It’s an irresistible combination of dishes for lesson 19 and even though the injured finger is still incredibly tender, there is no way I am missing this class. I’m not sure I’ll be able to produce all three dishes but I do know that Rob and Ravi will help me. There’s quite a bit of intricate work involved in decorating the strawberry tart. We’re serving pommes pont neuf ( chips 1-2 cm square and about 6 cm long) with the steak and they’re going to be hard to cut. The cafe de Paris butter has about a dozen ingredients most of which require washing and chopping and/or measuring and pouring. And there’s quite a bit of chopping for the salad which goes with the scallops.
I’m slow but I get the pastry made and into the tin without too much trouble. Rob approaches with a pot. In his understated way, he smiles and puts it on the element. It contains uniformly cut pommes pont neuf – for me. He has just saved me so much time. I can get on with the scallop dish. We are serving them with a salsa which you can see on the top of the scallops Chef prepared. As well as the diced vegies the salsa has chilli, lime juice and coriander in it. It’s a gorgeous dish. The scallops are huge and juicy and the salsa adds an Asian twist. We’re under strict instructions to just sear the scallops. They must have a good colour and be warm inside but not overcooked. I sacrifice one to test for doneness. Just as well. It’s not quite ready and it would be a shame to ruin this dish.
It takes patience to deep fry the blanched potatoes because we want them to be golden and crispy. It gives us time to rest the steak which must be medium rare. My steak’s not great. It’s slightly undercooked. It’s sirloin, not the best cut (or my favourite to cook or eat) but that’s no excuse for messing it up. The chips don’t make it home.
The final hurdle is the fruit tart with apricot glaze. It’s going to take at least one punnet of sliced strawberries to get the desired affect. This stage of the night is often the hardest. We’re tired. The kitchen is unbearably hot. An hour’s worth of cleaning is looming. But we still have to maintain full concentration until all our dishes are marked. It’s tempting to rush it. But I have learnt from previous classes that it ends in tears if you mess up the presentation after putting in so much work earlier in the evening.
The effort’s pleasing but many of us didn’t get the apricot glaze right. It had cooled down too much and went a bit jelly like. We know how to get it right next time.
Thanks to Rob, and Ravi, who cleaned all my knives and utensils, I survive the class and head home once again laden with goodies and a bag full of washing.