Next we made poached eggs. Now, I thought I had cracked this (no pun intended) a few months ago, but I was wrong. I liked my poached eggs as a product of a very light simmer, encouraging the eggs to sink with minimal seepage and cooking in a fairly recognisably eggy shape. Chef, however, preambled the correct method by describing this product as 'comedy rubber eggs'. Ah well. Back to the drawing board then. A perfect poached egg is a pod, essentially. The water should be deep and in a large pan and on a fairly vigorous simmer, with a dash of white wine vinegar (I was about to get snobby about not bothering to make them if you only have malt vinegar before I remembered that chef talked about using red wine vinegar with a brunch including shallots and bacon!) If you can position the pan so that half of it is bubbling away and half isn't, all the better as the egg will be pushed from the hotter side of the pan - the entry point, to the cooler side to cook. Crack the egg into a ramekin and lower this into the water at an angle so that the egg is almost pulled out of the ramekin into the water. The egg will take about 3 minutes to cook, at which point the white is visibly cooked but the yolk still feels fairly squidgy (technical term!) to the touch. At this point remove the eggs to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process if you are not serving straight away; the eggs can be stored in the fridge and can be re-simmered for about 45 seconds to reheat later. When serving, the wispy pieces of egg white should be removed to leave your 'pod' of poached egg.
|(Top-Bottom) A Gurnard, and Jar Jar Binks|
We cut the fillet into three sections, scored the skin, oiled and salted and baked it at 200°C for four minutes, flesh-side down, before resting it on the hot tray under a lid so that the residual heat could continue cooking it to perfection. We served the fish with slices of our granary bread, griddled, some sauteed spinach with a little butter and our poached egg topped with hollandaise sauce (made by chef, we will get our turn next week!). We decorated the plate with garlic-infused basil oil made by warming olive oil with whole crushed garlic cloves, liquidising with a bunch of blanched and refreshed basil and straining through muslin for a couple of hours. All very delicious, as long as you put the worms thing far from your mind!
|That duck leg is hiding because it is embarrassed at its state|
For dinner this evening we took home lamb tagine with couscous. The diced lamb shoulder was stored in a marinade yesterday and today we browned it in a pan after sweating off sliced onion and a little salt. The lamb was seared at a high enough heat to begin to catch on the bottom of the pan, so the chicken stock we then added served to deglaze this. Once all of the chicken stock had been added, we brought the mix up to a simmer before adding a cinnamon stick and some saffron and leaving the meat to simmer, lidded, for a few hours until the meat was meltingly tender and the sauce had reduced. Towards the end of cooking, dried apricots were added so that they could absorb the liquid and rehydrate, and right at the end of cooking some chopped coriander was stirred through.
The tagine was served with couscous, made totally differently to how any of us had prepared before, but which made absolute sense. As chef pointed out, what other grain would we ever soak in hot water to cook? Instead, we laid muslin cloth inside a steamer basket and steamed our couscous inside this for about 10 minutes until it had swollen and become fluffy. We broke it up with olive oil as usual, and stirred through toasted almonds, chopped mint, lemon juice and seasoning. And I am off to eat it now!