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A Day With James Martin, thanks to Thomas Cook

Thursday, 26 July 2012
A few weeks ago I was asked along to a Masterclass by James Martin of Saturday Kitchen and Ready Steady Cook fame.  It took me all of about 2 seconds to reply to their email saying I would be delighted to attend.

In addition to his TV commitments James also designs menus for Cruise companies, revamps NHS hospital menus and is now working with Thomas Cook on their airline menus - all this as well as owning 2 restaurants, a hotel and an event catering company.  He is a very busy chap!

The Masterclass was held at Food at 52, which was a great venue with excellent facilities.  They also run regular classes which you can find out about here.

James talked us through 3 dishes, which we all helped cook and then devoured for lunch, along with demonstrating 6 other dishes to us whilst we took notes and many photographs.

I have been granted permission to publish the recipes of the dishes that we cooked at the Masterclass, with close supervision from James, of course.

Haddock with Welsh Rarebit

2 x 200g Smoked Haddock Fillets (un-dyed)
10g fresh Chives
4 Tomatoes, thinly sliced

550g Strong Cheddar cheese
50ml beer
1 egg yolk
1 tsp mustard English
1 tsp Worcester sauce
Tabasco sauce
1 Tblsp breadcrumbs

Season the haddock well and place in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil and cook for about 5-6 mins.

Place the egg yolk, mustard, breadcrumbs and a dash of both Worcester and Tabasco in a bowl. Stir in the milk and beer and season well. Grate the Cheddar cheese and fold into the mix.

Preheat the grill to a high heat and top the haddock with the rarebit and place under the grill until golden brown on top.

Remove the haddock from the grill and place in the centre of the 2 bowls and put the thinly sliced tomatoes around the edge. Drizzle with olive oil and chopped chives.

Thai Crab Risotto

Serves 12 - 14 people

2kg arborio rice
3 litres fresh chicken stock
3 litres fresh veg stock
5kg Fresh White crab meat
large bottle of white wine
500g mascarpone
300ml double cream
6 Sticks of lemon grass
100g coriander
10 shallots
6 Garlic Cloves
Fresh Parmesan Reggiano
25g Butter
8 Green chillies
8 Kaffier lime leaves
1 Tblsp Pinch of curry powder
Thai green curry paste
12 fresh limes
Olive oil
Sweet coriander cress

Peel and finely chop the garlic and shallot and place into a warm pan with the butter.  Sweat for about a minute. Add the rice and then the wine. Before adding the stock add the chopped green chillies, curry powder, crushed lemon grass and lime leaves.  Then add the warm chicken and fish stock mixed ladle at a time while simmering until the rice is cooked it should take about 13 to 15 minutes stirring all the time.

Once the rice is cooked add the mascarpone and all the chopped herbs. Add the crab meat and parmesan. Adjust with more stock and cream if need be add the lime juice and season well. Place in the centre of the plates and top with a little chilli oil and some more parmesan and the coriander cress serve.

Melt-In-The-Mouth Chocolate Puddings With Crème Anglaise, Sauteed Bananas And Banana Ice Cream

There was some debate with James over this recipe because I normally use whole eggs to make custard, as does Helen from Fuss Free Flavours.  James asked me to make the custard and got rather hot under the collar because I was going to use whole eggs instead of egg yolks.  He insisted that using whole eggs was not a proper recipe, we stuck to our guns and he didn't like that one bit. LOL  In the end the custard was made according to his recipe.  Use whole eggs if you want.  The custard will still taste fab and there will be no leftover egg whites to use up.  

125g/4½oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
125g/4½oz dark chocolate (50-60% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
4 eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
60g/2½oz plain flour

Crème Anglaise
150ml/5floz milk
150ml/5floz double cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeded
4 egg yolks
40g/1½oz caster sugar

Banana Icecream
4 bananas, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen in a freezer bag or on a tray
¼ tsp vanilla essence
3-4 tbsp caster sugar
150ml/5floz buttermilk

Sautéed Bananas
50g/2oz butter
2 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
25g/1oz caster sugar

Chocolate Puddings

 Preheat the oven to 220C/425’F/Gas 7, then grease 4 x 4-5cm/1½-2” diameter dariole moulds with 6cm/2½” sides with butter, using a pastry brush and brushing in the horizontal lines around insides of the tins to help the mixture rise.

Place the chocolate and butter into a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt, then mix to a smooth consistency.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large bowl, add the sugar and whisk for 2 minutes or until pale and fluffy, then mix in the flour.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour it over the eggs and sugar and stir in well.

Spoon the mixture into the moulds so that they are three quarters full and give them a little tap to remove any air bubbles. At this stage you can freeze them if you wish.  Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 8 minutes only.

Crème Anglaise

Place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Place the egg yolks and caster sugar into a bowl.  Pour the hot milk onto the eggs and whisk to combine.  Pour back into the saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook until just thickened, stirring all the time.

Banana Icecream

Tip the frozen banana chunks into a food processor.  Add the vanilla, sugar and half the buttermilk.  Turn on the processor and let it run for a few moments.  Then, while it is still running, pour in the remaining buttermilk in a thin steady stream.  Let the machine run until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Sautéed Bananas

Heat a frying pan until hot, add the butter and bananas and sauté for 1-2 minutes until just golden.  Add the sugar and cook until caramelised and liquid. 

To Serve

Serve the chocolate puds straight from the oven, turning each mould out directly on to a plate.  Spoon the ice cream and bananas alongside and finish with a drizzle of crème anglaise.

My sincere thanks to Thomas Cook for organising the day and for paying my travel expenses so that I could attend.  I received no other payment for this post and all opinions are my own.

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