Recipe: Pastry “Pizza”

Pastry Pizza
Pastry Pizza

Ingredients;

1 packet of puff pastry
5 – 6 tomatoes, as ripe as possible, diced roughly with the majority of the seeds removed
10 – 12 black olives, finely chopped
Shredded Parma ham (or other dried meat)
Mini mozzarella balls (or shredded mozz)
Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn up
Strong cheese, such as Red Leicester or vintage cheddar, finely grated
Fresh rocket (or oregano, thyme or similar)
Plain flour
Vegetable oil

Serves 2 as a main course, 4-6 as a snack/starter


Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Flour your worktop well and roll out the pastry to fit the size of a large baking tray. Place it carefully on the baking tray and brush all over with the vegetable oil.

Dress the pastry to 1 centimetre from the edge with your toppings, starting with the tomatoes, then moving onto the olives, basil, parma ham and mozzarella. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edge of the pastry is golden brown.

Remove from the oven, cut into large slices and sprinkle with the rocket before serving.

George’s awesome week of awesome III

This is the final part of the saga (for now) you can find the beginning here and the middle here if you want the full story :)

Your Awesome

Friday’s cookery practical class is all about pastry. No, not four hours of making pastry, but four hours of Pastry chef-ing that’s desserts to most folk or as I like to call it the demon class that will make me even fatter :)

Still my newly acquired knife skills were given a workout as we went though some training on chopping fruit and we also made some absolutely fantastic scones, of course there was more to it than simply the practical aspect. We also covered knife skills, general handling procedures, the uniform and why it is what it is and also hygiene practices, amongst a host of other things that I won’t bore you with.

All in all it’s been one of the busiest, most exciting, scary, thrilling and rewarding weeks of my professional life while simultaneously making me feel like a teenager and an old fogey all at the same time. It means I now have commitments to a path that I’m hoping will lead me into Culinary Arts in 2011 year as well as other commitments outside of college and I can see a very full and busy schedule ahead of me for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, I don’t see how I can fit everything I have to do into the time that is available. So something has to give. No this is not the bit where I say I’m giving up on this blog, but it is the bit where I say that I may not be posting as regularly in future due to other commitments.

Elly has already said that she intends to post more and I can see there being some crossover between what I’m studying and this blog so hopefully I will be able to adapt some of my college work where suitable to the blog format.

But enough of that, I feel the need to take a little time out here to thank a few people for helping me get this far. So, in no particular order…

Thank you to Kieran and Thea from Murphy’s Ice-cream. Thanks for not giving me a job (it truly was the best thing you could have done for me ;)) and reminding me of what confidence and a bit of neck can do for you when you really want something.

Thank you Ciaran in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud for giving me a try in a kitchen I had no place being in (with my lack of skills) and giving me the chance to see what life in a fine dining kitchen is all about.

A huge thanks to John in CPLN Area Local Employment Service for being the only person I encountered in “the system” who seemed genuinely to care about the people he worked with, doing everything he could to reduce the live register by one, being so hell bent on getting me started in a new career and for helping me find and investigate all the options that were open to me. Our country needs more people like him.

My family and friends, you have all given so much of yourselves to help me over the last year I just don’t know where to begin in thanking you all, just know that I love and appreciate all of you for it and I will be looking for ways that I can return the favour.

And finally I want to thank Elly, my wife, my lover, my best friend, my reason to get up in the morning and my reason to go to bed at night, without your help and support I would never have had the belief in myself to even attempt this and I know that with you, I’m a better person than I ever could be without.

Wow, that sounds like the sycophantic ramblings of some overrated starlet receiving an Oscar but you know I’ve won a bigger prize than an Oscar… Opportunity, it doesn’t come knocking too often and when it does, it take hard work and determination to maximise it. A lot of people have helped me to get to where I am right now and I will do everything in my power to honour their efforts by giving this my all.

Recipe: The Tastiest Roast Chicken

The Tastiest Roast Chicken
The Tastiest Roast Chicken

Ingredients;

1 whole chicken, best quality you can afford
30g butter, softened
Mixed herbs, finely chopped (should give approx 1 handful when chopped)
1 lemon, zested and cut in half. Zest finely diced
Coppa di Parma (or Parma ham)
Root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, onions)
Potatoes


Heat your oven to 180 C.

