I have finally completed my 1 month certificate and boy was it intense! I remember going home every day totally exhausted but also inspired by all the dishes we’d made on the day. I still have a clear preference for sweet dishes (the afternoons were dedicated to baking and desserts) but I certainly will try again some of the savoury recipes I have learned. Here is a snapshot of some of them:
From left to right and top to bottom:
First column: moules marinieres, Prawn cocktail, seared tuna, seabass ceviche with fresh salad of shredded celeriac, pears, fennel and lettuce
Second column: Confit duck with fondant potatoes, braised red cabbage and pan fried apples, 3 dishes on the seafood day (prawn cocktail, moules marinieres and salmon en papillote), rack of lamb with potato croquettes and madere jus
Third column: Sushi day! Pithivier (frangipane, pear and chocolate in puff pastry), tarte tatin
Fourth column: Lemon meringue tart daisy style (that was the dessert I presented at the exam), quail Wellington (our starter for the exam), lemon macarons, Brandy snaps
On week 3, we had Graham Neville from the restaurant Forty One at Residence who presented 2 dishes: a Lamb tartare and a Brill with Cracked wheat, garden cucumber and white chocolate Vermouth velouté.
The fish was filleted by Graham in record time, vacuum packed and cooked in a water bath at 50C for 12 to 14 min, he then prepared a fish stock with the fish bones, oil, fennel, onions, celeriac, peppercorns, mushrooms, bay leaf, water and vermouth. He let it simmer with a cartouche (a piece of greaseproof paper, cut to fit the pan and placed on top of the stock to keep the steam in). He then added white chocolate to the strained stock and added it to a roux for thickening. The fish is then plated up with pickled turned cucumbers, the velouté and some salad leaves.
The other dish he presented was a stunning Comeragh Hill lamb tartare. The list of ingredients is mind boggling: lamb loin of course, red onion, caper sprouts, soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, tarragon, chives and Pommery mustard. Everything has to be chopped very finely and before chopping, Graham seared quickly half of the loin of lamb to give 2 textures and flavour to his tartare. The garnish consists of wild herbs and flowers, boiled eggs, garden onions, cucumber ribbons, garden radishes, creme fraiche and some of the garnishes are fried in a light tempura batter (same quantity of corn flour and plain flour and water). He uses a gaz canister to make his tempura light and airy but sparkling water works really well too!
This ends my journey at Cooks Academy. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would encourage anyone living in Ireland who wants to build strong skills in cookery to go for it, what you will learn there will last you a lifetime!