So I’m beginning to see why a lot of Leiths students start blogs and then slowly lose rhythm with them, they are busy, very very busy. Week 2 is now over and what a week it was, they really kicked up a gear in terms of how much they are teaching us and equally how much we are expected to be cooking.
Monday morning we found ourselves in a vegetable demonstration with Hannah, an incredibly in depth talk on all the different vegetable families, the way they are cooked, more importantly the way they are NOT cooked, all the while preparing various dishes such as a beautiful root veg gratin, creamy mushrooms on toast and ‘Leiths’ mashed potato, yes ‘Leiths’ mashed potato… it is prepared differently resulting in it tasting differently, much better of course.
Monday afternoon we were asked to make a Vichyssoise soup, served warm (it is usually served cool), beautifully creamy scrambled eggs on toast, and delicate baked egg custards.
Personally I think the whole session went well, even if our kitchen looked as though it was filled with headless chickens running into each other, with arrays of soup splashes, violent explosions of scrambled egg, and waves of egg custards going everywhere. Alas we got to the end of service and felt the rush of the kitchen. Unfortunately during the chaos I accidentally over seasoned my soup, to the point of the teacher grimacing as she tried it. Disappointing as it was presented beautifully and the texture was ‘perfect’ as described. Fortunately I nailed the scrambled eggs and the egg custards so all was not lost.
I headed home with my head held (reasonably) high, half kicking myself for loving salt too much.
Tuesday we had a fantastic demonstration from Michael, a really great talk on sauces, mother sauces, daughter sauces, different variations, flavourings etc. It was all incredibly interesting and we were even served some amazing comfort food, mac n’cheese, an insane savoury crepe dish with ham, spinach, cheese and a home made tomato sauce (it had a very stylish French name which I cannot remember right now… ‘crepe’ was definitely in there)
Tuesday afternoon was slightly less stressful, we were making pastry again, rich short crust pastry. We made this last week for the first time so we’re half expected to know really what we were doing this time round without much help. This time however we were blind baking the pastry, which if you didn’t know, means baking the pastry without a filling in the oven, usually filled with baking beans to ensure an even and all round bake.
It went well! I think?! I mean, yeah, cracks are natural in pastry right? Well in my case they were as natural as selection, don’t get me wrong I could fix it with a little excess pastry, but here’s hoping I nail it next time it comes to it.
That afternoon we also made a Tomato, Mozzarella and Avocado salad with a French Dressing, it was basically a test on our presentational skills, key things to remember, clean clean plate, centre height and less is more. One thing I’ve got to get used to, no matter what the recipe says, it does not mean I have to serve it all. Hey, I was brought up to not waste food?!
… I should say that we don’t waste food at all, it’s either given to charity or stuffed in our faces while we manically try and clean down.
At this point I should say before I forget, the table of four I have worked with this week, shout out to Imo, Katy and Connie have been super cool and we made a great team! This industry is 100% about teamwork and it makes the day so much better when you have good chemistry with your class mates.
Wednesday morning descended on me like a dark cloud, I woke up tired, really tired… aaaaand a little hungover from a few ciders the night before, let’s just say it’s really REALLY not about waking up at 5:45 with a killer hangover to start a full day of travelling, learning, cleaning and hardcore cookery.
I really don’t think I would be able to survive without a double espresso every morning swiftly making it’s way to my stomach then right back up to my brain.
‘Leiths School Of Food And Wine, sponsored by caffeine’
Anyway where was I? Wednesday morning dem was on chicken, really classical dishes, Poule au pot (chicken in a pot), some other things involving stuffed baked chicken breast, sticky sesame and soy chicken and a flambéed cider chicken dish. It definitely helped with the hangover to get ready for the afternoon of cooking.
We started the afternoon by carefully CAREFULLY!!!! getting our baked pastry cases from the day before to use for a beautiful quiche Lorraine, I think I might have mentioned in my last blog that I wasn’t actually the biggest fan of quiche before last week, it’s now easily my top favourite food (100% exaggeration… hello Nutella) anyway so we made the filling for our quiche, seamlessly I might add which was nice, and while that baked made our very own Mac n Cheese, another dish I don’t really eat to often but it turned out very nice, if not a little al dente.
To finish off the day I found myself back drinking cider from the same place as the day before… when will I learn.
Thursday morning really wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be when my head hit the pillow in a ferocious thud the night before.
A demonstration on roast dinners really 100% made everything that’s bad in the world go away, we were watching 2 teachers make roast pork, roast beef, roast chicken, all the trimmings, gravy, Yorkshire puddings and various other things, for around 50 students to try ALL THE WHILE talking to us and teaching us the techniques, what not to do, what to do.
Mark will forever be known to me now as the king of roast dinners… still prefer my own roast potatoes mind but I won’t say that to him.
Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the finished plates. Sorryyy #notsorry
Thursday afternoon after being filled up to the eyes with meat, veg and gravy we found ourselves back in the kitchen (obviously) jointing 2 whole chickens into 8 pieces, then making mustard chicken served with a watercress salad. I was slightly dreading this as I had never done it before and it’s quite daunting when you see the bird and what is expected of you, but we all managed it, in quicker time that I thought we would I might add, and ended the afternoon on quite a high.
Friday (today)… please excuse me if I am rushing through this, I’m writing it on my phone, on a packed tube train. Here is a picture of some random people squashed together.
This morning we had an amazing smelling dem room waiting for us where we were presented with a demonstration on bread, white, soda, wholemeal and focaccia. All the different types of cooking styles, types of flour, yeast, different cooking liquids, all of which drastically change what kind of dough you will create. Props to David for making the best focaccia I have ever had, no joke.
This afternoon was ever so slightly stressful making two very French desserts which were Creme Anglais, and Crepes Suzette, both of which are deceivingly difficult to get right, I unfortunately over cooked my creme anglais by literally 10 seconds, so ‘specks’ of egg had started to occur through the mixture, to me it tasted like delicious custard and I would gladly pour the whole bowl down my throat then proceed to lick the sides, but at school, everything has to be perfect, to get a good grade obviously… like… you know, for learning n stuff.
The afternoon ended on a massive high by me scoring 5 out of 5 for both my Crepes Suzette and my health and safety when it came to flambéing said dish. I couldn’t be happier with myself, giddy is probably the word, I was as giddy as I could be.
All in all a good week, think we’ve found the level of pressure now expected and I feel like I’m properly into the swing of things. Now excuse me while I drink myself into tomorrow morning. Peace ✌️