The last week of the semester has arrived and that means it’s assessment week. There is a certain (uninvited) symmetry to this semester; I cut myself (only minor) in week one of the semester and managed to book-end it today with a much more nasty cut, removing part of my nail and nail bed whilst chopping herbs. After a quick patch up and glove, I was back at my bench in Kitchen 9. Chef found and presented me with the removed nail, but I will save you from that sight!
Todays assessment covers five dishes we have prepared over the past several weeks. As is normal with assessments, Chef is very ‘hands-off’ & leaves it to the students to schedule when things need to be cooked to ensure the finished plates are ready at the required time. He doesn’t direct us but keeps a watchful eye, which is obvious when he assesses the finished plates and makes comment as to what behaviour & work practices he observed of individual students in their making.
As is usual, we set out the ingredients on trays as a group and as usual I snapped a photo of Ronald doing ‘his thing”. I ask chef if we are individually responsible for certain elements which in past weeks were done en masse for the class, e.g., the croutons & prosciutto for the Caesar Salad. He said that was up to us, so I took charge of cutting the bread for the croutons with another student Liam & worked with Bellinda to ready the prosciutto. These went in the oven first up so as to be ready for the class when it came to plating the salad.
Preparation for an assessment starts before we walk into the kitchen with a review of the recipes and documentation of a workflow plan; what equipment is needed, what needs to be washed and cut, what needs to be cooked and in what order. Silence descended on the class and we commenced. Lots of salad leaves were to be washed and spin dried and produce to be washed and cut….as I was cutting coriander & reflecting how far we had all come in four months, my mind, and hand, wandered and with the tail end of my chef knife I cut my middle left hand finger, removing part of the nail and the nail bed… not so smart after all!
I have covered all these dishes in past blogs so won’t repeat them here, although do show photos of some of the preparation stages & the completed assessment plates as well as a very happy class photo. The recipe I have included today is the Spinach & Ricotta Parcels. The good news is I passed and even got a few, “very nice” comments from Chef, namely for my Caesar Salad, Fish Cakes and Spinach & Ricotta Parcels…. I don’t know that sandwiches are my thing 😳.
In order of plating;
- Club Sandwich
2. Caesar Salad
3. Spinach & Ricotta Parcels
4 . Smoked Fish Cakes with Pickled Ginger Mayonnaise
5. Chicken, Avocado & Mayonnaise sandwiches – Pullman, Finger & Fairy.
Spinach & Ricotta Parcels
Ingredients: Olive oil (30ml), Red Onion small dice (50g), Garlic finely chopped (2 cloves), Baby Spinach leaves (80g), Butter melted (80g), Filo Pastry (6 sheets), Fresh Ricotta Cheese (80g), Fresh Parmesan (15g), Nutmeg to taste (generous pinch), Salt & White Pepper to taste, black & white Sesame seeds.
Method: Heat oil in a small frypan and sweat off the onion and garlic (don’t colour) for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the picked, washed and dried spinach leaves, ensuring there is no tough stems and cook until moisture is gone. Remove from the heat and st aside to cool. To the cooled spinach mixture add the parmesan & ricotta cheese, the nutmeg and the seasoning.
Take a sheet of filo ensuring you cover the other sheets under a slightly damp cloth so as they don’t dry out, and gently and quickly apply the melted butter with a pastry brush. Fold in half and apply butter again. Fold a third time and put a dollop of the mix on the right hand bottom end of the pastry. Again brush butter on the sheet & around the spinach mixture. Taking the bottom right hand corner, fold the pastry over the filling to the left hand edge to form a triangle. Continue to roll and fold until you have used all the pastry, if there is a small piece left trim and secure with melted butter. Endure all seams are tightly closed. Brush the outside of each parcel and sprinkle with sesame seeds, placed on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 190C until ready and pastry is golden ( about 15 mins). These are best served hot.