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Pork, prep and plenty of pastries - Culinary School Diaries, Week 4

We're fully getting into the swing of things now, with more and more exam dishes popping up. I think this has been my favourite week so far, purely for the amount of baking that we've been given to do. Though after getting my second Covid jab on Sunday, I can't say that I was fully with it for the entirety of the week.


Today was the first day with our very enthusiastic new chef tutor, and of course new partners. Today was my first time making pasta, which was really interesting to do, as the dough is much drier than expected, and is then vacuum packed to speed up the resting process considerably. We then used this for today's lunch along with pesto, and an incredibly rich lemon posset for dessert, with some little candied lemon zest curls. We also started work on some of the pork for this week, including making my favourite bit of meat yet, curing a lovely bit of bacon with various spices and maple, which I got to enjoy fully over the rest of the week. Today also included making our first bit of sweet pastry and lining tart cases, which proved a lot more difficult than I had originally imagined, a lot more tearable than its cousin, shortcrust.

Our theory lesson today was naturally on pork and ham, as well as sweet pastry, and from a more boring (albeit very important) perspective, we looked at writing risk assessments.


A sweet-toothed cook's dream today, with pastries galore - lemon and treacle tarts with yesterdays sweet pastries, apple tart with puff pastry and a cinnamon custard, baguettes, lemon drizzle cake and prepping shortbread dough and the creme brulee custard ready for tomorrow. I have to say I'm ashamed of how quickly most of this mysteriously disappeared once I got back home. Today also marks the beginning of my suspicions with my oven, that was going suspiciously slower than I think it should have done this week, though I'd learned my lesson by Friday and just swapped to another one instead for my souffles. Lunch was chicken liver parfait, cheeses and baguettes.


Back to savouries today, mainly spent prepping for our service meal of pork fillet with mash, carrots, kale and a cider sauce. I think I'm slowly getting better at presentatio? You can judge from the photographs over the weeks, but I'm definitely feeling more confident. Lunch today was goujons of plaice served with freshly made tartare sauce (with freshly made mayonnaise), and a dessert of creme brulee (where I will freely admit that I was a bit too enthusiastic with the blowtorch), shortbread and cinnamon ice cream. Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would have liked my goujons a bit chunkier, but this did look pretty professional if I do say so myself.


Today we got to finish another excellent piece of fish, this time the very tasty (and very pretty) red mullet, which we served with the pork belly I had prepped and slow cooked previously, crushed potatoes and caper dressing. I way over-seasoned the potatoes unfortunately, but luckily I was already very full on the lunch of tagliatelle carbonara, sweet cured bacon and broccoli. For any Italians reading, you'll be pleased to know that I refused the addition of cream into the sauce and went fully traditional with just egg yolk for creaminess. We also basically made tomorrow's lunch, rolling up a very delicious chicken terrine and three separate salads.


Friday was a true comedy of errors for me; my ciabatta dough was way too wet which meant that I finished kneading it a good fifteen minutes after everyone was done, I couldn't whip the first batch of egg whites up for my toffee souffle (served with banana ice cream), and I completely failed to put a timer on for the souffle, which despite all of this, actually turned out very well! We also prepped raspberry mousse in chocolate teardrops and had lunch of the chicken terrine with farro salad, beetroot and kohlrabi salad and potato salad. I can only hope that next week goes more smoothly than today did!

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