Taste of Christmas preview with
AEG, Jean Claude Novelli and Angela Malik
I was lucky enough to go to the Taste of Christmas warm-up event earlier this week, thanks to my friend Sarah spotting the invitation! I think she might just be stalking Jean Claude Novelli, in the nicest possible way
This event was held at Angela Malik’s cookery school in Acton, which is an easy journey for me from Earls Court and is conveniently close to the train station. So I didn’t feel too bad about taking a couple of hours out at lunchtime to learn about making a great turkey stuffing with Jean Claude and then to make and eat an alternative Asian Christmas noodle dish with Angela.
We started with Jean Claude demonstrating turkey stuffing. He had some really great pointers. Firstly, he showed us exactly how to roast hazel nuts to the right level in order to get maximum flavour and crunch. I’m not sure I could replicate his ‘palm of the hand crush test’, but essentially he used a heavy bottomed skillet to dry roast the nuts on the stove top until they were crumbly and crunchy when crushed rather than that sort of slightly chewy consistency that you get with unroasted or lightly toasted hazelnuts. He also showed us that sweating off and caramelising onions, celery etc. doesn’t need oil. By adding a little olive oil right at the end of the caramelisation he kept the flavour of the oil and reduced the amount of fat in the finished dish. Another tip was to make your stuffing in advance and store it in foil in the fridge. By wrapping in foil rather than clingfilm the temperature stays as low as possible without actually freezing the mixture.
Angela’s demonstration started with what I suspect is a fundamental of her cookery school, that is the importance of a balance of the five flavour types. You may remember my recipe for hake with fresh tomato sauce where I was justifying the presence of pips on the basis of Umami – well, Angela’s taste chart shows Umami as an important flavour type.
Our stirfry noodle dish used light soy sauce rather than dark, as Angela said, light is for cooking with, dark is for adding to a cooked dish. We also mixed in some very Christmassy ingredients – brussel sprouts, chestnut mushrooms and carrots, together with some tamarind and her own brand of Asian Pesto to make a delicious lunch.
From start to finish, less than 10 minutes. One technique she showed us was to splash a little water on the dish as we cooked to prevent scorching, particularly important with ingredients with a low moisture content. Another, to ensure the oil you use for cooking has a high burn point – we used rapeseed oil, which is quite neutral and can be heated up without burning. Ummmm, it was obviously very good…we ate it all before I got a chance to take a picture!!!
Angela’s cookery school is kitted out with AEG induction hobs so we were using these for our stirfry exercise. I have to say I have a bit of a fascination with them! As I am sure you know, they are cool to touch, but once you put a pan that has any kind of ferrous element in them, they generate heat through the pan. To me it’s a bit of magic, but I can actually see the safety aspect of that type of hob!
I’m looking forward to Taste of Christmas at the Excel centre where there will be more demonstrations and a whole selection of foodie experiences! It runs from 2-4 December…so make sure you put it in your Diary now!