Amateur chef part 5

This lesson focused on plating skills and the importance of choosing the right crockery to best enhance all of your hard work in the kitchen. Crockery is such a funny word. I looked it up in the dictionary to see the origin. It comes from the early 18th century word crocker which means potter. Who knew?

Back to the subject matter… I think you either have a good eye for plating food or you don’t. It’s like creating a piece of art. Watching Masterchef and MKR I know I’ve yelled at the TV several times at the way some people plate food. I’m no champion but I do like to take a bit of care. Although it’s a fine balance between presenting beautifully and allowing the food to get cold.

Alison showed us the correct technique to get perfect bar marks on a steak and how to achieve a crispy skin salmon. Also, how to create texture and interest on a simple plate of food by adding parsnip and sweet potato strips.

She then showed us a neat little trick to create a small piping bag out of grease-proof paper. Perfect for piping chocolate and coulis, we set about making our piping bags and getting creative with chocolate scrolls. I guess if you study to be a pastry chef you’d do hundreds of hours of this type of work until it became second nature and you could do it with your eyes closed.

We also learned how to quenelle cream. I had taught myself to do this with two spoons but Alison showed us a method using a hot spoon and rolling the cream on the side of the bowl. This is much easier I think. Like all of these techniques, it takes practice but worth it to create something a little bit fancy. I’m interested to know, do you think a quenelle is better than a blob of cream?

We also chatted about our signature dishes for the final night of the course. Naturally everyone is freaking out about what to cook. I haven’t yet decided. Do I want to go easy on myself and do something simple or am I up for a challenge. With twelve people cooking in one kitchen that might be challenge enough!

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