Thursday, 30 September 2010

Harry Ramsden your time is coming

Thursday and the torture of the seating was replaced by the terror of cooking. Not for us the hours of vital information giving, no we were to demonstrate that some at least, had sunk in and rooted. It was a game of two halves early triumph being washed away on a tide of hot sugar, but a good win by full time

Early doors it was the White Soda Bread that scored with a good rise and texture and a good hollow sound to boot.

Next up: the Creme Caramel. Now, the Creme part was easy, infusing milk with vanilla and making a custard. It was the caramel that proved tricky. So hard in fact that it took three attempts. Eventually it was the right chestnutty hue to be combined with the custard and banished to a moderate oven for 35 minutes in a bain-marie.

That clear chicken thighs needed to be boned and sliced into finger sized pieces whilst we were advised not to slice fingers into the dish. An exotic combination of 10 spices and other ingredients were combined into an aromatic sauce and heated before the chicken slid in with lemon juice and water. 35 minutes or so of cooking produced what loooked and smelt like a good dish.

In the interim, however, the recalcitrant caramels had returned from their little bathe and were cooling. Now I had been asked to add my final caramel to the communal dish and did not have enough to make the accompanying sauce. Probably a shrewd move by the teacher as it meant that the combination of napalm like hot sugar and cold water was nottaking place within a reasinable safety margin of my workstation. But, big drawback I had to make caramel shards and do some sugarwork for presentation. Whilst others drew intricate filligree lattices of golden sugar my efforts looked more like Jackson Pollock had only been issued with one colour and told to get on with it. Good effort said the teacher in the kind of voice reserved for the sad kid in the corner, but it was good enough to get to lunch in public. Oh yes and the Creme Caramel itself scored a chart topping 6.

Meanwhile my partner for the week, Rachel had been working away at rice so I borrowed some of hers to present the spiced chicken. One of the best decalred the teacher. It may have been because when Rachel and I tasted it after it was assessed we kept eating more so there is no photo as there was no dish left to picture.

|lunch intervened and we moved into the Demo. Much of this was tocover fish so guess what we will be cooking tomorrow including gratinated cod and cod en papillotte:

but this is Ballymaloe so the cod does not come neatly filleted. No an introduction to fish, buying, gutting and preparation meant that a filleting demo had to be given and we were told that if sufficient mackerel were landed tomorrow we could all practice. (NB mackerel is half the price of cod so expensive filleting errors - remember the chickens? - would not take place.

The usual range of accompanying dishes were shown and tasted before we all went off to plan and prepare, especially the maniacal glare that is de rigeur for filliter.

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