This is a beautiful and simple one tray dinner. Start by preparing your chicken – check it has been thoroughly cleaned out internally, trim away any excess fatty skin from the openings. Begin to delicately tease the skin away from the flesh of the breast area, creating a pocket under the skin.

Mix your chopped herbs, lemon zest and some salt & pepper with softened butter. Rub this into the chicken flesh inside the pocket you created by lifting the skin. Also rub it all over the outside of the chicken, covering all of the skin. Next, take your pieces of coppa di parma and place in the skin pocket of the chicken. Place one half of the lemon in the cavity of your chicken, this will help to keep your chicken moist.

Chicken should be roasted for 20 mins per lb plus 20 mins. Your vegetables and potatoes will take about 1 hour to cook, so place the chicken in a large roasting tin and place it in the oven. Now, begin to prepare your vegetables and add them to the roasting tin when there’s one hour of cooking time left.

Peel your vegetables as needed and cut into similar sized chunks. Toss them in a little olive oil (add a little dried herbs if you like) before adding to the roasting tin.

Ensure that the juices of the chicken are running clear, by cutting into the bird with a sharp knife, and then rest for 10 minutes before carving.

George’s awesome week of awesome II

This is part II of a three part series, Part I can be found here and part three will be published in the next few days

Awesome

Wednesday morning in the meeting hall, I was greeted by a room full of college staff and twenty-somethings. After a quick look around I grabbed a seat beside the only person in the room that I could see looked even remotely close to my age.

Induction began and I realised 3 things, that I’ve since learnt are all true…

  1. These people aren’t all on my course.
  2. Some of my lecturers could be younger than me.
  3. I’m probably going to be the oldest on my course.

After a while we were divided into groups by our courses and sent off trailing our course tutor, through the building and straight into a kitchen.

Thankfully we weren’t being chucked in the deep end too quickly, it was just an introduction to the room and to the course, what we could expect, what not to do and so on and so forth. Finally off we trundled to our first of two proper classes that day – Computer applications. Grand, some familiar territory to get things started with!

Next up, was French, very unfamiliar territory for me and thankfully about half of the rest of the group. Still, I’m already so far out of my comfort zone, at this point, it’s a wonder my brain hasn’t packed it’s little suitcase and made a dash for it out my nose leaving nothing but a “so long and thanks for all the fish” sign in it’s place and the thoughts of having to start learning a language, something I’ve never been great with, really weren’t helping.

Thankfully, Thursday’s classes, Communications, Tourism Awareness and Nutrition got me back into my comfort zone and set me up nicely for an afternoon of running around Dublin City centre, purchasing books, knives, chef’s uniform and other assorted bits ‘n’ pieces so I could actually take part in Friday’s four hour cookery practical session. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, let’s rewind to Thursday night.

A few weeks back Elly spotted a very reasonably priced knife skills course in Donnybrook Fair and I decided that I would like to do it, not for a minute thinking that I would be starting a hotel and catering course the same week. So after spending the afternoon shopping in Dublin and grabbing a bus home, I promptly dropped everything once in the door, drank two pints of water in quick succession, had a pee and ran out the back door, jumped in the car and headed to Donnybrook, thanks to lousy parking facilities I ended up walking about a kilometre to get to the class and being about ten minutes late, not a great start.

After making my apologies to both chef and class I grabbed a seat and realised that I hasn’t missed much past “this is a knife” :)

The class was great, starting off with how to use a steel to sharpen your knives, moving through some vegetable preparations, filleting a fish and even removing the carcass from a chicken, so you can pack more stuffing and flavour in. Given how good Elly’s Roast Chicken is and how much work is involved I don’t see myself doing that too often at home but it could be a handy skill to have for college and sure a little extra practice ain’t going to hurt.

Food related stuff I’ve spotted on the Intertubes IV

Beans And Cornbread by Louis Jordan, great fun tune, if ye feel the need why not try this baked beans recipe 😉

Suck on a Pepsi or Pepsi suck? – You decide after reading this.

Some things only Americans can find a way to put a positive marketing spin on “A delicious taste sensation” Really? Warm beer a taste sensation? Just cause you can, doesn’t always mean you should 😉

I’m a little late with these back to school lunch planners but if you have little ‘uns and you haven’t seen this already, it may help you 😉

Wanna see 22 pictures of my own personal heaven on earth? Just what I need, another reason to go to New York.