I know what you’re all thinking, who cares about cooking for Christmas, just let us see the new John Lewis Christmas advert!! Apparently it comes out on Friday… so, until then I’ve got some great festive recipes from the wonderful chefs at Waitrose Cookery school to share with you.
A couple of weeks ago John Lewis very kindly invited me to experience a Christmas cookery class at their Waitrose Cookery School. The goal of the evening was to prepare us with a collection of festive recipes so that we could recreate their Christmas cooking at home. Located at Finchley Road, just moments from the tube station it’s so easy to get to, but they also have another cookery school at Kings Cross, even more central.
Walking into the cookery school I felt like I was on the set of MasterChef! The kitchen here is insane, it has everything you could think of. There are a number of stations where we cooked together in groups. My shopping list for our kitchen has just quadrupled as we used some great little gadgets and utensils along the way. Just take a look at their Christmas range, I’ve definitely got my eye on some of those candles and beautiful table decorations!
Christmas cooking at home
We arrived to a selection of Chrismassy Cocktails to get us into the festive spirit. I started with a Mulled Pomegranate Caipirinha and Hannah tried a spiced Gin and Tonic. The Caipirinha actually looks like Christmas in a cup!
The evening consisted of learning to make a selection of festive canapés that we could recreate at home. The menu: dressed crab crackers with fennel, confit duck samosa with a spiced pear puree, parmesan risotto balls, chocolate mousse domes with raspberry and biscotti. What a Christmas menu!
The chefs showed us step by step how to cook each recipe. We would then go back to our stations and divvy up the different tasks to create our own masterpieces! This was a great way to learn. It was so fun to see how the professionals do it and then try it ourselves. They wandered around the whole evening to answer any questions we had about what we were doing.
I thought I’d share my two favourite Christmas canapés of the night so you can wow your guests!
Parmesan Risotto Ball
This makesabout 40 risotto balls.
For the risotto
– 1 x shallot, peeled and finely diced
– 1 x small clove garlic, peeled and finely crushed
– 1 x sprig thyme
– 20g unsalted butter
– ½ tbsp sunflower oil
– 1 tbsp white wine
– 100g arborio rice
– 450ml vegetable stock, warmed
– 80g parmesan, finely grated
For the panne
– 2 – 3 tbsp plain white flour
– 1 x egg, cracked and beaten
– 100g dried breadcrumbs
To cook the risotto – Place a medium sized pan onto a low heat. Add the oil and butter. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes until the shallot is soft. Pour in the white wine, bring to the boil and let bubble until it is almost fully reduced.
Tip in the arborio rice and coat in the shallot and wine mix. Begin to add the warmed stock, a ladle at a time and stir until absorbed by the rice. Continue to do so with all of the stock ensuring that the stock is fully absorbed otherwise your risotto balls will be too wet.
Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season with pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Spread out onto flat tray and place in the fridge to cool.
To shape and panne – Once cool, remove from the fridge and scoop using a measuring spoon into 10-15g balls.
Dust each one with the flour, then coat with the beaten egg and finally roll each one in the breadcrumbs. Roll each ball gently in the palm of your hand to form a nice round shape, place on a clean tray and return to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up.
To cook the balls – Meanwhile heat a fryer to 180C. Remove the balls from the fridge. Place in the fryer and cook until golden in colour. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
To serve – Season with sea salt, and place a cocktail stick into each. Serve with some lemon mayonnaise.
Confit Duck Samosa, Spiced Pear Puree
This makes 12 mini samosas.
For the confit duck filling
– 75g confit duck leg (this was already prepared for us)
– 80ml Pedro ximinez sherry
– 30g cape raisins
– 1.5 tbsp hoisin sauce
For the samosa
– 2 x sheets of filo pastry, cut in half & then again lengthways into 3, giving you 6 pieces of filo
– 50ml unsalted butter, melted
For the spiced pear puree
– 2 x ripe pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
– ¼ tsp allspice
– ½ lemon, juiced
– 1 tsp reserved sherry liquor
For the confit duck filling – In a small pan combine the raisins and the sherry. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 hour. Once soaked strain the raisins, reserving the sherry. In a small bowl mix together the soaked raisins, shredded confit duck leg, hoisin sauce and ½ of the reserved sherry. Mix well, cover and chill.
For the samosa – Preheat an oven to 160C. Lay a strip of the filo lengthways on your work surface and brush all over the the melted butter. Place a tsp of the filling at the top of the sheet of filo. Fold the top right hand corner over to make a triangular shape. Follow the triangular pattern all the way down the filo strip. Brush again with the melted butter and place on a baking tray with the seam underneath. Repeat with the remaining filo and filling.
Place in the oven and bake for 6-7 minutes until golden, turn the samosa and bake for a further 6-7 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove, place on a cooling rack and let cool.
For the spiced pear puree – Place the chopped pear pieces into a mini blender. Add the allspice, lemon juice and sherry liquor. Blitz to a smooth puree, remove and pour into a small container.
To serve – Arrange the samosa on a large serving dish and add the spiced pear puree to a ramekin for lots of dipping!
I’m ready for Christmas cooking at home!
I left feeling inspired about all the different things I could cook for Christmas. The super friendly chefs not only know what they’re doing and clearly love it, but are so helpful too. The Waitrose Cookery School has a number of Christmas cookery classes over the next two months from edible gifts to German Christmas Market, so definitely take a look if you’ve got the family and friends over during the festive period! And obviously John Lewis has got your back when it comes to decorating your home. I love just wandering around their Christmas floor on Oxford Street!
Obviously I love food and I really enjoy cooking and learning new skills so I think a cookery class would make a GREAT Christmas present.
What do you think is the perfect Christmas gift for foodies? Have you tried a Christmas cookery class before?
*I was a guest of John Lewis at their Waitrose Cookery school, but as always views remain my own including the risotto and duck loving.