28 October 2005

A tale of two puddings

Chefette has just finished a very successful week in the kitchen, and she's looking forward to a three day weekend (no school on Monday), so she's celebrating at the moment with a little glass of Cordon Negro bubbly. Delicious!

Mainly, I'm feeling a big wave of relief. After so many days during the first 4 weeks of feeling under pressure and under competent, this week was a major step forward. The first good omen came on Monday when the pastry gods smiled on me, and I didn't have to use my Disaster Pastry from the previous Friday. Someone my group was off sick, so one of the nice instructors -- who'd seen the Disaster Pastry -- said I could use theirs. Then I had 4 straight days of hitting my service times, without any cooking gaffes. My grilled mackerel with gooseberry sauce was even deemed "perfectly cooked". And to cap it off I'm even getting along a little better with Shwombo (although we weren't cooking on the same table this week, so that probably helped...)

Best news of the week came on Wednesday, when I had my mid-term assessment with my tutor, the unflappable Irishman. I didn't know what to expect, and to be honest had been secretly worrying that I wasn't doing well enough (having made some pretty basic mistakes like burning onions that were meant to be sweating down!). Fortunately, my fears were relieved. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1= worst, 5=best), I got mostly 4s and 5s (5s in white sauce, mayonnaise, timing and temperature), so am feeling a bit more confident that I can hit the required standard by the end of the term. The Irishman also made some encouraging noises re my organisation and hygiene, and said I will definitely have more chances to improve pastry and presentation, my two weakest areas.

Anyway, from the title this blog is supposed to be a tale of two puddings, so without further ado ...

Pudding 1: For years, I've never been able to make a Yorkshire pudding because whenever there was a roast involved, one of my husband's relatives from Yorkshire always did it. Mother, father, aunt and uncle -- I've eaten all their puds (including some of them cold with Lyle's golden syrup for breakfast on Boxing Day). But have never managed to make my own. Until today. And lo and behold, it turns out I must have absorbed some knowledge from the family experts, seeing them do it over the years, because mine came out the best in the class.

Pudding 2: We had a dem yesterday on gelatine, and one of the recipes made was a delicious Kir Royale jelly. As those of you who know of my great fondness for alcoholic jellies and for kir royales can well imagine, I was drawn to that particular recipe like a moth to a flame, and vowed to make them at home that evening to bring to a friend's birthday party on Friday night. After walking all the way to Tesco, imagine my despair when I found they had every ingredient except gelatine. So I had to wing it, and instead of making the recipe with proper creme de cassis and gelatine leaves, I had to substitute Basset's blackcurrant jelly cubes! The mixture didn't taste too dire, and so I've prettied them up with fresh raspberries and mint garnishes, and am bringing them to the party tonight.

On that note, I've gotta dash and get ready for the party. Great weekends all!

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