Sunday, November 13, 2016

Week Seven at Leiths

Passionfruit Jelly with Segmented Oranges 

We had no school on Monday. I absolutely love having the house to myself. I got to play music without headphones as well as workout in the house.  I used the day off to catch up on some reviewing, I wrote all the time-plans for the week and finished my costing. I also made a lot of food, which included roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, roasted chicken, white bread and fusilli with oil, garlic and tomatoes. I even got to re-watch the movie Brooklyn.

I went in a bit early to school so I could print off all my time-plans and homework for the week.  As I walked to school, I realized that this 1.25 mile walk to school was not as bad as I thought it was at first. I have adjusted to the commute and it really only takes me about 22 minutes (I found a short-cut) rather than 30-35 minutes the first week. I still do not like walking home with all my materials, knives and chef clothes on Friday. It is just so heavy.

We started the day by making caramel, passion fruit and orange jelly and royal icing for our cakes and even segmented oranges. Segmenting oranges is so much harder than it looks! It is so difficult to take the skin off the orange without taking off the orange itself. The caramel was not hard but I felt super impatient while making it. The color changes quickly at the last minute, and before you know it you may have over-cooked it.

I put too much royal icing on my cake and one of the class tutors got annoyed that it was on the sides a little bit. Part of me doesn’t really care because this was my first time doing this, and luckily, the fondant, will be covering the rest of the cake.

At the end of the day, we had our progress evaluations. I met with my teacher and we talked about my progress throughout the term. I was prepared to get creamed. I thought he was going to say you need to work on jointing, filleting, short crust pastry and more skills, and you really need to get it down. But he was very positive and said that he’s glad that I progressed throughout the term and the point was not for students to be leaving class frustrated (I definitely have been disappointed in myself a lot).  He didn’t think I was too slow. He just thought I was methodical and wanted to understand every step of the process. He also said I was tenacious, which I appreciated. He didn’t tell me to calm down or anything, which people have told me to do in the past. In fact, he did not say anything about my anxiety and said that it’s common for people to be nervous the first few weeks while they adjust to Leiths and the new kitchen environment. The meeting just made me feel a lot better, and I really hope I don’t disappoint myself or the teachers in the final weeks.

Gougere with Smoked Haddock, Spinach and Tomato 

On Wednesday, I woke up and found out that Donald Trump had won the American election. I went to bed thinking Hillary was going to win, and then I woke up and saw that he won. How horrible!  It gave me a bit of a stomachache and I went to class feeling a bit down. The morning session did go by really fast though.

We had to make a smoked haddock gougere with spinach and tomato. It involved making choux pastry for the gougere, poaching haddock in milk, making a roux for the sauce, wilting spinach and blanching tomatoes. We also had to serve our passion fruit jellies that we made on Tuesday. It just felt like a lot, although it should have been simple. I got a 4/5 on my choux pastry because it was a little undercooked and I got a 3/5 on my filling because I didn’t fill it enough. I didn’t fill it enough, which made it dry. I didn’t realize that I could have filled it higher until I wrote my name on the board. I was too scared to erase it and be told off that I wouldn’t be able to fix my dish after writing my name down once. I just chose to live with the consequences. However, I felt bad because I thought it overall looked okay, and I just felt like I worked so hard all morning. Luckily, I received full-credit for my passion fruit jelly with caramelized oranges.

In the afternoon, we had a demonstration on Indian food. We didn’t have to take any notes, so I had a hard time paying attention. My thoughts were filled with Donald Trump creating “divided” states rather than a unified nation.

Coq au Vin 

We had an early start to the day. We prepared Coq au Vin. It is only one dish, but it actually stressed me out quite a bit. We had to blanch our onions and peel them, chop parsley, clean and cook mushrooms, blanch lardons and then cook them, as well as make a sauce and then joint our chickens and render the fat off. The last five minutes were especially stressful. I had to blanch my broccoli, plate my food, clear off my table and set up a serving jug for my teacher to taste my food. We also had to complete everything by 12:15. If you are even a minute late you get a point taken away. Last time, I was five minutes late so I got a 1/5 on my timing. Luckily, this time I finished on time and got a 5/5. I felt like one of those chefs on Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen.  I basically just had enough time to throw my food on the plate in order to leave a few seconds to shine the edge of the plate up a bit. We are required to wipe off the plate with a paper towel and some disinfectant.

