Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a private chef? Well now you can…
Our Executive Chef, Messa Ben, has been busy cooking today for one of our Private Chef clients, and as my office opens onto the kitchen, I couldn’t help but go and see what he was creating as the aromas wafting through my door were too much to take. What a delight to see a beautiful paella for 10 people on the go, even on a typically drizzly English August day, it felt like summer had exploded into the cookery school.
As British folk, we most likely see Paella as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Paella has ancient roots and started out as a humble one pot lunch or supper, the original Valencian paella contained rice, green & white beans, rabbit or chicken, snails, saffron & rosemary. However, these days there are several types of paella, Valencian paella, seafood paella, mixed paella (meat & seafood) and fideua paella where the rice is substituted for pasta, this is great when you’re a little short on time.
One of the key ingredients in a paella is saffron. Saffron comes from the crocus satirus, commonly know as the saffron crocus. To get the most out of your saffron before cooking with it you can do one of two things, either steep in hot (not boiling water) water for several minutes, or as Messa Ben showed me his trick today, you can wrap the saffron threads into tin foil and pop the package onto the heat of the paella pan when you first start to seal the meat for just a minute on each side. Both ways help release the aromatic component.
At the Brighton Cookery School we’ll happily create bespoke dishes for our private/personal chef customers, so after a scheduled call when confirming the booking, our customer requested paella and given the different options they decided to go with a mixed paella, this dish is easy to cook when you know how, so check out Messa Ben’s recipe below and get some sunshine into your kitchen, it might be the only sunshine you get for the rest of the summer!
Rabbit, Chicken & Mixed Seafood Paella
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
1 rabbit jointed out
7 skinless free range chicken thighs
150g broad beans – removed from pod
150g runner beans – sliced 1 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
1 large onion – diced
1 kg live mussels – beards removed and cleaned
1 kg Mediterranean prawns – tiger prawns can be used instead
1.5-2 litres of a good bone stock – we’ve used roasted poultry bones
1g saffron threads
2 tsp sweet pimentón (smoked hot Spanish paprika)
1/2 kg Spanish Paella rice (you can use an Indian short grain rice – Idli as an alternative, or risotto rice if you’re really struggling to find either)
In a hot paella pan (a large heavy bottomed saucepan will do as an alternative) brown the rabbit on each side, when you turn the rabbit onto the second side add the free range chicken thighs and brown these on each side.
With the heat still high, pour in some of your stock until the meat is just covered, keep the heat high for 15 minutes and then turn down to a low to medium heat and braise until the stock has reduced, when you turn the heat down add your paprika, cooking time approximately 45mins-1 hour.
Once the liquid has reduced add the onions and garlic until softened, and then add both beans. Now add the paella rice, and saffron threads. Using the handles of your pan, shake the contents until it levels out. It’s important not to disturb the paella too much, unlike a risotto, you want to leave it alone as much as possible to work its magic. Top up with the stock until the rice is just covered, when half this liquid is reduced place a cartouche over the top of paella and gently press down. (A cartouche is a circle of greaseproof parchment used to cover a dish while poaching or simmering.) Continue to cook gently until all the liquid is incorporated.
At this stage the rice will be nearly done, so now add your mussels & prawns. It’s always a win with dinner guests to arrange the mussels and prawns evenly around the pan in a symmetrical pattern, to enhance the look of the finished dish. Cover again with the cartouche and cook for 5-6 mins, you’ll want the mussels to have all opened up and the prawns to be a beautiful pink. If you have any mussels that don’t open, discard these from the dish, these aren’t for eating!
Sprinkle the finished dish with fresh herbs, parsley always compliments, but you could try adding rosemary too like the Valencian’s, it’s their dish after all. Then garnish with a few lemon wedges and serve straight from the pan. Now summer’s at your table!
If you like the sound of having a private chef cook for your family as a regular or one off booking, get in touch and tell us what you’d like cooking up, all dietary requirements catered for. Or if you’re having a dinner party and want to enjoy it too(!), then book one or more of our Private Chef’s to bring the restaurant to you. Our team will take of the washing up and leave your kitchen spotless, so you can sit back and enjoy the rest of your party.
For menus, availability and enquiries you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01273 674911 or pop in to have a chat and coffee with us, we’re HERE
Spider Crab Gratin
One of our private chefs has been cooking up a storm all week for a Brighton family, and this dish looked too good not to share.
