Cooking Class

Qype: Angela Malik Cookery School – Acton Central

Here are some things I like:

  • Dim sum
  • Cooking
  • Qype

Here are some thing I don’t like:

  • Being late
  • Travelling over an hour to get somewhere
  • Torrential downpours that cause my trousers to be soaking from the knee-down

And as you may have guessed, all of these things to be within the space of about 2 hours last Thursday. I’m still recovering.

Angela Malik

Angela Malik

Here’s how it happened: I was invited to a Qype-sponsored mini dim sum cooking class at the Angela Malik cookery school in Acton. It started at 6pm, and the end of my work day is 5:30pm – if I leave 100% on time.  Very soon, I realised that there was no way that I was going to get from Goodge Street Station to Acton Central Overground Station in a half hour. I would have to travel to East Acton and take a bus. Minimum 45 minutes. But when I got to East Acton, it was pouring rain, the bus that I needed was nowhere to be found and – shocker – there were no cabs anywhere.  I ended up having to walk.

Long story short, I walked in an embarrassingly 45 minutes late, soaked to the bone and STARVING. Anglea has already started the class, but her assistants are quick to get me sorted with an apron, a recipe packet and more importantly, a glass of wine.

We spent the next couple minutes learning about the different tastes and complementary flavours for sweet, spicy, salty, bitter and sour.  Anglea stressed that making a curry shouldn’t set you back £30 in ingredients because if you don’t have one thing (for example, vinegar) you can use something else from the same taste group (like anything citrus).

Before we got to cooking, we watched Angela’s sous chefGeoff prepare some pork with a special Indian pesto that she’s made (and sells, naturally). He put a bit of rapeseed oil on the fatty side, spread a good heaping cup of pesto on the pork, and put it in the over for 45 minutes.  When it came out, we got to try some. It was AMAZING. We got a container of the pesto in our goodie bags, and I’m really excited to try cooking with it

Angela's Indian Pesto and Pork

From there, we got straight into the dim sum cooking, starting with pork buns. This recipe makes about 50 yummy morsels:

  • 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts finely chopped
  • 1 kg minced pork
  • Handful of coriander stalks
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shao hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50, 7.5cm wonton wrappers

To make the stuffing, add all the ingredients into a bowl and mash well with your hand. Place a heaping teaspoon onto each wrapper and fold up.  I found the easiest method was to use the edge of a spoon on the corners until all the edges are folded up. You could also twist the edges up.

Some examples of our lovely work:

Dim sum before their steam bath

Line the steamer with grease proof paper and steam the dumplings for 12-15 minutes.  The pork should just about be turning white when they’re done.

Serve with a dipping sauce of choice and coriander leaf.  We actually dressed them in Angela’s pesto and a drizzle sweet soy reduction sauce as well, which was delicious.  The finished product:

Yum!

We also made some chicken gyoza through a similar method.  I can send on the recipe if anyone is interested.

Geoff cooking gyoza

What I learned is that dim sum is certainly not as complicated as I originally thought.  I also learned that I really don’t want to go to Ping Pong anymore – even if it is just ‘easier’. The food we all made was infinitely better, and I had a lot more fun with it.

My only issue with the cooking school is that it really is so far away.  It was great, and I highly recommend it, but if I had to go through what I went through to get there, and I was paying (her cooking classes are not cheap!), I’d be a little frustrated. However, if you’re in Acton or anywhere on the Overground, definitely check her out.

She also got an absolutely brilliant review from Toby Young in the Independent when she cooked for his private dinner party.

Chop’d at Selfridges

Being a member of Qype definitely has its benefits.  You get really honest restaurant reviews, a huge directory of things to do in London and the oppportunity to go to some really fanatstic foodie events.

Like this past Tuesday. I met a whole bunch of lovely ladies (Niamh from East Like a Girl, Jenny from The Style Pa, Viviana from The Lean Times, Cara from MsGourmetChick, Rejina from GastroGeek and Mathilde from Mathilde’s Cuisine)  at Selfridges Food Hall to go to Chop’d.

The event was organised by Libby of Chop’d’s PR agency and Sian, freelancer extrodinaire and fellow Qyper. Our task was to create a salad with Chop’d ingredients and have a blind tasting to see which one we liked best.

And I won! This is me just after it was announced with MD, Eddie:

I NEVER win stuff like this. Just like Krista, I tend to eat at restaurants not cook the food that is served at them.

