Red’s Hot Women internship: THE FOODIE EXPERIENCE

16-03-10 – Spicing things up

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Bryson on March 17, 2010

I was lucky enough to take part in a cookery course today alongside some fellow Red Magazine competition winners.

Experienced chef Lawrence Brackstone took us on a journey of history through the medium of spices.

Once more valuable than gold, and responsible for the discovery of entire continents, spices have a magical quality that can transform the most humble of dishes into something that just sings.

It’s a shame that they sit unloved in old glass jars, misunderstood and faded in a lot of kitchens. I’m totally guilty of this and feel inspired to have a good old clear out this week and start again!

We learnt that spices are like coffee – as soon as you grind them and release the flavour you must seal and store them in the fridge/freezer.

We were all tasked with creating two spice blends each. I made a really fragrant Japanese blend Shishimi Togarashi that included ingredients like dried tangerine peel, schzwan pepper , chilli and sesame seeds. I ground it up in a pestle and mortar – quite a workout.

Next up was an Indian blend called Sambhar. It demonstrated nicely the yummy effect roasting your spices has on their flavour – sweetening and intensifying after just a minute or two in a dry hot frying pan. Once cooled you grind them up. Marvellous.

I made a right old mess of myself – turmoric everywhere – bright yellow fingers and bright yellow face! I’m such a child around food – always have to bathe in everything I eat and cook!

After a yummy lunch and chat with everyone it was back in the kitchen to watch Lawrence apply the spice blends we’d made to the types of dishes we could impress our friends with.

Chunks of butternut squash, onion and garlic were fused and sweated with the Jamaican Jerk blend for 10-15 mins and then blitzed up with chicken stock to create a totally delicious soup.

A few chicken breasts were rubbed with my Japanese blend, blasted in a super hot oven for 10 mins and transformed into an aromatic juicy taste sensation fit for a summer barby!

Mackerel fillets got a Morrocan spice treatment and the normally unremarkable onion bhajee got a beautifully delicate overhaul.

I’ve always loved a curry but now feel inspired and confident enough to ditch the pastes and get stuck in myself! Curry night – bring it on!!!!!

As if this wasn’t enough we were treated to an hour’s cheese tasting by Food Hall Manager and vastly experienced cheese connoisseur Mark Himsworth.

We had a spread of about six cheeses all to be sampled with very particular things.

The light and fluffy goats cheese was best eaten with chilli spiced beetroot on wafer thin crackers from Australia.

The Stilton worked wonders on water biscuits with quince preserve. All taste sensations and all complete with fascinating back stories about where it’s made and who makes it.

I could have spent all day listening to this – foodie gold dust!

I am totally enthralled and in awe of how much knowledge these guys have – it’s infectious!

Can’t believe it’s all going to end next Friday. Wonder if they’ll notice if I just keep turning up?!

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