Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ashburton Cookery school: Day 3

Baked smoked haddock on spinach with a poached egg, Gruyère cheese and curry oil

The curry oil was a surprisingly good addition here as were the "sun-dried" cherry tomatoes. Surprisingly the cheese did go with the haddock (as the salmon did with the Parmesan in the risotto on Monday). I may have to revise my stead-fast adherence to the "cheese doesn't go with fish" rule after this.


Pork tenderloin en papillote with apple and mustard mash with honey glazed carrots and celeriac

A mixed bag this dish. Having medium-rare pork was a revelation (apparently now that pig welfare conditions have improved and feeding is strictly controlled, pigs no longer have ring-worm so it's OK to eat the meat less than well done). Finding out how to do the roasted vegetable was brilliant. The mash was not good: way too much mustard which killed the other delicate flavours. I'm also not convinced by deliberately mixing lumps into beautiful smooth mash. It just doesn't do it for me.


Coconut and lemongrass sorbet with tuille biscuits

A delightful sorbet made into a full dessert with sweet chilli sauce, hazelnuts and Chantilly cream.

Lessons from the day:
  • The water content of pastry is critical. The less water there is the shorter the pastry will be. However, water makes the pastry more complaint and easier to work with.
  • Sweet pastry can be made without even touching it (until rolling out).
  • Allowing the water to evaporate from egg whites will create stronger whites resulting in better meringues.
  • Draining spinach on kitchen paper in a must to remove excess moisture.
  • Fish is cooked when the protein start to leach out (this is evident as a white residue).
  • Freezing diminishes flavour. So frozen desserts must be packed with flavour before they are frozen.
  • -15°C is the optimum temperature for making ice-cream and sorbets.
  • Tuilles need to be manipulated while they are still hot so it's best to do any moulding in the hot air of the oven.
  • Eggs poached in red wine go well with duck.
  • Oil for heat, butter for flavour.
  • When blanching veg use 6g salt for every 1l water.
  • Keeping mash warm in a bain marie makes it über fluffy.

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