Butter mountain - defined by agriculturedictionary.com as a popular term for vast quantities of dairy produce in the form of butter, which has been paid for by EU governments and put into cold store. By further definition, my own, the mountain is depleted by French classical cookery and the City and Guilds requirements to turn even the healthiest foods into hideaways for butter and salt - the twin evil enemies of arteries, but also the dynamic duo that make food taste good! So even in a week when we are engaged in the prosaic pastimes of boiling, steaming and ...yawn... I forget....oh yes - poaching, kilos of butter are flowing around the kitchen and, ultimately and inevitably, onto the hips of unwitting diners.
The assessment for this week is Poached Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce, Minted Potatoes, Vichy Carrots, and Steamed Broccoli. Having added Creme Fraiche to the sauce, tossed the new potatoes in butter before adding mint, and cooking the carrots in butter, you would think the steamed broccoli at least will emerge unscathed: but no! my assessor's feedback is that everything is very nicely cooked but I have not tossed the broccoli in butter (as required) or seasoned it with salt. Arrggghhhh.
However, I do still achieve Merit - was it the lack of butter and salt that kept me from a Distinction??? Next time I will ask. It isn't a plate of food that excites me, though when transported home and reheated the hunter-gatherer eats it without complaint, and professes it delicious.
So you will gather that after the highs of sauces and stock making, I am less enthusiastic about this week's activities. I know why the course must cover the basics and I do expect days or weeks like this. It doesn't get more basic than boiling cauliflower, steaming broccoli and cabbage, boiling pasta and rice, and boiling and poaching eggs! We also steam bake fish en papillote (in a paper envelope), boil corned beef, make steam puddings and custard, poach pears and turn more potatoes - so we can toss them in butter and parsley.
Looking on the bright side, I learn a few things. Well, two things actually: how to pre-cook various foods for ease of final preparation during restaurant service; and more excitingly how to poach eggs in a vortex. Very sci-fi don't you think? Start with a deepish pot water to which you add a little white vinegar (this helps set the white). Bring it to the boil then you reduce to a fast simmer. Now, create the vortex! to do this simply swirl the water around into a fast moving whirlpool. You can use a wooden spoon or similar to do this.