I was very lucky last weekend. I got to spend almost five hours cooking and eating. Heaven. Absolute heaven. I realise that may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect Saturday, the cooking part at least, but for me it most definitely is.
For the last few years I have done at least one cookery class a year as I get my gorgeous husband to buy me a class for my birthday or Christmas. It always makes me very happy and I come home full of new ideas and things to make. Although my husband’s workmates joke that he should get me an ironing course next, I remain a domestic goddess only as far as cooking goes, and I’m sure Nigella would agree that that’s the way it should be.
Anyway, this year’s class was at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street. There were just 7 of us in the class and we were divided into three groups which meant it was nice and small and everyone had lots of opportunity to be fully involved in the cooking. Altogether we made about 14 dishes, with each group making about 5 each. We kept stopping to see what the other groups were doing so that we would be able to make all the dishes ourselves later. The title of the class was outdoor eating and included dishes such as:
Spinach, rice and herb flan
Homemade mayonnaise and coleslaw
Asparagus and pea salad
Pasta pesto salad
Spatchcocked grilled poussin
Potato, cheese and herb pasties
I took lots of photos and they can be seen at the bottom of this post. I especially liked the pasties and the spatchcocked poussin but everything was good. I was also impressed by how easy it was to make the terrine, something I’d never considered making before. By the time I left at about 2:45 I was so full I could hardly move. In fact, I had eaten so much that I couldn’t eat anything when I was out with friends in the evening and the only food I ate for the rest of the day was a slice of toast before going to bed at about midnight.
So would I do another course at Little Portland Street? Definitely, but probably a more advanced one. Although I love doing cookery classes and courses, I feel I’ve reached the stage where I need a more advanced class. As I said above, the class was fantastic and I’d thoroughly recommend it, especially for relatively inexperienced cooks. Also, because of the amount of dishes made in relation to the time spent in the class, I feel that this course compares well to other similar courses.
There was one thing I didn’t do quite as well as I wanted on the course. It’s a long time since I’ve made proper pastry and mine was a little too crumbly and dry when making the pasties. As a result, ever since last Saturday I’ve been wanting to make pastry again, and to make pasties, which I just love. However, I didn’t want to make exactly the same ones, so I’ve fiddled with the recipe and adapted it almost completely and ended up with the cheese and mushroom pasties you see below.
Ingredients – Makes 4
100g butter or margarine
100g raw potato, cubed
60g cheese, grated
Egg yolk (optional)
How to make Cheese and Mushroom Pasties
1. Add a pinch of salt to the flour. Mix the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it is like breadcrumbs.
2. Add a small dash of iced water. Bring the mixture together with your fingers so that it forms a ball.
3. Put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.
4. Fry the onions in a saucepan until soft. Add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have reduced in size and any liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated. Leave to cool.
5. Mix together the potato, mushrooms and onions and cheese. Season.
6. Roll the pastry until about 1/2 cm thick. Put a small plate or saucer onto the pastry and cut around it with a knife.
7. Put a spoonful of the filling into the middle of the pastry circle and bring the opposite sides together. Pinch both sides of the pastry together so it forms a small parcel with no gaps.
8. I forgot this stage, but ideally brush a little egg yolk onto the pasty so it turns golden as it cooks.
9. Bake in the oven at about 190 for 40 minutes.