Monday, 22 February 2010

Week 7 at Tante Marie... and a little rant!

 Monkfish head

So week seven at Tante Marie came and went in a flash, mainly as it was a 4 day week due to Monday being half-term... you gotta love the 4 day weekend, and all in the name of half-term! I feel like a real student again, something that had not previously happened due to all the work and early starts (9:30am) we have to do, unlike my time at uni! Our group was not its usual self either as half of the group were doing their exams so some work was done in a group of three which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Highlights of the week included making Apfel Strudel... and stretching the dough on a cloth over the edge of the work surface. We could have used our hands to do the stretching as the other part of our group did when we were doing our exams, however the bold and intrepid three of us decided to go all authentic with the stretching technique... and wouldn't you know it was easier than hand stretching, if a little riskier. One needs to have their wits about them to ensure that the dough doesn't end up on the floor, but it is fairly straightforward.

My Strudel dough nealry fully stretched out... needs to cover the whole cloth!

We also had a curry session in which we made a variety of Indian curries and breads, the best of which for me was the simple lentil daal, the subtly spiciness and soft creamy texture just a delight... of course the fact that it was one of the dishes I made had nothing to do with that!  A nice and relaxing class that was an ideal warm up for the class members who had exams starting in the afternoon.

The selection of dishes produced in the curry class... Mmmmmm!

Other delights cooked up included a spicy mango chutney (which I am now ageing for full flavour), lemon curd (which I ate with a spoon!!!), twice baked soufflés of smoked haddock, fried brown rice salad, lemon roulade, bouchées au chocolat, lime creams, seared scallops with bacon, rognons d'agneau beaujolaise (lambs livers) and baked monkfish with parma ham and pea purée.

Of course there was the first session decorating our celebration cakes, something which went better than anticipated yet again, which is honestly starting to worry me.  Although far from perfect, my navy border/ribbon around the cake and scroll came out better than I expected and I was very pleased consdering my artistic abilities.

Forgot to take a picture with the scroll on... i know its not much and is simple but I am happy with it so far!

Now a little rant if you will... what the **** is the deal with wrapping great fish in salty ham, can anyone explain this too me??? You have great ham, and great fish, but when combined and cooked you get shite ham and shiter fish. It may indeed be a classic combination, but that doesn't mean its right!!!

I know many of you will argue saying that firm flesh and prominent flavour of the monkfish can compete with the strong tasting salty ham, and indeed the fish is not completely drowned out by it as a more delicate fish would be... but it nearly is! Monkfish at around £16kg is not cheap, and at that price I would like to taste the full flavour of the Monkfish and not the ham, which incidentally is no bargain itself!

I am all for marrying flavours to create something that is greater and delivers more than its core components, but if the effect is the opposite then why the hell bother? Parma ham wrapped around a boring chicken breast is in essence a winner, you can still taste the blandness of the breast, and the salty haminess even helps improve its flavour by massively over seasoning it, no problems with that whatsoever... but a lovely, if ugly as sin fish, rolled in herbs and lemon zest to be then wrapped in 4-5 slices of salt cured ham is nothing but perverse in my most humble opinion.

 My little jar of spicy mango chutney from before the ranting began.

As I said there will be many who disagree with me, some of you may actually know what you are talking about too, but again that doesn't make you, or your palate right either.  Maybe balance is the key to this dish, and if so it surely can't be had by wrapping the fillets completely in ham... or can it?

Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section below... I am ready for battle and armed with a thesaurus to take you down!  ;-)



  1. Too scared to argue with you! Your indian feast looks amazing!! xx zo

  2. Zo,

    You are wise not to argue, though the fact that you said you are too scared to argue implies you indeed think I am wrong!

    Tut very tut!

  3. I fully agree with you Dylan, in my opinion such things are the Emperor's new clothes, fashions which people fawn over, I'm not even sure if wrapping chicken breast is actually doing the chicken breast any favours, there are better ways of marinading/stuffing/cooking for more flavour. Saltimbocca is another example of this to my mind, the Italians have so many wonderful ways of cooking veal, Saltimbocca is just boring. Or maybe I've only ever had badly cooked examples, that of course is always a possibility!

  4. Brightlight, I agree that it is indeed a possibility that we have only ever had bad examples... but if we cooked it ourselves is that even possible??? ;-)


I look forward to reading your comments whether they are good, bad or indifferent!