Helping local cooks put a zing in their festive menus
Georgina’s in Barnes High Street hosted its Festive Masterclass on Tuesday evening aimed at the interested cook with a desire to inject a bit of zing into their Christmas menu. As a victim of a disastrous 2011 ‘goose farrago’ I went along thinking that the families of myself and partner might benefit from me pulling my socks up in the festive catering department.
Over 20 locals and people who had travelled from the distant wastelands of Surrey (well Guildford to be exact) sat down in the rather stylish surroundings of the restaurant with a glass of prosecco and the first sight was of a raw salmon, rare breed farm turkey and the dreaded goose: my 2011 nemesis.
Presenting the class were consultant chef Adam Byatt, proprietor of his own Clapham restaurants, Trinity and Bistro Union, and Georgina’s own chef Greig Hunter. They held their audience’s rapt attention for the first half hour by showing us how to butcher a turkey, get the best out of a goose (Adam confirmed it as a tricky fowl, brother goose) and how to beetroot gravlax a salmon. Having fought a goose and lost (£80 and the only useful part seemed to be the cook’s thermometer that came with it) I now know that you have to dismember it and cook it in parts to avoid all the problems of fat, carving and flavour, not to mention the contempt of the hungry hordes of the household.
There followed an unhurried stroll through festive stuffing in an artful roll shape, caper and dill dressing to accompany the salmon gravlax (amazing salmon and the first item passed round for tasting – although strangely someone ate mine before the plate reached me), cranberry sauce (just the best), spiked spiced cider (never been a cider drinker, more of a mulled wine tippler myself), Xmas muffins in palmier (elephant’s ear) format (easy peasy, tasty wasty), macerated winter fruits and mincemeat meringues (both astonishingly tasty and tasteful at the same time).
The chefs were a delight with Adam Byatt majoring on butchery, fishmongery and savoury and Greig Hunter on sweet things. Both deadly serious about food and food science (since the onset of Heston chefs seem to explain food science and chemistry so much better) but with a twinkle in the eye and a series of anecdotes which made the beginners like me feel slightly less hopeless.
They even gave us a delicious meal at the end of slow cooked lamb, mashed potato and sprout tops, the nice bit of the sprout which I’d never met before.
So...did you know you can rest a cooked turkey for an hour before carving it, the best farmed salmon tastes amazingly good, self raising flour is ordinary flour with 5% baking powder and never whisk your egg whites on full speed? Well you know now...
The true test of the excellent Masterclass will of course be on the 25 December when I resolve to have: prepared lots of the above a day or two in advance; rejected goose for obvious reasons; started with beetroot cured salmon gravlax and caper & dill dressing; created the very best cranberry sauce; followed the above with macerated winter fruits and mincemeat meringues; fallen asleep in front of the telly.
November 30, 2012