Chef Allan, is one of our Brighton Cookery School’s chefs, he’s worked as a chef for the last 12 years, both at home and abroad, hailing from Aberdeenshire, he brings a Celtic quality that we wouldn’t be without. When not cheffing in Brighton, Allan has also been working as a fishmonger for one of Brighton & Hove’s main fresh fish suppliers, so he’s not afraid to tackle a Spider Crab.
Spider Crabs are abundant in our local waters off Brighton’s shores, we’re just nearing the end of their season, as they surge the seabeds in the early summer in their 1000’s. As crazy as it may sound, although this crustacean is one of the most delicate and sweet flavoured you can buy, the U.K exports 95% of spider crab abroad.
These monsters of the deep, when in season, swarm the seabed floor and cause havoc in their wake, so lets jump on board and enjoy this delicacy and help keep our seabeds in tact.
Spider Crab Swarm
In Japanese waters, spider crabs have become giants of the deep and are known to grow up to 18ft/5.5mtrs claw to claw, maybe even too large for our fearless Chef Allan to tackle! Luckily, he only had to deal with 7 live spider crab for this spectacular dish, if you try this at home and don’t have the time to clean up the spider crab shells for service, then you can use an overproof dish.
Spider Crab Gratin
The sweetness of the spider crab meat with a cheesy nutty topping make this an impressive dish that will wow your guests with its flavour and looks. You can substitute the almonds for breadcrumbs, Allan was working to a gluten free diet, so this made a delicious alternative.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cooking time 30 mins
4 cooked and cooled spider crab –
(1kg crab takes approx. 12 minutes into boiling water)
8 tbsp olive oil
2 leek, sliced
4 shallot, finely chopped
3 celery stick, finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato purée
3 tsp chopped fresh ginger
4 tsp Dijon mustard
100ml/4fl oz white wine
splash of brandy
dash hot sauce
4 lemon, zest only
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
100g/4oz Toasted and roughly chopped almonds
100g/4oz gruyère cheese
100g/4oz parmesan cheese
Pick the meat from the crab, including that from the legs, and place into a bowl. Clean the shell of the body and set aside.
Preheat the grill to high.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the leek, shallot and celery and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
Add the picked crabmeat, tomato purée, ginger and mustard to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from catching.
Add the white wine and brandy and simmer for a few minutes, or until the liquid has reduced.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a dash of tobasco, the lemon zest and basil.
Spoon the crabmeat mixture back into the reserved crab shell. Mix together the breadcrumbs and grated cheeses, then sprinkle the mixture over the filling. Place under the grill until the topping is golden-brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.
Top Tip from Chef Allan: Get some else to pick the crab meat! It can take a while 🙂
Brighton Cookery School’s Chef Patron, Messa Ben, went to visit his old chef friend, Antonio Paladino, at his Bioaqua Farm in Somerset.
“Fresh, Healthy Vegetables & Fish, LESS Impact on the Planet”
Antonio built and runs the biggest integrated aquaponics trout farm in Europe. He grows vegetables and rears Rainbow Trout in the most sustainable and ethical way, by using a bio-symbiotic system. He has bees to pollinate the plants and worms sustaining the cycle of the system. No chemicals or pesticides are used, creating a naturally organic system.
This certainly comes across in the incredible flavour of the food he produces. Our Messa Ben is not a fan of trout, and with his friend about to serve him some for lunch, he was a little concerned, until he tasted it! He’d watched as the fresh Rainbow Trout was taken from the pond, killed immediately in the most humane way, using a Japanese technique, then gutted and filleted. He’s not stopped raving ever since about the beautiful sweet flavour of the fish, a far cry from the muddy taste he was used to.
Watch Antonio explain the practice as he fillets the trout.
“If you can smell it, you can taste it.”
So what is Aquaponics?
It’s the combined culture of the fish and plants in a recirculating system. The fish waste generates the nutrients needed and absorbed by the plants that are cultured in water – that’s right NO SOIL!
As the fish waste flows through the cultured plant component of the recirculating water system, the fish waste metabolites are removed by the nitrification and direct uptake by the plants. This treats the water, which then flows back to the fish rearing component for reuse. This system uses 95% LESS water than traditional horticulture farming!
Check out Messa Ben’s walk around one of the aquaponics greenhouses at Antonio’s farm
The most exciting thing for us is that you can do this almost anywhere with just a little space. They even farm using this system in deserts! So here at Brighton Cookery School we thought, yes please! So watch this space folks, a Brighton Cookery School BioAqua Farm, why not? We’d love to be able to invite our corporate or celebratory cookery session guests to see this set up in action and pick the vegetables they’d like to have served with their sumptuous feast.
