Day Five: Leiths Advanced Cooking

The week flew by yet we’d packed so much in and learnt a huge amount about creating restaurant-style food.

The final day saw us in the demonstration room in the morning watching Rob and Heli whipping up THE most delicious dinner party menu. I’m dying to try this one out – just need to get some friends over to experiment on!!!!

To start was Ballotine of Salmon.

A great dish you can prepare the day before, and just assemble when needed.

The actual preparations aren’t that intimidating. You’re just using a side of salmon, cutting it in two, putting a layer of gelatine in the middle and sandwiching them together. You coat the whole thing in herbs, wrap and roll very firmly in several layers of cling and then poach.

The fresh flavours of the herbs you cover the salmon with, combined with the creamy flesh of the fish is simple and gorgeous. The fromage frais and keta are brilliant sidekicks.

The main course was fillet of beef with madeira jus, caramelised shallots, sauteed baby vegetables and Pommes Anna.

The jus is only a 20 minute sauce which is blinding for a dinner party dish – no slaving away all day over a hot stove! And it doesn’t mean you get less flavour either, rest assured this was one intense gravy!

Caramelised shallots are a great accompaniment – so sweet and tasty.

Pommes Anna are finely sliced buttered potatoes neatly layered in a pan brushed with clarified butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. You put the pan on a heat for a few minutes to brown the bottom, then finish in the oven for about 45 mins. You then invert a serving plate over the pan and turn the potatoes out. Stunning!

Finally dessert was Rhubarb and Vanilla Parfaits with Rhubarb Sauce, Champagne Sabayon and Linzer biscuits.

This is a pretty detailed and fiddly combination BUT you could do it the day before and again, just assemble on the night. And it’s just a stunning end to the meal.

The final afternoon in the kitchen was spent making Chicken and Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Morels and Broad beans.

The stuffing for the ravioli required us to make a delicate mousse which is a great skill to have picked up. It was good to make pasta from scratch, as I’ve not done this for ages. I really want to get a pasta attachment for my kitchen aid. I’ve run up a massive wishlist of kitchen gadgets this past week!

Another fine sauce was the final task – a heady combination of madeira, stock, mushrooms and double cream. Just divine. Matthew and I devoured the meal in minutes when I cooked it up at home later on.

So that’s the end of my Leiths Advanced Cooking experience. What a week!

The teachers were excellent – full of useful tips, facts and such vast knowledge. No question went unanswered.

It’s not a matter of being given a few flashy recipes we can showboat with at dinner parties (although rest assured we’ll all be doing that) – it went a lot further than that at Leiths. That’s what you’re paying for.

We were given a deeper understanding of advanced cooking methods and how to apply them to a myriad of recipes. Even when a teacher was running through a specific dish, they’d be giving you ideas of what else you could do if you used a different meat or herb.

It’s advice like this that stays with you and builds your confidence as a cook.

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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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2 Responses to Day Five: Leiths Advanced Cooking

  1. Rosemary Hamilton says:

    What a week you have had, I’ve really enjoyed following it with you and look forward to a tasting one day! Well done!

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