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Posts posted by SaladFingers

  1. Okay so my parents apparantly have lavender growing in their garden, which they say I can use.

    Hopefully this question will make sense because weighing the stuff probably isn't the way to go. So, how about using this much lavender in my recipe:


  2. Okay, so if I were to use dried lavender flowers in my shortbread, would 20g Flowers to 375g flour, 225g butter and 110g sugar sound about right or does that sound excessive?

  3. Using Andrew Pern's Black Pudding and Foie Gras book to create a dessert.

    One of his recipes calls for "60ml lavender flowers".

    Why 60 mls? Do you have to blend them or something?

    Also, not sure if I'll be able to get fresh lavender. Anyone use a dried alternative to flowers and how much would you use in place of "60ml"?


  4. I have friends coming round for a three course dinner. The starter and dessert courses can be made in advance so that I don't have to worry about cooking them last minute. I hate having people round and running about the kitchen while they're here.

    But I'd really like to cook them a simple pan-fried sea bass fillet for the main course. I've only ever made sea bass for myself; 3 minutes skin-side down, turn over 2 minutes the other - done! There's 8 of us though and I'm a bit daunted about the idea of cooking 8 fillets between starter and main.

    I will do this if needs be, but is it possible to pan fry them as normal and keep them in a warm oven for 10-15 minutes while we have starter? I really don't want them drying out or spoiling.

  5. Does anyone know any good restaurants in or around Lancaster? I can only think of the Highwayman Inn in Burrow, which is more pub than restaurant but I know they make good food. I cannot, for the life of me think of anywhere.

    I'm currently working in a kitchin in Lake District but am steadily growing depressed of living away from my friends and family to the point of becoming quite unhappy in my life. Also not loving working there because one of the chefs is a ****!

    Manchester is also an option. I'm at catering college but don't think I'm getting the support at work, so if anyone well connected knows of any decent, supportive chefs in Manchester it'll be progress. Cheers!

  6. Queen's Head, Troutbeck

    Situated in the middle of a rather vast valley and approachable via a medium length walk from Orrest Head, Windermere it stands relatively isolated and in perfect location. It has all the feel and charm a lakeland pub should have; a warm fire by the entrance; fell walkers with their dogs by the bar, low, wooden beams add character and there's plenty tables for those who choose to eat.

    Food is very good and the menu seems to change each time I visit (every few months). I started with Homemade Crumpet, warm Goats Cheese, onion marmalade and dressed rocket. Don't know why, I can never resist goats cheese; the warmth of the melting cheese and the sweetness of the marmalade is my favourite combination. Partner had homemade Black Pudding, poached hen’s egg, crispy streaky bacon and a seed mustard vinaigrette. I had this, myself at the Punchbowl (Pub of the Year) a while back, but the Queen's version was far superior.

    Roast belly of pork with creamed potatoes, garden pea puree, crispy pancetta and wholegrain mustard sauce did everything it was meant to and partners' Confit Duck Leg, rosti potato, spiced red cabbage, and a plum and Armagnac sauce looked (and smelt) delicious.

    It's my new favourite pub.

  7. I became a chef 3 months ago, aged 24. I graduated from university in 2006 and wasted two years in menial labour, not having a clue what to do. So I decided to go back to university and gain a masters qualification. At this point, I didn't have a clue how to cook (I could barely boil a kettle) but I had lots of free time and gradually discovered I really enjoyed learning how to cook.

    A year later, I'd been cooking every day for myself; making bread, jointing chickens and just generally gaining ambition to learn more than I could teach myself.

    So, I quit university and immediately set about finding work in a restaurant. I arrogantly assumed that I would naturally progress very quickly in the restaurant because I considered myself relatively intelligent and therefore capable of mixing it with people who had no qualifications but who were better cooks than myself.

    My head chef permenantly talks to my like I'm a naughty child. In the academic world I have lived in, I have always been treated like an equal; spoken to with respect and made to feel like I have something to offer. The absolute opposite is what I have experienced during my first 3 months in a kitchen - I am criticised relentlesly - I'm too slow, I have a terrible memory, I'm nervous, I don't automatically know how to do everything - I'm made to feel like shit - And yet on my way home each evening, I remind myself of why I'm putting up with it - I want to learn how to cook.

    I have made a lot of sacrafices to work where I am - I've left home - I get paid less for 5 days work than I did for 2 in my last job - my rent is astronomical - And I scarcely see my friends now. But I WILL become a good cook, if it's the last thing I ******* do!

    I start college soon, where I am desperate to learn lots. Don't know if anyone from England can vouch for the collegic system. I don't get to do much prep in my current workplace, so I am seriously conisdering taking on a second job in a bigger place. Prep is where you learn how food goes together isn't it and I'm not doing enough to satisfy me. I think I'll be much happier in my job if I can see that I am learning lots. That's the economy of this industry, I think - knowledge/skill. If you're not gaining in them, then you're best of stacking shelves in a supermarket.

  8. Visiting Manchester in December with a friend. Him being someone who has no interest in food whatsoever and me being someone who'd consider a visit without trying somewhere a wasted opportunity, I'm wondering where's best for informal dining. That is to say, I would love to be able to eat good food without feeling inconsiderate of my friend who will probably sit and have a drink instead. I was wondering about trying the grazing menu in Abode's bar but I think we'd need somewhere a bit more casual than that. Any suggestions welcome.

  9. Well, I made the frangipane in the traditional way and left them in halves which was just as well. They weren't particularly ripe, so I covered them with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and star anise and cooked them in the oven for 25 minutes. When the tart was finished they were soft enough to melt in the mouth any way. No worries.

