Its December (how?!), therefore it is fully acceptable to eat, talk and drink ‘Christmas’. I managed to catch the switching on of the festive lights with my little one and I am rather enjoying all the Christmas adverts! Do you have one that you love? Buster The Boxer is a huge hit with my 2 year old that I have even had a sneaky peek at their merchandise.
I am one who does not need any help to get into the spirit of the festive season but I went into Christmas ‘overdrive’ if that’s such a word when I had the chance to attend a Christmas Cookery Event hosted by John Lewis at the Waitrose Cookery School on Finchley Road. I was so excited and rather nervous to experience my first ‘Masterchef’ moment. I was rather intrigued as I have never been to a cookery class before and in the brief, I had the understanding that we will be making 5 different festive canapés in a few hours. Ps. nervous was an understatement when I walked up to their GORGEOUS kitchen. The kitchen here is wonderful, it has everything that I have ever wanted in a kitchen including a magic washing up trolley where there’s no need to actually do the washing up. Guess what, I had every right to be nervous as their expert chef Gerard kindly suggested that yours truly should go on a knife skills course. A basic one at that 🙂 Ps. my Kitchen Wishlist has grown by leaps and bounds ever since I had a feel of this shiny impressive kitchen. I could do with some new knives (hint hint husband)!
Look! (I spy with my little eye, the magic washing up trolley on the top left)
Dressed crab, shaved fennel all on top of a homemade crab cracker! This was lush and it was prepared beforehand all ready for us when we arrived.
Armed with quite a few of these delicious crab canapés tucked in my belly, it was time to get cooking! Chefs Gerard and Shauna showed us the ropes by demonstrating step by step how to cook each recipe where we all try to listen intently whilst trying to get lots of pictures. I was most definitely in a room full of bloggers, a variety of technology whipped out trying to capture the best angles. This was a great way to learn especially since I had very adept cooking buddies.
I thought I would share my favourites from the evening and you can recreate them at home for your family and guests.
Confit Duck Samosa, served with a Spiced Pear Puree
(makes 12 samosa)
For the Confit Duck Filling
75g Confit Duck Leg
80ml Pedro Ximinez Sherry
30g Cape Raisins
1.5tb Hoisin Sauce
For the Samosas
2 sheets of Filo Pastry, cut in half and then again lengthwise into 3, leaving you with 6 pieces of Filo
50ml unsalted butter, melted
For the Spiced Pear Puree
2 ripe Pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1/4 tsp Bart All Spice
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1tsp Reserved Sherry Liquor
1. For the confit duck filling – In a small pan combine the raisins and the sherry.
Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 hour. Once
soaked strain the raisins, reserving the sherry.
In a small bowl mix together the soaked raisins, shredded confit duck leg,
hoisin sauce and ½ of the reserved sherry. Mix well, cover and chill.
2. For the samosa – Preheat an oven to 160C. Lay a strip of the filo lengthways
on your work surface and brush all over the the melted butter.
Place a tsp of the filling at the top of the sheet of filo. Fold the top right hand
corner over to make a triangular shape. Follow the triangular pattern all the
way down the filo strip. Brush again with the melted butter and place on a
baking tray with the seam underneath. Repeat with the remaining filo and
Place in the oven and bake for 6-7 minutes until golden, turn the samosa
and bake for a further 6-7 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove,
place on a cooling rack and let cool.
3. For the spiced pear puree – Place the chopped pear pieces into a mini
blender. Add the allspice, lemon juice and sherry liquor. Blitz to a smooth
puree, remove and pour into a small container.
4. To serve – Spoon a tsp of the spiced pear puree onto each samosa and
We also whizzed up a lovely spiced pear puree to go with the crispy samosa and the pairing of this was delicious. How cute is the little Kenwood mixer too, I had a good browse on HERE when I got home!
I took my time writing this post as I actually tried recreating them at home! Made an inspired version of these more-ish samosas but instead of duck confit, I used minced beef fried with onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, tomatoes. Mixed in some orange rind for good measure. Replaced butter with melted dairy free spread in order for our little one to join in the eating fun.
It was a hit even with the toddler! She couldn’t wait to sink her teeth in my samosas, haha.
Back to the John Lewis Cook Event, we made Parmesan Risotto Balls (Arancini)! Risotto has always been one of my favourites in a restaurant but I have never made it at home. What more, deep fry it. Its not too difficult but definitely labour intensive as there’s lots of stirring involved. It was mouth watering and I must make a mental note to make this for my husband soon.
Parmesan Risotto Balls
(makes 40 balls)
For the Risotto
1 Shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 clove Garlic, peeled and finely crushed
1 sprig Thyme
20g unsalted Butter
1/2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
1 tbsp White Wine
100g Arborio Rice
450ml Vegetable Stock, warmed
80g Parmesan, finely grated
For the Panne
2 – 3 tbsp Plain White Flour
1 Egg, cracked and beaten
100g Dried Breadcrumbs
1. To cook the risotto – Place a medium sized pan onto a low heat. Add the oil and butter. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes until the shallot is soft. Pour in the white wine, bring to the boil and let bubble until it is almost fully reduced.
2. Tip in the arborio rice and coat in the shallot and wine mix. Begin to add the warmed stock, a ladle at a time and stir until absorbed by the rice. Continue to do so with all of the stock ensuring that the stock is fully absorbed otherwise your risotto balls will be too wet.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season with pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Spread out onto flat tray and place in the fridge to cool.
4. To shape and panne – Once cool, remove from the fridge and scoop using a measuring spoon into 10-15g balls.
5. Dust each one with the flour, then coat with the beaten egg and finally roll each one in the breadcrumbs. Roll each ball gently in the palm of your hand to form a nice round shape, place on a clean tray and return to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up.
6. To cook the balls – Meanwhile heat a fryer to 180C. Remove the balls from the fridge. Place in the fryer and cook until golden in colour. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
7. To serve – Season with sea salt, and place a cocktail stick into each. Serve with some lemon mayonnaise.
Hope you enjoyed my two favourite recipes from the cooking class. Leaving you on a ‘sweet note’. Chocolate mousse domes with raspberry! If you would like the recipe, do give me a shout and I will be happy to share 🙂
Thank you very much for inviting me John Lewis, I enjoyed myself and would recommend the Waitrose Cookery School classes to all. Time to have another good browse on John Lewis but I think I found a winner –> This Digital Crock Pot Slow Cooker!