And she’s back, after the hiatus – I have had enough of backseat cooking and getting back in the driving seat. Actually in fact, it’s not even backseat cooking – this summer has worryingly taken its toll on my waistline – so expect a forward facing attack on my diet and fitness routine over the coming weeks. The summer evenings wiling away in a beer garden or alfresco dining around the capital has most certainly started to show. Whilst my lunches are still going down a storm; I’m keen to get back on track and take the power back from the boy who is a total BOSS in the kitchen, and certainly the BOSS of ours!
What I needed was someone to take away the intimidation of a three course meal and show me how. So when Very Lazy, makers of a range of timesaving kitchen ingredient cheats, and foodie instagrammer HugDeCook invited us for an evening of cookery at Food at 52 Cookery School, of course I was keen as as a green bean!
HugDeCook is nothing but a top quality guy, with sound advice. He’s a supreme juggler of his passions in between a fast and furious day job in finance. He says, “Make your kitchen your sanctuary. Make it somewhere where you want to be, and of course the bottle of wine will make the process that bit smoother and the time will just fly by”. He is a relaxed kind of guy where strict measurements are not welcome (measure using what you have at hand – your palms! Give it a squeeze and off you go”. Now that’s my kind of cooking! No wonder the man sporting gorgeous visuals taken with nothing but his iPhone camera and a lamp as surmassed nearly 19k followers!!)
Top tip of the day – when asked how he curates his own Instagram feed and styles his dishes “Just don’t give a f**k”. And although his advice seems simple , I definitely do give a *F**k” about most things in life. I over think, I work too hard, I try and plan for every eventuality (in case it goes wrong) and that is not only exhausting but also impossible! Cooking is very unpredictable and you need to be far more flexible and take things with a pinch of salt (geddit??). You can try too hard to place things, my dishes can feel forced and don’t leave you with a natural style. So let’s all take a leaf out of Hugo’s book. Relaxxxxxxx and don’t give a s
Tonight was a cooking revelation for me – yes you can take it seriously but relax whilst your doing it. Enjoy the ride, laugh at the mistakes and don’t get het up when it comes to playing around. Never feel intimated just break it down into steps. With enough help, time and preparation, you can attempt things you would never have dreamed of completing before. Just like the homemade caramel in the dessert recipe – it’s certainly something that I would have never attempted, on accounts it sounds difficult – break it down, seek out some ready made raw ingredients to avoid the chopping, crunching, slicing or dicing and see what you can pre-prep the night before. Cooking IS fun, just enjoy it!
So back to the cooking – here’s the menu, all recipes courtesy of HugDeCook and Very Lazy:
Almost’ Nicoise Salad (click link for recipe)
Honey and Siracha Chicken with Noodles, Griddled Pineapple and Steamed Broccoli (click link for recipe)
Apple and Blackberry & Ginger Puff Pastry with Ginger Dust and Caramel Sauce (click link for recipe)
So what was the verdict?
Mums at home can rejoice – there’s no need for sharp knives here. Get in the kitchen your kids and let them squeeze until their hearts delight on the Very Lazy Ginger or Garlic paste. Just a couple of tips – remember to squeeze into a spoon as it’s very easy to go overboard here. I’m a total convert – anywhere I can save myself time or perhaps a finger, I’m all ears! In the range is the formidable Lemongrass paste – we really struggled to find fresh lemongrass in the smaller supermarket stores in London so having this in the cupboard is a real treat!
The ginger paste is my absolute favourite as it gets rid of the grainy fibres often found in you’re average ginger root. We added the garlic paste to mash and because it was so deliciously smooth it blended in beautifully with the whole grain mustard for bite.
All in all, I can safely say I will definitely cook all of these again. In fact I did whip up the honey siracha chicken again for my girlfriends when they next came around. It was a resounding thumbs up. The different textures, the temperatures of the cold noodles, warm pineapple and searingly spicy chicken all work brilliantly and add serious depth and substance to this dish.
Note each diner needs at least a chicken breast each and pre-prepping the noodles was a bit of a fail. Serving from the fridge cold – they were impossible to part (warning!). For four guests, multiply this recipe by two!
If you fancy taking your own class at the Foodat52 Cookery School, then get in touch with John and Emily who run their own classes – even one called the perfect dinner party. This is sure to get you ready and raring in the kitchen. The spice for life!
GOOD THINGS TO KNOW:
Very Lazy’s paste and chopped ingredients are available from Tesco plus other select retailers. The range includes:
- Very Lazy Garlic Paste
- Very Lazy Lemongrass Paste
- Very Lazy Ginger Paste
- Very Lazy Chilli Paste
- Very Lazy Chopped Garlic (200g or 125g)
- Very Lazy Chopped Ginger (190g or 115g)
- Very Lazy Red Chillies (190g or 115g)
- Very Lazy Smoked Chopped Garlic (190g)