As we enter the season of seasonal, celebrational Thanksgiving and Christmas fayre, this dish created during an evening session of the Mastery of Cooking course came as something of a revelation. A celebratory vegetarian meal conceived by Jean Torné, lacking nothing in richness and indulgence. It combined some classical cooking techniques with good quality but very simple and accessible ingredients. At the heart, a selection of organic root vegetables, individually sauteed in Ghee and Olive Oil; a Swede and Potato Mash infused with herby Olive Oil and topped with a sprig of Dill; and rich Beluga Lentils cooked with Mushrooms and vegetables. And topping it all, the remarkable Sauce which began with a pot-pourri of chopped vegetables, again sauteed in Ghee, simmered in vegetable stock and a good helping of decent quality wine, seasoned with Shoyu, strained off and reduced, then liberally spooned across the plate.
A plate from the recent Mastery of Cooking weekend: Short Grain Brown Rice cooked with Sweet Potato (hence the pink colouring) sitting on a swoosh made from a reduction of the Sweet Potato cooking liquid; a Sweet Potato stack; a pan-grilled Red Onion with a Tofu and Mustard dressing; a Zucchini ‘Bean’ Salad with Red Onion Vinaigrette.
Creamed Barley and Mushroom Soup followed by Red Rice Croquettes, Kale with Red Onions, Anchovies and grated Parmesan, Baked Squash with Herb, Garlic and Olive Oil dressing. All created during a weekend session of the Autumn module of the Mastery of Cooking programme, under the guidance of Jean Torné.
A side salad prepared under the guidance of Master Chef Jean Torné this weekend. It formed part of the evening meal for Heartspace, a programme run by the Concord Institute. A delicious fusion of colours, flavours and textures working in perfect harmony. Very much in tune with the intention and spirit of the programme – a touch of the exotic and at once familiar.
Before: Fresh Persimmon cut into slices, in preparation for panfrying in a small amount of Ghee.
After: The pan-seared persimmon slices sitting on a bed of sliced Chicory (drizzled with lemon juice) with a sprinkling of Blue Cheese to finish.
A hearty Bean, Vegetable and Kale Stew – prepared after completing an online session with Jean as part of the Mastery of Cooking course last week. A mix of Cannelini and Pinto Beans, pressure cooked with Bouquet Garni. Onions, Leeks, Carrots, Swede and Pumpkin diced and cooked in Ghee with a drop lid. Beans and Vegetable Stock added. Cooked further, then transferred tothe oven for more slow cooking – 2hrs at 170. Kale blanched separately, and added towards the end. Some seasoning, and a small amount of Tamari to finish. Served with a Sauteed Brussel Sprout, Lambs Lettuce and Pomegranate Salad, and Toasted Sourdough with Olive Oil, Rosemary and Sea Salt. Sour Cream and Parmesan shavings round it all off. Images thanks to Nicky Clinch.
Day two of the weekend Mastery of Cooking course. An array of organic and locally sourced autumn produce to choose from to create the Sunday lunch.
Including these delightful ‘Harlequin’ Pumpkins.
We set to work on a batch of recipes, cooking on and off piste in our groups. Picking up a few tips here and there – including a new way to fashion a bouquet garni using some leek greens and a length of string.
And, here’s the result. Chickpea and Vegetable Stew, topped with sauteed Black Carrots and crispy Sage, Panfried Millet, Oven baked Harlequin Pumpkin, and a spontaneous addition to the menu, Roasted Blue Cauliflower on a bed of caramelised Red Onions. A sprinkle of Parsley to finish.
The opening weekend of the Mastery of Cooking programme, and we are set a challenge of preparing an autumnal meal from a range of ingredients. Here’s the result: Long Grain Brown Rice and Red Rice, Brussel Sprouts sauteed with Shallots, Puy Lentils with Sundried Tomatoes, Braised Carrots with Star Anice, Zucchini Ribbons with Mandarin and Chilli, with Carrot Top Tempura as a garnish.
Day 1 of the Mastery of Cooking class with Jean Torné, and we are asked to reveal all… the whole class was asked to provide an impromptu snap-shot of the state of our fridge. All-in-all mine was in a reasonable state, with old goods cleared out and produce reasonably well cared for. Apart, that is, from one serious transgression: the presence of a half onion on the second shelf. Onions attract germs of all descriptions, which make them fantastic when scattered around the house if you are suffering from colds/flus, but not so good sitting in the fridge. The smell can also permeate and affect other foods. Lesson learned, this creature has been discarded.
On the cusp of embarking on a year-long journey entitled ‘Mastery of Cooking’ under the tutelage of Master Chef Jean Torné, it felt appropriate to prepare this dish for lunch: a Tunisian Chickpea Stew I enjoyed at the Seasonal Kitchen programme run a few weeks ago by Francoise Auvray. As is often the case, this recipe is one which has passed through a few hands. Though it was provided by Francoise, she credits another cook – and I’m sure its origins stretch back much further still. Recipes all have their roots – and its to the people that are willing to take these gifts and pass them on, that we can be grateful. I look forward to a programme which promises much of this – an opportunity to enjoy the sharing of such gifts, primarily from the extraordinary teacher Jean Torné, but also from being part of a group of participants who will be taking part in this course. I feel immensely humble, grateful, and excited at the prospect of the journey that is about to begin – not knowing where it will lead us.
I invite you to take part in a introductory series of Cooking classes being run this Spring and Summer at the Concord Institute. They run over a series of three weeks, with either morning or evening classes available. ‘This three week series of morning cooking classes is intended as a fun, joyful exploration of whole foods cooking, particularly for those who want to cook more healthily for their families. The classes will equip you with the basics of whole food cooking and a collection of recipes that you can begin to incorporate into your regular diet and that of your family.’
To book your place, or find out more details, please visit the Concord website.