Monday 28 June 2010

Term 2 - Week 9 & 10 @ Tante Marie and Exam Results

Well I liked the idea of the last recap post that I thought I would do it again... and this one is going to be a real humdinger what with all the pictures (some good, some not so good!).  So lets get on with it!

Week 9 saw us introduced to the wonder that is a rump of lamb.  Having never eaten this cut before I was blown away by how much flavour it contained and how tender it was... truly Dyl-icious and one to try sooner rather than later if you haven't already!  The rump was followed by a fromage blanc mousse with red fruits which were quite tasty and all turned out well apart from one which had spilt in the un-moulding process.... so we had a little fun with him!

This week also saw us complete the Indonesian class hosted by Vera, Tante Maries very own Indonesian teacher.  We utilised her very own recipes and its fair to say that everyone loved the food... as it was all amazing!

My HUUUGE pan of Nasi Goreng!
Things like the satay sauce were unlike any I have ever had as it was made without peanut butter and included a whole host of lovely aromatics suck as kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass.

Crystallised ginger cake... amazing!

The oxtail soup sounded boring, but the addition of nutmeg, cloves and star anise to name but a few turned it into a soup that has relegated the canned Heinz variety to being a distant, distasteful memory.
It may not be a looker but the Oxtail soup was divine.
We were introduced into the world of savory custards this week, however it did not take the usual "quiche" form that we in teh UK would usually go for.  This time it was more of a Spanish style baked custard flavoured with caramelised shallots and bread sticks.  It split the class 50/50, I liked it but would have liked something sweet and sharp to cut through the richness. 

Something I really enjoyed was messing about with some rabbit.  We saw a technique detailing how to remove and wrap the rabbit loins in pancetta using a farce to hold it together while poaching... and serving it with a pearl barley risotto....and we were then allowed to alter the flavour however we liked.  Myself and my partener for the day decided to go for a "Lapin au vin" using a mushroom farce and very rich red wine jus.  It was nice... though maybe a bit wintry for the time of year.  We were going to add nettles to the pearl barley to add colour, but since they don't add much flavour we decided not to go for style over substance.  Cauliflower puree and roasted shallots and garlic finished it off.

Dressing a crab was also on the and quite good fun... not sure if I would say the same if I had to pick 50 of the little bastards,  but one was definitely manageable.  I never understood why people cover up the brown meat completely when adding the egg white, yolk and parsley garnish so I decided to try and show it a little.  In teh process the class believed I created a South African themed crab for the world cup.... you decide...

Two forms of chocolate fondant were also made... however I have to say that how the "cold chocolate fondant" can be named as anything but a dense chocolate mousse is beyond me.  Both tasted great... some issues with the baked ones what with one collapsing completely and the others just being a bit ghetto.  The "mousse fondants" came out well and we decided to present all six in a slightly different manner with the chocolate dentelles.... I know which is my fave!

Another desert was a poached peach with almond ice cream that had been rolled in powdered croquante and served with strawberry coulis.  Quite nice but melted very quickly as it was a SCORCHER at Tante Marie that day... however it was just what was needed on such a  day.

Oh and I nearly forgot... here is a picture of Lulu and Johnny 5 picking nettles for there pearl barley risotto... look how Johnny 5 needs no gloves to protect him from stings... thats what being a cold hearted banker does to you.  Take heed!

Before I go... there are just two day until graduation... the time seems to have flow by.  On Friday I received my marks for my project (90%) and my celebration lunch exam (80%) both of which I was happy with.  Today however I get my final exam and theory exam marks... the 1st I completely ****ed up... trust me... when I write the blog post you won't believe some of the things I did... SERIOUSLY!  The latter I did no reviosion for until the night before, and then I found out I had got a job at a 2* restaurant and opend a couple of bottle of Rioja to celebrate... hungover was an understatement.

So today will be VERY interesting and no doubt bring me back to earth with a solid thud which I am sure is a healthy thing.  Especially as when I get home this, my little rambling blog that no one in their right mind should be reading will have recieved over 15,000 hits since I started in January... even I didnt expect that!

Have a great week,


Sunday 20 June 2010

Term 2 - Week 7 & 8 @ Tante Marie

So we have double whammy coming at you this week, a BOGOF, a 2 for 1 or however you want to put it.... it's basically a way for me to almost catch up to where I should be.  No excuses... I have been enjoying the life of a man with only one exam left, which basically means watching series 4 of the Sopranos and catching up on searching the world wide interweb for amusing videos... such as this one...

Girl Slams Face Into Her Massive Chest - Watch more Funny Videos

Onto the usual subject matter...

Week 7 at Tante Marie was a short week what with Monday and Tuesday being half-term so on our return Wednesday we had a full day of cooking to get through.  Orange and kiwi profiteroles with orange sabayon were preceeded by a delightfil mushroom risotto and a not so delightful pancetta and blue cheese risotto.  I am a huge fan of blue cheese, but not when used in a dish and completely over powers everything else, I found myself searching for a crack to spoon it onto!  We also got to eat the rabbit rillettes made the previous week on some country bread toast... deeeeelish!

 Canterbury Tart

The afternoon saw English breakfast muffins being made to accompany eggs Benedict in week 8.  A Canterbury tart and creme fraiche ice cream where also conjured up, the highlight being the tart despite me being a MASSIVE ice cream fan.

 English muffins in the making.

A total of three demonstrations took place, including one from Nathan Green a former young chef of the year and has worked in many great restaurants including Gidleigh Park in Devon... where I am going!

On Friday we cooked something I have wanted to try for a long time, namely sweetbreads.  Although not the hugely sought after and expensive veal sweetbreads the recipe (ris de veau) called for, the lamb sweetbreads were very nice and tatsted pretty much as I had expected them to.  Served with French style peas and followed by pannacotta with raspberries and muscat jelly it made for a delightful lunch.

Week 8 started with my celebration lunch exam I have previoulsy posted about and included some rather tasty bits and bobs along the way.  The highlight for me were the boudain blanc we made, and although not being very blanc at all, the flavour was very simliar to the one my mother purchases whenever she goes to France... although the schools recipe didn't call for black truffles to be utilised in the white sausages.

Caramel ice-cream was always going to be a winner, and considering it was a no-churn recipe I was quite impressed at the resultant texture and lack of ice crystals.  Rum babas, an old school donut-like-cakey thing were quite nice and are apparently coming back into fashion in posh restaurants across the capital, as were the warm chocolate fondants.

Confit duck legs were prepared from scratch, lovingly salted over night, gently cooked in duck fat, allowed to cool in the fat and then crisped in the oven the next day.... delightful.... a word I would not choose to describe the grapefruit risotto (yes thats not a typo) that was to accompany it.

  Kiwi profiteroles and rather deflated sabayon.

No I have a thing for profiteroles, wherther they are filled with cream or custard I dont care, so imagine my delight when we had to make a Gateau St. Honore.  The gateau is basically big choux pastry balls sat on a big disk of choux pastry which in is sat on a ginat sweet pastry disc.  The choux balls and ring are filled with a light and creamy, yet quite rich cream filling before being securred to each other with lots of caramel.  The hole in teh centre was then filled with strawberrys and covered with more cream filling piped using a special nozzle and then covered in chopped pistachios.  Dyl-icious.

Well that is about that.  Only one full week of the course left.  I have my final exam on Tuesday and Wednesday and we start getting results for our other exams on Friday in theory.... not looking forward to the theory mark!


p.s. here are some crazy Japanese guys making some sort of dough....

Crazy Japanese Dough Pounding - Watch more Funny Videos

Sunday 13 June 2010

Brioche heaven for rich men (or women)

Well this morning I awoke with the usual spring in my step that occurs when I have to bake my sourdough loaves only. The problem was that after skipping into my kitchen in the manner of a 8yr old girl with pig tails in her hair, I was confronted by the sight of my loaves to be decorating the kitchen surface! So in a fit of baking depression I launched the massively over-proved dough in the bin and ran... well briskly walked, to the local shot to pick up eggs and butter... not for a fry up as you may expect but to start some Brioche.

For those of you that don't know, brioche is an enriched French loaf. You may wonder how indeed it is enriched... well try making it with almost an equal weight of butter to flour then throw in 5 eggs and some vanilla sugar... yep that should do it.

This kind of ratio of butter/flour is usually referred to something along the lines of Rich Mans Brioche as you can imagine all that butter and good eggs ain't cheap... well in comparison to the ratios used in Poor Mans Brioche at least!

The last time I made brioche was on board this...

M/Y Slipstream
It was my very first attempt and with the left over dough I had, I made some mini brioche loaves in these tiny little moulds.  The chef though they were so good they ended up on this dish for the guests.....

Term 2 - Week 6 @ Tante Marie

Finally, Lobster time!
So the first of some catch up posts has arrived, and it concerns week 6 at Tante Marie.

The monkfish... not a fan.
One of my favourite dishes of the week was the tomato and caraway bavarois that tasted very much like Heinz Tomato soup... only set with gelatin and served cold. You gotta love a bit of Heinz tommy soup!!! In contrast the very same class we made my least favourite dish of the week, monkfish skewers with sweet vanilla chilli dressing. Not sure what it was, maybe the sweet chilli sauce, maybe the combo of mango and fish but I couldn't eat it, although I must say some classmates enjoyed it. Strange strange strange people!

Saturday 12 June 2010

Photos - Celebration Lunch Exam

So the celebration lunch was done and dusted last Monday at Tante Marie and all in all I was fairly happy with how it went. There were a few little issues but nothing that caused too much impact on the final dishes... except for the jelly! But more on that later.
The actual menu I choose was a little more complex than I may have let on in the initial post on the subject:

Terrine of goat's cheese
served with marinated raisins, cox apple batons, toasted walnuts and a selection of lettuce leaves with a light walnut oil dressing.


Ballotine of tarragon chicken
accompanied by confit chicken leg, fresh peas, sautéed wild mushrooms, purple asparagus, leek fondue and a white wine sauce.


Lemon meringue
choux balls filled with creamy Italian meringue and served with lemon curd, raspberry jelly*, crispy meringue peaks and candied lemon peel with a dusting of raspberry powder.

So the starter was a young goats cheese blended in a food processor with some Greek yoghurt. I then added diced apple and celery before adding some hot whipping cream with a little gelatin to help hold it all together so I could turn it out of the ring mould easily. Nice and simple and absolutely Dyl-icious when combined with the white wine marinated raisins, crisp cox apples, toasted walnuts and dressing... even if I do say so myself.

Monday 7 June 2010

The Celebration Lunch Exam

This morning I have my “Celebration Lunch Exam” at Tante Marie and as you can see I am all packed and ready to go... I feel almost like a chef on The Great British Menu with my box of goodies!

The premise is simple, a seasonal 3 course meal for 4 people costing exactly £23.50. Some of you may remember my “Budget Lunch Exam” where the premise was the same just with a total budget of just £8.... well this really does feel like a celebration with all that cash money to play with!

The menu:

Goats Cheese Salad


Chicken in White Wine Sauce with Summer Vegetables


Lemon Meringue

Those of you have endured these blog posts for a while may also remember my waffle about “under promising and over delivering”.... something which I haven't done in this case.... much.

A big thank you to Sarah @BrockhallFarm over on Twitter for sending me the beautiful goats cheese she makes for the starter... I just hope I do you, and the goat's justice!... now click on the link to follow her!

On a final note, I am 2 weeks behind with the Tante Marie updates but will have a little time this week to catch up I hope. They will come, promise.


Wednesday 26 May 2010

Term 2 - Week 5 @ Tante Marie

So.... week 5 saw more consommé being prepared and consumed, this time an "Asian" version which was quite delicately flavoured and served with ribbons of coriander pancakes, delightful.

 We also made "Globi de volaille" which apparently very roughly translated means "chicken pear" due to its shape and not any flavouring element.  The globi were made using poussin with each bird being fashioned into two 'pears' by removing all the flesh and skin from the carcass in one piece, before removing all the leg and wing bones bar the thigh,  whilst retaining all their meat.  With the aid of some stuffing and a few cocktail sticks its a simple matter of applying a little gentle persuasion to get the desired shape.  The picture below shows one of my globi before some final touches to ensure it had a flatter base so it would stand proud and upright, and not bent or lopsided like the average Woking resident on a Friday or Saturday evening.

I know it looks like a chicken leg but its half a baby chicken stuffed with more chicken with only one bone... the one I am holding.
As promised in the previous weeks recap... here is a real life, unadulterated VOL-AU-VENT! You can't quite tell the scale of this puff pastry creation, but there is nearly a whole chicken inside it along with onion and mushroomy sauce.... so lets just say that a REAL vol-au-vent is not something you could easily eat as a canapé! It was made with two layers of puff pastry and I was very happy with the rise I got from it.
A real life actual Vol-au-vent!

And now onto the main event of the week... THE “Wedding Buffet”.  Less talk about this the better really, its a buffet, for a wedding.... though not a real one... we ate it all for our lunch.

Dressed salmon

One of my contributions - rolled and stuffed and glazed pork loin.

Pate de volaille en croute.

Duck terrine ( I think).

Salmon... something.

Dressed Crabilicious!

Smoked salmon cheesecake.

Ham hock terrine.

Foreground is another smoked salmon cheesecake, background is a terrine de ratatouille nicoise.


Soft pistachio meringue with rhubarb orange and pomegranate.

Charlotte au chocolat, marbe Grand Marnier.

There were other dishes cooked but I failed to snap snaps of them before they got tucked into.  My other two dishes were a pasta salad and a delice de cassis.

Well that is all for now... I should, again, be revising for my theory exam on Friday morning... going to do my best to do that now.... but Great British Menu is on BBC2!!!!