Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A day of opposites

The middle of November but still the morning broke as though in early May.
Sadly this gave no hint of the raging storm to come. Never, before this afternoon, have we been able to see the waves crashing on a headland some six miles away. The rising winds brought rain and lots of it. The walk to school this morning was a stroll, the walk home was a struggle, dark, wet and windy.

The day in between had been better. No pastry for me today, instead an old adversary raised its head again - gelatin, of the powdered variety. On the face of it three relatively straightforward dishes, a Smoked and Fresh Salmon Rillette, Cardamom and Youghurt Cream, and filled Chocolate shells. The fact that I had to make Lemonade meant that I would have the Stock Syrup that I would need for the filled shells so one technique was already there as a bonus.

First up the Cardamom Cream, seeds were extracted and crushed, milk and cream infused and heated before being cooled and then the dreaded gelatin. Amazingly Powder behaved as well as its more friendly cousin Leaf and within a few minutes I was mixing milk and cream with gelatin and home grown Youghurt and chilling to ensure a set.

The Chocolate Shells required either a ganache piping in and decorating or a fruit being macerated in Kir and Stock Syrup. Both were achieved and the piping meant that I had now done it twice in a lifetime. One of the more arcane techniques which we have to learn is peeling and pitting a Grape!! So Grapes in Kir filled the remaining shells and the Salmon loomed.

Shredding both poached and smoked Salmon with butter and herbs is a time consuming but otherwise simple task. The real trick is in seasoning the finished dish and presenting it.  Nutmeg is a good spice for an otherwise fairly bland dish and presentation really comes down to putting the rillettes on a vegetable or accompanying them with some form of bread. In the end I settled for Melba Toast as it gave another tick on the list.

Incredibly I was finished first, and by 11:30 - 12:40 is a more usual finish time!!

The tasting went very well with all three dishes being approved and the presentation of the Cream getting a special mention. Amazing what you can achieve by borrowing some Strawberry Coulis, putting toast next to a ramekin of Rillette and a shot glass of coffee next to a selection of petit fours.

I actually had time for a full lunch today before heading off to clear down the weigh up area - again.

Darina took Demo again and, falling behind Rory in the slice and dice an animal stakes it was poor Daffy who got it today. Not content with jointing him for a confit, Darina cut off every piece of fat she could find to render down to provide the cooking medium for the confit.

Now that we have been shown how to make Puff Pastry it featured heavily on the menu with Pithiver and Jalousie taking prime spots but Butterflies and Sacristans also having their place and finally the humble but incredibly tasty Eccles Cake. To use up spare Pastry Darina determined that lots of Eccles Cakes should be made and called for a volunteer, step forward Christina Bollinger!!!

Tomorrow a day of lectures on The Business of Food looms. Bring your calculator we were advised. As mine cost 87cents from Tesco I hope that it proves a good and secure investment!!

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