Amateur chef course part 2

Week two and the lesson was about blanching, poaching, vinaigrettes, oh and of course, more knife skills!

We started by learning the correct way to blanch a tomato to remove the skin. I have nothing against tomatoes. When ripe, they have amazing flavour and can really enhance a dish but I’m not a fan of eating them fresh. I was really pleased to learn that chef Alison feels exactly the same way. See, I’m not crazy after all! Happy to eat them cooked, semi-dried, sun-dried but will not eat them fresh or for that matter blanched. Hence the first dish we made, pictured below, of tomato and mozzarella had no tomato but a very tasty vinaigrette made up of raspberry vinegar, dijon mustard, finely chopped red onions, parsley, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.IMG_0682

We then continued on with our knife skills, finely preparing wombok cabbage, chillies and herbs for a tasty Vietnamese poached chicken salad. Firstly Alison poached chicken breasts in an Asian infused stock and let them cool while the class got on with preparing the salad. For the dressing we used 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, 1 red chilli, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, palm sugar and a little bit of water. The dressing is really the star and brings everything together beautifully. I love to add plenty of coriander and Thai mint and basil to this dish and peanuts or cashews. Serve it with a wedge of lime to squeeze over before eating. I love this dish and often make it at home.

Vietnamese chicken salad

Our final dish of the night was a rocket, fennel and orange salad. Really fresh and perfect with a piece of fish for an elegant Sunday lunch. We learned the correct technique for segmenting an orange. I always make a mess when I try to do this so I was pleased to finally learn the correct and safest way to get beautiful orange segments. I’m also a little afraid of the damage I might do to myself using a mandolin but a mandolin is the best way to finely slice fennel so I may have to add that to my list of ‘kitchen utensils I need’. Notice the very finely sliced orange rind (no pith) in the photo. I was pretty happy with my knife skills after class two.

Finally, to end the class, Alison demonstrated a very quick and fail safe mayonnaise. Place 2 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard into a food processor. Process together until smooth. While still processing, slowly pour in 200 mls vegetable oil or grape seed oil (not EVO as the taste of extra virgin will overpower the finished product). Finally season to taste with salt, white pepper and a splash of lemon juice.

Rocket, fennel and orange salad

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