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Cooking Together – Fine Dining

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Our Cooking Together cookery classes are as much about learning to cook as they are a sociable experience. We hope you enjoyed your fine dining evening and are ready to recreate the meals at home.

Tips for Cooking the Perfect Steak

Heat, heat and more heat!  Choose your steak well, ideally use the butcher but if you are buying at a supermarket, remove the packaging sooner rather than later.  Buy as thick a piece as possible, so if cooking for 2, buy twice the thickness and cut after cooking.   The meat must be at room temperature before you cook it, and it must rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking.  If cooking a bigger piece – it should rest for about half the cooking time.  You can rest it covered with foil, on a rack (like a cake rack), to catch any juices.

Which ever cut you have, you just need your pan or a griddle pan, then you can finish the cooking in a low oven if it’s a thicker piece.

If your steak has a piece of fat on it, leave it on to cook, you can choose to eat or leave.  But use the fat as a visual guide to cooking.  As the fat renders it colours and the flavour joins the juices in the pan.  If you have a steak on the bone – T-Bone or Tomahawk, cook with the bone in and remove before serving.  The bone adds flavour to the cooking.

For these 5-6oz fillet steaks, we are in the region of 1-2 minutes each side in a hot pan.  There are arguments about seasoning before or after cooking – both work….however do oil the meat directly…not the pan.  Don’t move it until ready to turn and when you have turned the second time, you will get a feel for how you like your steak to be cooked!  Don’t be afraid to poke it with your finger!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2.  
  3. Peal the squash and cut into chunky chip shape.
  4.  
  5. Place the squash in a mixing bowl, add olive oil, season well with salt and pepper.
  6.  
  7. Place on a tray lined with baking paper, bake in the oven for roughly 20minutes, or until all the squash is soft and cooked through.
  8.  
  9. For the pumpkin seed garnish: mix the seeds and soy/tamari in a bowl and give them a good toss. Place on another lined roasting tray and bake in the oven for 8 minutes, while stirring around every minute or so.
  10. The seeds are done when all the tamari/soy has evaporated. Cool the seeds down for 5 minutes before eating.
  11.  
  12. For the buttermilk dressing: place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until all combined.
  13.  
  14. To finish this lovely side dish: place the squash chips on a plate, drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with chopped dill, pumpkin seeds and pomegranates.

Parmentier Potatoes

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 3tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1kg white potatoes peeled and cut into 1cm/½inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2sprigs rosemary leaves only, chopped finely
  • 2sprigs thyme leaves only, chopped finely
  • 3cloves garlic grated or crushed

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C / 200C / gas mark 7 / 425F. Place the oil in a large roasting tin / oven tray with sides and place in the oven to heat up.
  2.  
  3. Place the chopped potatoes into a large saucepan. Pour over boiling water and par boil on a high heat for 5 minutes (start timing from the moment the potatoes go on, NOT from when they come back up to boiling).
  4.  
  5. Drain the potatoes in a sieve or colander and then return them to the pan to steam dry for 5 minutes (DON’T shake them or they will lose their shape.)
  6.  
  7. Carefully remove the hot oven tray from the oven and tip in the potatoes and add a little salt and pepper. Turn the potatoes in the hot oil, spread the potatoes out on the tray in a single layer and return to the oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
  8.  
  9. Meanwhile mix the garlic and herbs together in a small bowl.
  10.  
  11. After 15 minutes, remove the potatoes from the oven. Add the garlic and herbs mixture and turn the potatoes in the garlic and herbs to ensure they are all coated. Spread out again in a single layer and cook for a further 15 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Spiced carrot puree

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • 4x carrot, peeled, chopped roughly
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2cm of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed
  • 400ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • 1tsp of sage for garnish
  •  

Method:

  1. Heat up a medium size saucepan with oil. Sweat of the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, add the spices and make fragrant.
  2.  
  3. Add the carrot, ginger, saffron and seasoning, sauté for further few minutes.
  4.  
  5. Pour in the stock and cook until carrots are soft.
  6.  
  7. Add double cream, blend until smooth.
  8.  
  9. Finish with chopped sage.

