Thursday, September 16, 2010

What have I been up to recently

Well, what have I been up to?

1. Bettakultcha video is up. Watch me make facutal errors and wonder if I could actually talk about making lemon curd in 15 seconds.

2. I fed people at Temple Works as part of a somewhat barking Test Space Leeds project.

On that particular Saturday morning I was up very early, but not as early as my chef (who we'll call Young Dave) and his mate Dave who runs Sunshine Bakery; they'd been working in the bakery since 4 that morning. I headed down to my kitchen - at Salsa Mexicana, gawd bless you, Simon - and waited for food to arrive. And waited. And waited. It eventually turned up at 9:30, so we got it in, where I discovered we'd been given a pig's liver, heart, about a dozen tails, 4 trotters and three heads. Three. I wanted one. Cooking pigs head is not trivial; you can't just roast it off, because it's the wrong shape and the snout would be done before the ears and it takes up a huge amount of space in the oven. You have to boil it first, for about four hours, and then roast it to give it colour. So there were two spare heads, and for all I know they're still in the SM kitchen...

We also had proper food; a whole pork loin in four chunks, a whole belly, again in four. A sack of carrots, ditto onions, ditto spuds. A tray of braeburns, bramleys, tomatoes, celery, parsnips. Spices, foraged stuff, lentils, butter, flour, breadcrumbs... Oh, yes. The menu, based on authentic Victorian recipes:
  • Roast loin of pork with an apple and pork stew, game and other birds
  • Crispy roast belly of pork
  • Various cold cooked pork meats; ham, sausage &c
  • Roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions,
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • lentil cutlets
  • stuffed tomatoes

The yorkshire puds were forgotten about until it was too late. Never mind. The head, trotters and tails all went into a big pot with carrots, celery and onions to do a stock. The loins were boned, bones fried off and went into another pot of stock. The loins had the fillets taken out and were put into a bit tray with some water, carrots, onions, bay and rosemary, and seasoning. Bellies, ditto. The fillets were cubed and put into a pot with the usual veg, some bramleys, and gradually topped up with stock. Spuds, more carrots & parsnips par-boiled and roasted off with seasoning, butter, more bay and rosemary. Lentils boiled for about an hour with onions, carrots, garlic, celery, marjoram, mashed together with an egg, seasoning and breadcrumbs, shaped into cutlets and fried until they held together. Mushrooms, mirepoix, tomato pulp, again fried off, mashed with an egg and breacrumbs and stuffed into tomatoes. We had game birds and chickens to do as well, again just coloured in the pan and roasted off on top of some veg.

We were done by 3. In fact, I'd cleaned down Simon's kitchen by 3. Everything was ferried up to Sunshine Bakery so I did a runner and went home for a couple of hours. When I got back to SB the two Daves were taking a breather before finishing everything off; young Dave started throwing things in the ovens and slicing and finishing dishes, I took t'other Dave to TW to assemble the eton mess, then back to SB to load up my car with meat and veg, and then all piled back down, with enough pork and apple stew to feed 60 people sloshing about in my boot, along with trays of sliced loin and belly, a head, three tails and four trotters and a mountain of crackling. We delivered the food, I took the guys back to SB to clean down their kitchen and I went back to TW to rapturous applause and all of the food GONE. I'd been away half an hour and there were a few scraps of meat left, that was it. Surprised? Good grief, yes.

There were lots of people there I knew, but was social butterfly and I only stopped to have a few words with people before doing a runner once the eton mess had been demolished. I took NO photos, but some are gradually trickling in: this one of the eton mess for example. Anyway, I couldn't have done this without Young Dave who made a brilliant chef and we just got on with the job in hand without wigging about it, or Simon for letting me make a mess of his kitchen, or Sunshine Dave who pulled everything together. Bloody brilliant fun and it made me realise that I can actually do this. But I will need to go to catering school to do it properly. The first thing a chef does when getting into the kitchen is make stock and just have a tonne of it bubbling away on a burner at the back of the stovetop, and I'd never really picked up on just how important that fact was before Saturday. I learned a lot.

I got home, realised all I'd eaten that day was an apple, and went to bed.

Reviews: Phil Kirby, Bake Lady, Rants & Ramblin, Stripey Anne, the TS facebook page.

3. As a result of the previous two things I turned up in the Leeds Guide, in two mostly unrelated articles on pages 6 and 18 of the same issue. Hee! Yes, amongst my peers this certainly doesn't make me unique, but still quite pleased by this. I shall have to send a copy to my mother.

4. We had a gas main fire around the corner. I took a photo:

5. I saw Ian Beesley, whose website is still down, talking about documenting the closure of industrial plant. This was a seriously inspirational talk.

6. I made cake for a wedding. In future, I shall not be using fluffy ganache icing on cupcakes. Ever. But even though I'm critical about individual components the overall effect wasn't too bad.
The wedding was lovely, too; two dear friends who are obviously very much in love, doing the public affirmation thing. Married because they want to be, not because it's the next logical step in the relationship. Win all round, really.

7. I have done lots of other things, too, but now I'm full of cold and wanting to hit the lemsip.

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