Reflections on Week One of Cook’s Certificate by Will P.
Following the excitement of Day One (written about in the previous post) I knew there was much to look forward to in the ensuing days. We were told Tuesday would be soups and stews, Wednesday we would learn a variety of roasts and Thursday would be “cake day”. Friday was to be a theory day dedicated to a food hygiene course where we learnt essential and mandatory food hygiene practices.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first week, despite my initial fears of the sheer amount of what we were going to be taught. I was really excited about learning some staples, such as beef stew, how to make gravy (from the roast meat juices, but also a delicious caramelised onion gravy), how to make the perfect Yorkshire pudding and our family favourites – sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fondant. I was also really excited to learn a french onion soup and a butternut squash soup.
I learnt when cooking a stew, you must first seal the meat cubes at a high heat; this adds to the colour of the stew, but more importantly lets the flavour of the browned meat fill the stew. I was surprised when frying onions just for how long they need to be fried for – this is especially important for the onion gravy and french onion soup. The more the onions are cooked, the more their delicious caramelised flavours can infuse with the dish, plus they make the onion gravy a proper dark brown gravy colour.
As for the Yorkshires – we learnt that the oil they get cooked in must be as hot as possible, as steam will be created when the mixture goes in, giving them a good rise. This was the first time I made Yorkshire puddings of this calibre and they were very tasty indeed.
Cake day was a real blast; I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many amazing cakes come fresh out of the oven – there was Victoria sponge, Lemon Drizzle, Devil’s Food Cake to name a few and we all got a chance to taste each other’s creations. It was great learning how to make a butterscotch sauce for the sticky toffee pudding as well as how to make a really delicious chocolate fondant with the essential melted centre. I had to remember they still cook after being taken out of the oven, but they turned out really well and are much simpler then I thought.
In week two I look forward to learning how to make various breads, a day dedicated to meat and poultry, a seafood and shellfish day and our first assessment day where we will be tested on what we have learnt to date by preparing a three course meal of our choice. What an amazing start to an amazing course. I know I am equipping myself with cooking skills I will have for life.
Find out more about the next Cook’s Certificate course.