Saturday, October 17, 2009

Quilting? No, cooking!

I had the honour to be taught by a professional chef, Abbey Rudge, whose career spanned from working as the only woman among 25 French chefs, to literally high-flying cuisine catering for private jet clients.

As a little girl Abbey already knew endless possibilities how to cook a simple meal, from her father and grandmother who were fond of cooking.

After eight years of cooking in the sky and seeing much of the world, she put her feet firmly on the ground in Estoril, Portugal. Now she has her own cookery school and catering business.

Five of us, all different nationalities: Ann - English, Jurgita - Lithuanian, Lucia - Korean, Ursula - German and me - Mongolian met on Friday morning in Abbey's kitchen to improve our cooking skills, share ideas and tips and have a lunch.

We did not hear the phrase "I have prepared this earlier". And one of the dishes went wrong, which does not happen on television cook shows and isn't explained in cook books.

In four hours we had to make 10 dishes: Pea, Mint and Lettuce Soup, Crab Dumplings, Chick Pea Patties, Green Tomato Tarte Tatin, Chili Beef Slice, Oven Baked Chicken, Griddled Honey Apples with Toffee Cream, Toffee, Lemon Posset and Lychee Sorbet. We finished even before our time ran out!

We started making toffee, for which to my surprise (but others already knew) condensed milk has to be boiled for three hours over low heat in a pan of water. It was unbelievable how some nations prepare food! The end result was fantastic - provided you have a sweet tooth!

I think every Mongolian child loves eating condensed milk spread on a slice of bread. I loved it as a child and I will have my slice of bread with condensed milk once a year! Just recently my sister ate it and was very happy for the memories of childhood. Now, I will make toffee.

I never buy green tomatoes because they are tasteless. But not when you cook Green Tomato Tarte Tatin. Green tomatoes hold their shape when they are fried; when they are then baked, covered with puff pastry, the tart is delicious!

Abbey prepared crab earlier and I missed it, so she promised me that I will have a professional lesson to learn how to scrape meat out of a crab. I have never eaten crab meat in my forty-something years! From a palm sized crab meat mixed with other ingredients someone can have a great meal.

Chick peas were mixed with onion, parsley, garlic, chillies, coriander, and ginger. They should been been shaped between 2 tablespoons and deep-fried, but this did not not work. Abbey's solution to avoid putting the dish in the bin was just to fry it - and it tasted good too!

As the recipe says, the easiest and quickest apple pudding was fantastic with toffee! It looked very easy when Abbey cooked it, and the apples looked mouthwatering!

But when I made it at home, I overcooked the apples. Instead of toffee I had it with ice-cream. Next time... It was still appetizing and my husband liked it.

We were not just sitting and watching Abbey; this was four hours of interactive cooking, and with our help for chopping, dicing, stirring and beating we made ten dishes! Thank you Abbey for your easy approach to enjoying cooking. She selected recipes which were easy, fast and delicious. During four hours she did not use any modern gadgets, as she said about herself she is more a wooden spoon girl! This proves that we do not have to have fancy kitchen equipment to make a delicious meal. But personally, my life in the kitchen would not be complete without a good blender. I want, I want, I want to buy a lemon grater that Abbey had in her kitchen and Ursula used to grate lemons for Lemon Posset. Yummy!

Abbey showing her work.
Ann chopping garlic
Jurgita preparing ingredients for Chick Pea Patties
Lucia carefully dicing onions
Ursula is grating lemon with a fancy lemon grater.
I am preparing white sauce for Chili Beef Slice

Abbey 's contact details:

Be Champs
Rua Joaquim Miguel Serra E Moura no 180,
2765-029 Alapraia, Estoril, Portugal

Phone: +351 21 468 95 81

Mobile: +351 96 496 36 50


Photos by Ursula and Javhlan
Text by Javhlan

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