Chef Paul starts the session with a passionate reminder about seasoning our food. We must keep tasting it as we cook each dish to make sure we get the seasoning right. It’s clear he abhors under-seasoned food. I make it my mission today to concentrate hard on trying to educate my palate.
We’re making paupiettes of tarakihi. After filleting and skinning the whole fish we lie wilted spinach on each piece, pipe on a salmon mousseline, roll it up, secure it with a toothpick, pop it in a buttered ramekin with a stock and wine reduction and cook it in a bain marie. We will serve it with a sauce make from the cooking juices, with cream butter and parsley added. Whew! And it doesn’t stop there. We’re serving the fish with Carrots Vichy and finishing off with delicate tuile baskets which hold silky lemon cream.
The end result
I feel rising panic. There’s a tremendous amount of work to get done. Chef makes it look so easy, especially the tuile baskets. He explains that there’s a very small window of opportunity between getting these pale golden biscuits out of the oven and into the desired shape before they crisp up. Oh, so much could go wrong today.
I feel relieved to get the lemon cream safely cooling in the fridge. My fish filleting skills don’t let me down. I make the mousseline and cook a spoonful in hot water to test the seasoning. More salt. With the fish dish in the fridge and all the other prep ready, I have no choice but to tackle the tuiles. The first batch is a disaster. They harden before I get them moulded. The second batch is no better. How did Chef manage to hold these steaming hot wafer thin biscuits? I put a third lot in the oven. This is my last chance. One is salvageable. Such relief. I fill it with lemon cream and decorate it with a strawberry. It’s not a disaster by any means but after a quick look around the room at other creations it’s clear I’ve got work to do this weekend. It tastes fantastic though.
It’s after 10.30pm before I emerge from school exhausted and confront the ferocious storm that’s been battering the capital. I’m grateful for the cool air and even more grateful to be going home. Have I mentioned yet how hard this is?
Buttometer reading 680 grams