Amateur chef part 3 and 4

Class three and we are learning wet methods of cookery. Boiling, blanching, steaming, poaching, braising and stewing.  We prepared asparagus as you would see in a fine dining restaurant. We poached a perfect egg and whisked up a rich hollandaise.

We then moved onto risotto (one of my all time favourite dishes). Simple flavours of bacon, garlic, white wine and dried chilli flakes.

Dry cooking methods was the focus of lesson four. Roasting and baking, deep and shallow frying and stir frying.

This was a big night of cooking and eating! Alison demonstrated how to truss up a chook for roasting and the finished product was moist, tender and full of flavour. While the chook was roasting we prepared fish cooked en papillote (in a paper bag). We created our own flavours using herbs and veg and cooked for about eight minutes in the oven. This simple method of cookery works a treat for fish. It never seems to come to mind when I cook fish. I always think pan fry but I’ll definitely be using this method a lot more in the future.

Fried rice was next on the list, followed by Thai fish cakes with a sweet chilli sauce. These were the hit of the night. Tasty little bite size fish snacks, perfectly fried to golden brown and bursting with punchy flavours. The sweet chilli sauce so easy to make, you’d never buy a bottle again and it lasts for about two weeks in the fridge.

Thai fish cakes with chilli sauce

Sweet chilli sauce

25mls vegetable oil, 1 bunch coriander, stalks only, finely chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, 10g ginger, finely chopped, 6 small red chillies, finely chopped, 500 g sugar, 50mls cold water, 1/2 lime, juice only, 30mls fish sauce or to taste.

Warm up the oil in a heavy based saucepan and add coriander stalks, ginger, garlic and chilli. Sweat for a few minutes over low heat. Add the sugar and moisten with cold water. Add enough water to dissolve the sugar, Stir until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes on low heat. Add fish sauce and lime juice and allow to cool. It will be extremely hot so be very careful if you want to taste at this stage. Serve when it comes to room temperature.

Once we were full to the brim, the roast chook was ready including the side of duck fat roast potatoes and the roasted spanish onions. These are a great accompaniment to a roast and again, are very easy to make. Peel a small whole red onion and cut a criss cross into the top of the onion. Push as much butter as you can  into the cut. Sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar on top and season well. Place in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Baste over the juices and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.

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