Day 1 of the Assessment

Oh. Oooh. How do you write out that wailing noise you make which accompanies the wringing of your hands and the twisting of your foot on the floor on the verge of a stamp?

I had my first day of my cooking assessment today and how did it all go so badly? Let me list the ways that today went wrong. Perversely it will make me feel better.

The Vichysoisse was too thick, I knew this but 2.5 hours in without me having served my first plate of food, panic set it. I told myself not to waste time trying to make something perfect when I might end up not serving anything at all. With these stern words of sheer overreaction, a puree of potato, leek and onion was served to the table. In my defence, I personally like my soups thick with vegetables. A poor defence I admit. Not even particularly relevant as a defence….

And then I spent ages trying not to curdle my lemon cake batter (including delaying the making of the cake by an hour because the eggs provided were so ridiculously cold), only to curdle it because whadya know, lemon drizzle cake contains lemon juice which is always going to curdle the mix. Urgh! What was I thinking! Anyway, the cake turned out fine (until I carelessly fragmented the edges and the top turning it out of the tin) but it was quite demoralising standing over a cake mix that I had painstakingly added eggs to drop by drop only to have the whole thing curdle at the end.

Then I made my pastry dough which will be baked tomorrow. I already know that its a ridiculously “short” dough, which means it will crack at the merest threat of a rolling pin. Looks like I’ve set myself up for a fun day tomorrow.

For the grilled chicken main, the chicken skin wasn’t crispy and I overly browned my fricassee. No, that isn’t a euphemism for burnt, I actually thought the fricasse ended up pretty damn tasty but it dawned on me at some point in the cooking process, that this was a dish where the vegetables weren’t supposed to colour. Oh well. In my defence, I quite like a bit of colour on my vegetables.

Finally for the fresh fruit with sabayon, I didn’t cook the sabayon for long enough. It was with some bewilderment that I realised, while whisking the eggs for the sabayon, that I couldn’t remember what sabayon actually looked like. Should it be thin like custard, or have a barely dropping consistency like crème pat? The fact that I had only 10 minutes left to go made me decision for me, although now I wish I hadn’t panicked. I still can’t picture what a sabayon should look like but I’ve been reliably informed that our group generally didn’t manage to cook the sabayon out enough. At least in this error, I wasn’t alone.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a complete disaster (although reading this back, I have made it sound like one), but I’m still really cross with myself. Before today, anything was possible and now… well now the next three days of assessment will be spent  clambering out of the hole I’ve dug myself into. Really the issue was timing. I need to get faster, or at least not panic so much if I’m not faster. But actually no, I also definitely need to get faster as well because having only 10 minutes spare when I’m serving up dessert is just too close for comfort.

I don’t think I was taking this assessment seriously enough, but its only after today that I realise that I don’t really want another day like today again. So although for today’s assessment I only scribbled together a prep list this morning, the first thing I did this evening when I got back home was type out a prep list for tomorrow’s assessment which will consist of plaice gougons, roast veg tart and profiteroles.

Actually, I thought people might be interested to see what a prep list actually looks like, so I’ve pasted it below. Be warned that its a Work in Progress, and its not actually that interesting. Except to me – I am fascinated by my prep list…. which is why I secretly can’t help but believe that everyone else will find it fascinating too:



Heat the oven to 200C, turn the deep fryer onto 190C

Butter a 2nd tart tin and refrigerate. Check you have an egg for the wash. (11 in total including one for the wash and one for the gougons).

Fillet the flat fish and remove skin and refrigerate

1.15pm Roll out the pastry with plenty of plain flour to the thickness of the £1 coin and set in the 2 tins and refrigerate. Save the rest of the pastry for later.


Choose a circular plate and a ramekin and a jar, a glass plate and a square dessert bowl. Put the circular plate and jar and the glass plate in plate warmer. Put the dessert plate in the 2nd drawer.

Measure out the quiche filling ingredients

1 egg

1 egg yolk

30ml milk

50ml cream

100g goats cheese, add black pepper

Measure out the mayonnaise ingredients:

2 egg yolks

2T of white vinegar

150ml corn oil

½ t English mustard

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Measure out the profiterole ingredients:

150g water

65 plain flour

50g butter

2 eggs

Salt and sugar

A green icing bag

Measure out the crème patisserie ingredients

250ml milk

1 vanilla pod

3 egg yolks

50g caster sugar

30g corn flour

20g butter

1.50pm Make the creme patisserie and chill.

Bake the tart tins at 200C for 20 minutes (remove the cartouche after 15 minutes).

Make the profiterole pastry and cool in tray

Prepare a piping bag over a jug

Fix cracks and egg wash the tarts

2.15pm Peel the butternut squash. Chop the vegetables and roast at 200 for 15 minutes. Medium chop so that vegetable show through.

2.30pm Halve the capers for the Tartare sauce. Chop the gherkins, parsley and the red onion finely.

2.45pm Make the mayonnaise and refrigerate

Take the roast veg and cool


Finish the choux pastry put in piping bag and pipe 9 balls and bake at 200C for 20 minutes

3.10pm Fill a box with seasoned egg, seasoned flour and seasoned breadcrumbs. Place in a 4th box, do all of them.

3.18 Make the hole in the profiterole and put back in for a few minutes, then cool

3.20pm Make the tart filling

3.25pm Bake the tarts with the goats cheese and roast veg for 20 minutes

3.25pm Make the gougons and place in tissue paper to drain

3.30pm Serve the gougons with tartare and a wedge of lemon

3.40pm Make the dressing and pick the nicest salad leaves.

3.45pm Serve the tart

Clean up

3.50pm Melt chocolate and cream and salt on induction

3.55pm Whisk up the crème pat in a metal bowl and put into the icing bag

4pm Pipe the crème patisserie into the profiteroles

4.05pm Dip the profiteroles into the chocolate sauce and set

4.10pm Serve profiteroles with chocolate shavings…

4.15pm Clean up




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