I was very excited to receive an email last week, inviting me to join a cookery lesson at the newly opened Cookery School at Alma Road’s Papadeli. My class was with Papa himself, who was to spend the evening teaching me and four others how to make a range of salads and casseroles…
The Cookery School is on the newly built top floor of Clifton’s Papadeli, which has the deli itself on the ground floor and the cafe on the first. The School has been a while in the planning, but is now near to completion – near enough that several cookery classes have already taken place, including a class taught by Tristan from Pieminister and a children’s cookery class. Check the website for details of what else is coming up.
After being told that it was possible a little ambitious to make a casserole in the three hours we had available, we cracked on straight away. Each pair was given a different cut of beef to prepare – cheek, chuck and shin – and we chose and chopped a selection of vegetables from a large steel tray in the middle of the table. The prepping of the casserole was accompanied by Simon’s explanation of different cuts of meat, debate over whether or not to brown the meat in advance of cooking (we didn’t) and lots of hints and tips, such as using black pudding to thicken sauces and give more flavour.
While the casseroles simmered away, we made a start on the salads. My favourite of the evening was chickpea based, and included red peppers, Rose Harissa, chopped almonds, dried figs and plenty of fresh coriander…and I was glad that we each got a takeaway container of this one, which I happily polished off for lunch the next day!
We then made two other salads: one of butterbeans, onions, cherry tomatoes, garlic, piquillo peppers and chorizo, and a lovely seasonal salad of Jersey Royals, beetroot, broccoli, freshly shelled peas and asparagus, which was served with a homemade aioli which was the last thing that we whipped up on the night. Again, the making of these salads was punctuated with tips from Simon about which olive oils are best to buy (and which oils to use for different purposes), the fact that adding acid to onions stops them from cooking, and the best brand of Harissa (The Fresh Olive Company, apparently).
After tucking into our salads, we then got to try the casseroles while Simon whipped up a quick frangipane tart for dessert…lovely!
I came away from the lesson with a recipe sheet and a container full of chickpea salad, along with the feeling that I’d learned a lot – not just about cooking methods, but also about individual ingredients. Highly recommended.