Week 4! at ENTCS.

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Whew!  I really thought after having experienced cooking schools before and being week 4 I would be cruising along with a veteran like style.  Not so!  This school is still kicking my butt.  There always seems to be a group panic near plating time.  Everyone scurries around trying to get all their dishes plated and beautified.  I was far from successful with my Chelsea Buns, as was dutifully pointed out by one of my instructors.  I had uneven cooking, unraveled buns, and a noticeably sloppy frantic application of apricot ‘glaze’, which on my funky buns looked like blobs of sick.

I’m trying to wrap my head around staying on task and on time AND getting everything beautifully presented, Oh, and of course delicious.   I’m not completely in the back of the bus, but I ain’t drivin’ it, that is for sure.

Today I need to present Italian Bread (similar to a focaccia), Blackberry Jellies, Tuiles and Chocolate Mousse,.  I let you know how it goes.

Some Time Later…

Well, THAT could have gone better.  Apparently my Italian Bread was too thin and slightly overcooked.  I kinda liked it but could see the instructor’s  point.  Then my Tuiles seemed to have too much sugar and also overcooked…yeah, I’ll give ’em that.  My Blackberry Jellies could possibly ‘jell’ if I do a dance and maybe donate to some deserving charity; did I mention I forgot to bring the simple syrup to a boil and simmer the aromatics?  The gelatin should fix all that, I hope.

Then finally my chocolate mousse. Where to start.  I guess the first screw up was over mixing the egg whites – how to fix this – start over, et voilà! Right? Eh, no.  Then we take the new egg whites, whipped to perfection, and add them to the chocolate forgetting the egg yolks.  How do we fix this – start over, et voilà! Right?  Again, no.  Egg whites whipped to perfection, egg yolks fluffed as directed, more chocolate melted to desired heat level, mix  all carefully and lovingly as to not to deflate the perfectly whipped whites!  Pour into ramekins and cross fingers.  Fingers crossed, check!

If I had to transpose a school grade to the final mousse, I guess I would say I earned a B-.  Whah??  What went wrong? Whites whipped to swan’s neck, yolks aerated, chocolate just melted, folded together with so much love I nearly shed a tear, ramekin filled and tapped, fingers crossed in the proper crisscross formation.  Maybe it was the tapping? Did I over tap?!  I don’t think I’ll sleep tonight pondering the unknown factor…the X factor.

I have definitely lost my mojo; hopefully this is only temporary.  Being mojoless is a frustrating place to be.  I’ve made an executive decision to try to regroup/ remojo if you will.  How, I’m not exactly sure but hopefully it will include some more interesting photographs and delicious, inspirational dishes cooked by some one else.  Until next time!


“Attention, This Vehicle is Reversing”

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I think in the States, if I multi-ton trash collecting truck was backing up using a warning voice, it would be something like, “Hey! You! Stop texting or playing Angry Birds and move your dumb-ass outta the way before I rub you into the pavement!”  Here in Edinburgh, you will hear in a calm and gentle voice, “Attention, this vehicle is reversing.”   Very different approaches to a common goal.

So on my way to cooking school I managed to live another day and make some darn tasty dishes, two of which I’d like to share with you.  Now I know some of you might be dismissive about soup and more specifically Mushroom Soup, but please give this easy and flavorsome soup a try!  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  The second dish I will post is Swiss Meringues.  The irony here is that I really like soup, just about any soup so I was excited about our first dish but when our instructors told us we’d be making meringues my nose wrinkled and I thought I’d be wasting a lot of time on cloyingly sweet little ‘precious’ puffs that would go directly into the compost after my critique. Not so!  Yes, meringues of course are very sweet but prepared in bite-size portions and cooked properly they are a delightful treat.  On to the soup! Then the Meringues!

Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

55g/ 2oz Butter

340g/ 12oz Button mushrooms, chopped

3 T Parsley, finely chopped

2 Garlic cloves, very finely chopped or, preferably,  pasted

2 Bread slices, crustless cut into small pieces

860ml/ 1 1/2 pints Chicken stock

Pinch of Nutmeg or Mace

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 T Heavy (double) cream

Fresh herbs for garnish

Melt the butter in a medium sized pot.  Add the mushrooms and chopped parsley and cook on medium high heat until mushrooms are completely cooked through and a little caramelized.  Add the garlic and bread and mix well, then pour in stock, nutmeg or mace and salt and pepper.  Bring to low simmer for about 10 minutes.  Taste to see if it needs to be reduced a bit more.  Pour into a blender or use a immersion stick blender and whiz. Pour pack into the same pot and reheat adding the cream.  Place in heated bowls and garnish with herbs.


Swiss Meringues

Makes about 50 small or 12 large meringues


4 Egg whites

Pinch of salt

225g/ 8oz Baker’s (caster) sugar


Filling (Optional):

200ml/ 7 fl oz Heavy (double) cream, whipped


Preheat oven to 225°F/ 110°C

Place parchment on 2 baking sheets.  Whisk egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry.  Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar whisking until stiff and shiny.  Continue adding sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time.  Drop meringue onto prepared sheet pans using either a small or large spoon – just make sure they are all about the same size.  Leave space between each meringue as they puff up during baking.  Depending on the size of your meringues bake from about 1/2 hour to 1 hour and a bit  What you’re looking for is to be able to peel the bottom of the meringues from the parchment easily and firm to the touch.  The color of the meringues should only go slightly off white otherwise they will be overcooked.

You can choose to sandwich the meringue (bottoms) two together with the optional whipped cream in the middle. Lecker!