Monday, February 7, 2011

Cooks Academy Week 3

Have I got your attention yet - mmm I'm yummy!
Up bright and early an continuing on with the Italian theme again mostly. Pea Risotto, Chorizo and Chickpea and Apple Tarte Normande, ok so that makes it more European Day then I guess. My lack of partner today saw me tackle the whole menu alone.

Practising my mise en place. You know on TV cookery shows when the chef says 'I'll just add some finely diced onion' and promptly tips a small glass bowl full of perfectly diced onion into his pan. I always thought this was just for TV shows. Apparently not. This is what you do if you're a super organised chef - like myself of course. Yup, even two cloves are lovingly placed in their own little tiny receptacle - cute.

Now this is super helpful - if you have a little assistant/elf/kitchen hobbit. Lacking any of these and even a human cooking partner; I set about establishing a veritable colony of little bowls filled with all my ingredients.

The words 'must try harder' were invented for this photo
Now I can cook. The morning passed in a super efficient manner, until I got to making my risotto. Glancing over my shoulder I noticed that nobody else was even cooking anymore - whoops. Oh well and I wasn't even the only one cooking solo today. Ah well nothing to do but keep going. So one I went stirring and stirring risotto, stir stir stir all alone whhhhhhy - oww my arm.

The big mistake I made with the risotto was to add stock a little too early before all the liquid had been absorbed. The end result wasn't too pretty but what risotto is. It was delicious, and there is some fresh mint in there too - a nice subtle amount with the peas and Parmesan - nice.

Chorizo Soup
The tarte Normande was amazing, anything involving pastry and apples is a winner in my book. Alan was the first to reply to my free cake tweet. So the lucky guy had some cake delivered to his place of work in Temple Bar.

Chorizo soup was nice I might leave the lid off for a little longer next time to thicken up a bit more, I was otherwise preoccupied with the other dishes to pay it too much attention - many apologies pot of soup!

I'm typing up Tuesday antics on Wednesday morning with the last slice of Apple Normande for breakfast  - it's grand it has apples in it! I also awoke to find that all my nice white chef smocks have been turned pink by a rouge sock - I'll never get work in a Michelin star restaurant in these.

Lamb Madras
Yesterday was Indian Day, which saw us produce an array of delicious and authentic (with some deviation towards the Middle East) We prepared Lamb Masala and lamb koftas. Along with these we also made naan breads spiked with onion seeds.

Yumbo dessert
For dessert we prepared cardamon cream pots.  A lovely subtle and light (ish) dessert ideal served with fruit. It was a chance to use some gelatin for the first time - very easy a good trick to have up your sleeve allowing you to turn many delicious liquids into impressive and tasty desserts.

The lamb koftas were spicy and full of flavour, and ideal starter, for the barbeque or smaller for canapes.

The afternoon demo was jam packed. Our pastry expert showed use some sugar boiling techniques and then produced an amazing and sparkling array of spun sugar cages, nests and spirals. To be tried at home with extreme caution due to very high temperatures of the sugar/caramel mix and the fact that you need to kind of throw it around the place. Utensils to be well oiled before starting!

A whole salmon was poached and prepared, with eyes and scales recreated from various other food items. It looked  bit creepy, but I can imagine on the centre of a  large buffet it would look pretty impressive.

We had a demo on how best to prepare and cook scallops - quickly and at a high heat. They were made into a tasty linguine with pancetta, spinach and rosemary butter mmmmmmm.

Finally an large bowl of hummus was prepared, illustrating my need for a food processor once again (hint hint Internet philanthropists!) One of the best recipes I've tasted, nice and spicy a good amount of lemon and lots of tahini. About to be late now for Wednesdays sushi workshop, so 'd better run off in my pink smocks.


Looking at today on the timetable made me feel a bit quesy. Sushi workshop, then cheese tasting, followed by canape making and a wine tasting evening. That's a lot of food to be putting in one stomach - oh and wine.

Sushi to start. The rice seems to be a  key part in how your sushi will work or not. Japanese sushi chefs can train for up to 16 years. The wash must be washed many times, until the water runs clear (or near to clear) Then the rice must be put in cold water before being brought to the boil, then boiled for 15 mins, then sits for 15 minutes. Then covered in rice vinegar and sugar solution, spread on a tray and fanned! la de dah miss sushi rice!

Now a careful and colourful assembly of fillings was prepared - after a quick demo on riling techniques we were a bit pushed for time. I still managed to make a few nori rolls, sashimi and sushi balls. It's a shame that the morning was a bit rushed, but that's the nature of the game. I will def be making sushi again, lots of fun and above all delicious.

Cheese Montage
The morning demo was then from Kevin Sheridan from Sheridans cheese. He explained the broad cheese making processes and main types of cheese. How various factors influence the finished cheese, such as cultures, temperature, milk type, cutting, turning, storing, heat, size, the list goes on and on!

