As I write this, the penultimate post in my Leiths Diploma series, I’m sat in my bed with my stomach in a bundle of knots because tomorrow I’ll be cooking for the last time at Leiths and taking my final practical exam. I’m nervous, I’m excited and I’m more than a little sad – these past 9 months have been a roller coaster of emotions but, ultimately, it’s been one of the best years of my life.
I haven’t been very good about updating my blog this term, mostly because I’ve been keeping very busy with life (I moved in with TS about three weeks ago!) but also because I’ve just been so exhausted I really haven’t had the energy to post anything. Sorry, totally my bad. But, regardless, all of you have been so lovely with your comments, your emails, you Tweets, even when I disappear off the radar completely and/or start having a mild mental breakdown. So thank you, dear readers, for helping to keep me sane, even when I let you down by posting nothing/of note.
But enough of my ramblings. Here’s what I did over this past term:
L-R, T-B: the humble artichoke (I ate three of these, yum yum); white chocolate & raspberry creme brulee; sea bream and curried lentils (lentils are the one food that never grew on me over this year); Tarte Normande (wherein I finally learned how to make awesome shortcrust pastry with a machine).
L-R, T-B: my smorgasbord (beetroot cured salmon is the best thing ever, plus I finally managed to get over my smoked fish phobia – smoking with brown sugar & tea is outrageously delicious); my first ever puff pastry; artichoke & green olive pithiviers with Heritage tomato salad; fish quenelles with beurre blanc & savoury tuiles (fish mousseline is DEATH).
L-R, T-B: honey walnut bread (the best thing ever); apple strudel (wherein we made our own filo pastry and I felt like I was doing actual magic); creative lamb dish (lamb, Pommes Anna, jamon, chutney, beans, jus & basil oil; wherein I discover that I do not understand how to make a good jus); vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb and strawberry; chicken ballotine with fondant potatoes and kale (the kitchen hated me this day. And I hated jus again).
L-R, T-B: croissants and Cedric the Giant Pain au Chocolat; classic seafood feuillete cases (the photo totally does not do it justice – my puff rose about 4 inches tall); warm asparagus and mozzarella salad; crab and prawn tortellini.
L-R, T-B: petit fours day! My favourite of all the days. Chocolate truffles (tempering chocolate is a pain in the arse but I want to master it); fondant fancies (mine were the pink ones); mini donuts; macarons (again, mine were the pink ones – sensing a theme?); pate de fruits and marshmallows.
L-R, T-B: gnocchi; rabbit ravioli (this was insanely delicious); quail salad (wherein I discover plating using lines); creative pain de genes with mango and orange mascarpone (this cake is GOOD).
L-R, T-B: sauteed snails with chorizo pomme puree (more line plating); seared tuna salad (by far my prettiest plate); sweetbreads with pomme puree, peas, baby carrots and jus (my teacher wasn’t a fan of my “islands in the sea” presentation and this was the day I discovered I am very minimalist with garnishes, then was mocked mercilessly for my 7 peas. I just like 7 peas, okay?!); sables aux fraises (this is the only thing we’ve ever made that had to look EXACTLY like the picture in the book – I even angled the strawberry the same way as the photo in the book!).
L-R, T-B: creative red mullet day: lemon risotto, pan-fried red mullet, olive crumb, griddled baby fennel, fennel puree & basil oil (I loved the dish, I hated my panicked basil oil plating); terrine de campagne and confit onion (delicious, delicious, delicious. Also: edible flowers!); insanely complicated scallop and couscous dish (just why?!); my fave day: creative plated dessert day. Had to include a sabayon, parfait and puff pastry element _ I made a rhubarb parfait, strawberry, rhubarb & cream millefeuille, did some sugar work, candied some nuts and generally loved every bit about this day.
L-R, T-B: fougasse (!); chicken mousseline ravioli with morels and broad beans (so delicious); foie gras parfait with baby brioche, chutney and sauternes jelly (I. Love. Foie. Gras.); creative rabbit day (blurry photo because the phone I was trialling apparently hated me): carrot panna cotta, rabbit and black pudding terrine, confit rabbit leg, crispy rabbit racks, pea puree, fresh peas (9 this time…).
L-R: last ever dem! Phil & Belinda prep the suckling piggy; suckling piggy after, being wheeled around the room.
L-R, T-B: final week dinner party assignments, Chloe’s starter of lamb’s tongue & crispy sweetbread served with peas, broad beans and a jus; Katie’s palate cleansing cucumber, lime and mint granita; Henry’s pan-fried sea bream with fennel 3-ways (puree, confit & crisp), baby carrots, baby leeks, wilted spinach and a cream sauce; my trio of citrus desserts (lemon meringue slice, strawberry & lime creme brulee, orange polenta cake with orange mascarpone); Amy’s group’s smoked mackerel rillette with toasted bread; Amy’s group’s duck breast with fondant potato, puree, cabbage, peas and jus; Amy’s group’s raspberry dessert trio (raspberry ripple ice cream, raspberry jelly and pain de genes with raspberry coulis).
And that’s been the term. A whirlwind, an adventure, a whole lot of fun. Damn. I’m going to miss this place when I leave. Think of me tomorrow as I cook my last ever food at Leiths.
Until next time, peace and love,