Life at Leiths week 7 – ‘Another pun about steam’

Some of you have pointed out to me that I didn’t post a blog last week. I am fully aware of that, it’s because, for some reason, the work load from school seemed to triple and then some. I found myself getting home at 8/9pm because of late trains then doing endless amounts of coursework and time plans before finding myself in bed curled up in the foetal position at 10pm ready for another 5:30am alarm.

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Unfortunately, I barely have any pictures from last week apart from the steak temperatures exercise we were asked to do. We had to cook 1 piece of steak through all the stages, slicing off a little piece each time to show our progress and… VOILA.

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The trickiest/most annoying part of the week has to be when it came to making marzipan for our Christmas cakes and then placing said marzipan on our much loved, fed and not so healthy Christmas cakes.

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Something none of us were really expecting to do was to place the cake on the marzipan and then lift it up round the sides. Essentially, icing the cake upside down. I know Leith’s like to say, ‘If you’re ever up a mountain you may not have this equipment so it’s best to learn the old fashioned way’, BUT, I have yet to hear them say, ‘If you ever find yourself in zero gravity, icing a Christmas cake, this will be the way to do it’.

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Hmmmpphh…, left very frustrated with myself for having to patch so much. I know they want us to decorate our cakes as well as possible but I left the school that day with mine looking like a burns victim.

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All in all it was a pretty tiring week, probably my most tiring at the school yet. For some reason, I literally just crashed after running around like a headless chicken for the past 5 weeks. My body just decided to be like, ‘Nope!’

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That aside though, we made an amazing lamb and prune stew which at first glance didn’t sound too good but the end result really was incredible.

We also found ourselves in another test at the end of the week, this time concentrating more on meat and more in depth questions on oven temperatures and shelving locations such as ‘Give the correct gas mark and shelf in an oven for when cooking an egg custard’. Phew, fingers crossed I scrape past the pass mark on that one.

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The week ended with what I can only describe as party food day. Maybe because of our test and such a busy week they wanted to treat us.

We had an amazing ice cream dem by the much loved calming presence of Mark and the very sweet and friendly Hannah. They covered lemon curd ice cream, raspberry and kiwi ice cream and Mark even managed to transport us back to the 1970s and produced an insanely good arctic roll.

If that wasn’t good enough, in our kitchen session in the afternoon we made profiteroles and pizza! Wow! Literally the best Friday food ever! It was also surprisingly easy going considering we were all just about ready to have a mass game of sleeping lions.

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I’ve just realised I do have a few pictures from the week. Here is a gorgeously summery pavlova… not really in season but definitely brought a little sunshine to the kitchen as it has started getting dark now a lot earlier! 🙁 🙁

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Anyway, the week ended with a fantastic time at the pub having a VERY well deserved bottle (or 5). We finished the night at a very good friends house eating pate, warm ciabatta, chutney, mashed potato and chicken nuggets… not sure what we would be given out of 5 for that combination… but it was certainly polished off by the lot of us!

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Looking at the videos and photos from that night is also one of the funniest things I’ve experienced during this course.

So on to week 7 and 3 weeks left. AHHHHH, how did this happen?! How is it nearly Christmas!? How have I not got any presents sorted yet!?

For some reason, Christmas is definitely in the air this week. Maybe it’s because Costa have their festive drinks out, maybe it’s because there is talk of the John Lewis advert being released soon. It may even be that we are concentrating more and more on our Christmas cakes!

Naturally, our group have organised a secret santa for us all to participate in which can’t wait for! I’ve got a great idea for who I have… but still, must concentrate on food for a little longer.

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We started this week by making royal icing, orange and passionfruit jelly and caramel sauce. A surprisingly chilled out session which at this stage of the course was a bit out of the blue! Maybe we are just getting better and better which, I guess, is the point of being at school…

In the afternoon, I had a one on one with my tutor, and it wasn’t terrible!… I knew it wasn’t going to be of course, but still had the same feeling from a secondary school parents evening on the build up. I need to practice meringues and chicken jointing. Meringues just so I can absolutely nail them next time I do them, because, well, they’re just great aren’t they. Bloody love meringue. And chicken jointing because I always manage to hack away a little too much, whether it be some of the breast or an oyster. I WILL GET IT PERFECT!!

