Cooking Class W/ The Chef of A Local Restaurant: On a Sat. this last month I spent 6 hours cooking in an industrial kitchen under the direction of the Owner/Head Chef of a local restaurant. He is now at the point in his career where he can leave the restaurant (temporarily) to his crew and follow his passion to teach cooking classes on the side. He has a separate building across the street from the restaurant where they do some prep work and where he can teach cooking courses. The one I took was an overall sort of class where we made scones for morning tea and 5 dishes for lunch, and finished it off with desert. We learned knife skills as well as many other little tidbits along the way. They whole 6 hours was hands on which I loved. I am not as much a fan of classes where you just watch someone else cook and taste it at the end.
Well start with desert first: a typical lemon tart with mascarpone on the side.
Lemon Tarts are not my favorite desert and I had never made one before. I learned some tips for making them that were helpful if I should ever make one again :) One tip was to put the filling in a food processor and whip it until it is shiny then put it through a sieve. That way you get a beautiful color and you eliminate any little tiny pieces of egg that might have cooked.
The next little tidbit I learned was to cook the pastry cases with a little bit of pastry hanging over the sides. This allows it to shrink up nicely without loosing any of your crust down inside of your pan. We also learned how to cut little round papers to fill with barley, rice, or chickpeas to use as weights as they cook.
Another really helpful tip was how to eliminate the extra edges after the pastry cases were cooked. He used a rolling pin on top and just rolled it over each one until they were cut clean and perfect. And last little tip and my personal favorite is to take the left over crusts and dip them in your morning tea :)
These are the cheese scones we made for morning tea. They were fantastic if really fattening. They are so much better than the hard scones you buy in all the cafes here. Well most of the cafes. Some of them have really great scones that tastes fresh and not hard and old.
These are the ones we cooked up in his industrial kitchen--
This is the same dough (leftovers I brought home) but cooked in my crummy little oven.
After reproducing all the recipes at home that we made while I was there I was able to see first hand the difference that having an industrial kitchen/oven makes. The oven there cooked everything evenly and perfect every single time. My oven did not. It was quite sad.
These are the rolls we learned to make. They turned out so perfectly and again the oven made ALL the difference. I learned how to roll the dough into perfect little balls of all the same size and shape. We weighed the dough and every ball was between 58-60g in weight and rolled the same size so they would cook evenly and perfectly.
One thing I liked as well was covering the rolls with cling wrap instead of a towel. It keeps the dough so much more moist and holds in the heat to let them rise a little more easily even in a cold kitchen.
The rolls were brushed with a beaten egg and they turned out completely uniform. I have made some beautiful rolls at home but mine don't turn out quite so perfectly. Close but not quite the same as these were. One difference is that I am using 1/2 wholemeal flour and 1/2 reg. flour and I think the taste a lot better that way since we are used to making everything with wholemeal.
This is the dressing for the spinach and walnut salad: I used an ingredient I had never cooked with before- Palm Sugar-it is sugar, water and coconut juice and it has a unique sweet flavor I really like. One of the guys in the class told me he makes a great plumb sauce with it. It was fun to be in the class with 4 other people who love to cook and hear what they have learned and what the love to make etc...
The dressing is 50g palm sugar, 50g lime juice, 50ml, lemon juice and 50 ml, olive oil. You just cook it on low heat until the sugar dissolves and it once it is cool you can pour it over the salad. It is a fantastic dressing. Yummy!
These are the cubed and boiled potatoes we made for the spiced potatoes. We ground our own spices to sprinkle over the potatoes and fried them until golden. For the recipe we used 1 Kg of potatoes, 1 tsp each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds and fennel seeds, 1/3 tsp chili flakes and flaky salt.
This was something entirely new to me as well because of the way we cooked them. These are the candied walnuts we made for the spinach salad. You boil them for 3 minutes first-who would have thought? After you dry them off and cool them you toss in icing sugar and cayenne pepper(2TBS icing sugar to 1 pinch of cayenne pepper) and dust off the excess. Heat oil in a pan and cook them stirring frequently until caramelised. The chef was saying that it is hard to get even his own chef's too cook them until they are dark enough. He said that the nature of caramel is that it is burnt sugar and no one ever wants too cook it until it is burnt. I personally am one of those people that likes it a little less burnt :)
Here they are being fried up-
They are still way too light at this stage
This is how dark he had us cook them. I would have liked them just a little lighter than this because they tasted a little more "caramelized" than my palette prefers.
This is the moonfish with Chermoula spice paste. The spice past we made was 15g cumin seeds-dry roasted and ground, 5g coriander seeds-dry roasted and ground, 10g paprika, 5g ground ginger, 1 clove garlic-roughly chopped, 1 chili-deseeded and chopped, 30ml lemon juice, 40ml olive oil salt and pepper to taste Then we combined it in the food processor until it was ground into a paste.
We just spread a little on top of the fish before cooking and it was really good.
These are the slow roasted tomatoes with onion relish on top. Very good as well!
The finished salad-
Part of the finished meal: roasted potatoes, fish and fennel salad
now with the spinach salad on the side
And here are the slow roasted tomatoes with onion relish (I guess I didn't get a picture with the roll).
And there you have it the finished product of all our labors in the kitchen. Fantastic food and company and we got to take home all of our recipes. Well worth the cost of the class.