13 November 2005

Return from the orient

Sorry for posting so late in the weekend, but Chefette has just come back from having a luxurious afternoon tea on the Orient Express for a friend's 40th birthday party. It was very posh indeed -- all polished oak veneer, silver tea service, and flowing champagne. We were seated in a first class Pullman railway carriage called Ione, built in 1928 for ocean liner services to Plymouth and Southampton. Fortunately, the couple seated opposite us were good conversationalists and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. My only teeny criticism being that the coffee eclairs they served were stale and underfilled -- not nearly as good as the ones we made in class a few weeks back!

Had my first go at layered pastry last Tuesday when we made Rough Puff Pastry, which needs to be rolled and folded four times. The hard part was figuring out how long to leave it in the fridge between foldings. The butter needs to be soft enough to work with, but not so soft that it begins to melt and ooze out of the pastry. And with everyone in class opening and closing the fridge doors to put in and take out their pastries, the fridge temperature was up and down more times than a bride's knickers on her wedding night. But I managed to get my rough puff together in time to roll it out for making Eccles cakes, which were a hit with the husband.

Friday was a fun day in class, which we spent cooking Indian and Sri Lankan food in teams of four. We cooked rogan josh, methi poori, alu gobi and date chutney, mmm. (A nice change from some of the more boring, traditional dishes we've been doing in the beginners term, like stew or cauliflower cheese.) Then we all sat down and ate lunch together as a class. It made a good contrast to the sting of the weekly burden we all share, namely the Friday Clean. Every Friday, in addition to the regular cleaning, we all get extra duties to give the kitchens a deep cleandown. Glamourous tasks such as scrubbing and polishing the copper pans, washing out the drawers and shelves below our workstations, and cleaning the fronts of all the storage units. Not the most scintillating, but I suppose it has the benefit of getting us used to the hard work of a real kitchen.

Next week, I have a suspicion the pressure is going to crank up a bit as we get closer to our final exams. Tomorrow we have a theory lecture revising everything we've done so far this term, and then on Thursday we'll be cooking under 'exam conditions', whatever that means. Wish me luck!

Ciao for now.

No comments: