I recently became acquainted with a lovely lady called Gemma, via the wonderful medium of Twitter.
She got in touch as a fellow foodie in the area, so we met up for brunch at Nourish café in Wilmslow to get to know each other a little better.
She runs her successful cookery class, You Say Tomato, from her home in Wilmslow, but that’s not where it all began. This Cheshire-born beauty used to live in California, where she soon realised a gap in the market for homemade real-food cookery classes that taught regular mom’s how to make easy, tasty and healthy dishes for their family using real ingredients.
Showing her new friends in the USA how to cook proper meals from scratch and kicking the American convenience food habit in favour of more wholesome cooking soon turned into a proper little business. She began inviting them round for classes, showing them how to prepare delicious, easy meals all from her own home.
I attended her Deliciously Doable Dinners class, as she’s now back in Wilmslow with family in tow. It was a wonderful experience and here, with a few words and pictures, I will let you know how we got on…
Porchetta style wild salmon with Italian lentils, greens and horseradish yoghurt sauce (gluten-free)
This was the first dish of the evening. We all sat around on stools at the island in the middle of her beautiful kitchen, directly in front of the hob where we could see Gemma prep and cook each meal.
The class included a full demonstration of 3 dishes, of which there was plenty to serve a generous portion of each to all 7 of us alongside nibbles, wine, Cava or soft drinks. A little tip if you book a class: arrive hungry!
The casual set up allowed us to ask questions freely and take notes on the meticulous print-outs provided (which included all recipes and their variations for us to keep and use at home).
Back to the salmon – Gemma prepped the dish all on one baking tray lined with parchment paper (to save on washing up!) and served it with the most divine green lentils flavoured with fresh herbs. She showed us her secret to cooking lentils to perfection, and allowed us to taste the dish as we went along so we really got to grips with it.
The finished dish tasted stunning, the fennel seeds added an incredible flavour and the lentils were a great firm but comforting texture. Very easy for a mid-week dinner, and about a million less calories that traditional Porchetta. An absolute winner of a dish… All plates were empty!
One pan fragrant roast chicken with crunchy chickpeas and seasonal vegetables (gluten free)
Next was a fabulous one-pan wonder. As advertised, above, but as an added bonus Gemma couldn’t help herself in showing us the variation of how to cook it with quinoa version too (pictured below). The recipe for this version, plus 2 others, were also included in our recipe sheets to keep.
She lined the tray with foil and lovingly arranged all the ingredients except the broccoli and baked in the oven, adding the little green midget trees only for the final 10 minutes. Many of the guests were surprised how amazing the broccoli tasted after just 10 minutes in the oven, as they are used to boiling or steaming, and so were very pleasantly surprised. Plus, using this method meant ‘less washing up!’ which seemed to become a welcomed theme to the evening!
The baked quinoa version was a real revelation for me. So simple, easy and tasty. It just absorbed all the flavours (stock, garlic, lemon) and the chickpeas added amazing texture. The chicken thighs were topped with paprika too and crisped up so well, and all liquid was absorbed. Delightful.
Lemony mushroom ragu on oozy cheesy polenta with kale pesto (vegetarian, gluten-free)
The final dish of the evening pretty much blew my mind. I have only ever had polenta served as fries, which I am not that keen on. I think my mum tried to cook it once, the bright yellow vacuum-packed variety, and that was even more unappealing. So never again… Until now.
Gemma gave us her thoughts on polenta; which type and where to buy, and gave us a fully fledged demonstration of how to cook it to perfection. She served it topped with a vibrant, zingy homemade kale pesto that took all of 5 minutes to make in the food processor and had a very appealing healthy edge to it. She then put some real love and attention into the mushrooms in a pan over the hob (she used the dried Porcini variety as well as I think chestnut ‘shrooms, with plenty of garlic.
Then she just kind of threw it all together. The polenta was pretty much the most comforting thing I have ever eaten. Silky, smooth, creamy, oozy, cheesy warmness. The mushrooms felt meaty, wholesome and packed full of a garlicky kick, and the pesto just gave it an incredible lift.
She said to feel no qualms eating this dish laying flat horizontal in your PJ’s on the sofa, and that is exactly what I intend to do. Bowl-food at it finest, a really amazing and well thought-out dish. Hats off, chef! <3
Gemma also showed us a lovely dukkah recipe she had made, which she just grabbed out of her fridge, which went really well with the baked chicken dishes.
To end the perfect food-filled evening, Gemma treated us to some divine chocolate smothered pretzels. A wonderful end to a fantastic evening where I really did learn a lot about food and will certainly be trying all of the dishes at home. Especially that polenta, baby. PJ’s and box-set at the ready…. 🙂