When I got back from Italy last week, my chef welcomed me back with a large slap on the back and declared, "you're starting at 4 now, for the rest of the summer." Bam. I looked up at him and smiled cheekily... "can we say five?"
I suppose I can't stop myself from negotiating. With everything. In my little world, there's always something better and you need to try and get it in any way you can. Even if it means one extra hour in bed. "No, Abigail, we gotta get right in there now, theres a lot of work to get on with so we're starting at 4."
4 in worse than 6 because it's still night when you leave at 3.30. However, there is something quite fun about riding a velib bicycle to work at that time. Drunk men cycle after you because they think that you're a lonely girl going home after a night out. Rather than a pastry chef about to assemble a bunch of millefeuilles.
A drunk guy stumbled into our kitchen yesterday whilst I was icing the eclairs. He was hungry, asking for a croissant in order to soak up all the alcohol in his system. My chef sold him one because he took pity on him. The guy stood in the kitchen for about ten minutes telling us about how amazing we all were. "I want to cry it's all so beautiful" he said that about eleven times. I thought he was really about to cry too and we all felt awkward not knowing what to say as he repeated "I've drunk a lot tonight and I'm so sorry. So sorry. So, so sorry..."
On Sundays we have lunch altogether. I suggested veal escalopes because it's something special and delicious. So I was appointed lunch duty and made veal escalopes milanese & linguine pasta with wild mushroom and cream sauce for the team.
You dip your veal escalopes in well-seasoned beaten eggs, then in breadcrumbs and then you fry them with a knob of butter and some vegetable oil (so the butter doesn't burn). Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
More cooking was done in the evening as I had invited some girlfriends round for dinner. And girlfriends for dinner always means wine and chocolate. Always. My aunt had left these cherries in the fruit bowl and I couldn't help but think of cherry clafoutis. I am not completely sure of what my slightly hyperactive self was imagining when I started to toast ground hazelnut powder in the bottom of the cake tin and remove cherry stones but the end result was good. I added a yoghurt because everything felt so rich and I wanted there to be a light tang of something. It took 10 minutes. It was moussey and rich in chocolate. It was perfect for the girls. (But boys can eat it too.)
We cracked open the champagne to celebrate getting my pastry exam. I can legally sell food and drink now. It's been a long journey but we got there in the end.
Chocolate & Ground Hazelnut Mousse Cake, with Forgotten Cherries:
Serves 5- 8 girls:
230g Dark Chocolate
10 tablespoons Sugar (140g)
One plain yoghurt (100g)
4 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons flour
80g Ground hazelnuts
- Turn oven on 180C.
- Line cake tin.
- Half of roasted hazelnuts in the tin so it covers the bottom.
- Put in the oven for three- five minutes to roast and take out once toasted and NOT burnt.
- Put chocolate and butter in the microwave and melt at a not too hot microwave setting.
This can also be done on bain mairie (over some boiling water) if you don't have a microwave.
(Don't melt to a very hot temperature)
- Separate the eggs and beat the whites in a mixer.
- Add the sugar to the butter and chocolate, then add the egg yolks, then the flour. Then add the yoghurt.
- Fold the egg whites in.
- Pour the mixture over your toasted ground hazelnuts.
- Pour the rest of your ground hazelnuts (the other half that's not yet toasted) over the cake. The hazelnuts will toast on top of the cake.
- Remove the cherry stones from the cherries using your fingers (but try not to destroy the cherries). Push the cherries into the cake evenly.
- Bake for 12- 15 minutes (depending on your oven.)
Leave to cool for a couple of hours before serving. You want to be able to cut it into neat parts so it doesn't fall apart but still soft and gooey in the middle.
Serve with creme fraiche for an acidic kick.