Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Week 11: Soggy bottoms prove an impediment

This week crosses more boundaries than Shane Warne with a cell phone. We travel from Cornwall to Istanbul, from Lorraine to Tokyo by way of Naples with a short stop in the Mediterranean. Would that it were actual,  rather than simply in the steamy kitchens of Weltec!

Our culinary adventures this week are in grilling and baking - Cornish Pasties, Quiche Lorraine, Teriyaki Grilled Chicken, Char-grilled Vegetables, Grilled Lamb Kebabs, Cauliflower au Gratin  - I wouldn't immediately put that in a list of grilled food but of course gratin fits that category - and so on. The hunter gatherer is home from the wild west, and after eating mountains of hamburgers, steaks and fries for the past month he enjoys the more international cuisine that comes his way this week.

So, in regards to the pastry - Excellent Cornish Pastie if I do say so myself. However, having taken immense pains to blind bake my quiche pastry so it is dry and crisp before adding the filling, I am reduced to sobs as the filling overflows just a tad during cooking: this means the base is not as crisp as it should be. To a person, everyone else in the class under cooks their crusts and so there are no Distinctions in assessment this week. Boo hoo all round.

For those unfamiliar with the term, blind baking does not mean we wear blindfolds in the kitchen - that would be foolish and dangerous. It means pre-baking the pastry shell prior to cooking it with its filling. To do this, first roll out the pastry and place it in the pie dish. Prick the bottom with a fork (this is known as docking and prevents an uneven rise) then put some baking paper in the raw pastry shell and fill with dried beans or rice. This keeps the bottom from puffing up and the sides from falling in. You can get special ceramic baking beads but that is an unnecessary extravagance when you can use ordinary old rice or beans and re-use them whenever you make a pastry case. In an ideal world blind baking it means no soggy bottom pastry baked goods. I exhort you to check out your local cafes and sneak a peek at their pastry - I have to say I see a lot of not quite cooked pastry bottoms around town.

We make an excellent pizza. As I generally use the bread machine and dried yeast to make my pizza dough, making it by hand and using fresh yeast is a new experience. The dough does feel springier. The pizza base is really good and I manage to roll it thinly. To cook them we use those pizza dishes with holes in the bottom and it makes for a crisp crust. It re-heats well and I share it with the financial controller for lunch the next day.

Next week - or actually this week and I finish writing this blog on Tuesday morning! Sorry for the delay for those of you frantically searching your in-box for the email feed. I was away at the vet's 50th for the weekend and didn't get a chance to blog - yes, I know it should be my priority in life but sometimes life gets in the way of priorities.

This week then, we are immersing ourselves in frying - yes, shallow and deep fat frying, so stand by for tips on the perfect fish and chips!