Delicious canapés, mouth-watering desserts and essential tips from two local chefs – we have everything covered to make sure you have a stress-free and impressive feast this Christmas. Check out Fabulous Festive Recipes for two of the chef’s very own recipes – a savory and a sweet, both guaranteed to make your mouth water. Forget GBBO and MasterChef, it’s all about the local Surrey cookery schools.
We spoke to Katharine Eldridge at Quince House Cookery School and Laura Scott at How to Cook Food and found out their top tips, recipes and why their cookery schools would make a superb gift for friends and family. Forget the usual scramble around for last minute presents that will soon be discarded. This year it is all about giving the gift of an experience. And what better than the experience of learning new skills at a cookery school? It really would make the perfect present – from the novice cook to even the most experienced.
Quince House Cookery School
Katherine Eldridge is an experienced chef who trained at the Tante Marie School of Cookery. Katharine has a great deal of experience in teaching and is friendly, welcoming and approachable. Her classes are open to all levels and kept quite small so that everyone gets a personal approach.
Katherine told us, “I thoroughly enjoy having novice cooks in the class as it is so rewarding when they leave knowing they have a few new basic skills to cook. Cooking is so much more enjoyable if you have the right skills, a good recipe, fine ingredients and just a little bit of time.”
Katharine’s Top Tips for Christmas Cooking
Katharine shared her tips for creating the Christmas Day you can only dream of – stress free and fully prepared! Take notes; this is how to enjoy Christmas rather than hiding away in the kitchen all morning:
“Christmas cooking should be enjoyable, a family affair. Don’t do it alone, put on the carols on Christmas Eve and get everyone preparing the vegetables the night before. I always par boil and par roast my potatoes and parsnips if I have a lot of people, just half an hour pre-roasting the night before and then leave to cool and cover with a tea towel. Don’t put them in the fridge as this changes the flavour.
The next day you just need to put them back into a hot oven for 40 mins and serve. Gravy can be the most stressful part of the meal but if you have a roast chicken 3 weeks before Christmas, make a really big batch of port gravy but nice and thick, freeze this for Christmas Day and just let it down with the turkey juices or some giblet stock. Most importantly, don’t leave it all to the last minute, use the freezer and get ahead.”
Christmas Gift Ideas
There are plenty of choices still available for Christmas presents. Men in the Kitchen is great for the ‘not so keen cook.’ Katherine noted that “everyone comes rather nervous, but they always leave inspired with good intentions to start cooking.” The ‘Hands On Pastry’ is great for anyone who believes that pastry is hard. What it really comes down to is picking up the right skills. ‘Hands On Thai’ is another popular choice for those who love the cuisine and want to be able to recreate dishes in their own kitchen. If you are buying for the more adventurous cook, then Fine Dining is an absolute must.
Head to Katharine’s website for more details on vouchers, courses and more: www.quincehousecookery.co.uk.
How to Cook Good Food
Laura Scott is a Private chef, supper club host and cookery tutor. Laura is passionate about cooking and sharing her knowledge and skills with others. Laura runs demos once a month each Saturday. Her supper clubs are extremely popular and for good reason. They are based at her home in Epsom and she hosts up to 18 people, whether you are a single diner or a group of friends. Reviews are glowing and it is no surprise that as soon as a supper club date is up on the website, the evening is a sell out!
Laura runs “personal, informative and hands on” cookery classes in groups no bigger than 8. This allows for individual attention so you can truly master the skills, meaning they are educational and instructive as well as fun and enjoyable.
Laura’s Christmas Cooking Tips
Over the Christmas period, Laura told us that she likes to add in a few novel dishes, such as her Parmesan Gougeres which make a perfect appetiser to serve with drinks. Celeriac gratin is the perfect choice for a meat free main course or perhaps her Christmas vegetable strudel. Laura emphasised that we should all make use of our leftovers after Christmas. Why not turn them into masterpieces of their own? Laura’s leftover dishes include her roasted sprout, mushroom, blue cheese and walnut salad or her spiced turkey lettuce cups.
Laura also shared her top tips with Go Surrey for a smooth Christmas without the stress. “When catering for a larger group, advance planning and preparation are essential to make the meal run smoothly. I like to make dishes that can be served easily and don’t leave the guests waiting for an age between courses. I often start with a soup, followed by a small salad or vegetable plate then move on to the main course which is always the hardest part of the meal to serve. The best way to feed a crowd is to serve the accompaniments in sharing bows that the guests can hand around amongst themselves. Dessert is also something I would prepare earlier on the day and so is the sourdough bread.”
Coming from an experienced chef who regularly runs supper clubs for 18 people, I would say take the tips and be prepared!
Christmas Gift Ideas
Laura has a wealth of choices on her website for gifts that could be bought for loved ones at Christmas or even a treat for yourself in the New Year. A Sourdough Class and lunch would make an ideal gift and she still has spaces for the course on 25th January 2020.
Check out Laura’s website for more courses, information and recipes: www.howtocookgoodfood.co.uk.
Images, content, and recipes by Katharine Eldridge at Quince House Cookery School and Laura Scott at How to Cook Food.