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Posts posted by SaladFingers

  1. MPW said on caterersearch - "What [Fernand] Point did was genius: putting a chicken in a pig's bladder with truffles under the skin and port, Madeira, Armagnac and truffle juice." The bladder poached in water insulated its contents but stretched and swelled up like a balloon so that it was taken to the customer's table looking like a football, where it was punctured and the chicken carved."

    He seems to suggest it is similar in principle to sous-vide.

  2. I am contemplating becoming a chef. I understand this isn't a question that needs to be asked if it's something I really want to do but I'll ask any way.

    How many hours do chefs working in a typical week? I'm hearing 18 hours a day, which sounds absurd and actually, a little scary.

  3. Since I started the topic about pork belly, I thought I may as well include a picture to show how it turned out.

    Photo edited slightly to get rid of someone's hand about to grab the plate.

    The pork (if I modestly say) was some of the nicest I've ever eaten. It's the first time I've cooked belly of pork before, so it's nice to discover how easy it is to feed a group of people.

    Disappointed with the crackling. While it tasted good, it lacked the crunch crackling is supposed to have. I put the crackling back in the oven for a further 15 minutes but nothing seemed to be happening and people were arriving so I had to serve it.

    Accompaniments were shredded spring greens, with diced apple and garlic, polenta mash and caramalised shallots with a creamy mustard sauce.

    Pleased with the results but will have to work on getting that crackling right.


  4. These are my instructions (for a 1.5kg belly (not rolled)

    "Put the sliced onion into a roasting tin and top with thyme; now lay the belly on top. Sprinkle with a little oil and pour the chicken stock in. Cook in the oven for 1 ¼ hours. Turn up to 190c and cook for a further 40 mins. Allow to rest for 15 mins."

  5. So cooking time depends on the thickness of the belly rather than the size of it? I'll follow a recipe that cooks for 2 hours and see how it goes. If I burn it to a cinder, I'll know next time!

  6. I have 0.8kg of pork belly. Every recipe I read refers to a 1.5kg pork belly. How do I adjust the cooking time?

    For example som recipes say cook for 2 hours, so should I cook for 1 hour 10, or does it not work like that (what with wanting to achieve crackling n everything).

  7. Well, the winter menu is very limited but at 'buy one get one free' on 2/3 courses for lunch it's tremendously good value. Not to sound snobbish, but maybe the cheaper cost attracts a 'different crowd'.

    We were unfortunate to sit next to a couple who moaned and over specified about every element of each course. They wanted haddock but couldn't possibly have cod, they wanted the (beautiful) skin on the chicken less crispy, they wanted quicker service, they looked at my dessert and decided they wanted theirs 'a darker colour'. I'd have literally thrown them out but the waitress was the most patient person in all the world.

    Main course of chicken breast, polenta mash, greens and tarragon infused foam was probably more simple than previous dishes I've tried but it was delicious. Dessert was bread and butter pudding souffle with creme anglais in a kilner jar and was also spot on. £8 each? That's cheaper than the pub next door across the river.

    Coffee was the strongest stuff I've ever had in my life. It was like eating a handful of cigars.

  8. My problem is, I'm so ridiculously thin skinned, I'm not sure how I would cope being shouted at. I envisage myself being stunned to tears by the slightest raise of voice. I'm incredibly weak when it comes to authority.

    Which is annoying. I hate the idea of that standing in the way of me doing a job I'd otherwise enjoy.

  9. I have questions.

    I am from England, currently studying for a Masters Degree in Information Management. I've been honest with myself and decided after 21 years of education, that perhaps the academic route isn't for me. Perhaps what I'd rather be doing is working with food, since cooking is what I do a fair bit of at home and which has progressed to one of my favourite 'hobbies'.

    I'm now asking myself whether I'd like to work in the kitchen. I'd rather not have to go through college, studying for culinary NVQs and such and would prefer to find a restaurant willing to take on a beginner.

    Things may be different in England to other places but, can anyone tell me whether I'm likely to find restaurants/hotels with at least 1 AA Rosette willing to take on somebody who has no food qualifications.

    I'm a shy person, more concerned by whether I'm likely to get YELLED at every 20 seconds, or get on with other cooks than the long hours.

    I'm willing and hungry to learn and become a better cook but I'm not sure about how best to go about finding somewhere that'll take me on.

    I've google searched trainee chef positions, commis chef roles etc. When a job description advertises for a commis chef, does that mean you must have experience or can you be fresh from nowhere, to take the position?

    Thanks for any advice.

  10. I'm wanting to use shallots as an accompaniment but would like to hear suggestions for ways of making them interesting.

    I just tried making shallot puree, which involved sauteing 2 shallots in 25g of butter for 4 minutes, then adding a clove of garlic for a minute, then adding 2 tsp honey and a splash of water for a minute then blening. Unfortunately I added too much honey and while it was nice, I think it's perhaps a little too sweet!

    Other shallot recipes I have is glazed baby carrots and onions where you boil the shallots in their skins for 5 minutes then, add them to a pan with butter, garlic and thyme for 20. This is fine.


