Cakes & Bakes
Total Greek Masterclass with Chef Paul Merrett
My dad used to say to me, ‘the world is your oyster Fleur. If you work hard enough you can achieve anything.’ Over the years I have come to appreciate this statement more and more. It’s not that I ever doubted him, I just lacked personal experience to back it up.
After this coming weekend I will be a year older and I’m starting to clock up plenty of life experience in support of those wise words. My first real ‘lightbulb’ moment was on the day I graduated. I left school at the age of 16 with the minimum qualifications and 10 years later I was holding a certificate for a BA Hons Degree having worked my socks off to get to university and during the whole 4 years I was there. It was well worth the effort. My dad was right.
I think the same can be said for my blog. There is no denying that it is a labour of love, but I am achieving things I would never have believed a year ago.
Last week, I found myself on a train to London about to take part in a cookery masterclass hosted by Total Greek Yoghurt and the rather lovely chef Paul Merrett. It was a super day for many reasons (I’ll go into more detail about these below) but on the train home I could not help thinking again of what my dad used to say. Cooking, writing and learning about food gives me so much reward. To think that I have created opportunities to do more of this through writing a blog is still just soaking in, but what a fantastic bonus! So if anyone out there is thinking of writing a blog…I would say go for it!!
I hope you enjoy reading about my day out and maybe feel inspired to try some of the recipes yourself.
My masterclass experience…
When I walked through the door to the masterclass I had butterflies in my tummy, but as soon as fellow blogger Dom from Belleau Kitchen and Paul both gave me a friendly smile, I started to feel more relaxed. Dom and I have never met before but have shared banter on twitter many times. We both agreed that it was a little bit like a blind date meeting twitter pals for the first time face to face, but without the date bit! Luckily for me Dom is a great guy. Hilarious and fantastic company. We were then teamed up with another lady called Liz who writes a fabulous blog called Me and My Shadow. The 3 of us hit it off and had such a laugh.
Our task was to make 3 dishes under the watchful eye of Paul, all of which featured Total Greek yoghurt. This was perfect for me as I genuinely like this product. My absolute favorite is eating Total Greek with honey roasted figs, but I have never really got more adventurous than that. I was intrigued to find out how versatile Total Greek could be.
Here’s what we made (and then ate):
I have never made anything like this before and found myself wondering what the finished dish might taste like. As I looked at the list of ingredients I had high hopes I would like it. Salmon is a favorite of mine, and as there is both cooked and smoked salmon in the rillette. I can see myself making this again as a starter. The rillette can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge until needed. Then it is just a question of popping a few slices of bread in the toaster when you are ready to serve. For me the ‘make ahead’ factor means this is a recipe to bookmark.
When I saw we were making this for the main course, I honestly could not be happier. This is the sort of food that I love. If you click to the recipe you will see that there are lots of lovely ingredients including butternut squash, peppers,chick peas and plenty of warm spice. The cool yoghurt dip (made with Total) which was served on the side was the perfect partner. Dom, Liz and I had a blast making it all.
There are quite a few stages to this recipe so 6 hands instead of 2 was actually very helpful. The fact that this recipe might take a bit longer than I would normally like to spend making a dinner has not put me off and I can say with confidence that I will definitely be trying this on my own at home. The end result for me is certainly worth the effort. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and ate every last bit on my plate. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I very rarely eat everything on my plate. I can’t drink a full cup of tea either, but that’s a whole other blog post! To compensate for the extra time I will probably double the amounts so I can freeze a few portions and I might even add a bit of chicken to any that I make for hubby.
The other thing I have to tell you about this dish was the amazing cauliflower cous cous that accompanies it! Complete revelation and very impressive. Just blitz up some cauliflower florets in a food processor until it looks like large breadcrumbs, then wrap in a muslin and steam for about 5 mins. Voila…a stylish take on traditional cous cous! I’m getting this on the menu at my next dinner party no matter what!!
Semolina Sponge Cake with Almonds, Hazelnuts, Greek Yoghurt and Honey
And finally, the dessert. The title alone is enough to make my mouth water, and I was not disappointed. This recipe is all about showcasing how lovely a cake on it’s own can be. No frosting or decorations on top to take the spotlight, and nothing in the middle. There are so many flavours within this cake that in order to taste them all it has to be allowed to shine on its own. The orange blossom and almonds along with the honey and yogurt are simply stunning.
Paul told us that this was a recipe from his mum, and once I heard that I knew it would be good. In my opinion, recipes that have been handed down through generations are like little nuggets of gold to treasure. It’s for that reason that I picked this cake to put on my blog. Big thanks to Paul for sharing it with us so I can share with you too.
|Semolina Sponge Cake with Almonds, Hazelnuts, Greek Yoghurt and Honey||
- For the Sponge Cake
- 120g TOTAL Classic Greek Yoghurt
- 250g butter
- 190g golden caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 50g self-raising flour
- Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (keep separate)
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g ground hazelnuts
- 250g semolina
- 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds (plus 1 tablespoon extra for the top of the cake)
- For the syrup
- Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 175ml water
- 140g golden caster sugar
- 50g honey
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- To serve
- A blob of TOTAL Classic Greek Yoghurt
- Pre heat the oven to 175°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
- Grease the baking tin.
- Beat the butter and sugar until it is pale yellow and creamy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Now chuck in the flour, zest, ground nuts, semolina, Greek yoghurt and poppy seeds.
- Stir everything up well and spoon in to your greased baking case.
- Bake for about 1 hour but check after 45 minutes – the sponge will be golden brown and springy when cooked.
- Put the cooked cake to one side to cool slightly and make the syrup.
- To make the syrup place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil.
- Allow the syrup mixture to reduce by at least half.
- Using a fork dot holes across the surface of the cake and then pour over the syrup, sprinkle with the extra poppy seeds.
- Serve with Greek yoghurt and a trickle of honey.
Recipe used with kind permission from Paul Merrett and Total Greek Yogurt.
These recipes were taken from the 1000 ways to love your Total campaign which is a wonderful selection of ideas, recipes and serving suggestions for Total yoghurt.
Many thanks to the Total team for inviting me along to the masterclass.