Sunday, 31 January 2010

Week 4 - Ramsay, Tarts and Fish

Glazed Fruit Tart... mother will be proud.

I will start this post by saying WOW.

This WOW is in reference to a certain Mr Ramsay, but is not to do with him as a person but more as the brand. If you read my last post you will know that Gordon, or El Gordo as we, his close friends, like to call him, popped into Tante Marie last week to freak out most of the students. I would like to believe that his visit and my subsequent post on the matter had no real influence in the number of hits my blog got that evening and the next day. No, I would prefer to believe it was down to my eloquent prose and witty humour which somehow the readers could sense in the ethereal world of intertwining interwebs and were drawn to these very pages. Unfortunately the realist in me finds this hard to swallow.

So what pull does “Brand Ramsay” have... well since I began this blog at the start of this month, and up until I posted about El Gordo, my little blog had received 891 page loads from 609 unique visitors. Not bad an average of 28 unique visitors per day for 22 days. I posted the “Ramsay Post” at 17:56 on Thursday the 28th January. I had 22 page loads from 17 unique visitors if my memory serves me correctly. By midnight, 6 hours later, I received a total of 200 page loads from 134 unique visitors. The following day I received 188 page loads from 99 unique visitors! As of today my blog has received 1279 page loads from 842 visitors for the month, not bad work, not bad at all. A thank you to the people at Stat Counter for providing the data as well as those at Google Analytics.

Pasta sauces created by El Gordo for Comic Relief

Well thats enough of that, I am sure only I am interested in all these numbers.... but just for your information, looking at the map Google Analytics provides of where you, my readers, come from, if I want to take a well earned holiday far away from all you blog fans out there, its going to be a tough choice between The Democratic Republic of the Congo and North Korea, neither of which, unlike Brazil, I am big in.

Week 4 at Tante Marie saw a few challenges, the first of which was to cover our celebration cakes (made in previous weeks) with an almond paste. Now lets be honest here. I hate this kind of thing, when I found out we were going to have to decorate this horrible fruit cake (and boy do I hate fruit cakes), and not only decorate it but we would get marked and it would go towards our final mark for the course, I wept. Please note though that I wept “on the inside”, it just wouldn't do for a northerner to be seen weeping in front of all these “soft southern furries” now would it?

And it wasn't just the fact that I hate fruit cake that had me weeping (on the inside, just making sure), but the decorating. My elder brother is the artist in the family, he can draw trees by “drawing where the trees aren't”... yeah he is that good! I on the other hand am not an artist, not in the slightest. The thought of having to make figures out of icing, little pretty flowers and piping little designs fills me with dread... firstly because of my complete ineptitude in such delicate things,but mainly at the thought of what “the boys” back home will think I have become down in the soft south.

Alas, stage one was to cover the cakes with a almond paste, a task that went surprisingly smoothly. Tomorrow I have to cover the almond paste with cold fondant which will serve as the final finish... oh dear god help me!

A face only a mother could love - Monkfish Head

A highlight for me last week was the fish lecture held by a lovely man (I forget his name, sorry) who is close to 70 years of age and has been dealing with fish since the age of 12. You could say he knew his stuff. I especially enjoyed the parts where he would show us how to fillet different fishes, just before which he would say “I'll do this slowly so you can see what I am doing”.... a flurry of movement and 2.67 seconds later a lovely Plaice had been turned into 2 half fillets and one full fillet... in the words of the late and great Tommy Cooper, “Just like that”.

Classmate Debs (she's Canadian and everything) Beef and Guiness Pie... don't ask what happened to mine!

As for actual cooking, the week saw the creation of Rough puff pastry and its use in a Beef and Guiness pie, a Tarte aux fruits, Carottes vichy, Simple fruit brulée (a recipe stolen from my mother), Vegetable stock that went into our Crème jardinière soup, Crème caramels, Lemon and herb stuffed roast chicken, Pommes de terre duchesse, choux au gratin, Quiche Lorraine and finally Chocolate muffins. Thursday saw the full day taken up by the hygiene course talked about in my last post, and the interruption by El Gordo, and that as they say is that.

 Cme Caramel... with some pointless whipped cream and blueberries.

Nothing terribly challenging this week, although the rough puff pastry was something I enjoyed making and will probably feature in my Budget Lunch... something I will tell you about in my next post.
So come back soon and find out how I get on covering my cake with the fondant icing, and how one goes about cooking a 3 course meal on a very restrictive budget.


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