Red Wine Jus

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped 
  • 175ml port
  • 175ml red wine
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 800ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • pinch sugar

Method:

  1. Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots until golden and caramelised, about 10 mins.
  2.  
  3. Pour in the stock and continue to cook until reduced by half again, then strain, discarding the shallots and herbs.
  4.  
  5. Transfer the sauce into a new pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then season to taste.

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini

Ingredients:

For the pasta (makes more dough than needed for this recipe):

  • – 2 medium eggs
  • – 200g ‘00’ flour, plus extra for dusting

For the hazelnut pesto:

  • – 25g whole blanched hazelnuts
  • – 15g Parmesan (or a similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated
  • – 1 tbsp hazelnut oil
  • – 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the filling:

  • – 150g ricotta
  • – 500g grams of blanched spinach, water squeezed out of it
  • – 50g Parmesan (or a similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated
  • – 1 lemon, zest only
  • – pinch grated nutmeg
  • – salt and freshly ground pepper
  • – knob of butter, to serve

Method:

  1. Put eggs and flour in a food processor and process until smooth. The mixture will look like breadcrumbs at this stage. Tip out onto a lightly floured board and bring together using your hands. Knead the dough until it’s no longer sticky. Cover and rest in the fridge while you make the filling and pesto.
  2.  
  3. For the pesto, spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 6–8 minutes, until golden brown, then set aside to cool.
  4.  
  5. For the filling, mix the ricotta, parmesan, spinach, lemon zest, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper until well combined. Transfer to a piping bag or a plastic food bag with the corner snipped off.
  6.  
  7. To make the pesto, crush the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar, then gently stir in the Parmesan and oils.
  8.  
  9. To assemble the tortellini, roll the pasta dough through all the sizes on the pasta machine starting with the widest setting and finishing on the smallest setting when the pasta is very thin. Using a 9cm/3½in round cutter, cut out 10 circles. (Any leftover dough can be frozen to use another time.)
  10.  
  11. Pipe a heaped teaspoon amount of filling inside each pasta circle and fold in half to create a half moon shape. Wet the edges and press down to help them stick. Pull the two narrow ends together to form a tortellini shape.
  12.  
  13. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 2–3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
  14.  
  15. Meanwhile, put a frying pan over a medium–high heat and add a knob of butter. Cook until lightly browned and starting to bubble. Then add the hazelnut pesto and gently heat through.
  16.  
  17. Serve the tortellini with the pesto spooned over the top.

Rustic Basil Pesto

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • – ½ a clove garlic
  • – 1 big bunch of fresh basil
  • – 1 handful of pine nuts
  • – 1 good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • – extra virgin olive oil
  • – 1 lemon, optional

Method:

  1. Peel the garlic, then pound in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt.
  2.  
  3. Pick, roughly chop and add the basil leaves, then bash to a paste (or pulse in a food processor).
  4.  
  5. Add the pine nuts (very lightly toast first, if you like) to the mixture and pound again, then stir in half the Parmesan.
  6.  
  7. Drizzle in some oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.
  8.  
  9. Add most of the remaining cheese, then season to perfection with salt and black pepper. Have a taste and keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency.
  10.  
  11. Add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, if you like, but it’s not essential.

Romesco Sauce 

Ingredients – 3 cups:

  • One 450g jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • ½ cup raw or roasted almonds (unsalted)
  • ¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium-to-large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  

Method:

  1. In a blender (preferably) or food processor, combine everything but the olive oil. Securely fasten the lid and blend, starting on low and increasing the speed as you are able to gain traction.
  2.  
  3. Once the ingredients are mostly blended, start drizzling in the olive oil while running the blender. Blend until you reach your desired consistency (I like my romesco sauce pretty creamy, but you might prefer it with a chunkier texture).
  4.  
  5. Taste, and add additional salt (up to ¼ teaspoon) if it doesn’t quite knock your socks off yet. Serve immediately with toasted sourdough bread rubbed with raw garlic (as a funkier version of Pan con tomate), you could add chorizo or other toppings
  6.  
  7. You could also use as a sauce for arancini and many other dishes
  8. Or store in a jar in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  9.  

Confit Chicken Legs

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 4chicken legs (1 1/4 lb/600 g)
  • 4 cups olive oil (approx.)

