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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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Week 31: The cruel hand of fate

I am excited about this week with its promise of interesting dishes including several variations on pork, game meat and offal, things I don't cook a great deal and about which am keen to learn more.  However, I should have stayed in bed on Monday morning.  By Wednesday I do stay in bed.  But let's start at the beginning.

Pork belly dish components..
On Monday, we make a fabulous dish: pork belly on parsnip purée with fennel salad and chili caramel sauce.  We steam the pork belly having taken the skin off to roast in the oven.  The crisped crackling is chopped into the fennel salad and this really adds a level of texture and flavour that you don't expect.  On taking the parsnip purée out of the oven I place the pot on the stove top and immediately forget the handle is as hot as the core of Fukushima.  Yow!  Although what I actually shriek is a word for someone who has indecent relations with his mother.  My hand doesn't blister badly and in the face of such adversity the finished dish is divine - all four elements complementing each other perfectly.  Sublime. 
...and plated at home for dinner




Also on the cooking menu that day: smoked pork fillet which we marinate in an Asian style marinade before smoking. I haven't cooked mine yet and have vac packed it for a later date. (see Week 23: Omega 3 and me for a description of easy to do smoking).  


Marinated pork fillets ready for smoking
I eschew the sweet and sour pork. Technically we should make everything but tutor Trevor has a moderately relaxed attitude, seeing it as our choice - or funeral - as the case may be. He has a point, but one hopes that on graduation from the course people can cook!  Some students are incredibly instrumental in their approach to attendance, turning up only on the days when we are cooking dishes that are part of assessment.  Others, generally those who actually are interested in cooking, are there every day like me - barring disasters (or when I bunked off to go to Stewart Island). Speaking of disasters.... 

On Tuesday morning as I am making the bed I put my back out. Yow!  I am in pain for the rest of the day, though it improves after the osteo pops the rib back in.  I don't feel up to working in the kitchen for four hours so I miss making the Duck Confit (the hunter gatherer has been LIVING for the Duck Confit), the Braised Rabbit and the Cervena (farmed venison for those who don't know).  I text Trevor that I won't be there and beg him to cook and keep my Duck confit for me.  With anti inflammatories and pain killers on board, I sleep well and look forward to the next day's offal adventures.

On Wednesday morning the alarm goes off at 6.30 (we have early shift).  I twist my back as I get out of bed and am back to Yow! again.  No Lamb's fry and bacon; No Devilled kidneys; No Steak and Kidney pudding! No Crumbed Sweetbreads with Remoulade!

Marquise potatoes ready for the oven
We get to Thursday - assessment day again this week, so I struggle in. The menu is Grilled sirloin with Béarnaise sauce, Marquise potatoes, glazed green beans and Macedoine of beetroot Vichy. So, knowing how disappointed you were last week not to see the flash potatoes, I remembered to take a photo.  


I spoil my run of Distinctions this week and pass with Merit.  Next week is the last week of class and we have our final practical assessment. The main is set but the desert is a "magic box" from which we choose ingredients. I am not sure what the rules are yet.  After that the adventure continues with three weeks of work experience.