Becoming a chef - week 3...

Get ready for even more photos than from Week 2... I really thought that we can't possibly do any more, than what we've done during the previous week, but it turned out that we can, and we did! It was a week of "all day breakfast", stocks and some seriously good food!

A selection of Gourmet open sandwiches

Week 3 was all about breakfast, differences between cooked breakfast, continental one and traditional Irish. I have to admit that out of the whole range that we've prepared, it would be really hard to pick my favourite one. Yes, I'm know to be partial to cooked, usually sweet (me an my sugar addiction...) breakfast, but having two little ones means that I very rarely can enjoy a cooked, still warm(!) treat in the mornings, so it was to my absolute delight and joy, to be able to sample breakfasts all day long, 3 days in a row - cooked, cold, sweet and savory! Lucky me :D

Mise en place - all set and ready for sandwich assembly

A selection of traditional sandwiches with a side salad

We've started nice and slow, with continental breakfast and how to set up a breakfast buffet in a hotel or restaurant environment. Someone might say that continental breakfast is boring, cold, really nothing to it, but I think that it's anything but!

Breakfast buffet presentation

Nicely spread, full of colour and with a proper selection of cold meats and cheeses, it can be really interesting and inviting. Remember, you have all those cereals to choose from, fresh fruit salad (which can be done sooo wrong - just think of all that miserable tinned fruit...), yogurt, artisan jams and honey, fresh fruit juice, tea and coffee. Wouldn't you want to see a table like that first thing in the morning?! I know I would!

Cold meats and cheese boards

Classic Club Sandwich

There's more to making a good, tasty sandwich than chopping all the ingredients nicely. You still have to think about what will go well together, will your sandwich be well balanced, too dry or bland and the most important... Why no one ever told me about the Club Sandwich before?! Huh?! C'mon guys! I don't think that I'm asking for too much... Just a sandwich ;)

5* hotel style scrambled eggs 

So, we've set our meats and cheese, put yogurts into dainty, little glass pots, cut the fruit for the salad, made some sandwiches and... sat and ate it all. Yes, I do realize that probably by the end of this training I'll be good few pounds heavier, hopefully it won't be a whole stone ;)

Traditional full Irish breakfast

After cold, it came time for some hot stuff ;) You may say who can't make a scrambled eggs?! Well, I actually know few people myself... But those weren't any everyday scrambled eggs - they were 5* breakfast scrambled eggs! Besides that, we've poached few eggs, which were then used to make egg benedict, we've made classic French omelette and real mayonnaise from scratch. My GP won't be too happy when she reads all that now... So what was that daily "allowance", per person, in regards to eating eggs....???

French toast with cinnamon sugar

American style pancakes

French toasts, American style pancakes (I'm sorry Chef Mark - but I'll be sticking to my recipe when it comes to that one...), crepes and how to professionally flip them (so they won't end up on your ceiling, or fan extractor...!), full Irish breakfast and even freshly baked scones... uffff, how much choice you can give someone when it comes to breakfast?! Turns out - not enough (and I'm pretty sure I forgot about something here...).

How to flip that pancake!

Freshly baked scones

This week was the time for making some stocks. We've learned the difference between brown and white stocks, what parts of animal to use for them and that you can' boil them when you have still all the bits (bones, vegs) inside it - just simmer it gently, uncovered! You can reduce it and boil it, only when you've sieved it. The stocks went to the freezer and we'll use them during the rest of our training, for making sauces, soups etc.

Fish stock

Fish pieces ready for chowder

One of the highlights of the week for me, actually two, were the fish dishes. First being Dingle seafood chowder - fresh taste, light texture and loaded with fish! Second - fish cakes. I ate fish cakes before, made some myself, bought them from a fishmonger, but they were never that(!) good. No eggs in them, no bread crumbs to "bulk them up" or bind them better together (aside from those used on the outside, for the coating). Simply - fish, cooked potatoes and few other things to make them more delicious ;) and that's it! What a result! I've already made them for lunch at home - and the girls loved them! Proof is in the pudding ;)

Dingle seafood chowder

Fish cakes

Lots of things learned, lots of things cooked and eaten :) Even if I won't work as a "breakfast chef" in the future, I know one thing for sure - my breakfasts at home will definitely benefit (and improve) from that last week of training!

Roasted bones for brown beef stock

     - still 10, still intact (though few of my fellow trainees had to use the plaster already once or twice... I'm still the lucky one! Long may it last!)

Tips & Tricks learned:
     - when making a fish stock use only the bones, and bones from white fish, flat fish if possible (like sole, plaice, monk fish, haddock etc.), don't use head, livers etc. as that will make your fish stock bitter, don't use fish meat as it will make the stock cloudy, don't simmer fish stock for more than 20-30 minutes
     - when making stock (beef, fish...) always simmer it uncovered, your stock will be clearer and not so greasy
     - don't use carrots in white stock (fish, white chicken stock) as they can give your stock a colour
     - when making fish cakes use already cooked fish, seafood, not raw
     - if you're making hollandaise sauce from scratch use about 50-60 ml clarified butter per each egg yolk, if you have too much butter in your sauce, it will melt on top of your poached egg and possibly split too
     - the best way to cook bacon is to do it under the grill or cook on a griddle pan

How to properly bone and joint the chicken

Next week we'll start doing some pastry work (yupi! can't wait! Though my waist has some objections...), but we were told that the week will start with some fancy canapes :)

White chicken stock

Look for more photos, little adventures in the kitchen during my chef's training and some Tips & Tricks from week 4 next Sunday!
You can catch up with other posts from "Becoming a chef" series HERE.