call and reserve your slot in the next Brasserie Cicou Workshop. You too can do it like a chef at Brasserie Cicou with the recipes below, then sign up in the next workshop and learn how to prepare even more dishes. Like a chef...

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

3 eggs (2 for Hollaindaise sauce, 1 for poaching)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 wedge lemon
4 slices of smoked salmon
1/2 Pan de Sal (toasted)

1.  For the Hollandaise sauce: melt butter in a small saucepan on low heat until the white milk solids separate from the butter. Remove the milk solids.
2.  Separate 2 egg yolks and place in a small mixing bowl. Put the mixing bowl on top of a small saucepan with barely simmering water. This is called the baine marie or double boiler.
3.  Whisk the egg yolks until frothy, pale in color, and doubled in volume. Add in freshly squeezed lemon juice. Continue to whisk until it reaches the "ribbon" stage.
4.  Slowly add the clarified butter in a thin, steady stream while continuously whisking the egg yolks.
5.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6.  For the Poached Eggs: in a small saucepan, heat up the water until barely simmering then add a splash of vinegar. Crack open the egg into a small bowl.
7.  Using a whisk or slotted spoon, mix the water and vinegar to create a "whirlpool" in the middle. When the whirlpool slowly subsides, gently drop the egg in the middle. Watch as the egg whites coagulate completely but the egg yolk is still soft and runny.
8.  To assemble: Put slices of smoked salmon on the toasted sliced pandesal. Put the warm poached egg then top with Hollandaise sauce.
9.  Optional: Put the Eggs Benedict under a broiler to brown the top of the Hollandaise sauce.

Grilled Hanger Beef Tender

150g Hanging Beef Tender (or any other cut of steak)

1.  Season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides.
2.  Drizzle the meat with oil and spread it evenly using your hands.
3.  On a pre-heated grill (electric, charcoal, or stovetop), lay the seasoned meat. After 2-3 minutes, flip and cook the other side. Cook to desired doneness. Served with flavored butter, home-made fries, and romaine salad.

Herb Butter

2 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Put in a cling wrap and form into a log. Tie both ends tightly then put inside the chiller to let it set and firm up.
2.  Slice into 1/4 inch thick discs and place on top of the grilled steak.

Homemade Fries

1/2 Large potato, cut into wedges

1.  Heat the oil under medium heat.
2.  Fry the potatoes just until fork tender but not brown and crispy.
3.  Take out the potatoes and drain on paper towels.
4.  Bring the heat up to high.
5.  Fry the potatoes for the second time  until golden brown and crispy.
6.  Drain on paper towels then season with salt and pepper immediately.

Romaine Salad with Vinaigrette

1 Head Romaine lettuce

30ml Red Wine Vinegar
1 pc. shallot, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Honey (optional)
60ml Olive Oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

1.  Mix first four ingredients in a bowl.
2.  Season with salt and pepper.
3.  Add in the olive oil in a thin steady stream while whisking to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Creme Brulee (8 Portions)

6 Eggs
3 Egg yolks
150g White sugar (plus extra for the topping)
500ml Cream
250ml Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1.  Heat up the milk and cream in a saucepan until simmering.
2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract.
3.  Temper the egg mixture by adding the hot milk and cream a little at a time to prevent the eggs from being scrambled.
4.  Strain the mixture and pour into individual ceramic dish or ramekin.
5.  Place the ramekins in a baking tray then pour hot water on the tray to create a baine marie.
6.  Bake in an oven set at 250 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.
7.  Take out the ramekin and let it cool. Sprinkle with an even layer of sugar on top then using a blow torch, caramelize the sugar to make that perfect crackly sugar topping.

For more information on Brasserie Cicou's Workshop Series, call 661-9200 or 0917-885-8841, or email at, for inquiries and more information. 

Brasserie Cicou is located at 57 Annapolis Street, Greenhills, San Juan or call 661-9200 for reservations and inquiries.

Dude for Food is now on Facebook and Instagram, check out the FB Page and IG Feed for regular updates on good eats. Better yet, click "Like" and "Follow" and enjoy the ride...just look for the FB and IG widgets on the right sidebar. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to share? I'd love to hear from you...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...