Back to school after a weekend away and little had changed. Faces were more familiar and new working partnerships were being forged but the routine and pressures remained the same. Into the kitchen, to weigh up and prep ingredients for today’s competitive cookathon, rode the 600. Similarities to the Light Brigade were, however, limited to the same sense of duty and preparedness to charge on regardless of potential impending doom.
Pastry proved my personal nemesis once more as the shortness of my mixture would have taken first prize in a limbo competition. However with careful nurture and a benign oven it did hold together during blind baking and eggwash, would it hold the mixture though - or spring leaks like the average government department.
An amalgam of Gruyere, Egg, Cream Parmesan, Dill and seasoning was slipped into the warm case with great care and several deeply meant prayers and, 35 minutes later a total metamorphosis had taken place. Gone was the dodgy pastry and the creamy liquid. In its place glistened a sensually soft and golden surface concealing a silky smooth custard in which the main note was cheese though spices melded through to produce pure ummami!! The less said about the accompanying bread the better.
Unlike last Friday, when many of us wondered whether we could even get a cooking job at McDonalds, today a jaunty spring in the step bounced us into lunch and the assembled mass ranks of variations on Tomato Soup, Tarts both Cheese and Crab and ice creams or popsicles in either Strawberry or Raspberry.
Lunch over we headed for the Demo to meet the “Producers of the Week” not Mel Blanc but two very nice local farmers. Ten minutes later Rory O’Connor lead into tomorrows menu with a demonstration of jointing a chicken. A challenge to do this in under three minutes had to be called off when it emerged that he had the only defrosted chicken in the school.
A Crunchy Crumble Topped Apple Tart followed where Rory produced the headline to this blog, advising us to have a clear plan for chopping almonds for the “crunch” element not just to have a random almond car crash.
Assorted things to do with tomatoes hot and cold and in various states of existence, solid, liquid, plasma etc was followed by the A to Z of courgette dishes and a potato boiling lesson. And’ before we have any silly comments about Irish cuisine, these were done in sea water to demonstrate how salty these fine vegetables like to be when cooking.
Normally after the tasting we are free to go but not tonight. Oh no, tonight we were treated to an hour and a half on the delights of wines from Bordeaux, or at least those of a particular producer with copious samples of their particular variants on Listerine.
Frankly a two hour video of paint drying might have ranked higher on the entertainment front and, as a non oenophone I suspect that there is one exam that I will not be passing.
I do, however need to be examined by a chiropractor, five and a half hours in the Demo kitchen chairs appears to have welded my sacroiliac to my sternum or whatever the technical name for numb bum is. Roll on Wednesday when we have all day lectures!!!!
Still 11and a half hours further down the yellow brick road, Oz remains the aim.