Today was a great day in the kitchen, mainly because we were cooking breakfast for lunch (I live for breakfast). I had to make plum and apple jam, ginger and lemon zest muffins, breakfast scones, Ballymaloe muesli, and one serving of "the Fry". I rolled the scones a little too thick, which caused them to bulge and slightly topple like miniature Leaning Towers of Pisa. Its not the end of the world as you know it, but something to keep that in mind when baking at home.
The ginger and lemon zest muffins recipe comes from one of Marion Cunningham's cookbooks (she calls them "Bridge Creek Muffins"). I would not have thought to put grated ginger in a muffin, but the result was truly delicious. I'll definitely make those again. The jam went well, as did the muesli (you can be sure that I added plenty of fat-converting Lecithin!). Below you'll see my jam, muesli (in a yogurt parfait), ginger muffin, and scone all ready for tasting!
By 11:30 AM, the kitchen windows fogged as everyone started his or her individual "Fry". In case you're interested in the order, it works best to fry the sausages, then the bacon, then the black and white pudding, and then the egg, (cleaning the pan in between). You can keep the cooked meat warm in an oven while you tackle the rest. While you're frying, you can roast your tomatoes and mushroom in the oven. If you have 4 frying pans and 4 pairs of hands, you can do this all at once.
After a delicious breakfast for lunch (complete with Mimosas AKA Bucks Fizz made with freshly squeezed orange juice!), we headed off to a surprise wine lecture with visiting winemaker, Jean-Francois Bordet of Domaine Seguinot Bordet wines from Chablis, France. A couple things to reiterate about French wines after his visit. One: Chablis (a region in France and a type of wine) must be made with Chardonnay grapes (according to the French "Appellation Controllee). Two: You can order standard Chablis, or you can order Chablis from the very best grapes (i.e. the older vines, the better altitude, the better sun exposure, etc), which is called Chablis Premier Cru. If you can get your hands on it, there even exists a few Chablis Grand Cru, made from the best of the best grapes. The Appellation Controllee decides which specific areas, hillsides, and individual acres produce the Premier Cru and Grand Cru grapes, so if you are lucky enough to inherit a Grand Cru bit of land, you'll be a Grand Cru winemaker (regardless of your winemaking skills). You can see how this somehow taints the Appellation Controllee distinctions...
After a quick tasting of Jean-Francois's Chablis and Chablis Premiere Cru, we went on to our afternoon demonstration. We learned how to fillet various flat fishes, including Plaice, Sole, Turbot, Brill, and John Dory (or St. Pierre). I found this particularly challenging because each fish seemed to have a different technique for filleting. Hopefully we'll get a better handle on the various methods as the weeks progress. We also learned how to make Choux pastry (used for eclairs, profiteroles, beignets, etc), a Provencale Bean Stew, and Chilli Con Carne.
Some tips on today's lesson:
- Try to avoid serving and drinking white wine when it is ice cold. Chilled white wine is all well and good until you overdo it and dull the flavor. Ditch the ice bucket. (I guess this means I can't add ice cubes to my wine anymore!)
- If you're ever in Paris, get to Angelina's for a cup of their famous hot chocolate. If you're in New York, City Bakery's hot chocolate comes highly recommended (18th and 5th).
- To make coconut rice, simply substitute coconut milk for the water used to cook rice. For a less rich flavor, you can do half coconut milk and half water.
- If you're making eclaires, sprinkle some water on the baking tray before popping them into the oven. The water drops create steam which encourages the eclairs to puff up.