Want to make mini-meals for yourself to see you through treatment days?
– Or you are the kind person who makes up little goodie-bags for friends in hospital
– Or you want to throw a party but hate making all those fiddly eats?
The KITCHEN at Parsons Green, in London’s fashionable Fulham, has the answer. It runs fun courses giving easy lessons on making the food that will go down a treat – one super helpful one is called a CANAPE MASTER CLASS – with a twist.
Given by rugby-fan and Michelin Star chef Thierry Laborde from Brittan, he was a pupil of the legendary Alain Ducasse. I found the twist came with Thierry’s attitude to a crass amateur like myself. He was incredibly helpful if I mentioned that some ingredients weren’t a good idea – smoked fish could be a no-no for instance if on chemo – so he recommended “leave it out – the recipe won’t mind” .
Don’t think Thierry is all pompous and ‘cheffie’. There wasn’t one four or five-letter word, he talked to us and gave us superb tips as part of his talk, and agreed that some farmers are taking the mickey out of customers with the way they load prices just because the food is organic.
Classes are 3 – 8 ‘students’ , and range from 3-year old kids to catering professionals who come to learn tips from Thierry. The one thing they have in common is they are FUN.
And you learn! Starting on our first Canape, Quails Eggs and Celeriac Remoulade, within a minute Thierry had told us to peel the eggs (boiled for two minutes) and pop them in to malt vinegar for two hours. When they come out they are simple to peel. So if you don’t like the thin membrame that surrounds a Quails Egg – this is the easy way to get rid of it.
Already around the table we were becoming neater with our chopping, and Thierry hadn’t finished with the helpful advice. Don’t bother to make fiddly little pastry cases – most good delicatessens or Waitrose sell them, but make sure they are the savoury ones as there are also sweet pastry cases.
Fish cakes are always popular, and Thierry’s advice was to boil the freshest fish in milk – leave it to one side to continue cooking, and then we had lovely moist fish to make our cakes. But the potato should be dry. Combine the ingredients with parsley, leek if you want a veg, and form fish cakes. Dip these gently in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs (he uses Japanese ones). Cook them in a lightly oiled frying pan until golden brown, freeze when cold, then take out and finish in a pre-heated oven at 180° for 5 minutes. This also makes marvellous meals for kids, who don’t notice the fish cakes are healthy!
More and more lovely Canapés were produced, with simple instructions; these could be frozen, even a wonderful easy-meal of Croque Monsieur which would make a hearty snack, and a little tray of these goodies would make tasty treats to take to someone undergoing treatment at home, or if a friend is in hospital.
Thierry worked at many of the top restaurants here and in Europe, and organises different cooking sessions:
- Kids’ clubs
- Make-aways where you get to make a special dish and take it away
- Master Classes
He has a sensible and practical attitude to cooking, saying, “if you have to put on weight, put on weight properly”, as he advised us to scrape butter over the outside of Croque Monsieur, to give it “a lovely golden colour”. But he is very slim, so obviously eating well doesn’t necessarily make you fat.
All the sessions are priced at £89 per person, and the washing up is done by willing minions! and you get all the canapes you made packed in special boxes to take home.