Steam trains would be quicker than tube trains – Leiths week 4

This week will go down as one of the worst starts to a week ever (from Tuesday onwards), not because of school, but because of the realisation of just how stressful commuting can be when Transport For London decide to make everyone’s morning a living hell. *sigh*

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Fortunately I wasn’t the only one experiencing the carnage of what can happen when signal failures occur.

The week started with a very pleasant day off. Pleasant but busy. I practised fish filleting, meringues and cake ahead of the weeks practical sessions. We were told by Sue this week that fish filleting is one of those things that is a milestone in your cooking journey – when you learn how to do it. I think it might be because a lot of people find it very daunting. Understandably, it really isn’t as bad as you might think!! Granted a bit fiddly and a bit messy but surprisingly therapeutic! I highly recommend you give both round and flat fish a go if you haven’t already.

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Tuesday morning we were presented with our second wine lecture, this time pairing wine with food and covering what we have done already. It all got a bit confusing at one point learning about where certain grapes come from and why certain foods can be affected by certain types of wines. Again, all very interesting.

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I’m trying to get as much as possible in these blogs so you guys can get quite a big insight to what I go through throughout the week. Obviously, I can’t talk about everything. There are definitely some lows when it comes to your food not being as up to scratch as you would like after planning it out carefully and trying your very best.

This moment came for me on Tuesday afternoon when it came to making Swiss roll and chocolate mousse. Both of these dishes kind of need to have your full attention otherwise they could simply sink/collapse. This is where I went wrong. The Swiss roll was left out too long while making the mousse and, alas, my mousse wasn’t folded properly because I was rushing to get back to the roll. Everything you do in the kitchen affects everything else and inevitably everyone else, but still, you do learn from it which is what we are there for I guess!

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I did however get my test results from last week and passed with a very attractive 78%! 😀 Like I said in my previous post, there were a few questions I should have answered differently!

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A pint at the local that night definitely helped things.

Wednesday morning the worst morning of commuting I have ever had. Like I said at the top of this post, for some reason, one signal failure somehow caused half of London it seemed to come to its knees in a mass (very English) ‘sigh’ of annoyance.

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But, putting that to one side, I had a great day at school. The demonstration in the morning was on setting, using gelatine and agar agar. We were then presented with sugar stock, caramel and caramel syrup. It was a very technical dem which will definitely come in handy in future kitchen sessions.

In the afternoon we made meringue, then lime and parsley plaice with salt and vinegar chips! It was a really great afternoon. I was running on that high I’ve spoken about before that you get to when you’re busy but everything is falling into place, I managed to score a 4 on my meringue and a 5 on my fish! Hey I guess practising on the weekend did me some favours!

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Luckily the journey home was very kind to me too, I guess the train gods were making things right with me from what I had to go through in the morning.

Thursday morning was our final wine lecture for WSET Level 1. I crammed as much revision in as I could the night before, getting my fiancée to test me as she had done the week before on food theory questions! I didn’t do as badly as I thought!

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The lecture wasn’t as interesting as previous ones, covering ‘the boring stuff’ as lecturer said, everything from glasses to serve wine in, to the dangers of drinking too much.

She also gave us a mock test ahead of the exam in the afternoon which I’m pleased to say I aced scoring a whopping 29/30 wahoo! Unfortunately that test meant nothing and the exam in the afternoon was marginally more difficult.

Before that though I got to hone my skills in and make a Victoria sandwich cake! I went in to this thinking I was going to ace it as I’ve done it… just a few times before *cough* a million *cough*. I should now state that everyone has a good baking day and a bad baking day. Thursday afternoon was very close to being a bad baking day.

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The thing with baking is that it is a science, an exact science, everything has to be right otherwise it can ALL fail. Because the sides of my tin were not greased enough it meant that the sides of my cake were a little crumbly which then meant my cake was a little on the fragile side. You should also know it is a fine balance of not over greasing your tin and essentially frying the outside of your cake. I could go on but I won’t, just know that it could have been better. 4 out of 5 on the final result though which I was quite happy about though.

The wine exam then came which, again, I feel could have gone better, but it is done now and nothing I can do. The pass mark for the exam is to get 21 out of the 30 questions right, I feel that I may have passed but don’t want to get confident as of yet because looking back on it there are definitely a few that I have got wrong. In a few weeks I shall see. The minutes before we started took me back to my teenage years taking my A levels and everything in the room being a bit too serious and silent after a manic cooking session. I promised myself I would never sit another exam a few years back. I guess I broke that, maybe I’ll promise myself again in a few months time.

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Friday morning everything felt a little festive, for me anyway when it came to us making Christmas cake!!! I should point out now that I am an absolute sucker for Christmas and everything to do with it, if I had it my way trees and lights would be up all year round and Christmas songs would be playing non stop everywhere we went… totally kidding about that last one.
Anyway the Christmas cake ended up looking pretty good if I do say so myself, I happen to be one of the few that love fruit cake too so I very much look forward to tasting it in a few weeks time when it has had time to mature in all the lovely alcohol I’m going to feed it with, I feel like I should name it. Suggestions on names for my Christmas cake are welcome.

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We also made ‘Sole Meunière’, a very classical French dish comprising of fillets of sole that have been pan fried in a beurre noisette (brown butter) sauce with a little lemon and parsley for seasoning, we served it with wilted spinach, not canned, sorry Popeye.

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Everything went really well! I seriously love filleting flat fish, there is something so satisfying about getting a clean fillet off the bone, something you definitely have to try to know what I’m on about, do it and get back to me.

The afternoon was a demonstration on meat, slow cooked meat for that matter which, after a cold morning and was much appreciated by a lot of the students.
We were presented an unbelievably tender beef dish with thick gravy mash, chilli con carnie and two slow cooked lamb dishes which both were incredible.

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The week ended with drinks at the local, our whole year has a really really great bunch of people that are so much fun to have a laugh with at the end of a busy week!

Next week we’re cooking loads including roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, brownies, cauliflower cheese and horseradish sauce… and that’s just Monday morning! We also have our first full day cooking session next Friday which from the looks of it sounds like a lot of fun.
As always everyone, thanks for reading.
Peace ✌️

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