I'm studying the Grand Diplome at Cordon Bleu in London

Archive for June, 2012

Days 102, 103, 104 – Cuisine exam results and canapés for graduation – Mon 18th to Wed 20th June

On Monday we received the result from the cuisine exam. Apparently I didn’t do as bad as I had thought as I got 90.5%! Wow. I thought I’d be lucky to get 70% so I must have done something right.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had a practical making some canapés for the Basic and Intermediate graduations on Thursday.

We had chef John for this and spent Tuesday doing a lot of preparation (mise en place) and Wednesday completing the canapés. I mainly worked on some honey, lime and sesame seed chicken wing lollipops and made about 100 of these. Other people made thyme and parmesan sablés with a ham hock and parsley ballotine slice, blinis with beetroot cured gravadlax, fresh tuna sushi, vegetable and halloumi kebabs, crabmeat with chilli jam and cheese straws.

We get to eat these at our graduation tomorrow.

That’s intermediate cuisine and patisserie completed. I am now 2/3 of my way through my time at Cordon Bleu. Superior starts on 2nd July. In the mean time I am taking a week’s holiday.

Day 101 – Patisserie exam results and Decorating the fruit cake – Fri 15th June

Today we got the results of our patisserie exam from chef Christophe. It isn’t the final result for the term, just the result for making the Fraisier in the exam on Monday.

I got 87.75% and came top of my class! The only major criticism was my royal icing piping on the top of the cake. I hope my cuisine result is anywhere near as good.

Then we had a practical to decorate our fruit cakes. I covered the cake in marzipan and decided to colour my fondant icing blue with marbling to complement the yellow roses. I covered the cake and board, added a border around the sides of the cake, crimped the edges of the cake and marked the edge of the board and added ribbon around the board. I piped royal icing around the base of the cake, on the border and on the top then added the roses and leaves.

Day 100 – Cuisine exam and making sugar flowers – Thurs 14th June

The day started with this term’s cuisine exam and we had to make the salmon paupiettes.

Once I gathered all my ingredients on my tray to put in the fridge I started by throwing everything on the floor! I was able to rescue most of it and fortunately it all needed washing anyway so no harm done.

I proceeded to make the salmon paupiettes ok (escalope of salmon filled with scallop mousse) but I over-reduced my sauce twice, then boiled it over across my stove. I also overcooked the salmon and broccoli. Not my best day!

However the dish looked ok on the plate so hopefully I’ve done ok.

Next we had a class making flowers or decorations for the fruit cake we would be decorating the next day. I managed to make 4 sugarpaste yellow roses and some leaves in the 2½ hours we had. It’s slow work and a little dull but they looked quite good.

Day 99 – Written exams and Cake Decorating demo – Wed 13th June

Today we had the written exams for both Patisserie and Cuisine and a demo on decorating the fruit cake we made right back at the beginning of term.

Each of the written exams lasted 1 hour and consisted of some multiple choice questions and some short answer questions. Similar to last term it took all of the time available to answer all the questions in  the patisserie exam and less than half the time in the cuisine exam.

Then we had the last patisserie demo for this term and chef Christophe showed us how to decorate the fruit cake we made back earlier this term.

He sliced the top off the cake to level it, covered the top and sides with marzipan and then in fondant icing. He then decorated the cake and cake board (also covered in fondant) by crimping or marking the edges and piped royal icing. He then used the sugarpaste flowers and leaves that he made in a demo some weeks ago to complete the cake by first brushing them with coloured powders and then tieing them together into a strand of flowers and sticking them to the cake.

Day 98 – Patisserie Exam – Mon 11th June

Today was the Patisserie Exam for this term (Intermediate) and I drew a number to have to make the Fraisier. The other possibilities were the Opera and Sabrina cakes.

We had 2 ½ hours to make the cake from scratch, including the marzipan rose. I must say that this is the cake I was hoping to make, rather than the other options, so I was very pleased to draw this.

It went pretty well and I finished with about 15 minutes to spare and hadn’t had to rush myself.

Here is the finished cake.

Next exams are the written patisserie and cuisine exams on Wednesday.

Day 97 – Canapés and Finger Buffet – Fri 8th June

Chef Gilles took us for the last demo and practical before our exams start on Monday.

In the demo (for which the corresponding practical will be our exam so we won’t be making these dishes) he made a number of items for a finger buffet.

He made salmon and smoked salmon mousseline in puff pastry

rare roast fillet of beef with yorkshire puddings

potato cones with pickled julienne of carrot, swede, turnip and courgette

vegetarian scotch eggs using soft-boiled quails eggs and lentil, onion and mushroom duxelle replacing the sausagemeat

and tempura prawns.

