Monday Week 10, only three more weeks to go, only 9 cooking days, only three written exams, a practical and a wine exam to go - then we go.
A lot of thought has been going into the final exam menu, it needs to be a balanced meal, seasonal, nutritious, not repetitive of flavours or colours, demonstrating some techniques and just to top all it has to be for a reason and to match that reason.
So today we cooked Burgers and Chips!! Perhaps we were getting that all important career advice " Do you want chips with that?" and the follow up "Do you want to go large?" Actually a really good burger made from good cuts of well hung meat, seasoned superbly and pan grilled with a good range of accompaniments can be a thing of beauty. We were starting with organic Angus beef and a range of fresh ingredients, we should have done well by any standard.
The Chips were to come in all sorts of ways ranging from Pommes Allumettes (matchstick size) or Frites (1/4 inch batons) to Wedges and Buffalo Chips. Each required cooking at a different temperature and many required two or even three cooking processes. I actually drew Frites and a frenzy of geometrically accurate dicing and slicing ensued. My partner for the week got the Buffalo Chips (Wedges with their jackets on) so we saw little of each other the fryers being in different locations.
My other main dish was a Caramelised Banana Cake, a kind of classy upside down cake in which the caramel coats the banana and provides a lovely toffee, sticky topping to a light sponge which has mashed banana running through it.
On Friday Darina had challenged non-American students to come up with a Burger representing their own country. I came up with Byrgyr Tan y Ddraig in which onions are replaced by leeks and chilli produces the heat of the Dragon Fire. The addition of a couple of smoked streaky rashers would give the smoke for the fire but today I did not use them. I had given a copy of the recipe in to the office and was surprised to find it being distributed to all students this afternoon. The original idea had been simply that Darina knew what I was doing, however it is very flattering for the recipe to be considered good enough to hand out.
This was the high point which stood in stark contrast to the low point of the day. You will recall the self combusting biscuits of last week. Today I got to cook them again. This time the temperature was right and with an anticipated cooking time of 40 minutes I set the alarm for 35, and went about other business. Little did I know that the alarm on the cooker did not work - or at least did not give an audible indication of the passing of time.
Rescued from the oven after a 33 minute over run the resultant biscuits could probably have formed an emergency repair kit for any Space Shuttles that lost a few tiles on the way up. Alternatively a 16th Century explorer such as Vasco Da Gama would have been pleased to have such an indestructible ships biscuit on board, Bligh might still command the Bounty had he fed them to Fletcher Christian and Co. Consigned to the great dustbin of history the offensive comestibles would no longer cause me concern, until the next time I am expected to make them and that is once a week on average!!
Lunchtime loomed and I had to plate my dishes. The Burger Buns were not available so my burger was served as a deconstucted burger with the layers that would have been bun enclosed being laid bare but in order. The Banana Cake was served with brown sugar and a Rum infused Chantilly cream and the frites accompanied the Burger.
Squid and curry were the order of the day, a Mild Madras being accompanied by the widest possible range of sauces, raitas and breads. The Curry was Lamb and, such is the mania for swordsmanship amongst the demonstrators that today Pam removed the bone from an entire leg of Lamb to provide the 2lbs of meat required.
Oh yes I have decided on my exam meal but will keep it under wraps until I have to hand it in on Thursday.
If anyone wants the Byrgyr Tan y Ddraig recipe contact me via comments with your email address and I will forward it.