Sunday, 17 January 2010

Week 2 part 1 - Trout, Omelette Arnold Bennet, French Onion Soup and More!


Ok I am sorry I have lapsed a little with the blogs, mainly due to coming down with some good old flu and a nice fever to boot. The number of emails I have received quite literally threatening me with imaginary physical violence if I don't post again soon, have been really quite underwhelming.

To illustrate the extent of my illness, on Friday afternoon we baked a Frangipane Tart, something to which I am quite partial, although it doesn't hold a candle to a good Bakewell Tart. My tart was excellent, great pastry (pâte sucrée), excellent filling made with triple the amount of Kirsch (what can I say I was knocked while measuring it out) and a fine drizzle of icing. So what did I do with this fine example of a almond and cherry flavored tart you ask? I gave it away! Why? Quite simply because the way I was feeling by the end of the day, I could not gather the strength or motivation to carry it home. Its a sad tale I know.

However on this glorious Surrey Sunday I feel I should make the effort to recap some of the things we did last week and take a look at what is on the menu over the next 5 days.

Monday – Was a full day in the kitchen making a number of items. I say items because it seems we are not learning complete and refined dishes at this stage, but more of a mix of components that may or may not be a suitable accompaniment to each other. I believe this is purely to introduce skills that are all of a similar level of complexity to one another to ensure the less experienced in the group do not struggle so much with the tasks at hand.

The items were as follows: Brown Stock, Omelette Arnold Bennet, Coleslaw Salad (Sauce Mayonnaise), Plum and Blackberry Cobbler, Basic White & Brown Bread, Celebration Cake (pt 1.), Mexican Choc Chip Cookies (dough)

The star of these was the Omelette Arnold Bennet, a Omelette with the inclusion of poached smoked haddock covered with a Sauce Mornay flavoured with the milk from poaching the fish, then browned under a grill. The bread making was enjoyable, something about seeing and feeling the dough change whilst kneading is quite satisfying... along with the later consumption with copious amounts of foie gras courtesy of my mother at Christmas. Ta Doris.

Tuesday – We had a demo in the morning, followed by cooking in the afternoon. Quite a straight forward day really, we finished our celebration mixture and baked the Mexican Cookies we started on Monday and made the filling for a Latticed Apple Flan.  Using a gas oven was a bit of a nightmare for the cookies as you cant bake two tray successfully at once due to the differing temps between the two levels.  We ended up with one ok tray, the other spread to much as the fat melted before the other ingredients had a chance to set meaning they spread out like a mofo.  If you would like a definition of the term 'mofo' click here.

Wednesday – After a good 3-4 inches of snow fell over night there were a few students missing from class so we baked their Celebration cakes for them. We are nice like that. We worked in pairs to cook a Soupe á l'oignons (French Onion Soup) something I made every week for 5 months on a ski season. I therefore left the crucial browning and caramelisation of the onions to my partner who had never made it before. As more students slowly dribbled in late, I moved downstairs to another kitchen leaving my partner explicit instructions to stir the now 'fudgey' onions every 60 seconds for 5 more mins or it will catch. I should note at this point that French Onion Soup is my favourite soup, there is nothing better than a perfectly executed example, and nothing worse than an insipid undercooked one. The key is in the onions, they need to be browned so very slowly over 40-60mins stirring regularly especially towards the end. Imagine my pain when I returned just 5 minutes later to add the previously made Brown Stock, to see my partner scraping the bottom of a pan, so thick with carbonised onions it probably had to be thrown away. Devastation doesn't come close to describing my emotions.  I turned and walked away in a mixture of despair, anger and self loathing that I hadn't stayed until the crucial moment.  NEVER AGAIN!

Part 2. to follow shortly....


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