Cooking with Pinterest (oh, and Tom Aikens…)

Baked Scallops with Sauce Vierge. We went a little overboard on the tarragon, but it was still delicious.

Baked Scallops with Sauce Vierge. We went a little overboard on the tarragon, but it was still delicious.

God bless Vikki Morgan‘s busy schedule, and her generosity in sharing her invitations to cool events.

When Pinterest extended an offer to join Tom Aikens (no big deal! *stricken face*) at Atelier des Chefs and learn to cook three beautiful seafood dishes, Tiff Jones and I grabbed the opportunity to go in Vikki’s place, and were warmly welcomed by the lovely Lizzie and the team for a most awesome evening.

With bubbly and Chablis making the rounds, we quickly relaxed and got into groups of five – ours included the wonderful Botanical Baker, Urvashi Roe, whom I’ve been following online for a long while now – dividing our tasks and trying to cook along and follow Tom’s instructions. His reputation for being frenetically active well-earned, he dashed in to save us from ourselves – seasoning and stirring here, tasting and plating there and occasionally indulgently (kindly) shaking his head at our less than perfect skills.

We made three dishes – salmon with pickled beetroots, baked scallops and sea bass with a delightful citrussy, herby pea shoot salad – and sat down to eat and drink as a group afterwards. The setting is great, and I think I’ll be back before long for one of ADC’s courses (especially as I discovered they weren’t nearly as expensive as I thought they would be; I have my eye on sushi, knife skills and vegetarian classes).

A personal highlight of the evening for me was discovering I’m not completely terrible at thinly slicing fish (a skill Casper will be delighted with, if only he can sample the results). But really what we took away from it was exactly – I think – what the team hoped we did; that is, that cooking fish and seafood respectfully with fresh herbs and lovely dressings and sauces can make for beautiful light meals.

If more inspiration is needed, the Pinterest team would undoubtedly want me to remind you (and they’d be right) that Pinterest is absolutely heaving with recipes, food photography and cooking tips – and you can of course search by ingredient and recipe now. I’m certainly going to be revisiting and reinvigorating my own boards, and you should join me. You’ll find other pins there from the night, for a start.

Thanks to Pinterest for a fab evening, which the team has blogged about here, Mr A himself for his precious time and expert advice, Tiff for her awesome company and Vikki for the opportunity to attend.

On Pinterest and Pasta

I was going to write a post declaring how very stupid it is that someone has developed something very similar to Pinterest and is trying to make its USP that it’s ‘built for men’. But, really, if you can’t instantly see how stupid that is, then I’m not sure I have the energy to try and convince you. (But seriously: 58% women is too much for some men? Do they know that they world is 50% women already? Do they realise how badly represented women must be for just a few extra to freak them out so much? Should we all just sign up when we can and post nothing but pictures of Barbie dolls just to annoy their mods?)

Ahem. Instead, I’m going to talk about how Pinterest led to macaroni and cheese. Ah yes, women talking about food! Because women belong in the kitchen, right? And therefore Pinterest is for women! Keep walking…

(And if you hadn’t noticed already, the catering industry is phenomenally male-dominated. Take a look at this list of Michelin-starred restaurants  or even just watch a single episode of MasterChef in any country and tell me otherwise.)

Anyway, there I was on Pinterest, following several men lots of feeds about food, and I saw this recipe for slow-cooker macaroni and cheese. And I repinned it. And thought about it. And thought about it some more. And then made it.

The Good: cheesy, cheesy tasty goodness. And because it’s not a strong-tasting meal in the first place, the slow cooker can’t really reduce the favour. Also, no stirring! I stole the idea of adding some tomato and oregano, which was lovely, and also the toasted breadcrumbs on top.

The Not Quite So Good: I doubled the recipe to feed six people and got the timings off, so I left it too long and it became a ‘set’ mac and cheese instead of gloopy. Still totally edible, but not quite as comforting. I like something in-between stove-top gloop and totally set, for preference.

Of course, I dished it up with the best possible accompaniment for macaroni cheese: broccoli. Cooked al dente. And Ramona loved it, so despite my mistakes, a win all round.