Week 2 – Lobster & an ugly hake

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Things are only just getting started and I’m still as excite as ever and can’t wait for Mondays to come around. This week I completed my enrolment and I’m now a bonafide student. I was surprised to discover that I could get help with the purchase of equipment, clothing, course books and even transportation costs should I need. Costs to attend demonstration and shows were also included. I was happy to receive help with the course fees itself, but bought everything else I needed myself.

Now dressed the part in my chefs’ whites (which are actually black), skull cap and a pair of rather comfortable work shoes from M&S I certainly look and feel every bit the part. It is certainly necessary to have comfortable shoes because being on your feet pretty much all day and running up and down a busy kitchen is no laughing matter. A nice little kitchen devil set of 3 knives from Tesco’s and some trusty bread scrapper from my dad I am ready to enter the professional kitchen.

This week believe it or not we learnt how to make scones and a lovely veggie pasta bake, which I wouldn’t normally make as I’m not much of a pasta fan I more enjoy rice. We also made coleslaw from stretch…which is dead easy and extremely tasty. I’ll never buy those little pots ever again.

Additional to the course and another evening in the week the college hosted a fish demonstration evening. As I’m here to learn as much as possible I had to attend. How much fun was that! It was last night and I’m still brimming from the experience. There was a professional photographer there too which was a bit intimidating, especially where he kept following me around the kitchen as I seem to be ahead of everyone with my dishes…not sure how that happened.

Anyway, we made lobster thermidor. With the live lobster, chilled and boiled in very boiling water. Dan the fisherman from Clovelly, who provided all the fish, was in attendance asking some fantastic questions and showing us his knife skills as a fishmonger. He and I shared and a work bench and apart from a good laugh, I learnt so much about the local fish in these North Devon waters.

We then fillet a whole plaice into 4, Dan showed off his skills to do it just 2 pieces – mega quick too, we then skinned them. We rolled paupiettes of plaice en papillote (which basically means wrapped in foil or parchment) with herbs and a bit of wine in the oven for 10 mins…delicious.

Next was the cuttle fish demo. This fish is a bit like squid, cooked in exactly the same way…extremely messy with the ink. We all had a fish each, we cleaned it up and cooked it on very high heat with a bit of ginger, chilli & spring onion for less than a minute…it was soft and tasty and melt in the mouth. Finally we were introduced to an ugly looking fish…the hake. We enjoyed steaks which were fried and then oven baked for 10 mins and served with a mushroom sauce.

The whole experience made me more confident in the handling of fish and like Dan kept telling me I live by the water here at Riverside Cottage Guest House I need to feature lots of fish on my supper club dinner menu. I think he’s absolutely right.

College is on half term break, next update in 3 weeks time.

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