He brought in a nice range  of cheeses for us to taste,  some Irish traditional like Gubeen, Cashel Blue and a few more recent additions to the Irish cheese circuit (agh I've forgotten their names - will look at my notes) a lovely young, soft goats cheese, and a smaller more mature goats cheese as well as an amazing cheese very like Comte. Comte is the biggest selling cheese in France! There was also the most divine French Camembert.

He made the case for artisan farmers and producers clear in a succinct statement. Artisan suppliers foremost priority is taste, supermarkets foremost priority is profit. Nothing new there but I just thought it summed it up well. The manner in which supermarkets sell and display cheese is harmful to the taste, cheese is essentially very ugly really. Supermarkets attempt to make this product more attractive and in the process homogenise the taste appearance and personality of the cheese. This is a whole other argument - so this is only a small mention of a huge overall point!

After lunch it was full steam into canape preparation for the evening. I think I might have been tasted out as I was finding it very hard to get excited about our canapes - or make some taste decisions. Maybe my palette was a little overwhelmed.
Mini Lemon Tarts

With Our Sushi Combined

The evenings wine tasting was great, everyone in the class invited along a friend. We tasted a variety of red and white wines and had our canapes to accompany various wines. Ok I know I should write more about his but I'm tired - it was fun! There were lots of different canapes but my camera ran out of batteries - damn!

Quick Chorizo Pasta
Ok so we're all a little tired after yesterdays hectic schedule and possibly also the many wines! Luckily the timetable for this morning was made up with this in mind. Nothing too taxing.

First we made up mayonnaise - add the oil slowly slowly - from the tip of a fork and you'll be alright - seems to be the major factor in success. I'm feel like I'm stuck in second gear so no chance I'll be rushing. One of the really interesting things about looking at every ones finished products is how different they are. We all followed the same recipe, used the same ingredients and equipment. The finished mayos were greatly varying in consistency. It was a point that our tutor made the day before that even the most highly trained chefs will make the same dish differently. We're like little chef snowflakes - perfectly unique (poetic!)

Also prepared was a delicious salad of Cashel blue cheese with honeyed pecans, watercress and pear - loved it. Linguine with chorizo, rocket and Parmesan - didn't sound the best on paper, but was light and fresh despite the heavy ingredients. Other dishes made included Spaghetti Carbonara (my all time favourite pasta dish) Chestnut and Carrot cannelloni (amazing) Monkfish putanesca, spicy aubergine parpadelle and a range of salads, including Ceasar, chicken  and roasted veg pesto and an spicy horseradish coleslaw. A good feed for all.
Very yummy salad

The afternoon saw our tutor making beef Wellington, moule marinere, potatoes with thyme and tallegio, creme brulle and chicken Ballentine. A delicious and impressive demonstration of multi-tasking and blowtorches, that'll stop you falling asleep!
Muelle Marinere

Afternoon Demo Foods
That's it I'm hiding away form the crazy weather in my apartment practising my wine tasting skills for the night.

There was cooking alright - look at the pretty pictures!
Romantic Themed Raspberry Creme Brullee

Salmon Yakatori - very very nice dish

Chicken Balentine Tastes better than this photo


ktpi said...

aw! how could you not get excited about your little mini-lemon tarts? they're ludicrously cute! nom nom nom nom nom

Lu said...

ah sorry! They are cute indeed, I made a big one yesterday super yum!

Travel Food Phil said...

You'll have a big enough repatoir to write a cookbook after Cooks Acadmy! Loving the pics.

Lu said...

Yup! That should keep me busy for a while at least - thanks been hard to take the pictures when hungry and tired after running around the kitchen for hours before hand. Also dishes tend to start seeping everywhere ehn left to stand plated up for a little while - all a learning experience

aoife mc said...

Oh Lucy! Wow! The sushi! The lemon tarts! The madras! It all looks so fabulous!

You're clearly learning loads, it's brilliant. Enjoy the rest of the course!

Lu said...

Hey Aoife - it's been jam packed! Really great though finished up tomorrow - so kinda sad. Though I am feeling a bit sick today though- eurgh. Were making pastry our exam tomorrow - been thinking of you and your pastry battles!

Anonymous said...

OMG i want to try everything the madras & koftas look amazing & the mini lemon tarts....oh and the tasty salad, so jealous, your learning so much, its very exciting. great post. Would luv to do the course, is this last week? Defo one to think about. Vick

Lu said...

Hey Vikki - that was week three - there was a fourth week that I have yet to post working on it now. It was great - learned heaps. The madras was particularly good and we had to make the lemon tart for your exam - eep! nerves. Def a course worth considering

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