Method:

  1. Toss together salt, thyme, pepper, and lemon zest; sprinkle all over chicken legs in bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  2.  
  3. Preheat oven to 150°C. Arrange chicken in large Dutch oven in single layer. Pour oil over top, adding enough oil to submerge chicken completely. Cover and bake for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until chicken is very tender but not falling off the bone. Let stand in oil for 30 minutes.
  4.  
  5. Carefully transfer to foil-lined baking pan fitted with metal rack. Broil on centre rack for about 10 minutes or until skin is crisp. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Chilli tomato chutney

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 500g red onions, finely sliced
  • 1kg fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 8 – 12 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
  • a thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 150ml red wine vinegar
  • 5 cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika

Method:

  1. Place all of your ingredients into a large, heavy-based pan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.

     

    Simmer for 1 hour.

    Using a handheld blender, blend all of the ingredients, but not so much that it becomes a puree.

    After simmering, bring to a gentle boil so that the mixture turns dark, jammy and shiny.

    Place into sterilised jars and place in the fridge for the night. Will keep for 6 weeks

Salt-baked Beetroot

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 200g coarse sea salt
  • 200g fine salt
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, de-stalked
  • 125ml water
  • 6 medium beetroots
  • extra virgin olive oil to serve

Method:

  1. To make the salt crust, place the two salts, egg whites, flour, rosemary leaves and most of the water in a food processor and whiz until combined. Add the remaining water until the mixture forms a firm dough that isn’t too sticky. Tip out the dough and squish together into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for two hours.
  2.  
  3. Heat the oven to 170C. Scrub the beetroot and closely trim, but do not peel.
  4.  
  5. Roll out the dough on a bench and cut into six pieces. Place a beetroot on top of each one and press the dough up and over each beetroot until completely sealed.
  6.  
  7. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then crack open the crust, brush the beetroot with olive oil and serve.

Walnut Brittle

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 ounces roasted salted peanuts, cashews, pistachios and/or pecans
  • Crushed  sea salt

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, 10 minutes.
  2.  
  3. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed, nonstick baking sheet. Using the back of a large spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.

Italian lemon Posset

This is an Italian classic, and is great for a dinner party – as it can be made in the morning.

You could crush up biscuits of your choice and put in the bottom of the glass.  A classic Italian version would be an amaretti and serve a glass of amaretto on the side!

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • ·      300ml of double cream
  • ·      60g caster sugar
  • ·      1 juicy lemon
 
 
 
 
 
 

Method

  1. 1. Squeeze the lemon
  2. 2. Bring the cream and sugar to the boil (careful it should just boil but not boil over). Once you see it boil – stay there and boil for exactly 3 minutes.
  3. 3. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice
  4. 4. Strain this into a jug and leave to cool for 20minutes.
  5. 5. If you wish to put a crumbled biscuit in the bottom of the receptacle – this is the time to do it. If not gently pour the cream into the glasses.
  6. 6. Refrigerate for 6 hours minimum.
  7. Serve with fruit and edible flowers
  8.  

Berry compote

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen fruit (I used 1/2 strawberries, 1/2 bing cherries)
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fresh or ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method:

  1. Place fruit and juice in a small saucepan and bring to medium heat.
  2. Once bubbling, reduce heat slightly and use a wooden spoon to muddle and mash the fruit.
  3. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, occasionally mashing fruit to combine. Turn off heat and add optional add-ins at this point (cinnamon, ginger, sugar).

Chocolate Soil

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 70 g plain cooking chocolate
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method:

  1. Heat the sugar and water in a pan.
  2. Cut the Plain chocolate into small pellets about the size of a finger nail.
  3. When the sugar reaches 130*c
  4. Note: if you haven’t got thermometer wait until all sugar dissolved and starting to change medium brown colour.
  5. Take off the heat.
  6. Get a whisk, add the chocolate bits and stir with the whisk.
  7. Make sure all the sugar coats the chocolate and stir for about 2 minutes.
  8. Empty out the mixture to a container.
  9. Pour hot water into the pan with the whisk and boil until the mixture starts to dissolve. it makes it easier to clean.
  10. You can add different chocolate flavours if you like and spices

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