I love food. Too much really! I wish I didn’t like to eat as much as I do because I might fit into my favourite clothes! Alas, life is for living and enjoying and eating good food is part of that enjoyment for me. Sometimes I go on a bit of a boot camp and get to wear clothes I usually can’t and that’s great… but I just can’t keep it up constantly. I think my major downfall is bread. If I could just give up bread I’d be the size of a super model I’m sure but you know that saying? ‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels?’ Not true! Nothing feels as good as bread tastes… Good bread of course!
Despite my being a food lover I don’t seem to be terribly adept at cooking. I have grand ideas and think a good meal but in practice it rarely comes off. I have my staples which I can do; roast chicken with all the trimmings, vegetarian lasagne (I don’t like mince) and I do an ok pizza from scratch but really and truly everything else just comes out wrong. Even when I try really, REALLY hard! I once made a cake that was black in the middle (no, I didn’t cook it in the microwave before you ask) and my attempt at a curry once was laughable! I am always surprised then that I get invited to cookery events. Surprised but delighted of course and I welcome every time I get invited to a cookery school as I hope I will pick up tips. Sometimes I do and get to add another tiny string to my limited bow and then other times, like when I tried to recreate the Gnocchi Aldo Zilli personally taught me how to make, it just comes out like slime… Oh well… At least I give it a go!
Now it’s a running joke in our house (but with every truth) that Jonny is pleased if he gets a toasted sandwich in the evenings because he classes that as a hot meal! Seriously! I told you I was bad… It was with great pleasure then, that I was invited to learn how to make sandwiches at the 52 Cookery School with Warburtons bread! Bread = Good! Sandwiches = within my capabilities! And everyone’s heard of Warburtons haven’t they! My friend Denise, when I told her about my invite, said ‘I love Warburtons bread’! (She’s an amazing cook by the way, I like to surround myself with friends who can cook even if I can’t myself!) Apparently they have proper bakeries all over the country too. I assumed it would all be made in a factory somewhere but no, quite traditional really. I was sent some sandwich thins and square wraps to try ahead of the event, both products are alternatives to their regular bread and I have to say they’re pretty yummy! Not to mention easy to use. The thins are pre cut, soft and moreish while the square wraps are an incredibly easy shape to fold! I love sandwiches and although I might not have been terribly adventurous pre sandwich making class, I love a wrap with something like salad, hummus and falafel dry fried in the pan! (See what I mean about a hot meal for my husband!)
So… On to the class!
Taking the class, James Ramsden, creator of The Secret Larder Supper Club (check it out on his website, sounds awesome) and author of various cook books (he’s also a bit of a dish himself truth be told – one for the Mum’s then!) and provided with an array of all the ingredients one could wish for he tasked us to make three differently themed sandwiches! There was a prize of £100 at stake and I wanted to win! Everyone else in the room was pretty foodie so I knew I was at a disadvantage but I was going to give it my best shot! A hundred pounds would go a long way in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Baby household!
First sandwich theme… Pair two ingredients together!
I’ve just come back from Portugal where we ate fresh figs from the trees and after a triumphant fluke one evening and a salad involving Prociutto Ham, honey and the fruit we in our house have named ‘the ultimate’ (you can eat the whole thing, sweet and amazingly textured with an indulgent feeling sans the calories) I decided to use that as inspiration. I chose figs and salami as my pairing and added honey, rocket (a little nudge from James on that one) and mozarella. But I knew I’d have to make it special to be in with a chance of the prize so I added dark hocolate which I grated and hoped for the best! On a Warburtons square wrap went my ingredients before I folded and griddled to make it all gooey and melted!
Second sandwich theme… A twist on typically British!
Fish and chips sprang to mind here so using a Warburtons sandwich thin as the butty I then proeeded to make my own chips. Yep, you heard me right! I’d roped in the help of Jess from the cookery school (it was every man for himself and the others knew what they were doing – I didn’t) and she helped me to deep fat fry them! I may be 34 but I’m still not allowed to deep fat fry on my own and have promised my Mum I never will. Apparently I’m a liability and shouldn’t be around hot fat – s’ok, I don’t mind, I probably shouldn’t! I cut them, parboiled them and deep fat fried them under Jess’s supervision before salting them and adding them to my other ingredients; smoked salmon (there’s the twist), creme fraiche, lemon juice and capers! I spread the lemony, capery creme fraiche on top of slightly salted butter (I could never eat marg) then did a layer of chips, a layer of smoked salmon and another layer of chips before popping the top on. Everyone said it was delicious! Yay me!
Third sandwich theme… Global flavours!
I had one more chance to impress in this final challenge and with a little help from google (recipe) and a lot of help from Jess (the deep fat fryer again amongst other things) I made my own tempura prawns with a beer batter. I again used Warburtons sandwich thins and with the slightly salted butter I added sweet chilli dipping sauce, rocket and crushed peanuts for an Oriental vibe!
Well, that was it! Sandwiches made and now we had to await the judges decision… Well… I didn’t win first prize (I was robbed of course!) but I did come second! Not bad for a rookie and James gave me a signed copy of his book for my prize! Look what he wrote inside it – told you they all loved my fish and chips twist!
I had such a good time in the class. It’s easy to try new things when you have experts on hand and all the ingredients you need in front of you, the 52 Cookery School is also a lovely environment which helped but I was actually very inspired and even made Jonny a hot sandwich for his supper last night! Hot meal remember! I made griddled halloumi cheese with chorizo sausage, caramilsed onion chutney and griddled corgette and used the Warburtons sandwich thins again. He was beyond thrilled! Way to a man’s heart and all that! Perhaps I’ll book myself on a course at the school, they seem very reasonably priced and I really did like the environment, it felt like I was in a VERY competent friend’s kitchen. Lovely!
I have not been paid to write this post. I was asked along to take part in the class but was not asked to write about it, the 52 Cookery School, James Ramsden or Warburtons. My only instruction was to enjoy the day, which I did very much.