When I was invited to spend an evening at the Underground Cookery School in London, never did I imagine that I would learn how to expertly joint a Pheasant , use a pasta making machine & make my first ever ravioli and stir up a souffle in minutes! All this in a matter to few hours and then get to taste all these creations with a bunch of very friendly food enthusiasts. It was a very rainy and cold evening and the very thought of an ”underground” kitchen was heart warming.After a brief introduction ( over canapes and wine) by Chef Matt Kemp, head chef and owner of the Underground Cookery School ,we were split into 3 teams and I was learning from Chef Matt how to joint a pheasant , I most enjoyed creating the stock with a little bit of flour and adding a large ladle of Chicken Stock to the flour ummm. Matt Kemp, who trained under Michael Guérard and has worked at the River Café, The Ivy and Pont De La Tour. Having read this before I got there I was I must say a bit apprehensive , never having worked in a professional kitchen that too with a professionally trained chef but I must say he was pretty happy with my knife skills with the bird and managed to get is through preparing a Pheasant Casserole in a matter of minutes. Somehow he made it seem so easy …. What I loved is how the remainder of the birds were safely kept together in a tray to be used later to make a thick stock, it somehow made me feel so very much at home ,just a warm feeling of how we would work in our home kitchen. Matt’s team fussed over us all through the evening ensuring the glasses never ran dry and I sorely regret not drinking that evening ..ah well, another time maybe 😉 That was how the casserole looked like before it went along with the other pretty Le Crusset pans to be cooked. Somehow the addition of fresh herbs just makes everything look prettier! I have always wanted to use a pasta making machine and this was my chance, though I did almost mange to pass my hand through the machine, only to salvage my fingers in the nick of time , I guess I have have to just practise really hard before I can hope to match the trained chefs dexterous hand movements and finesse with the super fine pasta flour. It is magical how flour and egg together can be transformed into an uber malleable pasta dough. The idea of a pumpkin ravioli was quite appetising ,it just has a very autumn and halloween like ring to it me thinks. After adding just a blog of the pumpkin into the perfectly round pasta discs just dab a little bit of water along the sides, it acts like a sort of a glue to seal of the dough into a beautiful and perfect parcel. I cannot decide what I enjoyed the most , was it learning to make the perfect pasta dough (without passing my palm through the machine) or learning how to make a souffle but I will say this, there is no joy bigger than seeing a superbly well risen souffle emerge from the oven and dust sugar onto it like a thin sheath of snow envelope the lightly browned top.Putting my spoon through the souffle was undoubtedly the high point of the evening. PEAR SOUFFLE The team at The Underground Cookery School was kind enough to share all the 3 recipes with us and here I shall share the Pear Souffle recipe with all of you , please do drop a comment here if you would like the other 2 recipes . Mind you, separating an egg white using your hands is not as bad as you think and no matter how many fancy gizmos you have at home aka egg separators , there is joy in being able to do it just right by getting your hands dirty :). A top tip from the chef, enusure that you do not leave even a tiny spot dry and smother the inside with butter well before dusting it with sugar, taking care not to leave any dry spots inside before adding the pear and egg white mix. Pear Soufflé Serves: 4 Ingredients:
- 6 Pears Juiced
- 125g sugar
- 1tsp corn flower
- 4 egg whites
- Juice of one lemon
- Pinch Of Salt
- Butter the ramaquins and dust with 25g of sugar; put in fridge.
- Make a Pear juice with 6 pears and 50g of Sugar
- Add water to one tea spoon of corn flour and put mix into heated Pear stock. Now add the juice of half a lemon. Reduce down over the hob. The mix should be the consistency of wall paper paste.
- Wisk egg whites to a ribbon whilst mixing in 50g of caster sugar. Add a few drops of lemon juice AND A PINCH OF SALT as you go along.
- Put one spoonful per soufflé into a bowl and fold in 1/3 of of the egg white to the paste. Then fold in the balance.
- Put mix into a ramaquin, smooth over and run finger round the circumference of the ramaquin.
- Put in the oven for 8 mins at 160o.
I am so in love with the pear souffle that I decided to make it at home too!But unfortunately had to rush to India as mum had to undergo an operation. But I do promise to post pictures of the homemade souffle once am back.
After all that hard work ,Chef Matt’s team got busy with getting the food to us at the table and let us sit back and relax while they worked hard.Ah, a really efficient ,friendly and polite team he has there , a real pleasure to work with! So with framed photographs like the one below all round our table we tucked into our 3 course supper .Though I did not eat the pheasant I did eat the veggies in there. (I am particularly pleased with my photos taken using my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone camera, love the clarity and am so happy that the kitchen was well lit !) It was an incredible evening in many ways because of the bloggers who came together that evening , I meet some really warm,chatty,vibrant and fun ladies and the conversation flowed as smoothly as the wine. We walked away with a goody bag which amongst other things has a scrumptious chutney and a very large bottle of olive oil infused with herbs.
PUMPKIN RAVIOLI If your looking for a brilliantly different Hen Party idea or need to get some cohesiveness back into your team at work, nothing better than getting people together around a hot stove stirring, chopping ,cutting and clinking wine glasses over a meal cooked together.