Food at 52: Kitchen Confidence

Food & Drink, London

After doing the Kitchen Basics classes from Food at 52 and learning how to make some pretty tasty dishes, I figured I might as well see what the following Kitchen Confidence series had in store. All or nothing right?

A couple of other Kitchen Basics graduates also had the same idea so it was nice to see some familiar faces, but also getting to meet some new ones.

Week 01

To start
Cod with purée fennel & sweet potato fig and stilton stack
Braised lamb shoulder with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans
Tarte tatin
Smoked paprika cod fillet • Kimberley ChanSmoked paprika cod fillet with pureed fennel • Kimberley Chan

Week one started off well with a pan fried cod fillet and puréed fennel (ignore the lumps in mine!). Cooking tip – get yourself some smoked paprika, it’s a culinary game changer.

Sweet potato fig and stilton stack ingredients • Kimberley ChanSweet potato fig and stilton stack • Kimberley Chan

This sweet potato, fig and stilton stack looks pretty fancy right? As it’s predominately made from ingredients that don’t require much prep it’s optimum fanciness for minimum work.

Braised lamb shoulder • Kimberley ChanDauphinoise potatoes • Kimberley Chan Dauphinoise potatoes • Kimberley ChanBraised lamb shoulder, dauphinoise potatoes and green beans • Kimberley Chan

Week one’s main was a winner for me. The slowed cooked lamb shoulder just melted in your mouth. I think when I make it again in future, I’d probably do a different type of potato as it was just a little bit too rich for me.

Tarte tatin • Kimberley ChanTarte tatin and cream • Kimberley Chan

Unfortunately our dessert didn’t quite make the level of presentation that everything else had. This one sorry looking tarte tatin came out a little more ‘well done’…it was also considerably a lot boozier too but we weren’t complaining about that!

Week 02

To start
Butternut and biscotti Ravioli with sage and lemon dresing
Normandy pear tart
Butternut squash and biscotti ravioli • Kimberley ChanButternut squash and biscotti ravioli with sage and lemon dressing • Kimberley Chan

Week two consisted of learning how to make fresh pasta into really tasty ravioli filled with butternut squash and biscotti to start. It’s quite a sweet dish so each portion was about 3 raviolis per person with a good grating of parmesan.

Herbs and spices • Kimberley ChanHerbs and spices • Kimberley Chan Pilaf rice • Kimberley ChanYoghurt and tahini dressing • Kimberley Chan Persian Chicken Fesenjan • Kimberley ChanPersian Chicken Fesenjan • Kimberley Chan

Our main was what seemed like quite an exotic and colourful persian chicken thigh dish flavoured herbs and spices including cinnamon, cardamom and pomegranate molasses – if I’m honest, it wasn’t to my particular taste but interesting to make none the less.

Poached pears • Kimberley ChanNormandy pear tart • Kimberley Chan

For dessert we made a Normandy pear tart which was delicious! Relatively easy to make using ready rolled short crust pastry, poaching some pears (using red and white grape juice for extra presentation points) and mixing up some frangipane.

Week 03

To start
Thyme and goats cheese souffle
Goats cheese • Kimberley ChanSouffle • Kimberley Chan Thyme and goats cheese souffle • Kimberley ChanThyme and goats cheese souffle with apple and walnut salad • Kimberley Chan

The third and final week of Kitchen Confidence started off with a savoury soufflé. Because it’s baked twice, it’s pretty handy if you want to impress at dinner as it allows you to bake it earlier on in the day and finish them off in the oven when you need to.

Preparing squid • Kimberley ChanPreparing squid • Kimberley Chan Fresh squidRisotto negra • Kimberley Chan

I was slightly apprehensive about the risotto for the main as I’ve never really been a big fan and there’s only ever been one occasion where I’ve enjoyed it (during mine and Will’s trip to Dubrovnik a couple of years ago in fact). I think it’s partly due to being made to eat congee as a child so I’ve never been that keen on eating wet rice.

Despite the rice element, it was pretty good to learn how to prepare squid. It’s been one of those things I always see at the fish counter and have wanted to take home but wouldn’t know what to do with. Did you know that they have a piece of cartilage that you have to remove that looks like a large plastic feather?

Profiteroles • Kimberley ChanProfiteroles • Kimberley Chan Profiteroles • Kimberley ChanProfiteroles • Kimberley Chan

For the last dish of the series, we made some profiteroles filled with orange and cardamon cream. I think they came out pretty well and I’m all about zesting things now as they makes my meals look fancier.

So that ends my time learning to cook at Food at 52. Just like Kitchen Basics series, I came out from the Kitchen Confidence satisfied with what I’d learnt to cook, the skills and handy tips I’d picked up, as well as the recipes to try again at home. If you’re looking to refine your kitchen prowress, I’d recommend checking out these classes as they’re available individually, as well as a series.

Fancy something a little more exotic? Read a review of their Italian class by After The Market or their South Indian class by What Katie Does.

Food at 52

96 Central St, London Borough of Islington, EC1V 8AJ

Want to keep up to date with my latest posts? Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Food at 52: Kitchen Basics

Food & Drink, London

I’ve been learning to cook. Not as basic as learning how to boil eggs, but dishes that sound special enough that if I were having people over for dinner they’d think I was pulling out all the stops, and easy enough that I could knock some of them up at home during the week after a long day at work.

Over 3 weeks back in October last year I signed up to the Kitchen Basics classes at cookery school Food at 52 in Clerkenwell with a hope that I would come out feeling like Nigella. It’s a great approach to a food school as it’s like a homely kitchen but with every bit of equipment you could ever want. The founder John has definitely succeeded in creating a warm, friendly environment for anyone to learn about food.

Each session John demonstrates the recipes step by step in the centre of the large kitchen table whilst everyone works alongside, sometimes individually or in groups. After a sociable evening drinking wine and eating what you’ve just learnt to make, expect to be leaving a little tipsy with a full stomach.

Week 01

To start
Salmon fillet with poached egg and spinach
Beef and stout pie with chanternay carrots cooked with orange and cumin
Fruit pastry
Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

Week one’s menu started with one of my favourite food combos – salmon and eggs.

Now usually when I have a salmon fillet, I tend to either pan fry it or wrap it in foil and stick it in the oven but in class we poached it in some simmering water with some veg and herbs. John also took everyone through poaching eggs and I’m happy to say that mine didn’t turn into a stringy mess and I ended up with one tidy looking egg.

After some hollandaise sauce was whizzed up by John, everything was all served up on top of a bed of wilted spinach with a sprinkle of black pepper.

Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

For a luxury snack as well as teaching us a bit about steaks and what to look for in the supermarket, John fried two fillets up which we ate with a peppercorn and a béarnaise sauce. Medium to rare of course.

Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

Our main dish was beef and stout pie which we had actually started right at the beginning of class to get it into the oven in time to eat. We were advised that for this dish that it’s preferable to have meat with a good amount of marbling as this helps stop it drying out.

For this particular pie, we cooked the pastry top separately then popped it on top just before serving, accompanied by some mash and chantenay carrots.

Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

The final dish for week one was a fruit pastry. After cooking the pastry cases in the oven, we whizzed up some chantilly cream and were given a plateful of fresh berries to decorate our tarts with. At this point class was overrunning quite a bit so I wrapped up my tart in foil and took it home for later.

Week 02

To start
Minestrone with pesto verde
Provencal lentils with seared seabass
Chocolate molten fondant

Unfortunately for week two I was struck down with flu but luckily I was able to let a friend attend in my place. The menu looked pretty good but I was disappointed I missed out on learning to make my favourite dessert!

Week 03

To start
Seared 5 spice duck with stir fried greens
Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives
Lemon, lime and ginger mousse
Food at 52, Kitchen Basics Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

Week three started off with 5 spice duck breast that tasted so good and was really simple to make. Being at cooking school, we did grind up the 5 different spices fresh but I think for those that don’t have a fully stocked cupboard, you could substitute pre-ground 5 spice and your average person would be none the wiser.

After frying some greens with hoisin and sesame oil and making some egg fried rice, it made a pretty delicious meal, something I’d definitely make again at home during the week.

Food at 52, Kitchen Basics Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

For our main we made a chicken tagine which involved slow cooking the chicken in a marinade made from onion, garlic and parsley to name a few and also preserved lemon which I think is an acquired taste when eaten on it’s own. It’s quite tart and bitter, but super lemony and is a staple for most Moroccan dishes.