It’s a vision for our future and what a good one to have, less impact on our planet, ethical farming solution, organic produce and the tastiest food from farm to table.
We just love Brighton coming into the summer months. There’s the best local produce to be found right on our doorstep.
Foraging in Brighton and the surrounding area is one of the joys of being a chef in Sussex. There is an abundance of produce on the South East coast and our chefs love nothing better than having a wander to see what is on offer throughout the seasons.
We’ve been foraging recently for seabeets, sea kale and marsh samphire. As you can see, the stunning red of the English marsh samphire is starting to show through, but this patch was only just forming. So other than a passing nibble to sample this fresh salty delight, we left well alone to let it grow for a few more weeks. We’ll be sure to go back and show you how much it’s come on and what beautiful dishes we can create with it.
But we were in luck with the sea beets and sea kale, as there was copious amounts of both. Have a look at what myself and our windswept chef Toria found!
Please note: when foraging you must be certain of what you are picking and eating. Remember some plants look very similar, so please go with someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s also important to only take what you need, only ever take for yourself, so there’s enough left for everyone.
English Shrimp with foraged Sea Beets and Sea Kale
When using such fresh local ingredients, the best cooking advice is…Keep it simple!
- We’ve used the tops/baby leaves, dont use the older harder leaves as these will be woody and not as easy, quick for you to use.
- Take your foraged sea beets and sea kale and rinse under cold water to remove any grit.
- On a medium heat, pop a knob of butter and a clove or two of crushed garlic, depending on your taste into the pan until the garlic just starts to go a golden colour. We’ve used our wild garlic puree (recipe coming soon!) but crushed garlic will work just as well. Now put the leaves in the saucepan.
- The water that you’ve rinsed the leaves in will be enough cooking liquor with the butter, to allow these beautiful seaside leaves to braise with a lid on for 3-5 minutes. Have a little try after the cooking time and if it’s too al dente for your liking, leave in a little longer.
- English brown shrimp can be found in the rockpools off Brighton and further along the coast heading out towards Peacehaven. If cooking from fresh, have a pan of boiling water on the go, place all the shrimp in the water and when it’s back up to the boil the shrimp will be almost ready to take out. You’ll see the shells go pink. Now run under cold water and peel.
- For ease you can find cooked shrimp at your local shop, where possible use your fishmonger, so you can eat local and support your local business’.
- Take the leaves off the stove and drain any excess water, mix the shrimp through the leaves and season well.
- Transfer to a warmed plate and squeeze a large wedge of fresh lemon juice over your sea foraged feast.
- Serve with freshly baked bread and lashings of real butter!
So when you’re planning your next team event or celebratory party, why not get in touch and see what we’ve got cooking and come and join us to ‘LEARN, COOK, EAT’, with you as the chef and diner!
Contact us for more info at email@example.com or give us a call on 01273 674911.
We’d like to say a huge congratulations to our friend Farshad Nowshadi. He contacted us back in October 2015 to book in some practice sessions for his appearance on Masterchef 2016. Farshad was a delight to work with and his dishes were sublime, it’s a shame the judges didn’t get to taste his Pistachio Crusted Lamb Rack dish, as it was beautiful and a winning dish with us.
You may not of been crowned the winner this year Farshad, but you are a mightily fine cook. More importantly though, a true gent with an infectious upbeat personality and laugh. The Brighton Cookery School team were delighted to have you on site cooking up a storm and we’d love to have you back with us in the future. Maybe we can work on your fish filleting skills! *wink-wink*
Get in touch to find out about our exclusive Master Class cookery session. A day intensive guiding you through knife skills, butchery, fishmongery, saucière skills & desserts. Could you get down to the last 25 contestants out of 7,000 Masterchef applicants? Well Farshad did and so could you, maybe with our help you might even win!
April sees the best of the purple sprouting broccoli season. It’s such a versatile veg; steamed, boiled, stir-fried, raw, you can’t go wrong. Perfect with roast meats, in vegetarian dishes, Asian inspired stir fries or partnered with fish, it’s guaranteed to liven up your palette this spring.
When choosing your PSB, go for stems with dark greeny-purple florets and leaves. Steer clear of any with yellowing florets and wilted leaves. To prepare, trim any woody ends and remove any tough leaves. Divide into individual florets and for any thicker stems cut on a diagonal for even cooking.
