30 by 30 – Cooking up a storm

Back when we first moved to Sydney, I found myself checking out West Elm/Pottery Barn/Williams-Sonoma on a Thursday night for new homewares, when I noticed that Williams-Sonoma offered cooking classes. I mentioned it to Mr Posy (who has come a very long way since he was first learning to cook, and now regularly puts me to shame), and he also thought it sounded like a fun idea (and it meant that I could cross off an item from my 30 by 30 list), so I made a mental note to book us in for a class. As it so often does, time got away from me, but in August I finally had a look at the calendar and booked us in for a class – which we went to last week!

We were originally booked in for a ‘Date Night: Marrakech’ cooking class (which I mostly chose based on the date of the class), but they contacted me in September to say that unfortunately they had to cancel the Marrakech cooking class and that it was now a ‘Date Night: Tapas and Sangria’ class. They gave us the option of going ahead with this class, choosing a different class on another date, or obtaining a refund – we chose to stick with the class on the same date (they had me at Sangria!).

I’d had a bit of a rough fortnight at work, so I was fairly exhausted and almost considering piking on the class, but I quickly changed my outfit (Mr Posy and I both wore white shirts. To a cooking class. Who does that? Total amateurs!) before I could change my mind – and I’m so glad we went.

Williams Sonoma

I wasn’t really sure what to expect – would we be cooking or just watching? As I sipped sangria, completely oblivious to the cooking stations around the kitchen, I decided we must just be watching. The chef, Hulya, explained that she would be cooking three dishes, and then we’d also get to have a crack at making the third dish. Oh…

The first dish put in front of us was the Gambas al ajillo. Oh my word, amazing. What’s more amazing, was that I managed to get through the shrimp without spilling sauce all down my top…

Gambas al ajillo

As we all devoured the shrimp, bread and sauce, Hulya started putting together the flan (so it would have time to set), explaining that it always helped if she fed the participants while she was preparing the other two dishes. I think the term ‘hangry’ was even thrown about. As she had with the shrimp, she explained each step as she went, showing us the consistency that we were looking for (with the custard), and passing around ingredients for us to look at and smell.

Once the custard was ready, it was poured into loaf pans and put away to set – and on to the meatballs. Hulya went through each step of the recipe, explaining what to look for, what consistency the sauce should be, how long to reduce everything down – and after a quick taste, it was our turn!

Seeing as Mr Posy is such a whiz in the kitchen these days, I left him to chopping up the onions (though Hulya did show us a new technique which meant no tears!). And also mixing up the meat and squishing the meatballs. I chopped the parsley. And the almonds. And mixed them up with olive oil, saffron and paprika. For those playing along at home, I made the sauce.

Cooking

Token shots cooking the meatballs.

Meatballs

The end result looked and tasted a little bit amazing. Albóndigas en Salsa de Almendra. Meatballs in almond sauce. I will definitely be making these at home, but maybe with a little less garlic.

In the interest of leaving room for chocolate flan (and more sangria), we packaged up most of the meatballs to take home for later.

Flan

This flan was delicious. The mix of dark chocolate and chilli confused my tastebuds a little initially, but was incredible. The caramel/toffee was a little sweet, so I couldn’t get through it all; the flan would have been off the charts with some strawberries and/or a little cream – something I can’t wait to try again at home!

All in all, we had a really fabulous night – the class was fantastic, really well organised, and a lot of fun. I will definitely be booking in future classes with Williams-Sonoma. It was fun to learn new dishes with Mr Posy, and the classes would also make a fun girl’s night out. Importantly, we asked for the sangria recipe before we left – with the weather starting to heat up, it will be the perfect accompaniment to a summer barbeque.

30 by 30 – We all scream for ice cream

30 by 30 - Make my own ice cream (#20) For Christmas 2010, Mr Posy surprised me with a shiny red KitchenAid. I had been coveting these beautiful mixers for a few years, and couldn’t believe that I now had one of my very own to take pride of place in my kitchen. She really is a beauty. Baking with Niece Posy For Christmas just gone, he bought me the KitchenAid Ice Cream Bowl Attachment. The perfect accessory! Just what I needed to mark #20 off my 30 by 30 listmaking my own ice cream. I’ve ordered The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (for under thirty bucks for the hardback copy with free shipping from Fishpond), but while waiting for that to arrive, I thought I’d try a recipe from my Serendipity Sundaes book. I bought recipe books from Serendipity3 (where we went for dinner) the day Mr Posy proposed when we were in New York City for Christmas five years ago, and they sat on a shelf ever since. It was definitely time to take one of the recipes for a spin! I had planned to make a basic vanilla ice cream, but the first recipe in the book was for chocolate ice cream, and given how much I love chocolate, I took it as a sign…

