Sur La Table is a high end national cookery supply store. They offer you everything from a $5 metal spatula to a $5,500 home coffee “center”. Along with their vast array of products, they offer classes
on all types of cooking, from entertaining to honing your knife skills to the finer points of cooking a soufflé. In short, think Williams-Sonoma meets Bed, Bath & Beyond and together, they have a classy love child who is dating Michael’s Arts & Crafts store.
Every once in awhile, I look over the listings at Sur La Table and other cooking schools and venues in the area to see if anything looks interesting. With this challenge I’ve given myself, there was a class that I just couldn’t pass up - “Great Food Inspired by Jamie Oliver”.
The class highlights recipes from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain and takes you step by step to make a full meal in just about 2 hours. Here was the menu: Apple and Watercress Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Crushed Walnuts – Sizzling Lamb Lollipops – Crispy Roasted Fishcakes Wrapped in Bacon – Citrus Cheesecake Possets. And the kicker? For the cost of the class you get a copy of the cookbook too!! How perfect is that? Never one to have fun alone if I could add a friend, I asked my sister to join me and we set off last Wednesday for a night of handmade British faire and maybe a new skill or two.
Preface from Jamie to the Sur La Table students: There are a few steps to make these fishcakes, but each step is dead easy and so worth it, because the end result just seems to make people happy (note from Heidi - H*ll’s yeah! And I’m not even a fish person, really). I think you have to accept that sometimes in life even something humble, like a fishcake, requires effort. The reaction to these fishcakes has been amazing, and interestingly, whenever homemade fishcakes are on a restaurant menu, they always sell. The difference with making your own is that you get flavors and texture suited to your own particular tastes. So I’ll happily give this recipe to you, knowing that a kid could make them... mine have, with a little help.
2 Small Leeks
A knob of butter*
1 whole nutmeg for grating
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
3 large free-range eggs
8 ounces smoked salmon, smoked trout or (even better!) a mixture of the two, roughly chopped**
2 fresh lemons
6 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley picked and finely chopped
A few handfuls of all-purpose flour
6 slices of white bread, crusts removed
1 dried red chile
6 slices (rashers) of quality bacon
Watercress to serve
* Knob equals 2-3 Tablespoons, usually
** We used smoked white fish and it was very yummy!
Top and tail the leeks, then peel back the tough outer green leaves. Cut them lengthways, wash under the tap and finely slice. Put them into a large pan on medium heat with a knob of butter and a few scrapings of nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently with the lid on for around 25 minutes, or until softened, then take the pan off the heat and leave to cook.
While your leeks are cooking, peel the potatoes, halve or quarter them depending on their size and whack them into a pan of salted boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through and mashable. Drain them, then return them to the saucepan, smash them up so the mixture is smooth but also has chunks, and put to one side to cool down a bit. Crack eggs into a wide, shallow bowl, then carefully remove one of the yolks and stir into the potato mixture, followed by the sweet leeks and smoked fish. Add the zest of 1 whole lemon and the juice of half, and two-thirds of the parsley. Leave to one side.
Preheat the oven and a large baking sheet to 425-degrees, with an oven rack positioned towards the top.
Make 6 cakes
If you think that a class at Sur La Table looks fun, you can see if there is a location near you and what classes they are offering by visiting http://www.surlatable.com/category/Web-Cooking-Root/Cooking-Classes
Our class was at the Hell's Kitchen location in New York City.