Sunday, 2 February 2014

Leiths: Intermediate Term, Week 3

Cookery school is not all that glamorous. It’s exciting, busy, delicious and fulfilling, but it’s definitely not glamorous. Chefs whites, hats and bare nails are a tricky look to work. Standing in front of 6 lit hobs underneath a grill on full whack only leads to one face colour and hint: it pretty much matches the tomatoes we chop. Fish demonstrations followed by a session of deep frying leaves a hair scent Herbal Essences would be in no hurry to bottle. Week 3 was a really fun and memorable week, but I think it highlighted my point in several ways…photo 3 (3)A lot of cooking = a lot of dirty dishes. Never was this more evident than on Wednesday, or ‘The Day The Washing Up Tried To Take Over’ as it shall be remembered. Who knew a bit of soup and pan fried fish could use so many pans?! Washing up piles on the floor is a new extreme and only strong teamwork + slight deliriousness managed to get us through. Fingers crossed my teacher isn’t reading this…we promise it will never happen again! photo 1 (4)I’ve spoken several times about my newly discovered love of deep frying at Leiths. This was the week I found something I did not like to deep fry! Leeks. I know, not a classically deep fried ingredient but they were one of the vegetable ribbons on the menu on Friday and so in to the sizzling hot oil they went. And out they came…slightly blackened but still soggy. Mmmm. Happily the carrot ribbons made up for this. They were so good I think they were better than the treacle sponge we made on the same day. Sweet, crisp, salty – incredible. The only downside was once again smelling like a fish and chip shop for the remainder of the 5 (2)Friday was a day we had all been looking forward to: treacle sponge making! We had eaten it the day before in the demonstration and were looking forward to a lunch of kings to reward hours of steaming, fiddly basin prep and constant pan watching. Sadly, this was not quite the case. See there are two main ways to tell whether a steamed sponge is cooked at Leiths. 1 – insert a skewer into the sponge, pull out, if it has no crumbs clinging to it then you are ready to serve. 2 – insert a skewer, hold for 10 seconds, pull out and only if it is searingly hot when tapped on your wrist then is it cooked. Unsurprisingly, we pretty much all opted for method 1 and happily judged our puddings to be perfect. Sadly we failed to factor in the fact that when you pull out a skewer from a sponge covered in several layers of foil and paper, these will act as a barrier to any raw mixture clinging to your skewer and effectively clean the skewer before you see it. Cue many sadly flopping and sinking, slightly raw treacle sponges being turned out, just like mine above. It was still delicious, cooked on the outside (my family and I ate it all) but I’ll definitely be braver and do the second testing method next time!photo 2 (5)                 Cherry Clafoutis – using a crème anglaise base without the hassle! After 12 weeks at cookery school you might think we’re beginning to flit round the kitchen, whipping up delicious dishes in a breeze with a smile and a bow. Maybe one day but right now there is one nemesis that continues to strike fear through our wooden spoons every time it appears on the curriculum. Crème anglaise. Milk, egg yolks, sugar and a dash of vanilla conspire against us to either scramble instantly or stay resolutely runny. We’ve all made it perfectly before but this Thursday it just wasn’t happening. Between the 16 of us our class must have made at least 30 attempts and we were only allowed to stop as threats of crème anglaise hitting the wall started to be vocalised. I’ll get there…I just might be eating my crumble with ice cream instead for a while. Bring on the glamour of week 4!


La Table De Nana said...

You brought back memories of herbal Essence my first fave shampoo as a teen..It smelled heavenly!
I must admit I do them..but dishes are my least fave part..of any cooking..baking etc..
I try and have as much done before we sit to after..even more .. not fun..But..of course..there's always something..
You are learning so much..hope you are making friends that will share these memories with you for years~

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mouthwatering! deep fried vegetables are quite addictive.



Dewi said...

Lucy, I know how talented you are, so going to cookery school will perfecting your talent for sure.

Maggie said...

I attended cookery school for one day a week for a whole year(sadly not to the standard of Leiths) and know it's extremely difficult but a great experience too. It's wonderful reading your posts and your experiences - creme anglaise can have diva qualities!