Thursday, April 25, 2013

Offal Food?


            Shall we call today easy because I had no extra “duties?” .. or shall we call it intense because what can be done in 2 hours in my kitchen, takes 3 hrs here as I stand in line for everything: washing dishes, oven time, weighing ingredients.

            The day began at home with 1.5 hrs in prep… prep being copying my recipes and making out my minute by minute schedule. Although I don’t like having to do it, I have to admit that it gets everything in my head.

            I ditched the wimpy little knife bag and hauled out my heavy duty one. It is still not big enough to hold all my tools. Classmates now eye my wares and have micro-plane and bench scraper envy. Don’t hate me because I’m beautifully well-equipped!

            I did figure out this morning what I did wrong yesterday with my Soda Bread:  I weighed my ingredients on the pounds program of the scale. What I thought were “ounces” were really tenths of a pound. Well, everything was in proportion to itself.

            My today assignments: Hazelnut chocolate baked tart and Spicy Chorizo pasta and cream. My partner made raspberry jam, soda bread, and scones. The scone recipe is fantastic… I’ve never seen scones raise so much and be so not-dry!

a bit too full, but luscious

            My grading critique: filled my pasta bowl too full… and oh yes.. left out an ingredient in my chocolate tart. I had everything weighed and measured and prepped ahead of time. But there are no prep little dishes, so I had an array of plastic bags and paper towel packets. I had finally made and blind-baked my crust, and mixed by hand everything for the tart (no mechanizations for now like chopping the hazelnuts and chocolate, creaming butter … we do everything by hand). After it was filled and safely ensconced in the oven, I was cleaning up my station. As I went through the empty plastic bags and paper towels I ran across an oh-oh: ½ cup of flour! Yikes!
But the tart had 2 eggs – enough to bind everything… however the consistency was more custardy.
And success today: blind baking my tart! First of all the recipe is uber-easy and comes together like all the ingredients were waiting for this moment in time. Second, I’ve NEVER made a blind-baked crust that didn’t shrink like new cotton meeting  boiling water. But a few hints like including extra side dough and then folding it and crimping it under worked “brilliantly!” The dry beans  baked en croute for 25 minutes. I think I can fearlessly face pre-baked crust from now on!  Gotta love those tart pans… so much more presentable than pie tins!
The afternoon struggle was James Bond meets Sleeping Beauty. Rory had fabulous dishes to demonstrate, and I could not keep my eyes open. I stand.. I do leg exercises.. I wipe tears from my eyes. Nothing helps. The eyelids weigh two tons.

know your beans...

            But I digress. Let me temp you with the amazing array of dishes he demonstrated in the short span of 3 hours.  OK… so some of this might turn off a number of you. Remember though that everything is organic and green and humanely raised. And I can tell you it was all delicious. I can’t help but remember working at Adam’s Place in Eugene (OR), and how these dishes and concepts would have fit like my hand inside of Adam’s glove. Sigh…. Here’s the list:

  1. Warm Salad of Lamb Kidneys with Oyster Mushroom
  2. Warm Salad of Lamb Kidneys, Straw Potatoes and Caramelized Shallots
  3. Warm Salad with Sweetbreads and Walnuts
  4. Salad of Warm Sweetbreads with Potato Crisps, Anchovies and Wild Garlic
  5. Black-Eyed Beans with Mushrooms
  6. Black Bean and Salsa Salad
  7. Crème Caramel with Caramel Shards
  8. Crunchy Orange Butter Scones

           One tidbit Rory gave on the Creme Caramel was to soak some sultana raisins in Pedro Jimeniz sherry and use as a garnish. Note to self: must try with or without the flan! 

           Orange scones were brilliant. You roll out/pat scone dough into a rectangle. Then you slather on the orange butter. Roll it up and cut it like cinnamon rolls. Serve with more orange butter.  Num!!! The salads and combinations were amazing.

Rory and some amazing shrooms!

Tips for today:

  1. Rory was talking about soaking beans and said the left-over water can be poured on the garden as fertilizer.
  2. The water you cook the beans in can be used as a vegetarian/vegan soup stock (makes sense).
  3. You can line the bottom of a ban-marie with newspaper to make a more secure platform that wont rock, for the custard cups.
  4. When you’re roasting seeds on the stovetop, save back the unroasted version of the seeds so you can visually check the doneness during the process.
  5. Add a pinch of sugar to dishes with peppers, tomatoes, carrots – as it lifts their flavor.
  6. Killer strawberry variety recommended:  Gariguette.

        Tomorrow we don’t cook, don’t dress down … in class all day.  At least I hope that’s right, and I’m not the only one who shows up without my uniform!  And being the glutton for punishment I am, I’ve signed up for a day-long Spring Foraging field trip on Saturday with Darina.  

         Wellies required.


  1. You obviously have never had MY scones.... Love you and your adventures!

  2. No, but I am sure they are wonderful. American scones on the whole are too big and too dry/crumbly. One combination that one of the instructors mentioned was "rosemary and raisin." hugs back!

    1. Our scones at our B&B were very moist and about the size of a muffin (much smaller). They were delicious.