Christmas Cookery Event – An Array of Festive Dishes
Guest Post by Kathy Murray
I was so excited to receive the invitation to attend a Christmas Cookery Event hosted by John Lewis at the Waitrose Cookery School. My invitation included a ‘plus one’ so I invited my niece, Lianne, who also loves cooking. As a family, we love to host lunches and dinners, so we were both looking for new ideas to try and include in our entertaining over the Christmas festivities.
The School is next located next to Waitrose Supermarket on the Finchley Road. The tube station is only 10 minutes’ walk, with the Jubilee and Met lines, so very easy to get to.
Lianne and I arrived at the Waitrose Cookery School earlier than expected, but we were so eager we decided to go inside.
We were warmly greeted by our hosts and straightaway thought …… ‘ It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas’. The tree was decked out beautifully with baubles and fairy lights courtesy of John Lewis, and with the Christmas tunes playing in the background, it felt very festive.
As we were the first to arrive, we took the opportunity to take a look around the kitchen. Very impressive and totally spotless.
Next stop, to the bar. We had a choice of cocktails but we both drawn towards the ‘apple pie cocktail’. Delicious. The cocktails were accompanied by dressed crab and fennel canapes.
The other guests soon began to arrive. Everyone was very eager and just couldn’t wait to get started. Time to get into the kitchen and start cooking. We were introduced to the Chef who asked us to work in a group of 4. We doubled up with the 2 girls who were standing next to us.
The Chef asked us to gather around his kitchen station so he could demonstrate the steps of making our first dish of confit duck with spiced pear puree. We all watched intently as the Chef took us through the process. He made it look so easy. Now it was our turn. All the ingredients were measured and waiting for us at our kitchen stations. We worked in our group of four and got started on our first canape of confit duck with spiced pear puree. The Chef and Assistants were on hand to give us guidance and assistance if required.
We followed the same procedure for all the canapes. The Chef giving us a demonstration and then we went to our kitchen stations to prepare and cook all the canapes. He was always on hand to assist us. And we managed to make a whole range of delicious canapes, both sweet and savoury.
Confit Duck with Spiced Pear Puree; One of my favourite dishes, the aroma coming from the oven as we cooked these was delightful. When the first tray of Confit Duck with Spiced Pear Puree was ready, we all couldn’t resist the temptation of eating them. They were absolutely tasty and I will definitely be making them again. We used duck confit as the filling in the filo pastry but I think the same filo parcels could easily be made with other ingredients too, ideal for sweet or savoury canapes.
Crab Crackers with Fennel were beautifully, light and delicate.
Parmesan Risotto Balls (with homemade mayonnaise) pictured below, sound incredibly complicated but were really not that difficult to put together.
To accompany the deep fried Parmesan Risotto Balls, we made homemade mayonnaise. I have never made mayonnaise before and just could not believe how easy it was to make. No more Hellman’s mayonnaise for me going forward.
We also made two sweet canapes – biscotti and a chocolate dome. All of the ingredients for the canapes can be purchased in a local Waitrose supermarket. The canapes were very tasty indeed, easy to make and suitable for all occasions. They can all be made in advance and frozen until required. I will definitely be trying these recipes again.
Now it was cocktail time. We went back to the bar, where the glasses and alcohol were waiting for us. The barman gave a quick demonstration on how to make a Christmas cocktail and then it was our turn. Cocktails and canapes on an autumnal evening… what more could a girl ask for.
There was a really great atmosphere in the kitchen / bar area. Lots of chatting and laughter and everyone seemed delighted by how the evening was going. I think some of us were quite surprised at how easy the canapes were to make. We ate our homemade canapes and were given glasses of prosecco to wash them down and add to the festive cheer.
I would definitely recommend the Christmas Cookery event. Lots of ideas just in time for the Christmas festivities.
We both really enjoyed the evening at the Waitrose Cookery School, Christmas Event . Very helpful staff and great fun. As well as the Christmas Cookery Event, Waitrose provides lots of other cookery courses. There are 3 schools to choose from, Finchley Road, Kings Cross and Salisbury (Wiltshire). An ideal Christmas gift, and all bookable online. And of course I will also be checking out the full John Lewis Christmas range.