I can’t cook. I don’t cook. Which I think is pretty obvious since I eat out ALL THE TIME. So when I was invited by Joe Blogs and Currys PC World for a cookery masterclass with Hotpoint and Lisa Faulkner I was a little hesitant. But I bit the bullet and went along. I mean what could go wrong?
So, on a cold Thursday evening, I made my way to the Hotpoint Design Centre in Fitzrovia. It’s a beautiful, inspirational space, a showroom (although way plusher and well though out than anything the word ‘showroom’ will bring to mind) for the Luce range of appliances. In the basement is a working kitchen with plenty of counter space and seating, ideal for foodie events.
Whether it’s for her acting (I personally remember her most vividly from a rather gruesome ending in Spooks, but she’s also been in Brookside and Holby City amongst others), or her cooking (she won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010), if you’re British and watch TV you’ll at least recognise Lisa Faulkner.
Since turning to a career in cooking, Lisa has written three recipe books – most recently ‘Tea and Cake’ which came out in February and is available from bookshops or Amazon.
So with all this under her belt, I think Lisa was a pretty good choice to host a masterclass to show us all how to make a couple of her favourite spring recipes.
I liked Lisa a lot. She oozes that kind of effortlessly casual beauty that I could never achieve and was a joy to spend time with. And when faced with a non cook like myself (which I don’t think she was expecting!) she was patient and kind. She was happy to show me the basics like how to use the blender (rookie error – always check it’s actually plugged in…) and to explain ingredients that I was unfamiliar with (noteably fennel).
We were shown by Lisa how to make two very different recipes – lemon sole fillets en papillote and pineapple upside down cake – before being split into pairs (my partner was the lovely Giselle from Who’s For Dinner?) to make them ourselves so we could all sit down for dinner.
Giselle and I lucked out with the task of making the pineapple upside down cake. If you’re going to cook, it’s always better to cook the cake, right? Plus I didn’t trust myself with the knives…
Following the steps we’d watched Lisa take (and the recipe book, but I’m more of a wing it person when it comes to cooking – and life, but that’s a whole different topic…) we made a very sticky, syrupy version of the old fashioned classic.
I started by covering the tin in maybe a little too much Golden Syrup but, to be fair, Lisa did say, and I quote, “It might be bad for you, but we’ll just balance it with a healthy main.”
Next, pineapple rings and glace cherries were pressed into the syrup, before we moved on to the cake mixture.
Caster sugar, flour, chunks of butter and baking powder were put into the blender along with a mixture of eggs, milk and vanilla essence. Pretty sure I got some eggshell in there somewhere. I don’t think anyone noticed.
Once all mixed together (a little lumpy, oops!) it was poured into the tray over the fruit and syrup, and placed into a 180 degree oven.
If you’d like a more accurate how to, you can download the recipe, and that for the lemon sole here.
After we’d all earned it, we were sat at the lovely seasonally decorated table for dinner.
I had been a little apprehensive about the lemon sole. I’m quite uncertain with fish, and I hadn’t tried lemon sole (or fennel!) before. But it was delicious. It wasn’t a very fishy tasting fish, and the chunks of fennel were lovely. And I was overjoyed that it was served with broccoli on the side because I am OBSESSED with broccoli. There you go, a random fact about me!
And of course the pineapple upside down cake was to die for, haha! And there was even enough to take some home.
Of course we were using Hotpoint appliances – we were at the Hotpoint Design Centre after all! The star of the show was undoubtedly the Hotpoint OSD89EDE Openspace Oven.
Now I’m no chef (have I reinforced that point strongly enough yet?) but even I was impressed by this piece of kit – in this single oven you can cook at two different temperatures thanks to an insulating divider between its two compartments. Pretty handy, right?
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the two recipes of the evening made the dual temperature feature necessary – they were perfect to show it off!
As a non home owner I’m not going to be in a position to buy an oven any time soon (and you know even if I did take out would win!) but if it were on the cards this would be a strong contender!
Regardless of my cooking ability, I’m very glad I went as this was one of the most enjoyable blogger events I’ve attended! We were very kindly given a copy of ‘Tea and Cake’ so, inspired by Lisa, I may even try my hand at some baking – watch this space!
You can have a read of the official blog post here.
All photos my own.