  10. A few months ago I quit university to start a new career in the kitchen. I visited college to enroll on a professional cookery course and was told I needed to find employment with a restaurant.

    So I applied round and recieved a happy response from a small hotel, who told me they were looking for an apprentice starting at college and that I could start right away.

    The hotel is quite remote and now (in the UK) we're entering winter and things have gotten pretty quiet. There are only 3 of us in the kitchen and being the least experienced, it is my services they dispense with first.

    Trouble is, while I'm involved with service 5 nights a week, I'm only doing prep work (during the day) twice a week, for a few hours. I'm now getting extremely anxious that I'm not learning much.

    My college course begins in January and I'm concerned I'm going to be massively behind everyone else. As long as I'm only prepping for about 5-6 hours a week, I cannot for the life of me see how I'm going to improve my skills. I'm only in the job for personal development reasons - I couldn't care less about getting paid - I have ambitions to be a very good cook. I'm presuming my development is going MUCH slower than for people who are working in busier kitchens and now I'm wondering if I should try applying elsewhere.

    My problem is that I'm working for a decent; hard working; polite couple who own the hotel and who have been kind in giving me the opportunity of training to be a chef. I think they view me as 'their' apprentice - almost as if on completion of my college course, I'll be able to offer them the benefits of my improved skills.

    For 1) I'm not sure how it'll look on my CV if I've just up and left after 3 months and 2) I'm terrified of telling the owners that I'm leaving after such an incredibly short period. In fact, I think it'll come right out of the blue for them. I'm worried they'll consider my role as being a complete waste of their time. I'm getting tired of asking the head-chef 'Can I come in tomorrow for prep?' only to hear the same response 'There's probably no point, there's not much to do and I'll have it done in an hour'.

    Sorry if non of this makes much sesnse. I think I just needed to write it down

  11. What is the relevance of the competition to the contestants?

    The winner gets a place in a michelin starred restaurant? Could they not have worked in one without the competition any way?

    I only ask since I recently enrolled on a professional cookery course without being in employment. The course leader was encouraging me to apply for work in michelin starred restaurants on mentioning my ambition. I just politely laughed and explained I'd rather get experience lower down the ladder for a year and find my feet. Now I'm paranoid that I may have missed a trick and am wondering how difficult it is to gain experience at a high level.

    I applied for work in 10 2AA rosette restaurants and recieved 5 invitations presumably based on my promise to work for free. It's something I've always said I'm willing to do and was presuming michelin star restaurants were as willing to take on people only wanting to learn as anywhere. Masterchef tP makes me wonder if opportunities might be a little more rare than I had imagined!

  12. I'm one of your new-age softies, I'm afraid. Took to cooking after deciding my previous career wasn't what I wanted to do. Being spoken down to and continually criticised every day is tough and hasn't been something I've ever experienced before. I look forward to days when I work with some chefs because they're supportive and available to tell me where I'm going wrong. Other chefs make the work scary enough for me to be filled with anxiety before work each time.

    I'm surprised by how strongly I've coped with it to be honest; I think I've always demonstrated a postivie attitude, acknowledged my mistakes and tried hard not to repeat errors, while taking jibes and criticisms from multiple people. It's a tough environment and I imagine even more intense in a higher level kitchen. It's the only thing that makes me nervous about wanting to progress to top kitchens.

  13. Okay, apologies for ignoring your questions.

    I've moved house and live down the road from an award winning butchers. I'm cooking pork belly in my *Remoska* at the moment because I do not have a kitchen at the moment. Using a remoska, I can not control the temperature and I don't know what temperature it is cooking at but after 1 hour of cooking, I already appear to have beautiful crackling. My 3rd attempt and finally I seem to be getting some success!

    My prep was to just rub salt into the scored rind and leave uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours. I assume leaving it to dry for 24 hours has benefited but here's my question, which I hope I can phrase properly:

    When I bought this pork (high quality), above the thick layer of fat is a thin, hard layer (what I believe is the rind?!). The butcher asked if I'd like it scored so I agreed. I was surprised at how shallow the scores were as I expected it the cut through the top layer of fat, which it doesn't.

    Previous pork belly I've had has for eg, come from Marks and Spencer (UK) which did not have this thin, hard layer (rind?) - Could this be what was lacking and therefore preventing me from getting crackling? I assumed the crackling came from the thicker layer of fat beneath it. Urgh, I'm so ignorant, I'm not even sure this question makes sense.

    Thanks for the advice - In future I will apply vodka/lye water or 5 spice etc etc - but for this attempt I wanted to keep it as simple as possible by just using salt.

  14. People disagree with me but I stand by it. Dress in clothes you do the decorating in, buy a tabloid paper and make your way to Antonios (Piccadilly). I really like their cooked breakfast (not v.big but tasty/cheap) and charming slap-dash attitude. Good mix of people there.

  15. Interesting question. Though not all on the same street, Lancaster still has a decent fishmonger, several excellent butchers, green-grocers, a thriving Wednesday market and of course the Port of Lancaster smoke house. Only possible due to the fact there's only one supermarket here (Sainsburys). I hope and pray it stays that way. There's not many places I visit that seem to have much in the way of an artisanal food culture.

    Radio 4's the Food Programme covered the Ribble Valley food trail, which aims to unify and bring to the fore a group of local food and drink distributors. Seems the best way to eat well in Cumbria too; box schemes. The highstreet is dead.

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