Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cookery School, where everyone can learn to cook

Over the past few weeks I have been watching a great cookery series on Channel 4 in the afternoons called Cookery School, a daily cookery competition which helps to transform ordinary home cooks into exraordinay home cooks! I have really been enjoying it. Each week the show follows the journies of six home cooks . . . their ups and their downs . . . their failures and their successes . . . as they compete against each other in a battle to be in the finals.

The novices have to master and cook three recipes during each show under the expert tutelage of Chef Richard Corrigan, and Chef/Presenter/Writer Gizzie Erskine, who encourage them along, and teach them skills that can easily be mastered by any home cook . . . a brilliant combination in my opinion!

As with any good cookery show, there is also a companion cookbook available to purchase, so that you can cook along at home. Whether you are a beginning cook, looking to learn some new skills . . . or a learned cook, looking to advance your skills, Cookery School can help.

Julie contacted me early in February, and asked me if I would like to receive a complimentary copy of the book to review and I jumped at the opportunity. I love to cook and eat. Passion Number one . . . I love cookbooks, Passion Number two . . . and I love learning new skills and stretching the ones I already have, Passion Number three.

Cookery School
where anyone can learn to cook
with recipes by Richard Corrigan

The official tie-in cookbook to Channel 4's Cookery School series, containing every recipe from every episode. Learn to cook and graduate through the classes from Basic to Advanced

I have been following along with the show, and have been really impressed with the instruction given. I was very excited when the book popped through my post box on Friday. I could hardly wait to get stuck in!

It's large book, but quite manageable, and very attractive. Containing over 100 recipes and divided into chapters covering starters, fish, meat and puddings, it's just loaded with step-by-step photographs to help to teach you all the main techniques needed to master each of the dishes.

From knife skills and chopping, to clarifying . . . filleting a fish or jointing a chicken, to mastering creme anglaise . . . there is something in here for everyone, no matter how basic or advanced your skills may be. With further notes on equipment and ingredients, and an informative glossary on cooking terms and techniques, this book has it all, and will have even the novice cook, cooking like a Michelin Star Chef at the outset. I think it's just brilliant!

I chose the Cream of Onion Soup with Cheese and Ham toasties as my first recipe to cook from the book. Listed in the chapter of starters as an intermediate dish I felt it was something I could easily cope with and also something that I thought Todd would enjoy.

There is a lovely looking picture of the dish adjacent to the recipe and skills taught in the recipe are noted in red in the upper right hand corner of the recipe page. With a delicious sounding introduction I found all the instructions to be concise and very easy to follow.

This is a dish that I would very happily make again. It wasn't too fiddly and used ingredients that I have in my kitchen most of the time, including the herbs which I keep in my garden. I did have to use dried marjoram as I didn't have that, but it didn't seem to have an adverse affect on the taste of the finished dish. The recipe didn't say whether the ham for the toasties was to be used whole or julienned. I decided that julienned ham would be a lot easier to handle, and I was right.

They were very easy to put together and toasted up perfectly following the instructions in the recipe. Crispy and buttery on the outsides without being greasy, and stogged full of lovely ham and gooey cheese on the insides. The only thing I would do different the next time, would be to add a bit of honey mustard on the inside of the bread rounds, rather than egg, but that's because I love the tasty of honey mustard with my ham and cheese! (That could be the Canuck in me, I don't know!)

The soup was wonderfully rich, and full of flavour. Simple ingredients, simple techniques . . . far out deliciousness!! Wow, it had a beautiful velvety texture with a subtle sweetness from the onions that was quite, quite ooooofully scrummy! I loved the extra texture that the thyme oil garnish gave. The thyme was slightly crisped . . . with a lovely fresh herby flavour, just perfect with the soup.

The two together were just wonderful. As we were eating it, I thought back to my days working as a Personal Chef down South in Kent . . . my boss would have loved this. I could easily see it having been served at one of the ladie's luncheons with a rocket and watercress salad on the side, and a few chive blossoms floating on top of that beautiful soup, amidst the herbed olive oil.

