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

Posts tagged ‘Eggs’

Day 24 – Puff Pastry slice, Eclairs and Eggs – Thurs 16th Feb

Today we had 2 practicals and demo class sandwiched in the middle.

The first practical was to finish off the puff pastry that we started last week. I am hoping and presuming that it had been frozen in between. Puff pastry freezes well.

We were to make the puff pastry slice with fruit that was demonstrated last week. First task was to roll out and shape the puff pastry and then bake it.
This would show how well we had made the puff pastry and it was evident from the various puff pastry cases around the kitchen that my classmates and I had made a wide variety of puff pastries, some rising well, some hardly at all, some very unevenly. I was pretty happy with mine.

A few minutes later, one of my classmates managed to set his pastry on fire. Not just blackened, but actual flames and smoke! We were lucky the fire alarm wasn’t set off.
While the pastry was baking we had made the creme patissiere and he had placed the oven tray on the hob when he took it out of the oven. We have induction hobs and they only heat up things placed on them if they contain lots of iron. So stainless steel pots heat up well as do baking trays, but your hand wouldn’t if you placed it on the stove. However he hadn’t turned the hob off after making his creme patissiere, so when he placed his baking tray there it heated up quickly and burnt his pastry. Fortunately it was at one end of the pastry, so he was still able to use half of it.

Once the pastry was cool, we spread the creme patissiere in it and topped it with fruit, then glazed it to give it a shine and prevent oxidisation of the fruit:

Next we had a practical on making choux pastry and eclairs.

Choux pastry is a very different pastry to anything we had learnt so far. Water and butter, plus a little salt and sugar, is brought to the boil, then strong flour is tipped in and mixed in until a smooth paste is achieved. Once cool, lots of beaten egg was beaten in until a dropping consistency is achieved.
The chef piped the paste in cylinders about 12cm long and well spaced so they have room to expand and the steam to escape when baked.

Once baked and cooled, they were filled with coffee flavoured creme patissiere piped in through small holes made in the bottom of the eclairs, then covered with coffee flavoured fondant. Fondant is just sugar which has been boiled into a syrup then worked as it cools to make a glossy and very fine textured paste. It is very stiff at room temperature and needs to be warmed to 38°C to be usable, but no higher or it loses its gloss. Once warmed it was run in a ribbon from a spoon over each eclair to cover the top of each eclair. Then the chef piped chocolate on the fondant to decorate the eclairs:


Lastly we had a practical cooking eggs.

We were to make eggs florentine and an omelette.

Not a hard practical and all went pretty smoothly, except for the classmate beside me who is in a perpetual panic in every practical and drives everyone nuts.

The egg poached nicely – yolk still runny – and the mornay sauce was delicious and the spinach a lovely counterpoint to the richness of the rest of the dish.

The omelette wasn’t too hard though I needed to agitate it more as it set. Not something I’ve made much before as they’re not something that interests me much to eat.


Day 23 – Eggs, Veal and Pork – Wed 15th Feb

Today we started off with a demo with chef Eric on the subject of cooking eggs, then we had a couple of practicals.

The chef demonstrated lots of different ways of cooking eggs.

Scrambled eggs cooked in a little butter and finished with cream were served with a croute (circle of bread cooked in a little clarified butter) and smoked salmon.

Eggs Florentine – poached egg on a bed of cooked spinach, topped with sauce mornay and glazed under the grill (called a salamander).

A soft boiled egg.

Oeuf sur plat – cooked in a buttered ceramic dish over gentle direct heat until the white just cooked.

Oeuf en cocotte – cooked in a ramekin in a bain marie in the oven until almost set and finished with a little cream around the yolk.

Deep fried egg – an egg broken into hot oil and a couple of spoons used to form the white around the yolk and deep fried until the white is golden and crispy and the yolk still runny.

Omelette fines herbes – omelette with parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives, chopped finely.

 Then we had our first practical which was to make the blanquette de veau, or white veal stew.

Chef John took us for this practical and turned up 10 minutes late, when we have been told that we must be there at least 10 minutes before class. This means that we start late and setting up does not get done before class, cutting into our class time.

One of my classmates said to the chef that it wasn’t good that the chef wasn’t on time when we had to be, which seemed to annoy the chef greatly, and told the class that we weren’t his only responsibility and that if he was late for class because a previous class had run late, or for any other reason, it was just tough and ‘I don’t care’! And wasn’t going to discuss it.
Can’t say I am particularly impressed with the attitude. He merely needed to say ‘Sorry I’m late. Previous class ran late. Thanks for being patient’ or something like that, but he does give the impression that he really doesn’t care. He spends half of the time in class on his mobile phone and everyone has commented on it within our group.
Having said all that, he didn’t keep any signs of anger towards the class and happily answered any questions and helped students as needed.

Making the veal blanquette went well. Not too hard, though my sauce was just a little thick. Quite a light flavour to this stew. Would probably have more flavour of the veal was cooked in white veal stock, rather than just water. The rice pilaf was also fairly simple though if I’d used a narrower pan, there would have been less evaporation of the stock and the rice wouldn’t have got browned around the edges. The chef was fairly happy with it all though, just noting the above points.

Then we had another practical, cooking the pork cutlet and mashed potato. Chef Gilles took us for this practical, which was good as he gave us the demonstration of this the day before and is very friendly to students (but not above chastising the class when necessary).

I had a fairly thin pork cutlet which made is quite hard to tie into a round shape as the string kept slipping off the thin edge, but I did have lots of trimmings with which to make a tasty sauce. Being so thin, it took only 10 minutes in the oven, once browned, to cook it through.

The potatoes were straightforward though, disappointingly, I didn’t find any gold when doing the panning. The drum sieve did create a fine mash though and it was wonderfully rich and tasty when finished with milk, butter, seasoning and a little butter.

The sauce had a great rich flavour and I managed to balance the honey, lemon mustard well. Chef Gilles liked it a lot and apologised for eating half of it!

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