Bruschetta to Roast Beef!
Cooking with Rachel Allen
Cactus Kitchens, London
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to one of my favourite kind of events, a cook-a-long with a reputable brand and a celebrity chef! Panasonic invited me to attend an Ideas Kitchen cookery class with Rachel Allen at Cactus Kitchens (of Saturday Morning Kitchen fame) in London; Rachel Allen is one of my favourite “TV Cooks” and I have a couple of her books – so it was an absolute delight to meet her, and also to see just how warm and friendly she is in “real life”, just as she is when she is on the telly……plus, she remembered all of our names on the night, and there were about twelve of us cooking, plus the PR team from Panasonic, so that was no mean feat. I was then lucky enough to meet her several times at The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine the following weekend, but it’s the cookery event at Cactus Kitchens that I want to share today.
We were all greeted with a few glasses of Prosecco (and tea for those who weren’t drinking) before we made our way up to the attic kitchens, which are light and airy with ample space for two to share at each “cooking station”. Rachel demonstrated how to make a Herb Focaccia and some Dulce De Leche Brownies in the new Panasonic Slimline Combi Microwave Oven and the new SD-ZB2512 Panasonic Bread Maker before we were assigned partners and went off to cook with our allocated recipes. My partner was an old friend, Sarah from Maison Cupcake, and we had the task of ROASTING some beef fillet in the microwave, as well as making the salsa verde to accompany it and also making several dozen bruschetta.
Both Sarah and I were a little sceptical about the roast beef, but we were amazed and impressed to see a perfectly roast joint of beef after only 30 minutes in the combination microwave! Rachel’s recipe for a vibrant salsa verde was the perfect accompaniment, and as you can see from my photos, the beef was cooked to perfection. The sourdough bread for our bruschetta had already been made and baked, using the new SD-ZB2512 bread maker’s amazing Sourdough setting; all we had to do then was to toast the bread, IN the microwave, and then assemble the assorted toppings from Rachel’s recipe. We used Serrano Ham with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta cheese, Olives, Cannellini Bean Mash with Rosemary and Roasted Peppers with Goat’s Cheese as our toppings, and the bruschetta were not only delicious, but extremely colourful too.
The other “students” were also cooking the rest of our evening meal, (also using the new Panasonic microwaves and bread makers) which comprised:
Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream, Chives and Smoked Salmon
Baked Potatoes with Cheese and Bacon
Roast Fillet of Beef with Salsa Verde
Herb and Onion Focaccia
Dulce De Leche Brownies
Lemon Drizzle Cake
When all the recipes had been made, we all went back down to the dining room and enjoyed the meal together, including Rachel who joined us around the big wooden table. The food was beautifully cooked and it was all packed with the most amazing fresh flavours…….it was hard to believe that the “baked and roasted” dishes had been cooked in a combination microwave, including the cakes and the brownies. I am delighted to be able to share one of the night’s recipes with you today, for the Dulce De Leche Brownies, which are made in the microwave. Before we all left with a fabulous “goody bag” which included a signed copy of Rachel’s latest book, “Everyday Kitchen”, we were all taken down to the Saturday Morning Kitchen set where we were able to see the “Omelette Challenge Board”!
With thanks to Panasonic Team, Cactus Kitchens and Rachel for such an enjoyable evening. I was reimbursed with my travel expenses and I will receive a Panasonic product for review in the future. All views and opinions remain my own and I was not asked to share my experiences. Karen
NB: You can see my Panasonic Bread Maker review and recipes on Lavender and Lovage here:
Dulce De Leche Brownies
By Rachel Allen
Makes 16 squares
Dish: 2 large mixing bowls
Accessories: 20cm x20cm square cake tin, lined with parchment paper
175g good quality dark chocolate
175g butter cubed
25g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
3 large eggs
225g caster or soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
½ of a 397g tin of Carnation caramel or dulce de leche
Pre heat the oven to 180ºCPlace the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder in a microwavable dish and cook on HIGH MICROWAVE for 3 mins.
Remove from the oven and stir well, put to one side to cool.In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs sugar and vanilla extract together for 2 mins until light and creamy.
Add the chocolate mix and continue to whisk until well combined.Fold the flour through with a metal spoon.Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
Using a teaspoon add blobs of the caramel all over the surface of the brownies. Then using a sharp knife or skewer, run it around in swirls for a marbled effect.
Bake in the oven for 25 mins. When cooked it should be dry on top but still slightly gooey and fudgy inside.
Don’t be tempted to leave it in the oven any longer.
Allow to cool in the tin, and then cut into squares.
Cactus Kitchens is located on the site of Cactus TV’s new media complex in central London. A group of old buildings – including a chapel and vicarage – with a long and interesting history dating back to 1834, have recently been renovated and adapted to house 2 new HD TV studios, offices, a green room and the new cooking school in London.
Cactus Kitchens sits in the eaves of the chapel and houses 12 bespoke and individual cooking stations, with state-of-the-art Miele induction hobs and ovens, and a large demonstration area. Each station is stocked with Global Knives, KitchenAid mixers and Green Pan cookware.
(All photos taken on my iPhone 6 as I was travelling)