We are back in class after the extra long Easter weekend and since last weeks class I’ve had the opportunity to practice a few of the elements we’ve learnt to date in “Basic Methods of Cooking” including, Tandoori Chicken, sautéed potatoes and braised red cabbage, as well as the Crumbed Sole fillets with tartare sauce from Lesson 3. I was remiss in not taking photos along the way, but when family and friends are around it’s more about getting the food hot to the table than snapping a quick pic for the blog or Instagram! I am pleased to report that I am learning, that is… a few mistakes along the way has made for good learning. For example, it is important to use waxy potatoes for sautéing as they hold their shape much better when pre-boiled. I also had a bonus lesson over Instagram from my talented friend & Chef Sarah, one of the fabulous pastry chefs at Ryde TAFE. If you are in Sydney and enjoy cake decorating and making pastry, her classes never disappoint. The crosses on her hot cross buns looked much better than mine, how do you think I felt when told her clever 9 year old piped them 😳. Sarah advised that for hers they used a 5mm nozzle and when I moved to that size (from 4mm) on the third and last batch, the results were much better!
Todays dishes were straight forward enough but required a lot of preparation, using some of the techniques we have learned so far. Lot’s of chopping, mincing & blanching, plus we also started using a piping bag. The dishes were Penne Puttanesca, Pork Stir Fry with boiled rice & Profiteroles with Chocolate Ganache….. some were more successful than others as you’ll see below.
My cooking buddy Bellinda and I took the divide and concur approach to some of the chopping and a few of the other tasks. I made the ganache whilst Bellinda cut the capsicum, peeled the carrots and top and tailed the beans. Speaking of beans, Chef introduced me to a nifty little gadget to slice the beans, a French style bean slicer, readily available in kitchen shops, which made light work of the slicing of the beans…and yes I bought one on the way home.
Pork loin fillet trimmed and sliced into strips, we moved onto pre-cooking the pasta and then cracking on with the choux pastry for the profiteroles. All was going pretty well, my panada (the heated mixture of water, butter, salt and flour) looked good and was coming away from the bottom of the pan as required. I took it off the heat and allowed it to reach the right temperature (40 – 50 C) before adding the eggs one at a time, so as they didn’t scramble. It was a promising smooth and silky semi set paste and I was looking forward to nice profiteroles (ha!). My downfall was my piping ( is there a theme here?). I should have piped them with more height which would have meant more volume….they were simply too small. If that wasn’t enough I also made the silly mistake of dipping the finished profiteroles in the ganache rather than the tempered chocolate …. the finished product was all a bit of a mess 😱 My plan is to make another batch and include a photo in a later post so as to redeem myself, but rather than ganache I will fill them with pastry cream as a contrast to the chocolate coating.
With all the preparation done we turned to cooking the Penne Puttanesca and the Pork Stir fry. Penne Puttanesca is a delicious and quick dish to make with ingredients usually at hand, typically tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers & garlic. We added chilli, parsley and torn basil to ours, finishing it off with thin strips of parmesan. There are varying stories of the origins of this pasta sauce, which I will leave you to explore, but it was was invented in Naples in mid 20C where many other wonderful foods have come, including pizza. The Pork stir fry also was quick, colourful and tasty. We watched Chef deftly create this dish in a few minutes, masterfully tossing the ingredients in the pan until just combined. Chef’s finished plate as always looked elegant and restrained…. we quickly exchanged a laugh over the man size portion of mine….😊
We are almost half way through this semester and I find myself at home in Kitchen 9. I am impressed with the classes, the skill and generosity of Chef Troy, the quality of the produce we are provided, and the overall organisation of the classes. I know this is where I am meant to be. The class is a happy one and I have made lovely connection with students less than half my age… this mature age student throughly recommends following your dreams where ever they may lead you.
Bon Appetit and happy cooking!