Passionfruit is one of my favourite fruits so I’m looking forward to making the bavarois today. It’s a classic dessert from the repertoire of 19th century chef Marie-Antoine Careme and is a mixture of a custard and flavouring, gelatine and whipped cream. There are some tricky things to watch out for. If the custard goes over 83 degrees it becomes scrambled eggs. You also have to cool it very fast. If the water used to soften the gelatine is not cold enough, the gelatine will fall apart, and the cream must be very softly whipped. Everything goes smoothly for me and the only hurdle left is to get them out of the moulds in one piece once they have set, and make them look really pretty. They take a bit of coaxing but eventually I create the necessary air pocket down the side of the moulds and the rich creamy mounds infused with tropical fruit plop onto the plate. I take my time with the decoration and feel really chuffed with the result.
Is there a better vegetable dish on this planet than one made with potatoes, onions, butter and more butter? The lesson includes Pommes Boulangere, so-named because the dish needs long slow cooking, and what better place than a baker’s oven once the bread is done. It’s not just a matter of slicing the spuds though. This is Cordon Bleu and so we have to cut the potatoes into cylindrical shapes and produce even slices from the dreaded mandolin. It’s the one word that makes most of us shudder but the class gets through the experience unscathed this time. The long slow cooking produces a dish of beautifully soft textured potatoes underneath a crispy brown top that glistens with melted butter. It’s not quite as indulgent as gratin which has cream and cheese but it is easily as tasty.
We also make braised chicory. I don’t get chicory. The fact that it’s a forced crop grown in complete darkness makes it sound unappealing. And it looks very unappetising on the plate, is slightly slippery to touch and even though blanching removes the bitterness … well, it is obviously an acquired taste.
Now pork is something I can get excited about, especially pork cutlet Normandy style which translates into pork, apple, calvados and cream. Instead of the usual apple sauce, we shape quartered apples into barrel shapes and cook them in butter. We’re to serve the pork slightly pink. Mine is too pink and the apples haven’t been cooked slowly enough but the sauce is luxurious.
I need help getting all the food home. It’s not easy juggling 12 bavarois, a container of potato and a plate of pork cutlets on a bike. What a shame I had to sacrifice the chicory!