Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Day of Disasters

If you are going to cock up big time, it is better to do so in week 9 than week 12 and the exams.

The day started well enough as I walked up to school. My duty today was to make the Cheese Biscuits for the Cheeseboard and I wanted to get this done before starting on a fairly busy day of cooking. By 7:45 I was in the kitchen, coffee on and the raw ingredients for crackers yielding to my impressive rolling pin technique and an oven warming to receive them. By 8 the crackers were cut, pricked and on a baking tray going into the oven.

By 7 minutes past eight a colleague ran to tell me that my biscuits were on fire!!! Smoke billowed around the kitchen and some hard, blackened objects were undergoing final cremation. Check everything my culinary check list told me. Mix too dry?No, Tray too high? No. Temperature right? No. Dear reader if the recipe says 150 that is what it means. Cooking at 250 will not produce good results.

Luckily I had spare dough and , whilst the oven cooled to the correct temperature a replacement batch of biscuits were rolled, cut and put into the oven.

This had, however, delayed matters and on a day when Declan would move to the next stage. More flour was added along with a scattering of granary flour and he then took a trip to Kitchen 3 to meet the Hobart dough mixing machine. Think Kenwood, then think much bigger, then think more power and you get the picture.

Battered and ripped by the baking behemoth Declan turned into a smooth and silky dough which then went into a tin and into a fridge to rise gently and slowly until tomorrow morning. Tomorrow the final rise and baking will happen, but in the meantime 16 fluid ounces of Declan returned to sit in our fridge for the next time I want to make Sourdough.

Back to the kitchen and, running behind time I was grateful for a relatively short list of tasks. I had to cook Swiss Chard, including the stalks, as THE Welsh person on the course I got Leeks again, and a spicy crusted seared Salmon. In between prepping these I managed to use some left over Puff Pastry to create some little tart things with a near Eccles cake filling as an extra.

and to take the leftover filling home to repeat at my leisure.

Time was flying as I set about the three tasks which I had been set but I was able to plate them fairly well and the taste was good which is really all that matters.

Finished and by 12:50 I would even get lunch today. Then I looked at the clock again - not 12:50 but 11:50!!! Definitely lunch today and a little rest before Demo.

Rory took Demo again today using his customary skills to enthrall and entertain us. His presentation is immaculate and the concentration on his face as he moves something one millimeter for balance, whilst telling us there is no need to be anal about presentation, is a wonder to behold. Someone must have told him that Darina had dismembered Daffy on Tuesday as he decided that we needed a second demonstration of how to joint a duck. Rory apologised for being so slow today having dismembered a duck in 45 seconds flat!! He then showed us two new souffles (one of which I get tomorrow) and Consomme. The trick he said was to leave a clear and sparkling liquid in which every trace of solid material or fat had been removed to leave a rich tasting broth to which miniature slices or dice of vegetable could be added. The use of egg whites as a filter certainly did the job leaving a beautiful consomme.

As the duck was cooked several ways the demonstration of how much fat renders out of a duck went horribly wrong. A full ladle of fat was poured into the wrong saucepan. The Consomme. AS Rory quipped later "You will have to imagine how good this tasted". More importantly he said "Things can and do go wrong in Kitchens, you just have to get over it." Suddenly Crackergate was out into perspective and into the past.

Now I often include photos of the amazing dawns that we get here but the evenings can be good as well. So a couple of shots from this evening to prove that not only is it dark when we leave but often the moon is up as well.

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