In the practical that followed we made the canapés from yesterday’s demo and worked in teams of 4 to produce the 6 different canapés. In my team I prepared and cooked the chicken and fish and I had the largest prawns I have ever seen. I think most lobsters would have been afraid of them.

Here are our finished canapés.


Day 96 – Canapés, Gnocchi and Sugar Work – Thurs 7th June

Today we had 2 demos with a practical between them.

First was a cuisine demo with chef Gilles on canapés. He made 6 different types of canapé.

He made blinis with horseradish cream and smoked salmon and dill, deep fried salted cod croquettes and marinated tiger prawns.

Next were parmesan shortbread with chives and fromage blanc, aubergine and goat’s cheese rolls and smoked chicken wings with honey and lime glaze.


Next we had a practical with chef Neil making the gnocchi. Not a dish with much flavour. In fact the only flavour in the 2 dishes we made was the parmesan cheese. I wasn’t impressed by these dishes and when the chef-astronaut asked what I would serve them with, I replied I wouldn’t as they had no flavour. (Houston, we have a problem!)

Then we had the last patisserie demo before the exams and chef Nicolas gave us a demonstration of some sugar work.

He made some poured sugar pieces (a square, some circles, a mirror effect base, a bubble effect curved piece which would be the background and a ‘coral’ by pouring hot sugar into a jug of ice, then dusting the result with caster sugar). He then did some pulled sugar work and made a 2 colour ribbon, some roses and leaves. He assembled all of these into a sugar centrepiece.

Lastly he made a blown sugar dolphin.

Day 95 – 2 practicals and a lecture – Wed 6th June

After the Queen’s jubilee long weekend we had 2 practicals today, from demos last week, and then a chocolate tasting lecture.

The 1st practical was making the stuffed artichoke en croute and we had chef Neil (Armstrong) for the 1st time this term. Chef Neil was fresh back from a holiday sailing around the Hebrides (though I suspect it was a moon trip!).

A straightforward practical and not too bad for just vegetables, though when the chef asked how this dish could be improved, I suggested some meat.

Next we had a patisserie practical with chef Graeme to make the exotic fruit mousse. Again, not too hard though I though the flavour would have been better if it was just a mango mousse rather than mango and coconut.

Here is a picture of my finished dish. As it was a tropical flavoured mousse I made a tuile palm tree as part of the decoration.

Lastly, chef Nicolas (also just back from holiday) gave us a lecture on chocolate tasting and we tasted a dozen different types of chocolate of different origins including a couple of milk chocolates, a strawberry flavoured chocolate confection and also an orange one, and pure cocoa butter and cocoa paste (pure cocoa mass and cocoa butter, unsweetened). It was interesting to taste the different flavours discernible from a range of dark chocolates all of 70% cocoa solids.


Day 94 – Vegetarian cooking! – Fri 1st June

Today a couple of demos on vegetarian cooking. (Vegetarian food is fine as long as you have lots of meat with it!)

The 1st was with chef Loic and he made 3 dishes.

The 1st was globe artichoke stuffed with mushrooms, shallots and spinach, encased in a lattice of puff pastry and served with baby carrots and courgettes and a tomato and basil sauce.

Next was a vegetable pastilla which is a filo pastry parcel with a stuffing of onion, green beans, mangetout, peas, romaine lettuce and confit tomatoes. The pastilla was baked in the oven and served with red and yellow pepper coulis and basil oil and tomato skin crisps.

Lastly was an asparagus and parmesan gratin with truffle jus.

Next we had a demo with chef Gilles on Gnocchi. He made 3 different types of gnocchi.

The 1st was a potato gnocchi, poached in water, then sautéed in butter with chopped parsley and grated parmesan.

Next was a gnocchi made from semolina, allowed to cool on a tray and then cut in circles, used to fill a gratin dish, with cooked tomato concasse in the centre, sprinkled with Gruyère and baked in the oven.

Last was gnocchi made from choux paste, poached then baked in the oven with bechamel sauce and topped with a little gruyere and baked until puffed up and golden.

Day 93 – Provence II – Thurs 31st May

Chef Loic took the demo today and gave us more dishes from Provence.

The 1st was a vegetable soup of potato, haricot beans, broad beans, green beans, courgettes and tomatoes and finished with parmesan and pesto.

Next was a Niçoise style stuffed sea bass which was boned from the top, leaving the belly whole and creating a pocket into which a stuffing of onion, mushroom, ham, tomato, olives, capers and fennel was placed and the fish was steamed in fish stock.

Last was a lemon tart decorated, glazed and decorated with strawberries and raspberries.

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