I’m so sad that my four weeks of Cordon Bleu heaven has come to an end! Aaaaaagh, makes me want to bawl into my apron…why can’t I come here every Tuesday night and be given fabulous ingredients to make amazing dishes with in an insanely well provided kitchen under the watchful and welcoming eye of a fantastic chef? I mean, surely he has nothing better to do on an ongoing basis?
It’s literally been such an enjoyable time and I have honestly loved every single minute of it. Yep. Even the first heart pounding moments of week 1 when I couldn’t get those damn chicken legs off…
So on the menu for tonight – lamb. More specifically a trimmed rack of lamb served with dauphinoise potatoes and stuffed tomatoes. Excuse me while I just dribble into my apron.
Well if I thought that first-lesson-chicken was giving me attitude, it was a mere beginner compared to this bad boy rack of lamb that I had to turn into something slightly more presentable and appealing to the eye. How, I repeat HOW do people make the hardest things seem like the easiest? I know these chefs are world class, I know they do it all the time, I know they probably couldn’t do it very well their first time, I KNOW ALL THAT!!! But still, why isn’t it that easy for old butter fingers here?!
To be fair, it’s not that technically difficult (says she who is clearly a master of all things knifey and technical now) but it takes skill, time and patience to get it beautifully finished and it’s really hard not to compare yourself to the people around you…especially if they appear to be whizzing through this like some speeded up cartoon while you’re labouring away like some sausage fingered oaf. Ah well, this is learning, oui? Oui.
Dauphinoise. Now this is something I can do. Potatoes, cream, cheese. Layer. Repeat. Excuse me while I just climb into the pan as well.
I love leaving here each Tuesday night laden down with steamy, fragrant, warm containers which scent the air of the oh-so-glamourous night bus home. It’s a beyond satisfying feeling, almost like you have a delicious secret in your bag compared to everyone else. I’m always exhausted because it’s been a long day but I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for anything more relaxing but less stimulating.
The finished result was undeniably divine. Knives slid through the lamb like butter. The dauphinoise was creamy and luscious and frankly, I don’t think any portion size of these would ever be enough because I literally could have eaten the whole portion myself. The ripe juiciness of the tomatoes were a delicious foil to the crispy garlic, olive oil, thyme and parsley adorned breadcrumb stuffing and the sauce finished it off beautifully.
What I’ve loved about this course is how the primary ingredients were so, unsurprisingly, well thought out. The chicken was a great way to ease you into the first lesson; by no means easy but familiar and reassuring. The salmon was a safe choice but served in a lesser known way and the veal was probably an out-of-the-ordinary element to most people’s dinner plates but fascinating to learn how to prepare, cook and serve it. Bringing the course full circle with lamb, something most people would actively choose to cook and eat, was an intelligent way of showing how the skills you’d learnt, most new and foreign to us students, could be applied to an everyday ingredient.
All my booklets are stained with the components of each week’s lesson…sauce and fat and cream and butter and herbs and they’re all the better for it. Scribbles of how to undertake skills, oven temperatures and chef known only pearls of culinary wisdom, they all adorn my recipes and I know they will all be read again and again and again until each page is dog eared with love, the love of the food, the cooking, the experience.