PSB with Poached Duck Eggs & Hollandaise
A perfect spring starter or light lunch
2 medium free-range eggs
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 very fresh duck eggs, poached
Hollandaise – Gently melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into the jug of a blender and add the mustard, lemon juice and seasoning. Turn up the heat until the butter begins to bubble. With the blender running, pour the butter in a thin steady stream through the hole in the lid. Continue to run the blender for about 30 secs after all the butter is in to make sure the sauce is fully mixed. Set aside.
Pop the PSB in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 mins. Drain and pop in a low oven to keep warm with your serving plates.
Heat a large pan of water, add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, when it’s simmering stir the water into a swirling motion. Into 2 ramekins, crack 2 duck eggs, tip the eggs into the centre of the swirl. Cook for 3 mins, take them out with a slotted spoon and rest on kitchen towel to soak up any excess water.
Serve the PSB on the base of the warm serving plate, top with poached duck eggs and smother in hollandaise, season and devour!
For meat lovers, top with crispy pancetta.
For a more substantial dish serve with toasted sourdough or a crushed potato cake.
Get in touch and ‘Learn, Cook, Eat‘ with us – 01273 674911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
With over 10 million glasses of Guinness sold every day, why not help fill the quota and pop it in your pie to celebrate St. Patrick’s day this year. It’s also regarded (in pub circles!)as the dieters drink, with less calories than you’ll find in a glass of wine, orange juice or semi skimmed milk, it’s the drink of choice for anyone trying to shed their winter layer. Even more reason to add it to your beef and mushroom pie. Try out our Shortcrust Pastry Beef & Guinness Pie recipe below and let us know what you think in the comment box.
Servings: 4 Prep time: 2.5hrs Total time: 3hrs
|For the pie mix:||For the Pastry:|
|1 tbsp olive oil||250g plain flour|
|4 cloves garlic, sliced||Pinch of salt|
|1 large onion, chopped finely||110g butter, cubed|
|2 carrots, diced||60-90ml/4-6 tbsp cold water|
|2 sticks of celery, diced|
|500g diced stewing steak|
|2 tbsp plain flour|
|2 tbsp tomato puree|
|400ml can Guinness|
|150ml beef stock|
|1 bay leaf|
|200g of chestnut mushrooms|
- Heat half the oil in a large pan and fry the garlic, onion and veg (except the mushrooms) for 5 minutes, until softening.
- Season the flour and place in sandwich bag or similar, add the beef and shake until all coated
- Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and fry the beef until brown. Add this to the vegetables, along with tomato puree. Stir well and gradually add the Guinness, stock and bay leaf. Simmer for 2.5 hours until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened. Leave to cool before making up the pie.
- Using a food processor, put the flour, butter and salt in the food processor and pulse until the fat is rubbed into the flour (you can do this with your hands, just work quickly). With the motor running, gradually add the water through the funnel until the dough comes together. Only add enough water to bind it and then stop. Wrap the dough in cling film as before and chill for 10-15 minutes before using.
- Roll out the pastry and press into cases using a spare small ball of excess dough. Using parchment/baking paper place on top of pastry and weigh down with baking beans/dry rice/ball of dough, cook for 10-15 minutes to blind bake. Take out of oven, remove parchment/weight, it’s ready for filling.
- Heat the oven to 200c/gas 6. Pour the meat into four individual pie ramekins/dishes, adding the mushrooms. Place a strip of pastry around the edge of the dishes, dampen and cover with a pastry lid. Brush with milk. Bake in the oven for 30 mins, until golden.
- For a rich crispy pastry casing make it with ½ butter and ½ lard
- Add 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme to the pastry mix to liven it up
GUINNESS IS GOOD FOR YOU
Get in touch and ‘Learn, Cook, Eat‘ with us – 01273 674911 or email email@example.com
Our Head Chef, Messa Ben, shows you how to make a quick and easy sushi snack in this video. When you come on a team building event or hen party, or even for a fun cooking session here at Brighton Cookery School, you will find even the most difficult cooking techniques easy to learn! Why not join us for a fun night out with a group of friends, family or workmates? It’s a great place to be!
Call us today for more information.
Buying Lobster can be a very expensive business. It is so much less expensive when you prepare your own and there are many different species native to the UK that you can use!
In this video the Head Chef and Owner of Brighton Cookery School, Messa Ben, shows you how to make Lobster easy and affordable for your dinner table.
If you have a cooking event you would like to organise why not speak to us? We will help you with a menu choice and once you have all prepared and cooked it, you will sit and eat with fine wine and, we know, fine food!
Call us today for more information 01273 674911.