This week is a bit unusual for ACS – two Intermediate courses are being run simultaneously, and in doing so, the school have created a bit of competition between the kitchens. Little hints and tips scattered over the day by each kitchen’s chef are swapped somewhat fiercely in the pub at the end of the day, and our tiny phone screens show evidence of slightly different techniques or presentation methods. I think we’ve taken that sense of competition back to each chef (or maybe they’re the ones sowing the seeds?) but I think today Kitchen one reigned victorious with Darrin’s addition of Thai and bird’s eye chillis to the lemongrass and lime leaf-infused coconut sorbet that rounded off today’s menu:
Baked smoked haddock topped with aged gruyere and a poached egg, served with wilted spinach and curry oil
Dorset pork tenderloin “en papilotte” with shaved fennel, apples, cider and thyme, served with roasted honey-glazed carrots and celeriac
Coconut milk and lemongrass sorbet with tuille biscuits
We also prepped a gorgeously moist pork belly that we’ll use on Friday, and a ham hock for use in the savoury pasty shells we now have prepped for tomorrow’s lunch. We watched a demo of sweet pastry, and that’s being held in reserve for Friday too. The beef stock continued simmering for a lot of today too.
Refreshing our previously poached eggs was a cinch. It will be a seriously useful skill back home, and made assembling our haddock-y lunch a lot simpler. I picked up a helpful hint for melting gruyere, which is to soak it in milk to enhance its melting properties, although I’m not sure I’d add it when I make the otherwise brilliant haddock dish in the future. It’s the kind of thing I love for weekend brunch, and I think the cheese was maybe just a wee bit too much. The curry oil was a great addition though, and something I wouldn’t have bothered to make, nor paired with the fish and egg, but brought a kedgeree-esque quality to the final plate.
The pork dish we made for dinner was good, but I think I missed the skin-and-bone type butchery of the last couple of days: trimming down and bashing out the tenderloin wasn’t as rewarding as the lamb and chicken work. What I have taken away from today’s dish is the knowledge that pink pork is not always a bad thing.
The superstar of the day was the sorbet. Mmmmm-mm! I had no idea what “Thai sorbet” meant when I saw it on our menu sheet, and initially started imagining some kind of savoury palate cleanser or cold soup but the real dish was so much better than that! Adding some chillis was a stroke of genius: the hot/cold effect was exquisite, and good enough to make me seriously consider buying an ice-cream machine (I know you can do it by hand with nowt but a freezer, a plastic tub and a fork, but it won’t be nearly as smooth or good).
And in between all that we had some fun messing aroud with palette knives and hot tuille biscuits, forming baskets and springy shapes to our hearts’ content. They held the final ball of sorbet, so were a practical addition to the day, and I can see opportunity to reveal some show-off pudding holders when I’m home. Or even be brave enough to attempt Thomas Keller’s salmon cornets that use the same potentially finger-burning method. My fingers seem to have a respectable level of asbestos-like resistance to the heat of the biscuits, so maybe I won’t let those mini cones scare me much longer….
The week feels like it’s flying past now, and I’m growing quite envious of the two in my kitchen that are doing Intermediate Extra next week, but I’m trying hard not to wish away the next two days. There’s so much more to come. Tomorrow is a full-on three course dinner with wine (I can hear you all “ooooh-ing” from here. I know, wine. Aren’t we grown up?) and Friday is Fish Day, so no need to be too sad we’re past the halfway point already.
Not when there’s still two days of good-natured kitchen competition to be had. The proof of the pudding is in the camera-phone images so select your culinary weapon, and step away from the classroom; as Mills Lane would say, let’s get it ON!