Sunday, February 03, 2013

Week Four in Leiths: Meringues gone wild and ovens behaving badly.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. 

Like when your meringue takes on a life of its own, refuses to obey the piping bag and goes all freestyle on you. Bold meringue. Don't even get me started on those naughty ovens. 

But what burns me makes me stronger and week four in Leiths is now under my (expanding) belt.  One month in and I've developed a strong affection for butter on everything. More is more and I can't believe it's more butter. This week I plumped my Irish feathers as soda bread and bacon and cabbage were on the menu. Thankfully I didn't let down the nation and 'twas grand. Who's having a bit of butter on that soda bread now? Ah go on so.

There was also pecking, chopping and fraisering: the three stages of making beautiful French pastry - pâte sucrée. You start by sifting flour straight onto your board, and spreading it out into a large circle. Then place your butter, sugar and egg yolks in the centre and peck away with one hand as you cream them together. Grab your palette knife and flick over the flour. In a sophisticated French way of course. Chop through with the sharp edge until all the ingredients are well mixed. Finally fraiser using the flat edge of the palette knife and lightly press down to form a dough, which goes onto your cling film to chill before rolling.

Bit more complicated than the ol' bacon and cabbage.

Skinning a whole slip sole was a strangely satisfying experience, one which feels a little like giving the fish a (full body?) waxing. Then topping the waxed skinned fish with hollandaise and placing under the grill for burnt hollandaise. Only for a few seconds or you really will have a burnt hollandaise and not a gorgeous golden brown colour. 

Demonstrations this week included gluten free cooking techniques by former Leiths student Adriana Rabinovich. Adriana's approach is to develop recipes which can be enjoyed by all. Her first question when dining out is whether someone working in the restaurant has a family member or friend with gluten intolerance. The logic being that the restaurant will then really care and understand. Her glorious peanut butter cookies showed that she really really really cares...and her focaccia and Bakewell tarts. Some of her other recipes are here

The week finished on a savoury note with a demonstration on sauces including the classic Espagnole, or brown, sauce. No HP jokes now please. 

Here's to week five and getting that wild meringue under control. Maybe someday my meringue will behave like my teacher's:

Mini meringue baskets with blueberry mousse and pistachio praline



  1. Wow Laoise! It sounds like you are learning so many interesting culinary skills! C'est super!

  2. Merci Yolène! I'm having a brilliant time...and more French pastry this week for a tarte au citron...I can't wait!

  3. Isn't bacon and cabbage one of the nicest dinners ever? I can't understand why it was my most dreaded when I was a child! Keep the updates coming, I'm living vicariously through you! :)

  4. Whoops just noticed I posted under my old account (cross my apple tart) It's me, Adrienne! *waves*

  5. Teehee was just wondering who Cross My Apple Tart was! Delighted you're enjoying the updates and thanks for yor comment :-) I used to feel the same about bacon and cabbage and love it too now, great minds and all that!