La Belle Assiette

I’m back! I’ve got an exciting announcement to make later in January about why I’ve been pretty MIA on here for the past couple of months, but part of the reason was because I’ve just finished up a part-time course at Leiths, which is super exciting as I can now work as a private chef!

 

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I was doing that alongside my 9-to-5, and another big project I’ve been working on for the blog – but now those are finished up, I’m really looking forward to spending some time here again.

 

Part of my motivation for starting up at Leiths was to get a firm grounding in food. I’ve been writing about it for a while now, and wanted to get a professional qualification, as well as get a firmer grounding in the practical stuff so I can explore projects further that people have approached me for in the past, like supper clubs. The only thing that was holding me back was my lack of practical experience, and I definitely feel the last few months have given me that.

 

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It was so serendipitous when La Belle Assiette got in touch to see if I wanted to do a review of their service, cause it ties those two parts of my life together so perfectly.

 

La Belle Assiette connects people with private chefs, who come to their home and cater for them for dinner parties, at various price ranges. There are so many different cuisines too, meaning you can experiment with different flavours and textures in the comfort of your own home! I hosted a dinner party at mine, inviting five friends over for a home-cooked meal (which required minimal effort on my part)!

 

I was paired up with Katrina Kollegaeva, who used to run the Russian Revels supper club that I’d heard so much about, so I was really excited. A couple of weeks before, she gave me a ring to chat through the menu and find out about my likes and dislikes, and those of my guests. I’m pretty easy, but one of my guests really dislikes seafood, and she was so fantastic about accomodating.

 

She comes from an Estonian and Ukrainian background, and I was really keen to try some of her dishes that also played with her love of Middle Eastern cooking as well.

 

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She served up a delicious feast of:

 

To Start

 

Fermented lardo on biscuit

 

Which we had accompanied by a shot of chilled vodka, on her suggestion.

 

La Belle Assiette - Katrina Kollegaeva

 

Coming from a Japanese family, I always prefer to eat family-style, rather than having individual plates, so for our main we had a selection of dishes to share, which were all incredibly delicious (so good I even chased her for the recipes afterwards, which isn’t something I usually do)!

 

Lithuanian carrot baba dip with pumpkin and dukkah

 

Russian pirozhki mushroom pies

 

Courgette caviar of a swooning bride, which was a gently cooked aubergine dish that was incredible

 

A Georgian beetroot and lamb bake with a rye and walnut crumble

 

Buckouleh, which she described as being like tabbouleh, but made with buckwheat.

 

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Towards the end of the meal, Katrina mentioned that she had made quite a bit of the dessert, and that we would most definitely have some leftover. What I didn’t think she accounted for was just how good it was, and how greedy we all are, and ended up eating it all up that night – the condensed milk and caramelised rye ice cream was divine.

 

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I really, really enjoyed my experience with La Belle Assiette from start to finish, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to host a dinner party – it was absolutely seamless. I definitely recommend Katrina, who was so knowledgable and professional, and was also a lovely addition to the evening.

 

What were some of your dinner party highlights? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram

Gone Fishing

I’m taking a little break for the next couple of weeks, and I can’t really talk about it here yet – but suffice to say, it’s really exciting. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I just didn’t want anyone to think I was neglecting my little patch of the internet…

Gone Fishing

It’s been a really busy couple of weeks, as I’ve moved house, work has picked up a lot. I’m incredibly happy and grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way through this little blog!

Come and distract me on Twitter (@ErinNiimi), watch my Instagram stories (also @ErinNiimi) or drop me an email if you need me.

A Night with Idahoan

Po-tay-toes. Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew – there’s nothing more comforting than a good potato dish in the autumn.

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The team at Idahoan invited me and a few other bloggers down for a challenge – to try a potato-based tasting menu created by Billy and Jack (of Masterchef fame), but with a twist.

 

While some of the dishes would be made with potato, some of the others would be substituted with their products – and we were challenged to guess which was which.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Idahoan, they are a US-import and specialise in all things potato – from instant flavoured mash to soups and casseroles.

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I can be quite competitive when I want to be, so this is exactly the kind of challenge I could get on board with!

Our tasting menu started off with some croquettes – one cheese, and one flavoured with ‘nduja.

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This was followed by a delicious crab gnocchi with sea herbs and veloute.

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Followed by a pressed potato dish with a three-cheese sauce, and an unbelievable cottage pie, which had been slowcooked for hours in an entire bottle of red wine.

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The final savoury dish transitioned nicely into the sweeter portion of the menu – a potato-fried quail with maple syrup, followed by a honey potato cake with yoghurt, figs and honeycomb.

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It was incredibly difficult to tell which was which – particularly as all the dishes were equally good. The only giveaway was the texture – the Idahoan based dishes were a lot smoother.

It was a close call, but I did okay – and even won a bottle of Lanson in the process!

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I had an incredible evening, with delicious food and fantastic company – and a whole new bag of products to play with!

Have you ever tried any Idahoan products? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram

Autumnal Bakes

It’s October! The year has absolutely flown by – the days are shorter, and it’s a lot trickier to get myself up in the morning.

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I do love this time of year, though – it’s definitely one of the coziest. So when I was invited to an Autumnal Bakes afternoon hosted at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School, it definitely got me excited for fall.

The event was hosted in partnership with Hotpoint and Currys PC World, who provide the ovens. Having just moved into my new house, I am extremely envious – having the proper equipment is so important. I’ve also recently started a part-time course at culinary school, and it’s definitely got me dreaming about my own kitchen!

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I’ve been along to the Mexican Street Food Class at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School previously, and I absolutely loved it. In this one, we learned all about what makes truly excellent bread.

We made some delicious crusty white rolls, which I ended up plaiting and covering in poppy and pumpkin seeds.

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I also managed to make a delicious focaccia, which was topped with tomatoes and rosemary – and we also had so much dough I ended up having a second loaf later that week, too!

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We then all tucked in to our delicious creations, with some amazing soup and a delicious cheese fondue. It was definitely one of the more wholesome Sundays I’ve had in a while!

Autumnal Bakes - Currys PC World, Jamie Oliver Cookery School and HotpointAutumnal Bakes - Currys PC World, Jamie Oliver Cookery School and Hotpoint

Have you ever baked your own bread? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram

Fresh Pasta Making at Borough Kitchen

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty certain that a good pasta dish was down to the sauce.

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Fresh pasta, in particular, never seemed worth the effort. That all changed, though, when I went along to the fresh pasta making course at Borough Kitchen, in Hampstead.

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The classes take place from 6.30 pm in the Borough Kitchen store, which is full of the most beautiful kitchen things – all of which are just so tempting.

The classes are small, and intimate, meaning that you get to ask questions throughout, and the demonstrations are easy to see. If you’re more of a spectator, then this isn’t the class for you – you’re going to get your hands dirty, but it’s an incredibly practical class.

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We worked with basic and wholemeal pasta, and made tagliatelle, which we were able to take home with us. We also made butternut squash and goats cheese ravioli and cannelloni, which we also made to go – there was enough fresh pasta for the rest of the week, which was so handy for lunches!

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After all of the hard work (all that kneading!), we had a delicious roast vegetable lasagna, with a salad and a glass of wine – an excellent end to a great evening!

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Inspired by Ottolenghi’s talk at Wilderness, I had some of the leftover tagliatelle with his smoked oyster sauce for lunch later that week.

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At £89, I think the class is incredible value – not only for the amount of food you get (I ate fresh pasta for about three days), but for the valuable skills and tips you learn as well. Now, excuse me while I add a pasta maker to my Christmas list….

Have you ever made pasta from scratch? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram