Event Planner Elle Harper: From Sous Chef to Head Chef at Home
Since lockdown began, there have been a mixed bag of emotions in our household, but the part of the day that I look forward to the most, is preparing what delicacies we are going to eat.
Planning is in my nature, so during lockdown I have taken great pleasure in searching for new recipes and techniques I've yet to try (and now portrait mode is my new favourite friend - I have even created a dedicated album for the delights we have cooked!). I have always loved cooking and as my dad reminds me regularly, ‘I am always planning my next meal’. Due to the nature of events and fitting my social life in between, it always meant shopping as and when needed, with little time during the week to cook. I have certainly embraced the joy in preparing menus in advance and venturing off on an ‘essential’ weekly outing to the supermarket.
Martin is without a doubt a more advanced technical cook than myself, but cooking has played a big part in my furlough days, therefore promoting myself from Sous Chef to the Head Chef (with help when I need it!). I have also found a new love for making bread (searching high and low for strong bread flour!!), whether that be a classic white loaf, olive bread, flat breads or pizza bases. They have all turned out edible at least, and watching the dough rise feels like an accomplishment in itself!
Regular family and friends Zoom chats are an essential part of staying ‘sane’ during this pandemic, thinking of creative ways to spend time together virtually that doesn’t involve the 4th quiz of the week, so a virtual Tapas ‘Cook off’ it would be! This consisted of about 8 hours prep in the kitchen, yet only 12 minutes of eating, a fun way to get competitive and create some seriously tasty dishes. Inspired by our very own Cook19 partner, Angela Hartnett, we kicked off the menu with her delicious crab fritters (an absolute delight), followed by staple Spanish tapas; Patatas Bravas, Chorizo en Vino, Deep Fried Garlic and Parsley Squid, Smokey Spanish Meatballs and Garlic and Chilli Prawns, finished with Martin’s showstopper Blackened Cod.
It’s hard to keep yourself busy whilst living in a rented flat with only a balcony as your outside space (that being said, we are extremely grateful that we have that!). Although it feels like I wash up and clean the kitchen about 10 times a day, it is totally worth it, and everyone needs that something to keep them going in these uncertain times. I was initially inspired to cook dishes from our most recent holiday destination, Thailand, experimenting with new recipes like Thai Basil Pork and nailing how to cook rice! Since then we’ve tried lots more, so I have selected a few of our favourite dishes to get everyone inspired to experiment with their dinners, which you can check out below. Happy cooking!