There are lots of beautiful recipes in the book and I can tell you, I have more than a few bookmarked to try. The Apple Tarts with Pecans and Maple immediately come to mind, as does the Pork and Fruit Wellington . . . and then there are the Griddled Leeks with a Honey and Mustard Dressing and the Rhubarb Crumble Soufflees. Oh it all sounds so delicious doesn't it???

This lovely book was released for publication on the 3rd of March (Penguin HB, £20.) . Recipes here extracted from 'Cookery School', brought to you by Channel 4 with recipes by Richard Corrigan. Do check out the program too, if you already haven't. It's set to run for 8 weeks, so early days yet and still lots to catch up on. It airs weekdays on Channel 4 at 2:05 p.m.

You know what??? I have so much confidence in this book, that I believe that even my Todd (whose idea of cooking is having a tin opener in one hand and a tin in the other) could cook something from it and that is my next challenge! Look for it on here soon!!! It should be a lot of fun!!

*Cream of Onion Soup with Ham and Cheese Toasties*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This soup is rich and slightly sweet and very delicious. The toasties, buttery and scrummy! It is important that you sweat the onions without colouring them, so that they melt down. Richard suggests that you may also use the ham and cheese toasties as a big crouton!

For the soup:
50g of unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
2 TBS olive oil
1 kg of white onions, peeled and thinly sliced (2.2 pounds)
1 TBS fresh marjoram leaves
2 TBS fresh thyme leaves
900ml of chicken stock (3 3/4 cups)
150ml of double cream (2/3 cup)
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the cheese and ham toasties:
8 slices white bread
1 free range egg, beaten
40g of sliced honey roast ham (about 4 slices), slivered
40g of gruyere cheese, grated
40g of unsalted butter (scant 1/4 cup)
2 TBS vegetable oil

Heat a large saucepan and add the butter and half the olive oil for the soup. Tip in the onions, marjoram and 1 TBS of the thyme leaves, once the butter has melted. Soften the onions for about 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Add the chicken stock and allow to simmer, uncovered for a further 10 to 15 minutes. You don't want it to reduce.

To make the toasties, roll out the bread slices to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into 3 inch rounds using a sharp cutter. Brush one side of each with some beaten egg. Put a little mound of ham and cheese on top of 4 of the slices. Top with another round of bread, egg side down. Press gently around the edges to seal. Brush the outside of each with more egg.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Once the butter starts to foam add the sandwich rounds. Fry on both sides over medium low heat until nicely browned and toasted. Keep warm in a low oven (120*C/gas 1/2).

To finish the soup, put into a blender and carefully blitz until smooth. Alternately (my favourite) blitze until smooth with a hand held stick blender. Pass through a seive into a clean pan. Whisk in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat through without boiling.

Add the remaining TBS of oil in a small saucepan. Add the remaining TBS of thyme leaves and cook for about one minute. Set aside.

To serve, divide the soup equally amongst 4 heated soup bowls. Drizzle with the warm thyme oil and serve the toasties on the side, or float one in each as a crouton.


  1. That is awesome! I really like this show and their recipes.

    That soup looks so mouthwatering!



  2. The soup looks fab and creamy. I havent actually not been watching this programme. I think it's mainly because I find GE a little patronizing, but perhaps I should give it a go and watch an episode on 4oD.

  3. Wow what kudos..They should ask you to be their sponsor!

  4. I wish we could watch this series in the US. My family would love these recipes too.

  5. Just calling it like I see it Monique! I am truly enjoying the series and this book. I wish you could see it in North America!

  6. I miss all of the cooking shows in the UK...

  7. That show sounds very interesting!
    What a neat thing to put out for the public.
    Mmmm,I love onion soup,this is something that I will be trying very soon.

  8. That is some good looking food!

  9. I'm a mom and I love to cook for my family. I do have my recipe compilation. My kids would not eat unless I'm the one cooked the food. I inherit my cooking talent from my mom who taught me when I was ten years old.

  10. Cooking is my world. I'm a chef in a certain restaurant. I love to create new recipes. I'm now doing my own compilation of recipes.


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