Ashburton Cookery School Day 5

Our last day of week one focused on fish. After making up a batch of sweet pastry to use for making tarts next week (very excited about that bit), we moved on to making a seafood stock out of sweated onions, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, crushed up prawn and crab shells, tomato purée and a splash of brandy. We then covered the mixture with cold water (cold because it sucks the flavour out of the ingredients better). Once the mixture came to the boil, the smell was fantastic.

With our stock simmering away we began filleting our fish, something I clearly have no natural aptitude for, finishing last every time and managing to tear the skin at least twice  trying to remove it from the fillets. We worked with plaice, gurnard and monkfish. The plaice we cut into strips and used to make goujons for lunch, alongside a home-made tartare sauce.

The gurnard and monkfish was added to our finished stocks along with mussels, tiger prawns, leek, fennel, celery and peas to make a bouillabaisse. I’ve tried making fish stews before, but unless I make one with a very tometoey base, as opposed to a simple fish stock, I always feel quite disappointed with the flavour. No matter how much salt/ lemon juice/ herbs I add, I can never seem to elevate the dish out of the realms of blandness. This bouillabaisse, however, was far from bland. You simply had to hold your head over the bowl and inhale the steam to know you were in for a full flavoured bowl of fishy deliciousness. So I suppose, once again, a good home made stock is the key.

As we finish a few hours earlier on a Friday, our bouillabaisse was ready to eat by a little after two, but with us all feeling stuffed full from our piles of moreish fish goujons, generously dunked in rich tartare sauce, none of us had much room for more than a small bowl of the stew, especially as we were trying to save a little space for the crème brûlées we’d made on Wednesday and were now on the menu for dessert.


I can’t believe a week has gone by already and I’m a quarter of the way through the course. We’ve covered so much in just one week (my folder of theory notes is already getting a little on the chunky side…there’s going to be a lot to learn for the end of course exam!) and looking at the schedule, the next few weeks are set to get even more exciting with lots of game and pastry work coming up next week.

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2 thoughts on “Ashburton Cookery School Day 5

  1. Fleur this is amazing….so enjoying the read it really takes me back to my days at Hotel School in Bruges…it must be something in the genes…don’t forget will always be guinea pig!
    Bonne chance! Myriamxxxx

    • Hi Myriam, really glad you’re enjoying the read. I didn’t realise you studied in Bruges…very nice! Don’t worry, I definitely haven’t forgotten…I am very grateful of guinea pigs…expect a dinner invite in the next couple of weeks! 🙂 xxx

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