    Roasted shallots - splash of red wine, thyme and garlic in the oven for half an hour. Again they're nice

    but any other suggestions?

  11. I'll follow you this time then :smile:

    Thought I'd try duck, which I've not cooked myself before. Always have duck if it's on a menu mind.

    My companions like theirs medium, so that's what I did.

    Duck in plumb sauce, mustard mash potato and lemon glazed carrots


    I was pleased as it all tasted delicious. Not something I can do too often though because the duck was very expensive.

  12. Paid the Highwaymann Inn a visit today for lunch. The staff were all lovely, we must have said goodbye about 20 times on the way out.

    Started with 'Slow cooked Gloucester Old Spot Belly Pork and

    Blackpudding, crumbed and deep fried,Apple Purée,

    Crackling Salad'

    This comes in the form of a cube and is packed with juicy meat and delicious blackpudding at the bottom bound together by breadcrumbs. The apple purée was 'sweet as' mate. Classic combination and cooked to perfection.

    Then I had 'Highwayman Game Pudding, Purée Potatoes,

    Roasted Root Vegetables, Juniper Berry Gravy'.

    I make these all the time myself, because it's probably my favourite dish of all time. What? The pudding was sizeable (I could feel the fabric of my stomach coming apart afterwards) and the quenelle of creamy potato wasn't much smaller but then I wasn't complaining. Scattered root vegetables made it all look rather pretty and the juniper gravy was spot on.

    Anything else after all that was out of the question. My mate had Battered Deep Fried Haddock, Marrowfat Peas, Real Chips cooked in Dripping,Tartare Sauce. Reports were good and the fish was gianormous - something of a theme.

    We both had several glasses of Sasparilla - bringing back memories of childhood. I haven't had 'sas' since I was a kid in a mate's shed taking sips of his Dad's supplies, pretending it gave me super powers. Mmm it was every bit as good as I remembered.

    After gauging on all that wonderful food, we decided to try burning a corner of it off by walking into Kirkby Lonsdale. Such a beautiful and mainly peaceful walk through the countryside; the snow on surrounding mountains creating a nice postcard feel. We did however nearly get run over a few times as cars like to power through so keep in close to the edge if you fancy that walk.

  13. Wow, that all sounds and looks very impressive. Arbequina oil? Xèrès vinegar? I've got a long way to go!

    I know only basic food stuff, reflected here in what I made tonight

    Pork tenderloin with spinach, creamed leeks, broad beans and 3 polenta cakes:


  14. Some lovely replies, thanks.

    What spurred me to write my question was watching a cooking competition on TV (Master Chef to any Brits here) featuring amateur cooks. Some people stand out as really good home cooks because they just seem to know their way around ingredients. While others (possibly like me) look far less assured, despite probably cooking quite a bit.

    It concerned me that maybe they were people who followed recipes, so that when asked to improvise they faired less well than those who had more of an instinct.

    I understand making food people love and that enjoying making it is what 'really' counts but I'd much rather be one of those who look like they know what they're doing!

    I will look into those books Lapin. Admitedly, I may be low on books. I have a recipe book by Rosemary Shrager (School for Cooks) which I love following because her recipes are more complex than the average magazine style recipe and they seem to always guarantee good flavour (must be all that butter and cream!). But I'm slightly concerned that by following this book, I may be slightly disabling my ability to become more intimately accustomed to how 'food works'.

    Besides my concerns, I do love cooking, almost obsessively at times and I'm glad I've found something which truly inspires me to learn for personal gain.

  15. I've now been cooking for roughly one and a half years. Over this period of time, I've gone from cooking extremely simple things, found in the Good Food Magazine to cooking *slighty* more ambitious dishes.

    I have a fair amount of free time at the moment, so I can enjoy a day or two of cooking all day each week. I love this and usually invite people round in the evening. I take all day preparing and while (obviously) people say it's good, I can't help but feel like a fraud.

    I imagine, because I've been able to follow recipes, people sort of forget that and assume I've just come up with it all myself. Increasingly, this is leading to a sense of inner disatisfaction, almost to the point of frustration at times.

    My reason for this is that, without referring to the recipes time and again, I would actually be pretty lost. No matter how many times I make something, I always feel I need the recipe when I come to do it again. This is because I seem to commit VERY little to memory.

    I could make a sauce that may be reasonably simple but within a week, I'll have forgotten how to make it; the order in which things are added, how long they're cooked for etc.

    Most annoyingly is that, I don't seem to have much perception for quantities. 2g flour to 1g suet is a nice simple formula and one easy to commit to memory but something more complicated, say for herb scones involving a mix of milk, self-raising flour, thyme, rosemary, egg and salt it becomes rather more difficult.

    I test myself whenever I'm watching MASTER CHEF, during the first round when contestants must cook something with a set of ingredients. Frequently, I think 'I'd be lost'.

    I've tried reading around the basics; cuts of meat, ways of cooking vegetables, what goes with what etc yet I feel, alone, with only my brain and without the benefit of having someone elses recipe, I'd be almost as lost as I was 1 1/5 years ago.

    How do you become a good cook?

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