James Martin, Food 52, Crab Risotto, Chocolate Puds, Welsh Rarebit, Food HEAVEN
What a week last week, but this must have been one of the highlights attending a cookery day with the lovely James Martin on behalf of Thomas Cook as he is creating menus and dishes for some of their flights. Held at Food at 52 cookery school in Old Street, such a quaint, cosy cookery school, with lovely decorative touches to make customers feel at home.
Downstairs where the cookery school is the tables were all set up with chopping boards, knives and the rest with aprons at the ready! Plus the addition of James Martin. A total of around 15 of us, perched on stools and listened to instructions from the man himself, for today we would learn how to make a decadent crab risotto (preparing the crab from scratch) Welsh rarebit on fish, confit tomatoes and a naughty chocolate pot, with flambe bananas and an easy banana ice cream.
Yes we did get to eat all this after and believe me it was worth the wait, having been divided into groups and allocated tasks, our group had to chop the chillies.
Which I somehow knew would make it to my eyes eventually (what with the hinderance of hayfever) and there I was eye burning, ouch. Fortunately I was aided by the kitchen assistant and encouraged to smear creme fraiche over it for a minute. Which to my surprise worked. Dilemma over it was back to James Martin..
He showed us how to prep our crab from scratch, including plunging into boiling water, taking apart, extracting the meat from both the brown and white meat for the risotto. Making the risotto he showed us how he does not continuously stir the risotto as we are led to believe and added lemongrass, stock which gave it a Thai flavoured slant to the dish, also using chillies for the extra heat.
Using the remaining bones he created a crab infused oil which was what the risotto was decorated with, it was absolutely amazing. In fact I really want to try making this at home, ok there is a lot of prep there but the result is pretty darn good.
While making the Welsh rarebit, you become stunned at the amount of heart-attack induced cheese used to make this dish, however, the result was suprisingly enough for the fish and balanced well with our confit tomatoes, that were dipped in boiling water for ten seconds, peeled and left in olive oil and herbs.
We made out of this world bowls of chocolate puddings with soft saucy centres. Plus cooked up speedy flambe bananas in caramel, with James’ easy banana ice cream using buttermilk and frozen bananas. Simple and delicious.
By this time we were falling into a satisfying slump, but still excited by James’ six recipe demonstration after lunch, which included avivid green pea and watercress soup, strawberry gateaux, cheesecake, blackened tuna, lamb loin and cods cheeks (not all together of course.) We watched in awe and believe me I could get used to him cooking up dishes and me eating them. What more could you want?
It was a treat in itself, what a great teacher and down to earth chef. We even had regular chats and discussions with him plus interesting to find out more about James for example his food heaven of crab and food hell of hollandaise sauce.
He was showing us recipes that can be made at home, the strawberry gateaux to my surprise used a shop bought base of sponge, yet once layered up he had created something spectacular (and that could have the price tag attached to it). With graceful technique and imagination (plus a little bit of practice) you can create something unique. Well I certainly left there with many tips and ideas planted in my head.