In my opinion “Would you like a glass of champagne?” are the perfect words to hear at any time of day or night, and hearing them at 11am when at a class at Jean-Christophe Novelli’s cookery school was perfection indeed.
The school is located in Jean’s home, a stone’s throw from Luton Airport, the kitchen is the same one that he and his family cook and eat in every day around the huge bright yellow range. Considering the proximity to the airport it is remarkably quiet, I barely heard a plane. It was a remarkable day, 3 students and 3 chefs with lots and lots of hands on tuition.
Fortified with champagne, it was time to get down to the serious business of making some puddings to go with some of the many flavours of Carte D’Or.
We started with caramel, just sugar and water, for many deceptively simple, but fraught with difficulties – the basic rules are go slowly, do not stir and have a large basin of cold water handy.
After 15 mins one to one tuition with Jean, I was making baskets and spirals like a pro, a new and valuable skill. He also suggested flavouring caramel with a variety of aromatic spices, such as star anise, cardamom, vanilla and liquorice, which add another dimension of flavour.
For someone as passionate about his puds as Jean, he is also remarkably health conscious, we were shown some quick tricks to reduce butter and fat in several dishes, without compromising the taste in the slightest, my chocolate pots below were inspired by him.
Following the caramel I was set to work with puff pastry, making both apple and banana tart tartins, and was given a masterclass in sweet short crust. My pastry confidence has grown ten fold, due to engaged and interested teaching.
After a hard morning’s work, made easier by the freely flowing champagne, we sat down for a late lunch, delicious honey and cider caramalised pork belly with winter greens and gratin dauphinoise.
Puddings were accompanied by Carte d’Or ice cream. Delicious.
If picture tells a thousand words ,then a video tells several thousand more. So here is a quick film of the day! All the recipes shown can be found here.
Recipe: Healthier* Chocolate Pots
These chocolate pots use the last of the Christmas chocolates and cream.
A useful trick that I learnt from J-CN is that when making a chocolate pot you do not need to use 100% cream. Thin it down with some milk.
*Although I am calling these healthier, it may be more accurate to call them “not quiet as bad for you as they could be!”
Makes 4 Espresso Cup Sized Pots
100g (Left Over) Chocolates – finely chopped
100ml Double Cream
Heat the milk in a small pan until it is just simmering. Allow to cool slightly. Add the chocolate. Leave for a 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir, and if needed gently heat to finish melting.
Allow to cool until just warm and stir in the cream. Mix well.
Pour into serving pots and chill for a few hours before serving.
The texture will vary according to the consistency of both the chocolate and cream.
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of Carte D’Or. Many thanks to them and Jean, Trish & Felice for an amazing day.