To accompany the tagine we made some couscous as well as some sort of feta and yoghurt mix with a side of lettuce leaf and freshly made flat bread.

Food at 52, Kitchen Basics

The final dish of the Kitchen Basics course was a lemon, lime and ginger mousse. Light and fluffy on top with a crumbly ginger biscuit base. I’m not normally a fan of mousse but I liked the citrusy taste of this particular one as it was quite refreshing.

I think if you’ve been interested in taking a cooking course, you won’t be disappointed with this. It’s a little more expensive than other classes that I’ve done before, but you’ll be taught how to cook quite a few dishes and you get to sit down to eat it all afterwards.

It’s quite a sociable evening and definitely something you can attend solo with people of all ages attending. In my experience, everyone was friendly and easy to talk to so even if you’re a little bit shy, John and the rest of the team will make you and everyone else feel more than at home and you’ll leave with a good basic set of kitchen skills and recipes to match.

And because I didn’t feel I reached my peak Nigella, a review of the Kitchen Confidence classes will follow soon!

Food at 52

96 Central St, London Borough of Islington, EC1V 8AJ

Highlights of 2014

2014 Highlights

2014 was great. I’d quit my full time job near the end of 2013 and successfully freelanced throughout this year, I’ve finally stayed at an address for longer than 12 months (wat up rental market) and because I wasn’t feeling so burnt out from work anymore, I just enjoyed myself a whole lot more. I did a lot of fun things but naturally there were some standouts.

at the Roundhouse in Camden was fantastic, a 360° circus/theatre show where the audience are in the centre of everything and the acts are around you, above you and within the crowd.

Martin Creed: What’s the point of it
The exhibition at the Hayward Gallery featuring the balloon room was quite a novel experience. Got a little claustrophobic towards the end and a bit gross when you encountered static hairballs but a fun experience none the less.

Beyonce’s Mrs Carter World Tour.
No expansion needed.

Sensing Spaces
On at the Royal Academy, it was probably my favourite exhibition of the year. Loved the straw installation by Diébédo Francis Kéré.

Such intense feels but I really enjoyed it despite being on the verge of wanting to leave at one point.

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable
This fantastic show by Punch Drunk wins favourite thing of the year (sorry Bey). I almost didn’t bother buying tickets because I didn’t really understand the hype, but luckily I did, just for something to do and it was mind blowing.

It’s not your average play. It’s an immersive theatre experience where you wander freely allowing you to discover characters that live in this fantasy world. Set in a huge 4 storey building, every detail had been thought of – from an outdoor caravan park right down to old handwritten notes on someone’s dressing table. It was literally a one of a kind experience.

FRAME Shoreditch
A recent discovery this year and it’s completely changed my attitude to exercise which basically was, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. It offers such a huge range of classes so I never get bored and has great teachers too. No need to make up new year fitness resolutions, I’m already all over it.

Harry Potter Studio Tour
Still just as impressive and interesting second time around, this time with my family.

The Clove Club
Delicious and let me experience a posh meal out without the pretentiousness.

The weather was kind and gave us 3 days of sunshine during my trip in September. It was the first time I’d traveled there via Eurostar, so much easier than flying! I managed to get in a visit to Palais du Tokyo and the Louvre where I got obsessed with the amazing sculptures in the ceilings.

Food at 52
A cooking school where I channelled my inner Nigella during Autumn and learnt a lot more about cooking over 6 sessions. I learnt how to make all sorts of tasty things, including a delicious Normandy pear tart which I am hoping to recreate in the next few days.

St Paul’s Cathedral
An overdue visit made a lovely afternoon out and provided great views of London, particularly as the sun was setting.

St Paul’s cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

After four and a half years of living in London I finally went into St Paul’s cathedral. After going along with one of the guided tours of the cathedral floor and crypt – with a lovely elderly lady with a great sense of humour I might add – I made the climb up into the dome of the building, first up to the Whispering gallery where I was met with the strange sight of people talking into the walls. In actual fact, they were testing out the acoustic effect, a result of the dome construction allowing them to whisper into the wall and be heard on the other side.

Another hundred or so steps up to the Stone gallery leads outside the dome where through the gaps in the stone, there were the most amazing views. Coincidently it was just in time for the sunset, so to make the most of it, I headed up further to the Golden gallery – the highest point of the outer dome – and got one last panoramic view of London for the day.

St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral