Scriblin on the train to Leuchars 2011

I’m sat on the train with my two boys heading to the RAF Leuchars airshow. We are on a very early train and the boys and I are surrounded by all kinds, mostly male. Some people are veterans wearing military and air insignia, others grandpa’s with there children, some of the older folk donning strange hats that only old people wear and I know that one day that will probably be me. Then there are others, newbies like myself included. I’ve been waiting for the boys to be old enough to full fill my longing to attend an airshow. This one slightly surrounded by the mystery of whether it will run next year due to the chat around the army moving onto the base instead of the RAF.

We don’t travel often on the train especially north into Fife (I joke about needing a passport to get into the Kingdom). One of the highlights is crossing the Forth railway bridge and for once I can gaze at the wonders of the sea rather than adhere to the 50mph speed limit of the Forth Road bridge keeping my place in the line of a very busy artery of the Scottish transport system and an amazing feet of engineering.

So I’m halfway through my staycation and trying to reflect on the past week and wondering how to make the most of the next week.  In total I’ve probably got 12 full hours of dedicated me time to play with and an hour and a half already booked as a gym induction my back twinges at the thought!

Cook School by Martin Wishart – Red Legged Partridge

Cook SchoolSpent a great day learning today at Martin Wishart’s cook school, the menu: 

  • Pan Fried Scallops with Jerusalem Artichokes and Hazelnuts
  • Roast Red Leg Partridge, Braised Cabbage, Fondant Potato and Rosemary Jus
  • Caramelised Pears, Honey Ice Cream and Honeycomb

I chose this class as there were a few things I’d never cooked before and if your going to do something like this then you want to push the boundaries a little!, I’d recently tried scallops and to be brutally honest I hadn’t a clue what they might look like.  A Leg of Partridge, why not be game for a bit of game and I like a chicken leg!  Honeycomb, I knew the principle but wouldn’t it be great to blow somebody else’s kitchen up!

I was the first to arrive and got first dibs at the coffee, nearly blew my head off!  At this point I started reading the notes, it started to dawn on me that the Red Leg Partridge was a breed rather than a cut!  So here I was learning from the word go!

Class started with a demo of preparing the bird…..my stomach did do a couple of turns, especially when it came to my turn, along with removing the birds last meal and some of the shot!  We Individually prepared the breast in cling-film ready for our poaching and pan frying for later, Along with this we reduced our sauce, braised the cabbage and pan fried  the potato.

Poached PearsFollowed by poaching the pears and a demo of Ice Cream making and honeycomb….this took us until noon when we broke for a coffee and a slice of ginger bread.

Straight after we moved into the demo of preparing scallops, along with retrieving them out of the shells and then searing.  I now need to buy a fish knife and to find a reputable scallop diver!  We tasted the demo and it was wonderful, served on a bed of celeriac mash  (one of the upsets, to early in the season for the artichokes).

Scallops

Then it was my turn, I did ok and I think this is the first time I’ve cooked something that was alive (when I opened the shell, It was still moving!). Using my thumb I removed the muscle and pulled away the membrane.

At this point, all the main work is done and you get to eat your hard earned work, served with a bottle of wine and some warm home made bread….this was delicious.

Out of everything we made this has got to be one of my highlights of the year.  I think a nice glass plate aids with the presentation!
PartridgeTime to get back to work…….and at this point we all cook at the same time with the main chef giving direction at the front station.  First poaching the Partridge re-heating our earlier work and then pan frying the Partridge to add colour.  Again you get to go through to the seating area where everyone else on the course is a bit more chatty after the effects of the first glass of wine!
PearsNext up, the poached pears with Ice Cream.  I got to use a blow torch (something else to lie at the back of the cupboard if I got one!).  Ice Cream was served up from the central machine (far to big to have one at home!) and there was more than enough honey comb to go round.

A lot of work went on behind the scenes, creating stock and making sure that this was a success, all the ingredients were measured, all the washing up done.  I had a great day and learned a lot.  I’m not sure I’ll buy a Partridge…….but you never know!

September Resolution

September

Typically I take my 2 week break over the summer, however this year is a little different.  My youngest started primary school, and in Scotland they start back in August.  Our school has a break-in period of 1/2 days over the course of the month.  So I’m taking my break over the next couple of weeks and effectively taking a staycation!  The weeks will consist of dropping two boys off at the same time and picking two boys up at different times………however……I’m getting roughly 3 hours a day to myself in the morning.  So I’m left pondering what to do!  I’ve got so many things that I want to do that I might find myself procrastinating.

I stumbled upon this site Sixteen Goals in Sixteen Weeks which I think is a great way to set out and achieve something, in this case sixteen somethings.  From a cooking perspective one of my favourite sites is 101 Cookbooks and in particular the idea of having an inspiration board.

So the plan for this morning is to think about what I want to achieve in the next two weeks.  Hit the library, they have book in there about procrastination waiting for me (maybe I’ll get that tomorrow!!).  Post a blog entry (pat on the back for that one!). Most of all try and chill at the same time.