Okay, so the Christmas cups are out and the John Lewis Christmas ad is out, I feel like now is a good time to talk about the festive event I was invited to at the Waitrose Cookery School, courtesy of John Lewis. There were apple pie cocktails, a Christmas tree (woo!) and a whole lot of stirring, chopping and flapping around an oven. The holidays are coming!
I brought along my friend Alexis, who is still my friend even though I spent my free time at uni cutting out and sticking up pictures of cats all over her bedroom.
Anyway, Alexis has witnessed many of my finest culinary moments such as Batter Cake and Bolognese Soup so I’m glad she came with me, because going to an event on your own is never fun, and also because nothing can ever be as bad as Bolognese Soup.
The festive treats we would be learning to make that evening were:
Confit duck with spiced pear puree
Parmesan risotto balls
Hazelnut and Chocolate Orange Biscotti
(Spoiler alert- the biscotti did not survive the journey home)
All fab sounding dishes that felt festive enough for the occasion, but could be rolled out at any other special party.
The chefs, Shauna and Gerry, went through the steps and then it was back to our stations to emulate the same.
We started with the confit duck samosas- one pair prepared the pastry and the other pair prepared the mix and pear puree.
It was fast, a little bit frantic and loads of fun. I also know I’d never last on a competition like Masterchef because 1) I ate as I went (mmm, not the point). And that’s pretty much the only reason. After a few minutes in the oven, they out looking crisp and golden and beautiful.
We had a quick break over cocktails, enjoying the fruits of our labour before it was back to our kitchen stations again to make the second dish- Parmesan Risotto balls.
Surprisingly, these weren’t too difficult to make. You make the risotto, leave it to cool, then roll into balls and dip into an egg wash and panko crumbs before deep frying them until golden.
Super simple and really delicious- there’s a recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Afterwards, we moved into demonstration theatre to watch Shauna make little chocolate mousse domes- which actually wasn’t easy to pipe together into pretty domes.
Somehow, between all these things going on, we had also managed to put together a Hazelnut and Chocolate Orange Biscotti which was baking while we watched the Chocolate Mousse Domes being made.
Recipe card also at the bottom of the post!
These had to cool before being cut into those familiar thin biscotti strips. These also didn’t survive the journey home, as I ate them before I even changed onto the Victoria Line!
Hazelnut- goood, Chocolate Orange- goooood. These were probably my favourite treats of the evening.
As promised, here are the recipe cards!
Makes: 40 balls approx Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 15- 20 minutes
For the risotto
1 Shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 sm clove Garlic, peeled and finely crushed
1 sprig Thyme
20g unsalted butter
½ tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp White wine
100g arborio rice
450ml vegetable stock, warmed
80g Parmesan, finely grated
For the panne
2 – 3 tbsp plain white flour
1 egg, cracked and beaten
100g Dried breadcrumbs
1. To cook the risotto – Place a medium sized pan onto a low heat. Add the oil
and butter. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes until
the shallot is soft. Pour in the white wine, bring to the boil and let bubble
until it is almost fully reduced.
Tip in the arborio rice and coat in the shallot and wine mix. Begin to add the
warmed stock, a ladle at a time and stir until absorbed by the rice. Continue
to do so with all of the stock ensuring that the stock is fully absorbed
otherwise your risotto balls will be too wet.
Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season with pinch
of salt and cracked black pepper. Spread out onto flat tray and place in the
fridge to cool.
2. To shape and panne – Once cool, remove from the fridge and scoop using a
measuring spoon into 10-15g balls.
Dust each one with the flour, then coat with the beaten egg and finally roll
each one in the breadcrumbs. Roll each ball gently in the palm of your hand
to form a nice round shape, place on a clean tray and return to the fridge for
5-10 minutes to firm up.
3. To cook the balls – Meanwhile heat a fryer to 180C. Remove the balls from
the fridge. Place in the fryer and cook until golden in colour. Remove and
place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
4. To serve – Season with sea salt, and place a cocktail stick into each. Serve
with some lemon mayonnaise.
Makes: 30 slices approx Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 40 – 45 minutes
50g blanched hazelnuts
120g white plain flour
½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp Cream of tartar
35g dried cherries
25g Orange dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 large free range egg
½ Orange, finely zested
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4.
2. Place the hazelnuts onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-10
minutes or until golden. Remove and leave to cool.
3. Place the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Mix well together to form
a dough, adding a splash of water if the dough is slightly dry. Tip onto a
floured surface and gently knead until soft. Divide into 2 and roll each into a
4. Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay the sausages on top, making
sure they are well part. Place in the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until
golden brown and firm to touch. Remove and turn the oven down to 140C,
gas mark 1.
5. Leave to cool slightly, then slice each roll at an angle into 1cm thick slices.
6. Place the slices onto a lined baking tray, return to the oven and bake for a
further 12 -15 minutes until firm and crisp.
7. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Place in an airtight container until required.