Monday, 23 May 2011

Afternoon Tea

Last week it was time to host our superior patisserie afternoon tea. Its strange to think it was only a few months ago, back in september, that the prospect of producing it seemed mind-boggling and now its been prepped, baked and eaten! Here are the vital stats. We made everything over 2 days, 14 hours of kitchen time. There were 16 of us in total, working in two teams. We made 21 different types of cakes as well as 3 types of scones and preserves.  There was at least 30 tea sized versions of every cake as well as their larger counterparts. The scones numbered in the 200+. We hosted the event for about 70 people. Okay, so thats the fact and figures out the way, here's a picture before the wordy bit.

Although we did have to work quite hard to get everything ready in time, doing solid seven hour stints in the kitchen was quite enjoyable. Sometimes I think its better to work right through because its not until you have a break that you realise you are tired. Its also much more realistic as to what will be expected of us in the real big bad world once we finish. On the first day we had a briefing, split into groups, allocated jobs and then set about doing all our mis-en-place. By the end of the first day we had pretty much everthing made up ready to be put together and be pretty-fied the next day. I also had a raging appetite for something savory and ate perhaps the largest bowl of pasta that I have ever laid my eyes on.  Thanks very much to bonne bouche and their abmormally large portions, a carb overload was definately required. On the second day we finished everthing off by glazing, piping and decorating with various fruit, chocolate and sugar charms. In our team we also had to make up all the scones so that they were still hot for service. We had a nice little system going and, before we knew it, a kitchen overrun by scones!

Scones as big as your head!

Normally the tea party is done in bigger groups (the last one had 30) and although we got everything done in time, the main rush was getting it all across to the hotel. In the end we had to recruit stray students to grab trays and run them across. Dispite the last minute panic we got everthing set up in time, ready to host. Through the event we served the various tables, explaining what was what and topping up the supplies. My mum, dad and aunt all came so I enjoyed playing the role of chef, hairnet and all.

Overall it was really enjoyable, its nice getting into bed at night feeling both exhausted and excited. I'll try and scan the menu in at some point but here are the last of the few pictures I managed to take. There were also some press about so I might try and scout down some reviews too. 

Under a month left now! 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Bake dreams

Plated desserts are quite literally taking over my life. Not only do I now have to carry around an emergency note pad incase of exam inspiration/desperation, but we have spent the last week in school having demos and practicals entirely based on plated desserts. It all came to a head the other night when I had a very long, rather distressing dream, entirely based on plating up desserts. Thats what 8 months in culinary school will do to a girl. Anyway, I thought I'd share the burden a bit and post some pictures of the plates I made last week. Included is an apple parfait, a bijoux box filled with chocolate brûlée and a lemon ricotta mousse. 

Today, after seven solid hours of prepping for our afternoon tea tomorrow, I felt like I had somewhat neglected my dessert daydreams. I managed to resolve this by buying some shiny new plates ready for my exam and writing this. Heading to bed soon so who knows what recipes may await me.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

School Dinners

The time in the term has come again when the superior students are hosting their dinners, and I, in return, am scoffing it down.  Its nice to see how some of the cuisine kids in my year are getting on and try out some of their food for once, instead of being taunted by the aromas wafting into the boulangerie whilst in the middle of a seemingly endless 8pm piping session.  This time the theme was 'Le Printemps' (Spring), calling for a good dose of baby animals and sprouting veg. Yum yum.

After an Aperitif of Melon Bellini and a foie gras canape or two the menu was as follows

Rock Oyster ceviche with chilli, lime and cold gin

This was my first ever Oyster and, after a slight panic that a may have an anaphylactic shock, I slurped the slimy creature right up. Not only did I manage to keep it down, but it was also pretty delicious all round.

To follow we had asparagus, poached quail eggs & pancetta with a tarragon vinaigrette. Nice, light dish with eggs poached to perfection.

Main was a stuffed lion of lamb with yuca frites, shredded lamb shank on a sweet plantain puree. The shredded lamb was a real winner, I think it was my favourite dish of the night. Infact, just the memory of it is making me salvate.

The cheese course included a bosworth ash goats cheese and bleu d'Auvergne. It was probably best that it was all nicely plated up, avoiding the normally inevitable calorie splurge brought on by cheese.

For dessert we had a vanilla cheesecake on a chocolate sable base with a rhubarb glaze, served with a rhubarb and raspberry sorbet, tuille and rhubarb crisp. The cheesecake suffered slightly from excess time in the blast chiller but overall it worked well. My favourite bit was the unassuming rhubarb crisp which was surprisingly tasty.

We finished off the evening with some petit fours and a good ol' brew. The pastry chefs did a really good job of the petit fours making chocolate coffee cups, lavander macarons and chocolate praline. After just finishing my chocolate module I was pretty staggered by how seemless the cute chocolate cups were. Triumph indeed.

Overall the evening was really good, not only was I fed with all sorts of treats that would never be lurking in my fridge, but the wine was good and I managed to keep my conversation to the head of school suitably polite.

Photos are slightly hit and miss, but the best my poor camera could do.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Chocolate Picket Fence

As promised, here are the last of my chocolate creations. Ladies and gentlemen I give to you a chocolate windmill and a choo choo chocolate train.

For the windmill I chose to finish my decoration with a piped chocolate picket fence which opens up to the garden path of my happy chocolate couple. Awwh.

My train is sporting a personalised LLG 24 number plate in light of it becoming a rather handy birthday present for my housemate. It was a little worse for wear after my cycle home but what boy doesn't want a chocolate train wreck for his birthday?

In other pastry news, I am starting to get somewhere with my plans for my plated dessert final and have done a few home trials. Still many, many tweeks and changes to be done. I'm also starting to get quite excited about our impending tea party on the 17th May.  Its being held at the Mandeville hotel and should be rather good. A few of the other groups held theirs last week and everything they made looked wonderful. Here is the lovely Sarju on his way down with a tray of tasty treats to wet your appetite! Very nice indeed.