Monthly Archives: September 2012

My second week at Cooks Academy

I have just finished my second week at Cooks Academy, after a tough but exciting first week. I must say, they are raising the game each week but I do like a bit of challenge! On the first week, we mainly covered French dishes and mother sauces such as Chicken sauce chasseur, seabass with beurre blanc and rosti potatoes, breaded porc with pommes parmentier and French peas, and for dessert: lemon meringue tart, sticky toffee pudding, and chocolate chip cookies. This week, we had a mixture of French, Italian and Thai cooking: Dover Sole with beurre noisette and French beans, Ribeye steak with bearnaise sauce, Tom Ka gai soup, Vegetable Pad Thai, lamb Massamai  with rice and thai salad. Chef Steven Gibson from Pichet restaurant in Dublin came to present 3 Italian dishes served at the restaurant: Gnocchi with sunblushed tomatoes, mozzarella and courgettes, Saffron linguini with clams (my favourite!) and Jerusalem artichokes risotto with crispy chicken wings and Jerusalem artichoke chips. We had to reproduce all three dishes, which was tough! I never had Jerusalem artichokes before and I loved the flavour (it’s actually not an artichoke but a species of Sunflower). As for dessert, we made a pear and frangipane tart, a creme brulée, a chocolate fondant and cupcakes. We also made our own bread and pizza! Oh and not to forget our fish and shellfish day where we made a clam seafood chowder, fishcakes and a fish pie (yummy).

Here are a few pictures of my attempts at some of the dishes:

First column, from top to bottom: fish pie, Robert, one of the tutors, demonstrated the chocolate fondant (beautiful!), fish cake, creme brulée.

Second column, from top to bottom: clam seafood chowder, my version of the chocolate fondant (a bit too runny, not that my daughter minded…), Thai massamai curry with rice and thai salad, top view of the creme brulée.

Third column: different shapes of bread and Tom Ka gai (thai chicken soup).

Roll on third week!






Tarte meringuée au citron (Lemon meringue tart)

This is one of the many desserts I cooked on my first week at the 1 month certificate. I love lemon meringue tarts and made a couple before but I had never blogged about it (never had time to take a picture as it seemed to vanish very quickly). I will give you the Thermomix version and the classical one so every one can try it (it’s well worth it 🙂 )

Source: Cooks Academy 1 month certificate


Sweet pastry (French sugar paste)
50g sugar
125g butter
1 egg
200g flour
A pinch of salt

Lemon Curd
450g sugar
2 lemons (zest and juice)
3 lemon juiced (you will need about 240g of juice altogether)
8 large eggs
2 egg yolks (save whites for the meringue)
350g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4 egg whites + the 2 egg whites saved above
600g caster sugar

 Thermomix Method

  1.  Sweet pastry: place the sugar in the TM bowl and grind 10 sec/speed 9.
  2. Add all the other ingredients except the flour and mix 20 sec/ speed 4.
  3. Add the flour and turbo pulse briefly a few times until JUST clinging together. Turn out and chill wrapped in cling film for 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Lemon curd: grind lemon peelings and sugar 20 sec/speed 10.
  5. Add eggs + egg yolks + juice + butter. Mix 10 sec/speed 6.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the TM with the spatula. Cook and stir 6 minutes/80C/speed 4. If it hasn’t thickened enough, continue to cook for another minute or 2.
  7. Spoon out into a bowl and leave to cool at room temperature.
  8. Meringue: clean thoroughly the bowl with soapy water and dry well with a clean tea towel. insert the butterfly whisk.
  9. Add the egg whites and whisk on speed 3 without the measuring cup.
  10. When it is starting to foam, add a little bit of sugar at a time while still whisking. Wait until the sugar is dissolved before adding more sugar.
  11. When all the sugar has been whisked in, you should have a thick and glossy meringue. Tip out into a piping bag with a round or star shaped nozzle.
  12. Preheat the oven at 180C.
  13. Take the pastry out of the fridge and knead it a little until softened slightly (it should be soft enough to roll but still cold and a little stiff).
  14. Place between 2 sheets of cling film and roll to fit your flan tin (it should be 2 or 3 mm thick).
  15. Butter and flour your flan tin (about 20 to 25cm in diameter).
  16. Carefully place the rolled pastry in the tin and press down the sides to fit the tin neatly. Cut out excess pastry but leave enough to have a 2 cm overflow as the pastry might contract during cooking.
  17. Line with parchment paper and place dry beans on top to stop the pastry from bubbling.
  18. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
  19. Bake for 15 minutes, then take out of the oven, remove the beans and baking parchement and bake again for 8 minutes (watch the pastry as it cooks as you don’t want it to brown too much. It should be done when golden at the edges and lighter in colour but still lightly golden in the centre.
  20. Take out of the oven and turn the temperature up to 220C.
  21. Leave the pastry to cool for a couple of minutes and trim the edges neatly before pouring the lemon curd (which should still be warm enough to pour evenly) and pipe the meringue all over.
  22. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes so the meringue browns and becomes crispy.
  23. Leave to cool, then refrigerate for a couple of hours before eating.

Classical Method

  1. Sweet pastry: cream together the butter and sugar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer equipped with the wire whisk.
  2. Add the egg and mix for a few seconds
  3. Gradually incorporate the sieved flour and salt. Mix until smooth.
  4. Allow to rest in the fridge before using.
  5. Lemon curd: place the sugar in a bowl and zest the lemons on top of it. Rub the lemon and sugar together to make the sugar fragrant.
  6. Strain the lemon juice into a non-reactive pan. Add the eggs, egg yolks, zested sugar and butter and whisk to combine.
  7. Place over a medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  8. At the first sign of boiling (you will need to see bubbles all over the mixture), remove from the heat and strain into a bowl. Leave to cool slightly.
  9. Meringue: whisk the egg whites until they start to foam. Add the sugar, a little bit at a time and continue whisking until the sugar is incorporated before adding more sugar.
  10. Follow recipe above from step 11 onward.

A little bit about myself…

Things have started to change lately for me personally… in a good way. I haven’t written much about myself because I believe that in this blog, the food must take centre-stage but I think it’s time I give you a little bit of background about me. For the past 15 years, I have been working as an IT programmer. It was fine at the beginning (even though I could write a book about the first company I worked for: Accenture but that’s another story). However, in the past few years, I have been more and more bored, the motivation was just not there. Nothing to do with my colleagues, who are all lovely, but let’s face it: working in IT in the financial services is not going to rock anyone’s boat by any standard! So, here I was, ploughing along, a job is a job right? But sometimes, things take a strange turn and what could be someone’s nightmare became my big opportunity. The company I worked for was looking to make people redundant and I went for it. Last week was my last (hopefully for good) in IT. So, what now? Well, you may have guessed: I am going to do what I love. Cooking.

Since this week past and for another 3 weeks, I am doing a Cooking certificate course in Dublin. So far, it’s been fantastic! I learn a lot, I do what I enjoy doing the most and I know I have found my path.

So, I’m sorry if I haven’t posted many recipes lately, but I will try to give you snapshots of what I am doing at the course starting with an amazing lemon meringue tart… coming soon…