I managed to finally get a 5/5 on my jointing (seven chickens after my first one). I guess all that practicing in the smallest kitchen ever paid off! I did overcook some of my chickens and didn’t completely render all the fat off, so I got 4/5 on my meat cooking. I also didn’t cook my broccoli enough so I got a 3/5 on them.

We ended the day with a demonstration on healthy eating. I definitely liked this demonstration more than yesterday’s. I love listening to people discuss healthy eating and ways to get more nutrition in. It is definitely possible to cook without lots of oils, creams and butter!

Overall, I do find that I am losing interest in the demonstrations. Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that by the time I get to the demonstration I have no more interest in listening to other people talk.

At the end of the day, I found out that I passed the WSET wine exam. I now have a level one certificate in wine. I haven’t really even tasted wine much despite my dad being something like a sommelier.
Rack of Lamb with Mint Salsa, Potatoes en Papillote and Beans 

I woke up at 6:30 am out of anxiety because I was not ready to separate a rack of lamb. I re-read the page over and over, but it just wasn’t sinking into my mind.
I went to school at 8:15 am for our early start and realized that I sent myself the wrong time-plan for the day. Luckily, my generous classmate printed hers out for me. 

In class, we made a mint salsa, lamb cutlets with herbs along with new potatoes en papillote.  For the mint salsa, the teacher really cracked down hard on our knife cuts. Luckily, I got a 4/5. He actually gave me a 3/5 at first and then decided it was too harsh and erased the number. My cuts did look pretty equal to me. I struggled a lot with the lamb. I had no idea what I was doing because I had missed the demonstration the week before. Both teachers helped me, but everyone needed help. I got behind and basically just gave up. The teacher did not grade us on this skill, and wanted to grade us on our cooking of the lamb.  I received 4/5 on plating because I put too much on it without thinking, 5/5 on meat cooking and 4/5 on my knife cuts.

Our buffet group met to discuss some final things over lunch. My brain was so fried. I wasn’t able to properly discuss costing with my classmates. 

We ended the day with a game demonstration. I had no desire to sit and watch another lecture, but I found it all quite interesting and even a bit disgusting. Watching the teacher take out innards and organs from a bird as well as pluck it made me nervous for next week’s practical class. I have no desire to pluck a bird! The food was absolutely fabulous tasting. 

Later that evening, I went home and taught my flat-mate how to cut vegetables at 8:30 pm at night. It made me realize how much I have learned over the past year, and how fortunate I am to have gotten the education that I have received in the past seven weeks.  

Baked Eggs with Chorizo 

The Weekend

On Saturday, I watched my flat-mate leave to go back home and it made me feel extremely homesick. Not only did I enjoy spending time with him, but I too really want to leave. I spent the evening writing up time plans and studying in an attempt to eradicate my deathly homesickness.

Scone with Clotted Cream and Jam 

On Sunday, I was brutally awakened at 2:30 am by the neighbors singing at the top of their lungs. The police came and banged on their door to get them to quiet down. I was then awoken again at 7:30 am when my landlord’s son moved into the new room. I went to the Maryleborne Market in search of a Plaice or Sole fish to fillet. I bought the last sole and it was way too expensive. I decided to indulge and enjoyed a scone with clotted cream and jam. The baked goods at the markets are so tempting. Afterwards, I went to Waitrose and bought puff pastry (took me ten minutes to find it in the store) so I could practice lining a tart tin. 

I took my fish and puff pastry home immediately and began to cook. It baffles me how every time I try to cook the whole entire family is in the kitchen and living room. I felt so distracted and my fish looked like a disaster. Baby food was in the sink, tea bags were all over and I just felt self-conscious and wanted to get out of the kitchen as fast as possible. 

My Poor Attempt at Filleting 

I love walking around London, taking the tube, looking at the Christmas lights, people watching, and just spending time on my own away from the Leiths and apartment bubble. I find it so magical to just wander and window shop.

I don't know how I'm going to get through Week 8. I am quite nervous about our practice assessment, and I have to do a lot of revising this week for the upcoming theory test. Did I actually just say the word revising instead of reviewing? Maybe I am becoming British. I am not confident in a lot of the major skills and I think it has been pure luck that some of them turned out well. 

But, week seven has been a much better week overall. Thank you to all those who have been following these seven weeks so far at Leiths. It means a lot to me. Although I love exploring and traveling, these past weeks have been a struggle and it’s nice to know you are out there reading my adventures.  

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