Look I am no master chef. At least I didn’t think I was. I can figure out most recipes (my mother was pretty good at teaching me how to cook) but it’s not my passion. Don’t get me wrong I love good food: food prepared with passion, love and ability – just preferably someone else’s passion and love. The quote below pretty much sums me up.
You can imagine my surprise/confusion when I recently got invited along to a Cooking Masterclass being held by Continental’s head chef Julianne Lever – did they get me confused with a food blogger? Maybe they meant to invite “Meat-oo” (jokes there is no such blog, I checked).
I am a curious cat and love learning so I jumped at the opportunity to do something for me and went along. I cut stuff up with a big knife, I wore a groovy apron, I mixed herbs and spices to make a salad dressing, I used a food processor (which was quite determined to leap off the bench into the sink), I ate delicious food, I drank some nice wine… I met some new bloggers who were not mummy bloggers (a revelation that there could be any other kind) and I learnt some new things. One was how to core a lettuce to make lettuce cups (for San Choy Bow) – here’s a link to a YouTube video I found that shows you how.
I learnt some interesting facts about Continental – the invitation I was sent promised I would learn Continental’s secrets in an intimate behind the scenes experience. It was the first time Continental had done something like this, and I have to give them full marks for a fantastic event. Head Chef Julianne Lever is incredibly passionate about ingredients, she showed us the breakdown of spices in the Chilli Con Carne recipe base – it was a plate of ingredients you would find in any well stocked pantry (not mine though as I am a bit afraid of chilli). No MSG or any other ingredient you couldn’t buy in a shop.
The idea of the recipe bases is that for a sometimes gourmet like me there is no point in having 40 jars filled with herbs and spices in the pantry as once they are opened they loose their intensity in flavour and smell. (Note to self: that 8 year old jar of cumin I have really needs to go in the bin.) The recipe base is a wonderful shortcut as it includes all your spices and herbs in one hit – perfectly measured – and they are at their optimum freshness. Add to that the handy recipe on the pack and really anyone can be a master chef! And don’t be limited to the recipe on the back – Continental has alternate recipes on their website that show you other ways of using their bases… below is one I made at home for the kids and it was a massive hit.. I am actually lucky I had enough time to take a photo of the gyoza as seriously the kids and husband inhaled them. I only cooked half of them for dinner that night – the other half I made up and then froze.
Prep time 15-20 minutes, cooking time 10 minutes, serves 8.
- 60 Gow Gee pastry pieces (comes in packets of 30, you need two packets) or you can be a true chef and make your own from scratch: 400g flour & 280ml water makes the dough
- 500g pork mince
- 4 leaves of Wombok Cabbage chopped
- 4 coriander stems, chopped
- 1 packet of Continental Chow Mein Mince recipe base
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Soya sauce or black vinegar for dipping
- Slice the cabbage finely and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt, set aside for 5 minutes then squeeze the cabbage to remove any liquid. (My cabbage didn’t have any liquid to squeeze out)
- Mix together the pork, cabbage, coriander stems, recipe base and sesame oil.
- Lay out your Gow Gee pieces and add a teaspoon of filling to each one. Moisten the edge of half of the Gow Gee with water. To seal the gyoza pleat one edge about 5-6 times and join to the opposite flat edge.
- Fry the gyoza in a little hot oil until the bottom is brown, add 20ml of water to the pan and then cover and steam. Keep the heat high and wait until the water has just evaporated. Remove the lid, ensure the gyoza is dry and serve. (I found with so many gyoza it was easier to fry in one pan and then transfer to another for the steaming)
- Dip in sauce made of half soya, half black vinegar.