Can you believe that we are already at the end of our third week at Ashburton? The chefs did stress to us at the beginning that the time would fly, and we very boldly said no! We are going to savour every minute and drag it out. Alas, that has sadly not been the case. We are rushing around during every minute of every day cramming in so many different dishes that if you blink, you’ll miss it.
This champagne and elderflower jelly was a five minute job to whip up. We made our custard in pairs, flavoured them with rosewater and collectively put the mix into the ice cream machine. It is fair to say that Rosie and Rose got a bit overexcited and sloshed in a healthy amount of the perfume-like liquid. It tasted like Turkish delight!One of our less glamorous tasks with Chef Alan was to individually butcher down a breast of lamb. It being such a cheap cut of meat, you really have to work hard to prise any meat away from the skin and fat. Having watched Chef grappling with this monstrosity for what felt like hours, we somehow managed to collect straggly strips of meat that we then arranged into a rectangle, and rolled into a sort of sausage. Clingfilming them up tightly to be slowly braised, they really did look like rows of turds on a tray.
Miraculously, the finished product ended up being reasonably tasty, but not our favourite dish.
Braised breast of lamb with boulangere potato, griddled courgettes, green beans and a Madeira jus.
Mixing choux pastry with mashed potato and cornflour formed the base of our potato Dauphine. Once Panko breadcrumbed, we deep fried them until golden and crispy.
We served the lamb pink with a herb crust, and a tomato and olive jus to bring it all together.
The fear was with me all day that I hadn’t properly cooked out the flour from the dough right at the beginning, so my hopes for light and puffy balls were low. Luckily, pumping them full of creme patissiere solved a multitude of sins. They inflated in no time!In keeping with French pastry, we bravely flambeed apple in Calvados, nearly singing the eyebrows of the person working opposite us, and made a caramel for the base (to then become the top!). My tart tatin looked beautiful in its little tin before going into the oven. And then I had a mare and a half getting it onto the plate.Only a mother could love it. No amount of vanilla mascarpone was going to make that look appealing. And just look at Paul’s beauty putting mine to shame!
Putting that minor fail behind me (Chef Phil said to keep my apples chunkier next time), we moved onto preparing a three course lunch for our lucky selves to enjoy on the Friday.
Then came the pan fried seabass with mussels, cockles, pea and a wild mushroom fricassee.You would have an absolute heart attack if you saw how much butter went into that bad boy. But having had raw fish as a starter, we felt it entirely justified!
To end the week with a bang, we made the mother of all desserts.
Chef Phil has been a total blast in the kitchen, keeping us on our toes and actually challenging us. The rush is probably nowhere near that of a professional kitchen, but he certainly has sped up our mis en place and emphasised the importance of cooking with your heart and soul. Some great lessons from a brilliant teacher this week!