Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hen’s day out at Zigi’s Cooking School

I will often have a drink while I'm cooking – beer, cider or a glass of wine – but that's generally not in a commercial kitchen with pleasingly sharp cooking knives.

It was flutes of sparkling wine in hand at Zigi's Cooking School in Chippendale late last year for a hen's day out, while slicing beef, making praline and other hen-related activities.

Chef Zigi Ozeri of Zigi's Cooking School, Abercrombie Street, Chippendale
Other than an overseas trip away, I've probably experienced the gamut of hen's nights (and days) during my adult years: from the expected – strippers, tacky restaurants, cruises and gay clubbing – to the less common, including refined wine bar sessions and shows at the Opera House.

For the food-inclined, Zigi's offers something different (potentially followed by some of the very much expected activities) and an ideal environment for groups that don’t necessarily all know each other. And a drink before noon as the cooking school kitchen adjoins Zigi's Art Wine Cheese Bar.

Drinks in the kitchen
A range of classes are available – from cooking three-course meals to much more elaborate cheesemaking – and all can be tailored to the group and budget. Our group of 10 was, aside from mid-morning boozing, cooking a two-course meal with chef Zigi Ozeri and his offsider supervising us in two groups.

Cooking class
With paper chef’s toques and silly nicknames, we were split into main course and dessert teams, with a range of tasks for everyone. Team work and cooking tips went hand in hand with bubbles and kitchen fun.

Beef fillet
On our menu for the day was grilled beef fillet with Israeli couscous and a spring vegetable salad with lime chilli vinaigrette, followed by dessert of a berry mille feuille with pastry crème and hazelnut praline.

Sliced beef fillet
Helpful kitchen tips included tightly wrapping fillets of beef in cling wrap while marinating and cooking, so that the meat can retain a neat shape for even cooking. These thick steaks were cooked on a grill and finished in the oven.

Chopping cucumbers for salad
Sharp kitchen knives are everything. Indeed, dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones in the kitchen.

And always have a non slip surface beneath a chopping board, especially the plastic ones. Use different chopping boards for meat and vegetables.

Pastry rounds for mille feuille
Our mille feuille used store-bought puff pastry sprinkled with sugar and baked beneath a second tray, minimising the 'puff' action, but still allowing crisp, golden layers to form within the flattened pastry rounds.

Mixed berries for mille feuille

Zigi and cooking class
A cheat's version of creme patissiere was whipped up with the inclusion of custard powder - not a bad replacement if one was time short, but not quite as good as the real egg-y vanilla cream for piping.

Baked  pastry rounds
Our baked, glazed puff pastry rounds came out of the oven perfectly while a hazelnut praline was formed from freshly roasted nuts and hard sugar toffee, blitzed to a crumb when cooled.

Chef Zigi

Chef Zigi re-heating beef
Another restaurant tip imparted by chef Zigi was the use of a blowtorch to reheat food just before serving; for example, the outer surface of meat that's been resting post cooking.

Grilled beef fillet with Israeli couscous, spring vegetable salad and lime chilli vinaigrette
We feasted on our handiwork of a platter lunch while undertaking standard hen's activity.

With a well-dressed salad of Israeli couscous, tomato, cucumber and rocket, the mostly medium-rare cooked beef fillet was an ideal accompaniment to awkward questions and making sure the bride-to-be was really ready to enter marriage-dom.

Piping pastry cream
We returned to the kitchen to assemble and complete dessert, which comprised pastry rounds, piped pastry cream, berries and hazelnut praline, finished with that dessert fix-all, a shower of icing sugar.

Wild berry mille feuille with pastry crème and hazelnut praline
The mille feuille is actually a great idea for a versatile, last-minute dessert, so long as you have puff pastry in the freezer and fresh cream or an easy creme patissiere recipe and some fruit.

We probably spent just over three hours at Zigi's: cooking, drinking, laughing and having a fun, educational and belly-filling time of it all. Pretty much everything you'd need for a hen's day out. See their Facebook page for more details.

Zigi's Art & Wine Cheese Bar on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

That milleufeuille looks like the bomb. I wonder how fast exactly it'd take to pull it off being so "last-minute" and all.

Unknown said...

I wanted to taste this Wild berry mille feuille with pastry crème and hazelnut praline. It seems great and delicious.

Tina said...

Hi Neil - Me, pretty slow. But a good, handy one for unplanned desserts.

Hi Macky - It was a good one ;)

Blogger said...

I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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