Monday, 20 February 2012

Cordon Vert - teaching and learning

Enjoyed two days at the Cordon Vert cookery school last week. On Friday I attended the Flavours of Spain course as a bit of a secret shopper - didn't want to reveal my tutor status to fellow students for fear of either intimidating them or being asked to demonstrate my knife skills...

Ended up with a nice collection of Spanish veggie recipes including a really grown-up, simple, moist, buttery cake flavoured with aniseeds and a glug of Pernod. The classiest use for Pernod I've found yet. Never been keen to be around Pernod - the aversion probably dates back to when I was a student and my room-mate staggered home in the early hours with regurgitated Pernod and blackcurrant all down her front. Yum. If I can just keep that memory in its box, the cake is very nice.

Also enjoyed a dish of baked rice with sundried tomatoes, chickpeas, fried potato slices and whole cloves of garlic. The garlic softens during cooking and each diner squeezes a clove onto their portion and mashes it in. Not as overpoweringly garlicky as I had feared and a nice bit of performance eating. Other highlights of the day included some croquettes with gooey cheese innards and some fantastic deep-fried aubergine slices topped with paprika, golden syrup and sea salt. Love it when I learn about new combinations like this - must be one of my top three things to do with an aubergine...

How lovely to spend a few hours cooking new dishes with new people, with no pressure to perform, plenty of entertainment and some nice food at the end of it. Happy days. Next time I'll be teaching it.

Back to the Cordon Vert Kitchen the very next day, this time in my chefs whites, to teach a vegan day. Pretty hectic! I managed to demonstrate some vegan pastry, vegan pasta, cheeseless pesto, a tomato sauce and a vegan mayonnaise in quick succession, students then picked up the reins and rustled up some cupcakes, pancakes, sweet creams and muffins before coffee break. Pancake wedges went down well over coffee with everybody declaring that Pancake Day (this coming Tuesday) would henceforth be vegan-friendly.

Bit of a glitch when I discovered that my pasta sheets were too dry to put through the pasta machine, but it gave me a chance to point out that you don't necessarily need a pasta machine to make pasta - a rolling pin and a sharp knife will do the job at a push. After all, which came first, pasta or pasta machines? This gave rise to a discussion about kitchen gadgets and I was deeply impressed to hear of one student's soya milk machine. Apparently it looks a bit like a kettle? Naturally I want one.

We settled down for a two hour cooking sesh after coffee, and between us we turned out a lovely light paella, some tofu meatballs, a very tasty 'quiche', a sweet and sour tofu dish and a very acceptable vegan cannelloni complete with freshly made pasta, vegan cheese sauce and vegan 'ricotta'. The cupcakes were iced, and a couple of chocolate cakes were knocked up. Took lots of pics before we ate lunch, will see if I can move them from my camera to my computer using sheer force of will.

Nice days, nice people, nice food. Enough blogging, I feel the need to stuff some dried dates with cream cheese and lemon zest...

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