Sunday, 16 February 2014
Leiths: Intermediate Term, Week 4
Week 4 of the intermediate term, and the week that whispers of being nearly halfway through the course started. That’s a terrifying thought and one I am going to massively gloss over for a good few more weeks! Here’s how week 4 went…We started off the week with baking (yay) and soda bread, which I love to make because having a loaf of bread in under an hour from start to finish is so satisfying. This was to accompany our chicken liver pate, which to be honest didn’t exactly tempt me when I was prepping and frying the livers, but the end result was delicious and showed me that pate is actually much simpler and faster to make than I imagined. The session was followed by a demonstration on truffles (the underground kind, not the chocolate kind) by guest speaker Jorge Sancho. I knew next to nothing about the subject which was highlighted when Jorge stated that white truffle prices started at about ‘£3’ which sounded like an incredible deal until he clarified… ‘£3 per g, £3000 per kilo’ and any dreams of truffle cooking I may have had were instantly dashed! So far on the course our desserts have focused on serving up one element – a lemon meringue pie, a treacle tart or a cake etc. That changed this week as we spent 2 days bringing different elements together to create our apple dessert plate consisting of an apple tart, apple sorbet, caramelised apples and vanilla tuile. It was really satisfying to bring everything together and I found rapidly melting sorbet and pastry way less stressful to deal with than savoury plates where I’m balancing rapidly reducing sauces and meat cooking! The sorbet in particular was delicious and easier than I imagined and as I didn’t manage to bring it home I’ll definitely be experimenting with more sorbet flavours… once the weather in London gets a little less Arctic. We ended the week on a delightfully retro note with a Strawberry Meringue Basket, aka a next level pavlova. The basket consists of a piped base and 3 meringue hoops all glued together with more meringue, which is then covered in more piping and filled to the brim with cream to hide all the construction work underneath. The main lesson I learnt making this was that piping is not my forte and definitely a skill that benefits from a lot of practice. The way I hold a piping bag is wrong and learning the new way by adjusting my hand position to actually make piping a lot easier initially felt super unnatural and required a lot of concentration! The trick is to apply all the pressure on the piping bag with your top hand, not the bottom hand which should only be a guide. I kept thinking I was doing it right, only for my teacher to point out he could see my fingerprints on the bag from where I had been squeezing with my lower hand. They don’t miss a trick! I shall definitely be practising piping with anything I can – be it mash, meringue, chocolate or icing, until I have it mastered. Bring on Week 5!