A veggie celebration
PUBLISHED: 14:18 18 October 2013 | UPDATED: 14:18 18 October 2013
Nicki Dixon spends a day at The Cooking Experience with Mark David, creating imaginative dishes out of humble vegetables
The friendliest of handshakes greeted me as I arrived at The Cooking Experience in Hadleigh and Mark David welcomed another ‘class’ to his cooking school, this time a day of ‘Celebrating Vegetables’.
It’s not so much teacher and pupil, more friendly guidance and get-stuck-in, which soon had me kneading foccaccia, chopping chives and preparing beetroot for roasting. A box of vegetables arrived from Martin and Kerry Yates, of delivery company Rocket and Rhubarb and Mark quickly ran through the different things he would do with chard, asparagus and spinach.
Bread was the first task. Kneading bread is incredibly satisfying and eating it is even better. Left over dough was used for pizza bases so nothing was wasted.
One tip – turn up with an empty stomach. By the end of the day you’ll be stuffed after eating your way through what you cook. We had three eating breaks – with wine – and the table was groaning with fabulous food – asparagus salad with honey and lime dressing, roasted beetroot, chard and onion Spanish omelette, gratin Dauphinoise, spinach with pine nuts and the most amazing lemon tart I have ever tasted.
Mark also shared his own blend of spices, which we used it on blanched cauliflower, cooked on a griddle pan to accompany the onion bhajis we made.
For me, jazzing up rhubarb was a highlight. Chop it, simmer it with a splosh of sherry, then add ginger and orange zest. Delicious.
Mark is passionate about vegetables and describes his vegetable Wellington as a ‘meaty’ meal without the meat. Giant field mushrooms and halved peppers, roasted in the oven to start with then layered with garlic and spinach in a pastry casing and baked for half an hour. We ate it warm, when it was easier to cut, with the gratin Dauphinoise.
Mark and wife Annie have lived in Hadleigh since 1995. His career has included a stint in a large Yorkshire hotel kitchen and as restaurant manager at Hintlesham Hall under Robert Carrier. But I think he has found his niche – sharing his love of food, be it steak or spinach, with equal passion and imagination for both.
For more details about themed cookery days: www.cookingexperience.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01473 827568.