Chocolate Ice Cream (Serendipity Sundaes)

Chocolate Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 3 large egg yolks (I used 4)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups lite cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Approx. 250g chocolate (the recipe called for good quality dark, I used milk…)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • Heat milk over a low heat – when warm, add the chopped chocolate, and stir through.
  • While milk is heating, beat egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and thick.
  • Add a ladle (or two) of the warm milk/chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until combined (tempering the eggs will stop the eggs from curdling… I learnt something new!).
  • Add the tempered egg mixture to the warm milk/chocolate mixture and continue to stir over a low heat, until the liquid coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes) – do not overheat.
  • Pour into a heatproof bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir through vanilla extract, cover, and place in the fridge to chill for at least 8 hours.

Method

  • Churn as per instructions for ice cream maker (mine churned for 30 minutes; I added grated chocolate in the last few minutes of the churning process).
  • Freeze in an airtight container.

I’m happy with the end result, but there are a few things I’d like to do differently next time I use this recipe – use a vanilla bean pod in the custard instead of extract, use a good quality dark chocolate as instructed instead of just a regular block of milk chocolate, use full fat milk instead of the trim milk that we had in the fridge, turn the air-conditioning on during the churning process… I’m in love with the KitchenAid Ice Cream Bowl Attachment – I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t work as well as an actual ice cream machine, but the mixture thickened/aerated well, and resulted in a deliciously creamy ice cream. The ice cream is so good that I want to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t know how I will ever eat store-bought ice cream again. 30 by 30 Make my own ice cream

“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.” – Don Kardong

30 by 30

A little over three weeks ago, I turned 27. My birthday was a wonderful celebration, seemingly continuing for a good two weeks, and I was utterly spoilt by my family and friends. Mr Posy and I have big plans for the next 12 months – twenty-seven is shaping up to be a fabulous year for me.

Soon after the candles had been blown out, and the last of the cake had been eaten, I started to think about how far I’ve come over the past few years, and where I’m looking to go next. I started to create a list in my head of holidays I wanted to take and goals I wanted to achieve, and before I knew it, my list was so long that ideas were spilling out on to paper.

In three years, I turn 30. People tease that I’m getting old, that I’ll soon be over the hill. Turning thirty doesn’t scare or worry me, it doesn’t fill me with anxiety, but I do have a lot between now and then that I want to achieve. If not now, when?

So I kept adding to my list, until I had my magic number. My 30 by 30 –

  1. Move to Sydney
  2. Stop, absorb, and enjoy our wedding day
  3. Stay in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora
  4. Finish a half marathon
  5. Finish a marathon
  6. Take a cooking class
  7. Learn to play one whole song on the guitar my great uncle made for me
  8. See dolphins/whales in the wild [changed from swim with dolphins]
  9. Take a photography course
  10. Visit Hawaii
  11. Learn to surf
  12. Make a soufflé
  13. Drive the scenic route down from Sydney to the Sapphire Coast [changed from drive the Great Ocean Road]
  14. Keep a plant alive
  15. Take a ballet class [changed from buy a stranger their coffee]
  16. Book in a regular (weekly? monthly? fortnightly?) massage
  17. Go parasailing
  18. Dine at La Villa Mahana (Bora Bora) [changed from degustation at Vue de Monde]
  19. Book a snow holiday
  20. Make my own ice cream
  21. Buy an amazing piece of art
  22. Sign up as an emergency foster carer
  23. Take a design course
  24. Book a beach holiday
  25. Turn off the TV for a week
  26. Host a Christmas lunch/dinner
  27. Buy myself a pair of diamond earrings
  28. Land my dream job (or, at the very least, work out what my dream job actually is) [changed from write a novel]
  29. Forgive
  30. Organise a fabulous celebration for my 30th birthday

Mr Posy is not too impressed with item no. 25 (I suspect during that week he’ll be sneaking in TV-time when I’m not home), but for the rest of my list, he’s happy to come along for the ride.

I’m looking forward to our adventures over the next few years. This list is exactly what I need to get me out of my funk.

And so it begins!

Image credit: Thank you to my design friend who saw me struggling with Photoshop one afternoon after work, and after ascertaining exactly what it was that I was trying to do, helped me create the image that I had in my mind.