The last time I did a cookery course was when I was 18 years old – I did a 4 week course in Marylebone High St. This was different, inspiring and fun too.
Denise Phillips started her business 12 years ago as a single mum, with 3 children to look after. She does cookery workshops during the week for up to 12 people and on a Sunday night she holds Date on a Plate. 6 women and 6 men for champagne, a cookery class and then dinner together that usually lasts till midnight.
I really take my hat off to someone who is so passionate about what they do and just works really hard to make it great. That is exactly what Denise has done.
Denise lives in Northwood Middlesex and the course I went to focuses on meals in 30 minutes. She specialises in Jewish cookery but there is a lot in her courses that is generic.
What I am going to share with you are the tips I learnt along the way.
Before you start, whatever you are cooking, plan what you are going to cook. Make a list and get out all the ingredients. My second tip was to ensure you keep stock ingredients (flour, spices, sugar etc) in your cupboard . For ingredients such as mint – don’t leave it in the bag when you buy it…open the bag and transfer the mint into a bowl with damp kitchen paper – it keeps longer this way.
We started preparing the Pinenut, Red Pepper and Orzo Salad. When you cook red peppers – take off the skin to make it more digestible. The best way to do that is to cut the pepper in half lengthways and lay on a baking tray skin side up, drizzle with oil and bake for 20 minutes. When you take the pepper out put them in a plastic bowl and cover with cling film. They keep on cooking and the bowl fills with steam, which, after 20-30 mins, makes it easier to just pull off the skin.
The next little trick of the trade, is to know when to use extra virgin oil and when to use vegetable oil – easy really as extra virgin is so heavy it is used for drizzling and dressing and vegetable oil for frying.
While the Peppers were continuing to cook we made our dessert, Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies. We used a big mixer to put the basic ingredients together. But what I learned in order to make the biccies special were 2 things. First to rough chop the pecans and the chocolate so when you bite into the biscuits you can really taste those special ingredients. The second thing was to slow cook the biscuits on a lower heat making them crunchy.
We then went on to make the Crispy Noodle Salad – now don’t forget, if you were to make any one of these dishes on their own it would take under 30 minutes. But choosing 2 or 3different recipes and planning your preparation while other things are cooking means that you could get a whole selection of dishes made and cooked in about an hour. For the crispy noodle salad we used the different blades of the magimix to slice all the vegetables. Then we heated up oil in a wok and in batches we fried the noodles and drained them on kitchen paper.
For the Seabass with Leak and Pea Puree We prepared the pea and leak mash and kept it warm before pan frying the seabass – remember the side you cook first is the side you present.
My very favourite dish that Denise taught us was the Tuna and Spinach Stacks, pan friend to perfection – for me that is pink. But what I loved was the way it was put together. Brown toast layered with spinach , the next layer of goats cheese (or riccota ) topped with the tuna. A final little tip is when you garnish it with Lemon, slice the lemon lengthways and slice down the middle so you get no pips!
I walked away with some great menus but for me what was really special were all the cooking tips along the way. Have a look at Denise Phillips profile as she has shared over 40 recipes and you can check out www.jewishcookery.com if you want to look at the different courses she runs.
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