We had a nice civilized 12.30 p.m. start today - after our group photo at midday. In today's demonstration the Chef showed us how to make puff pastry with leeks and poached eggs with albufera sauce and pear and raspberry tarts with almond butter and an apricot glaze. We actually made the puff pastry in our last practical - or rather, we started it off. I've never made puff pastry before and I don't think I will, through choice, again because it's quite a lengthy process and it's very hard to source the main ingredient (even here in Paris!) - beurre sec ("dry" butter) - so called because it has a low moisture content and high fat content which helps to keep the flour from turning into a greasy mess.
You start off by making your basic pastry in the same way that you would choux pastry - by adding melted butter, water and salt to flour - then leaving to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. After that you roll out the pastry in a cross shape and place a heart-stoppingly large pat of beurre sec in the middle and then fold and roll and fold, flip over and do the same all over again, six times - or six "turns", to give it it's technical term (resting in the fridge for 20 minutes after every two turns) . My Canadian friend J, says she only gives her puff pastry one turn - she jumps in her car, turns the key in the ignition and goes to the shop to buy it! She has a point though because we were all agreed that Chef's puff pastry wasn't so earth-shatteringly different to bought stuff - so why bother?
The leeks and poached eggs in puff pastry recipe was sublime. You gently cook julienne of leeks with a little bit of butter and water until there's no liquid left, add some cream and seasoning and fill your vol-au-vents with this mixture and a poached egg then drizzle with albufera sauce (reduced chicken stock, cream, lemon juice and brunoise of red pepper). I think this is one that I'll be cooking over and over again once I get home.
Big exciting day tomorrow. You know my favourite shop - kitchen shop heaven in Moutiers? - well tomorrow, J (who's lived here for more than three years and knows all the really cool places to go) is taking H (our Australian friend) and I to kitchen shop nirvana - more than four kitchen shops even bigger than the one in Moutiers on the same street. I shall be like a kid in a sweetie shop!