The salad is going on sale starting 12th October for a limited time of 2 weeks at all London Chop’d locations.  It has been mentioned (though I’m not sure how true it is) that if it does well, they will consider having it properly on the menu. So, if you’re anywhere near the following locations, please try it out! It’s only a measly £5, so on then :)

Chopd

And my salad? I’m told it will be called the ‘Om Nom London Salad’, which is ace.  These are the ingredients:

The Om Nom Salad

Base:
Deli leaves

House Items
Caramlised onions
Spiced chickpeas
Sundried tomatoes
Olives

Deli items
Chorizo

Garnish
Chilli

Dressing
Lemon juice

I figured it would either be really good or really bad, so I’m glad it was the former.  I was aiming for a bit of sweet (onions), spicy (chilli), savoury (chorizo), mild spice (chickpeas), citrus (lemon juice as a dressing) and salty (olives) – and I think that’s a pretty accurate description.  If you go and try it, let me know what you think.

All my photos were borrowed from Sian‘s Flickr stream, by the way…

Going to The Kitchen at Parsons Green

Originally posted at Fake Plastic Noodles

Somehow in the last month, I feel like I’ve been an honorary member of the London Food Bloggers community. I’ve met a lot of great people who are, as my friend Lauren would put it, Super Fans of eating. It makes me very glad that this blog has evolved into something new and that I’m not pigeonholed into just writing about PR. Case in point, Niamh of Eat Like a Girl and Trusted Places inviting me to a session The Kitchen at Parsons Green.

The Kitchen is a concept by Michelen-starred chef Thierry Laborde and Natalie Richmond. It’s quite simple: you book a time, choose the dishes you want to make off the menu ahead of time and when you arrive all the ingredients ready and waiting for you. You then assemble them under the guidance of Thierry.

Trying to expand my culinary boundaries past avocado spring rolls and prawn lemon butter pasta, I chose veggie Thai green curry, veal escalope saltimbocca with green beans and Sicillian lemons, organic salmon and smoked haddock fish cakes with homemade ketchup and traditional lasagna with Angus beef.

The only problem is that I was under the impression that we would actually be cooking the four dishes. When I arrived, it wasn’t so much of a cooking class as it was a ‘put ingredients together in a ready-made meal fashion and cook it yourself at home.’

I won’t lie that I was a little disappointed with that. It was 7:30pm and I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch, so making yummy veal and fish cakes and lasagna not being able to eat them was a little bit of a tease. By the time I got home (Parsons Green is a good hike to Maida Vale), I was too tired to cook and so I ended up have oven chips for dinner. Sort of defeats the purpose.

The experience itself was pretty good, though. We were set up at our own stations with instructions and ingredients for our first dish in front of us. I started with the fish cakes with homemade ketchup:

The preparation was very simple and pretty soon I ended up with this:

I’ll let you know that so far the fish cakes are the only dish I’ve been able to try since I brought home my goods. They really are lovely. Just the right amount of spice, good quality fish and a good size. The ketchup is quite good too, but not on the fish cakes. I ended up whipping up a pesto aioli instead that seemed to complement the flavours much better.

I won’t go through my preparation on all of the dishes and unfortunately I can’t review them all since I haven’t tried them yet, but rest assured, the prep was pretty much the same as the fish cakes with slightly varying degrees of difficulty.

Overall, I liked the experience, but I don’t know if I’d go back. On the one hand it’s fast, relatively inexpensive, there’s no washing up and you have a few meals to get you through lunch and dinner for part of the week. But on the other I didn’t really feel like I learned anything, which is why I was so excited to go in the first place.

The ingredients are top notch, but they’re mostly made and bagged beforehand. Example: my thai green curry dish consisted of me cutting up vegetables, throwing some fish sauce on them for ‘marinade’ and transferring an already-made green curry sauce into a takeaway bag. All I have to do when I get home is heat it up. While that might be convenient for some, that’s not cooking to me.

The joy of being in the kitchen at home is that you create something from nothing, but The Kitchen at Parsons Green didn’t really give me that experience. I feel really bad for saying that because I was obviously going in there with a certain expectation, which had I researched just a bit more, probably wouldn’t have had. It’s great for what it is, but I think I’ll be seeking out more creative expressions of food preparation in the future.

Eh, I guess I just get cranky when I’m hungry.

UPDATE: Went for the lasagne instead for dinner tonight. It is frickin’ fabulous.