Day Two: Leiths Advanced Cooking

I am SO full of delicious food I really could burst any minute now. I will sip peppermint tea as I type this and hope my tummy deflates sometime soon!

We were in the kitchens with Sue this morning and within about fifteen minutes had multiple things on the go. A beautifully fragrant Plum and Orange spiced chutney which needed simmering for an hour, to go from this…

to this….

We’ll be finishing it off tomorrow afternoon, jarring it up and putting it at the back of our cupboards until the winter when it’ll be fabulous to crack open and enjoy with cheese or cold meats.

We also got our Lamb Jus back on a slow slow bubble, well a mere tremble really, after skimming off all the fat that had formed on the surface over night. It needed another couple of hours before we took it off the heat, strained it through a chinois sieve and a J cloth (they do love a bit of J cloth action at Leiths!) and then returned it to a more vigourous heat to reduce down to a very meaty and flavoursome Jus. After all the hours we’d put into preparing this sauce it was wonderful to see it transformed from a marshy-looking pond to a rich glistening liquid.

So all that remained was to bring the components of our lamb dish together. We blanched and refreshed green beans, wrapped them in prosciutto and then pan fried them briefly to crisp up the meat wrapper and gently heat the beans.

We peeled and boiled potatoes, then cut them into pound coin thick slices. These got fried until golden and crispy.

We made basil oil by blitzing a good handful of basil leaves with oil in the processor and then putting the mixture through a sieve.

We also made a delicious relish to complement the lamb by softening very thinly sliced red onions. Using a circle of damp greaseproof paper over the top to achieve the softness without colouring the onions. This is called a cartouche and is a very simple but useful device when sweating your onions!

A deseeded and finely sliced red chilli and chopped garlic was added to the softened onion, and then some treacle and white wine vinegar. Once the liquid had reduced the mixture was cooled and a handful of chopped chives stirred in. Delicious!

We browned our lamb fillets that we’d removed from the bone yesterday, then finished them off in the oven for a few minutes. This was then rested and carved up into thick juicy pink slices.

I was really nervous plating it all up, it felt like a real masterchef moment, but I think it looked pretty swanky in the end. It certainly tasted damned fine! It’s definitely a dish I’ll cook again – a good one to impress your friends with. I think the beans look really special.

Food presentation tips:

  • Place things together in odd numbers, not even. It’s more attractive to the eye – one of those weird psychological things apparently.
  • Plan where you’re going to put everything on your plate before you start plating it up.
  • Don’t drizzle your Jus over your vegetables – keep it next to the meat.

So after a gorgeous lunch it was time to sit down for the afternoon and take in the pastry and dough demonstration with Rob.

After such a huge lunch, it was quite a full-on tasting session. We watched puff pastry being made and then applied to several dishes. Cheese straws, Anchovy straws, Artichoke and Green Olive puffs, Beef Wellington – just a few light snacks!!!!!!

Then we took in the principles of making brioche. A very wet and sticky dough, but so fluffy and light. We enjoyed a slice with lashings of strawberry jam.

And finally, just when I thought my stomach could take no more, Rob pulled out the Danish pastry demo. You wanted to say no when the plate got passed around, but you just knew they’d be the best Danish you’d try for the next decade, so of course I forced one down.

It was great learning how to make all the different shapes of pastry, and I’d love to try and recreate some of these at home for weekend breakfasts when we’ve got people staying. It’s extremely shocking to see just how much butter gets incorporated into all of these doughs and pastries. But then, that’s why they taste so fine!

It’s been a really enjoyable day, but I now need to go and lie down and stroke my distended tum! Just as well I went for a jog this morning or I’d be going straight to porksville…

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About Katie Bryson

Katie Bryson is a freelance food writer and blogger. She left a career in online news at the BBC to immerse herself in the culinary world, taking in courses at Leiths School of Food and Wine and an internship at Waitrose along the way. Her family food blog www.feedingboys.co.uk is bursting with recipes and tips for feeding hungry families that’ll help inspire all those frazzled parents out there wondering what on earth to cook for tea! She lives in West London with her two young boys and yes, her firefighter husband.
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8 Responses to Day Two: Leiths Advanced Cooking

  1. Tara says:

    Looks amazing! I’m looking forward to sampling tomorrow! Xx

  2. The lamb dish looks amazing and I love the sound of the chutney. I don’t think I’d have been able to resist a Danish either, no matter how full I was! It looks like you’re having fun and learning a lot, as am I from you, I’ll have to remember the cartouche!

    • rhwfoodie says:

      It’s been a really brilliant day… so much to take in, but writing it up on the blog really helps take stock of what i’ve done. Don’t want it to end!!!!!

  3. Wow that looks amazing, I didn’t know you were doing this! The tip about the odd numbers is very useful. That meat looks fabulous.

    • rhwfoodie says:

      I booked the course a while back with one of my bestest buddies – we’re having a blast!!!! Yes the odd numbers tip is a great one… It’s great getting all this amazing advice!

  4. Make danish pastries – it’s loads of fun and they do taste amazing and smell even better when they’re baking…. 🙂

    • rhwfoodie says:

      The danish were divine – when this humid weather calms down a bit I’ll defo be giving them a whirl. It’s not great weather for pastry making – especially in my hot kitchen!

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