Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cooks Academy Week 2

Half eaten 'something' of crab
bold Lucy bold bold - I forgot my camera. Today I made a beef and carrot casserole with horseradish cream - that description doesn't really do the dish justice, it was divine, possibly due to the amount of wine that went in there. To go with this we made polenta mash - now don't get me wrong - but this was just gross. If anyone out there has a decent recipe for polenta - please share it with me - it's the one food stuff I am ready to give up on right now, like yesterday would be too soon to eat it again! And I like everything. There were other nice sides knocking around.

I also made a crab starter (it had a fancier name that now escapes me!) Served with avocado and melon balls - 80's tastic. Also made in the class was a smoked mackerel pate - which was delightfully moreish. Will most definitely make this for people sometime soon.

Better to camera phone picture or not
The afternoon was jam packed - choux pastry, chocolate sauce, choux swans, chicken liver pate (butter lordy!) melba toasts, gratin dauphinoise, duck breast, red win jus, and puy lentils. Most of these dishes I have to make tomorrow so prepare yourselves for some seriously yummy pictures - the camera is already in my bag! 

In early to get together time plan and grab a coffee before hitting the kitchen. It was straight into the choux pastry. Quite a strange thing to make due to it resembling scrambled eggs at one point. But you've not gone wrong here - just keep going and you'll eventually get a very shiny and strong dough that really does not want to drop off them beaters - oh no.

Into a  piping bag and onto a tray in well spaced little lumps. Oven time of 25 minutes and don't open that door or they'll flop.

Next my partner and I prepared a aubergine and tomato tower with goats cheese and basil.  A teaspoon of sugar and balsamic to the usual tomato sauce seemed to make all the difference - as well as some wine!
This plate means business

Oh hello enormous profiteroles - I feel like a mini Alice in Wonderland
Then the main course to prepare was duck served on a bed of puy lentil with carmelised shallot and a reduction sauce. This was challenging as most of this was prepared in the last 45 minutes. As well as having to construct the aubergine tower and also pipe the cream into the profiteroles. Extreme multi tasking - I think I only finished 5 minutes late.

Then a massive clean up before getting to eat it - other sides prepared were potato grating and some kind of gratin sweet potato. Both pretty tasty. My duck was a little rare - mainly for fear of overcooking it. Still good to get constructive criticism on your dish. Everyone is finding their way around the kitchen a little better - feel like I'll be pretty damn handy by the end of this course - and if not undoubtedly a little heavier - eek! 

Short and sweet and to the point.

Lost in a sea of fallen souffles - couldn't get this shot fast enough!
Today I made the most delicious dessert of my life - chocolate orange souffles! Divine and light and melty and gooey all at once, heaven!

Amazing meringue with kitchen scene in the back ground
Followed on quickly by what can only be described as a close second in the most amazing dessert I've ever made. Hazelnut and almond roulade with raspberries. Beautiful crispy and gooey meringue hiding toasty little bits of nuts - with raspberries - out of this world.

This course was worth it - just to have made this!
It was a tough decision to choose between them - but I'd have to go with the souffles on wow factor! BAM WOW

Also on the menu were fish cakes - modest in comparison to the other two dishes - but packed with flavour in all the right places. I seriously can't wait to try out some of these recipes on friends and family - they're gonna be so impressed. Did I mention the very large folder we have for the course which is packed full of these amazing recipes.
Best Fish Cakes Ever
I wonder how many times I've used the word 'amazing' and 'delicious' in this post so far? Tomorrow is Thai day - so a break from the butter and cream, phew!

This morning we made one Thai soup, a curry and a salad. Those of you familiar with Thai cooking will know that there is a lot of prep involved and the cooking itself is pretty fast.  
A more relaxed morning resulted, though to get maximum benefit from the class I think we could have prepared some other Thai starter to fill in the time more productively. Maybe because I've cooked quite a bit of Thai food before that I found this morning pretty laid back.
Tom Ka Kai
Red Chicken Curry

The afternoon was a demo from James - a cook in Cornucopia. The afternoon was  a 'Free from' afternoon. He demonstrated how to make some Divine desserts that are suitable for celiacs and vegans. Panna cotta pots with cashew or coconut milk - the coconut was great. A chocolate orange torte with dates and toasted hazelnuts for the base. He also prepared some very tasty tofu and tempeh. The meals were delicious I'd feel happy serving them to anyone. He also showed us how to make cashew milk, how to whip soyaceoliac class as well as a vegetarian class.

Italian Day - ci ci!  

Some Impressive Pasta Skills
We start off with tiramisu. A dessert that I always thought was merely an assembly of some ingredients coffee and cream is actually more complex than that. And involves sugar boiling. This process has some interesting stages with odd names - short line, long line, soft ball and hard ball. All of these to do with how the syrup falls from the spoon. Practice will make perfect. Add the syrup at 'soft ball' stage to whipped fluffy egg yolks. Mix lots. Then add in cream cheese, then mascarpone, then wiped double cream! Woo hoo dairy overload - oh and there was marsala in there somewhere.

Dip your biscuits in coffee mixed with rum and more marsala. Layer this with your magic dairy concoction with a little dusting of cocoa powder on between. This is the boyfriends favourite dessert - he'll be delighted with the leftovers this evening.

We were shown how to make pasta on Wednesday think I've forgotten how since then, but no my notes remind me. 00 flour and eggs dash of olive oil - that's it. Mix in well, then knead like mad for 10 minutes./ I've learnt there is a stance for kneading - spread your weight and get your whole body weight behind it. Tutor will notice if you're not giving it socks so get your back into it. After kneading it well - give it a wee rest in the fridge while you prepare your yummy filling, pesto, tomatoe sauce or whatever you need to put with it.

I made ravioli with ricotta, sun dried tomato and parma ham filling. Rolling out the pasta is fun - but most defiantly a two person  job. Free pasta also cooks in a flash. Another group in the class made wafer thin tagliatelle and it cooked in one minute - my raviolis took about 5/6 minutes. A nice subtle colour arrangement on my plate got me some good comments for presentation - and good feedback on taste so happy days.

Not my dish! Amazing melt in your mouth tagitelle

Mine - yup I made this! Hurray
My tiramisu was kinda ugly so no photos I'm afraid (bold Lucy bold)

The afternoon demo included risotto Milanese which is made with saffron giving it a great colour and taste. There was also a rich and dark French onion soup with chessey gruyere croutons. Our lovely dessert and pastry tutor showed us how to make an incredible Normandy Apple Tart. The swirls of apple making a rose in the centre of the tart - fab! Sampled warm with a creme anglais - amazing. That does mean that today I ate three dessert lucking I'm doing a 5k run tomorrow then, though I should prob do 3!


Aoife Mc said...

Wow, looks brilliant! I know what you mean about Polenta, it's really weird stuff. However, my friend Owensie has the MOST amazing recipe for a kind of polenta and tomato bake thing. He made it for us last year, SO delicious. I'll put you in touch with him on Twitter.

Looks like you're learning loads of cool stuff!

Lu said...

yeah learning loads alright. Yeah saw Owensie there on twitter I shall wait to be converted

Anonymous said...

I also loathe polenta. It's vile. It and Tofu can both get lost forever!

Lucy all of this food looks amazing. Am particularly interested in the Roulade. Freaking YUM!

Lu said...

The roulade is out of this world freaking yum! Yup polenta is gross I've been promised a recipe on twitter so I'll let you know if it's any good - holds breathe.

The demo we had with James from Cornucopia was great for veggies like yourself, he made some awesome tofu baked with crispy shell served with white wine and mushroom sauce.