Becoming a chef - week 5...

The time is literally running away, for me anyway.... Soooo quickly that I haven't even noticed that it's the end of week 5, halfway through my chef's training at JustCooking. This week we've finished the "pastry week" which was week 4, as there was so much to do in that topic that we haven't been able to fit it all in one week. This week saw us also producing some restaurant quality dishes and.. there was first bloody event in the kitchen...

Chocolate fondant (aka lava cake in the USA), yes I am a chocoholic, and even that I've never made that sweet treat myself. Well, that's about to change! I'm already thiking how to "spice it up" and use orange chocolate, salted caramel chocolate, coconut one and many more... Mmmm....

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant aka Lava cake

Ok, so we haven't made our own puff pastry, but honestly now, which professional kitchen will make their own puff pastry from scratch - unless it's high end fine dining, 5* establishment or a patisserie... huh? So yes, we did have shop bought puff, but there's nothing wrong with that! Pastry cream was made from scratch (which I already made on few occasions, for example when making Polish kremowka). So... thin puff pastry sheets, with pastry cream and fresh raspberries. Delicious!

Millefeuille of raspberries and pastry cream

Millefeuille of raspberries and pastry cream

Now, with the next dessert my inner child was fully awaken! I simply loooove meringue, French, Italian - each and every one! I ate more than I should have, way more... As each of us always plates the dish, again we've all done that, but not everyone ate their creation. So, I simply couldn't let it go to waste! Throwing away such a fantastic dessert?! Never! At least not as long as I have some say in it ;)

French meringue

French meringue with Baileys cream and berry compote

Brandy snaps. Watched so many times other make them on TV, but it was the first time for me. And no, there's no brandy in it - something that maybe should be finally changed...! ;) They weren't as tricky as the tuilles last week, we had more time to work with them, before they went hard, but I have to admit that I think I prefer the tuilles, which in my opinion give more of a "wow factor", but then again - brandy snaps are more sturdy to work with and can be sued in different ways than tuilles.

Brandy snaps

After we've finished playing around with various dessert we took a "trip", a culinary one to other countries - India and Thailand specifically. Indian cuisine was always one I was fascinated by. I love all the different spices, breads, rice cooked on so many different ways. I love the perfect marriage of that hot and cold, sweet and spicy.
Baking Naan bread on the BBQ made all the difference! I always used to make it in the oven or on a very hot pan, but on the BBQ you're getting that smokiness, that something which makes it so much better!

Naan bread

Chicken Korma with coconut rice, onion Bhajis and Naan

Making your own curry sauce from scratch isn't really that difficult and it IS so much better than the jar version! Yes, you need quite a lot different spices, but once you buy them they will last. You need only a little bit every time, so it's really something worth spending your money on.

Sweet potato lamb curry

Massamam beef curry

Curries with rice

From India to China and sweet and sour sauce. I really, really, really would have never thought of how easy it is to make your own sweet and sour sauce! And tehre's a huge advantage in making your own  - you can make it as sour, as sweet or as spicy as YOU want it and not the big food companies! I also dare to say that it's probably more economical to make your own (especially when making a bigger batch) and definitely healthier, as you won't have that long list of "E ingredients" on your plate ;)

Batter chicken with sweet and sour sauce

Our cooking and dishes themselves are becoming more and more "restaurant like", we're plating with more finesse and more attention to detail. With the two starters we've made this week - Asian style spring rolls and Smoked salmon one - I would be more than happy to get it in a restaurant and I would willingly pay for it! Yes, it does take a practice to produce a dish like those two, even though there might not be a lot of different techniques involved and not a lot of ingredients, still, it is a step above your everyday, home cooking.

Confit duck spring rolls with Thai salad and mango salsa

Warm potato pancakes with smoked salmon, deep fried quail egg and lemon cream

Loin of lamb (which was butchered by us from the whole rack of lamb) served with Irish vegetabel broth and champ potato, now that's something closer to home and so satisfying! A real comfort food, that's worth serving to a king!

Loin of lamb with vegetable broth and champ potato

     - mine: still 10, still intact 
     - Seamus'... well, the blood was dripping on the floor... his nail will finally fall off, once the finger will start healing, but I don't think I would be so cool and brave if that was to happen to me, so... kudos to my brave friend who already got his first "marks" as a true chef!

Tips & Tricks learned:
     - when making a meringue, you want to keep it for that bit longer and don't want it to go rock hard, add some vinegar and cornflour to your meringue mix, it will keep them nice and soft for quite a long time
     - you can make chocolate fondant mixture in advance and keep it up to about 5 days in the fridge
     - you can make the brandy snaps mix in advance, then it's easily rolled into small, even balls, placed on the baking tray and into the oven for baking, you can keep this mixture in the fridge even up to 2 weeks
Prepping the ox tongue

As next week we'll be making some starters using the ox tongue, it was prepped and cooked this week, bot more about it all next Sunday, so do come back! :)

Cooking the beef tongue