Wednesday morning was a bit all over the place. We made smoked haddock, spinach and tomato gougere and also served our jelly from the day before.

It was a massive organisational skills test. Loads of things going on at once which, inevitably, ended up with a mountain of washing up and a mess everywhere. We all kind of knew we were a bit messy but, when you are stressed for trying to get everything sorted so your food can get in the oven to hit service time, it’s hard to remember everything else. I suppose that’s one of the things they are teaching us. Still, we live and we definitely learn.

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The afternoon we had a very funny demonstration from a lady called Jane who came in and cooked us several different Indian dishes. She was absolutely hilarious and had some great stories to tell about her life in the industry. She also gave us a lot of advice to the questions asked by students on what to do.

Although it was a bit all over the place, due to reasons she had explained, she ended up serving us some beautifully flavoured authentic Indian dishes. A vegetarian filo tart definitely was a winner for me.

Thursday was a bit of a funny one, I’d read on a few blogs that this day was one of the toughest of the course so far, we were only cooking one dish but that dish has so many different elements from rendering meat to preparing the perfect veg, reducing sauce to the ultimate flavour and consistency etc, that dish… was Coq au Vin, an absolute classic, and you know what? It wasn’t actually too bad!

There were a few moments of a ‘lul’ where nothing happens and everything is on track, these moments are quite dangerous as they lure you into a sense of utter security, you think ‘wahey! Everything is going fine, I have nothing to worry about!’ And then all of a sudden the heavens will open and a tornado will come rushing through the kitchen taking students in its wake. ‘Hot pan!!!!!!’ is an expression you will hear more than anything when things get busy, 16 students manically trying to hit a strict service time while running round with pans just off the stove can be quite unnerving, but I actually quite love it. The sense of urgency, the adrenaline is like nothing I have ever experienced and is super hard to explain to anyone that has never worked in a kitchen.

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I ended up getting the dish out on time and it tasted… good… not great, not my ‘creme de la creme’ dish by far… but I left feeling very satisfied with myself.

Thursday afternoon we were presented with the healthy eating dem I spoke about a few weeks ago. Belinda and Christine showed us how to make delicious and healthy food which was sooo simple to make too… butter and cream were non existent which was a nice change… for an afternoon

Friday was a nice slow down for the end of quite a busy week… even though we had Monday off.

We made lamb cutlets, prepared lovingly from a rack of lamb… again, this is one of those skills that I am so happy to now know, I can now go into a butchers, ask for a rack of lamb, take it home and fully prepare it into pristine cutlets ready for the grill. I experimented with the presentation today more than ever… a bit ‘poncy’ you might say, but if we never experimented we would still be in the dark ages, so hey ho.

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Are afternoon was brought to a close with a demonstration on ‘game’ meat. Michael did a VERY in depth session on pretty much everything from pheasant to grouse to venison. Not really an afternoon for the ‘squeamish’ but all in all very interesting and useful to know… especially when it comes to us plucking and preparing pheasant in a week or so.

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As usual the week ended with the usual drinks, this time not at the local, we ventured out to Shepherds Bush, and then Spitalfields for cheese and wine, then on to a very futuristic wine bar which involved quite a confusing (at first) method of drinking the wine… I felt very civilised with my glass even though I probably looked like a bull in a china shop.
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This dog on the tube definitely made the evening that extra bit special too.

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Quite drunk writing this while I’m on the way home from Friday drinks… Shout out to Ste, Grace, Weezy, Katy, Sophie, Connie, Lisa, Alex and all the others that make this course so BLOODY GREAT!! I’ve known these people for 7 weeks going on 7 years, the friendship built in such a short time is set in stone to be an everlasting one. After all, friends that cook together, stay together.

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*insert cheesy gif here*

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Have a great weekend ya’ll

Peace✌

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