04 November 2005

Expanding waistline

First of all, Chefette has a correction to make. She has discovered that her class tutor (aka 'the Irishman') is in actual fact a Scotsman (!), which he happened to mention one day in class last week. Apparently, his accent is 'posh Scottish' -- of the huntin' and shootin' estate variety -- or at least according to one of the girls in my class who said he talked exactly like another posh Scot in her past. It's certainly the most neutral Scottish accent I've ever heard. Anyway, henceforth, he shall be known as 'The Scotsman'.

The Scotsman had an amusing cautionary tale for us all last week when he gave the demonstration on integrated pan sauces. He said that pan sauces were good for 'disaster scenarios', which he learned the hard way while working at a villa in Italy a few years ago. He had done his entire mis-en-place for dinner (normally a good few hours work), and had nipped outside for a quick coffee just before service. He came back to find the dog of the owner of the villa at his station in the middle of eating the food he'd prepped! Not knowing exactly what the dog had or had not touched, he couldn't use any of that food, and had to come up with something else last minute from fridge and stores. Evidently, he managed to survive the night by winging togther a couple of pan sauce dishes at the last minute to get through service.

One thing I've been working on during the past week or so is a Christmas Cake. Everyone in the school is doing them, and there is going to be a competition for best decorated cake at the end of the term. Normally, I'm not wild about CC. I hate all that marzipan and sickly sweet regal icing, and don't usually like the rich fruit filling either (all that sugary candied fruit). But having tasted my first ever handmade attempt last Thursday -- when I had to trim some cake off the bottom to level it -- it was surprisingly tasty. We've all had to bring in our own spirits to 'feed' the cake twice before icing it. I went for a golden rum from Barbados, and others went for brandy, cognac, and one person for calvados.

Now I have to figure out how to ice the cake, and practice at home working with regal icing (the thick, pliable variety). I'm thinking of icing it like a wrapped Christmas present, with a little gift tag 'from Santa'. But this cake endeavour is going to take a while yet. We still have to put on two layers of royal icing (the thinner, drier variety). Only then can we decorate the cake in a final coating of royal icing or regal icing. Can you imagine, 3 layers of icing?!? Yuck. I think I'm going to pull it off before eating the cake.

The other news to report from last week is that I've been cooking up a storm at home. Outside of class, I've done black sticky gingerbread cake, fried goujons of lemon sole with tartare sauce, spinach flan, and cracked wheat salad with red pesto amongst others. Today it's going to be roast beef with all the trimmings for Sunday lunch. Mmmmm. Husband has been appreciative of the improving quality of leftovers in the fridge, hopefully a good sign for my development as a chef (if not good news for my waistline!) Still more fish filleting to practise, though, before exam time.

Ciao for now.


Anonymous said...

Christmas cake sounds lovely - can't have too much icing as far as I'm concerned!


Stephen & Sharon said...

Loving your updates Margaret, sounds like you're having fun. Can't wait to sample some of your delights, send any leftovers my way.

I'm with Emma - the more icing the better (probably not for the teeth though!)

Stephen & Sharon