First of all a belated Happy New Year to everyone! I can’t quite believe it’s 2017, which  means I was in Ireland 2 years ago settling into my second week on the course! Hard to believe really – I often find myself looking back and remember just how much I learned during my time at the school – basic kitchen techniques were instilled, along with little tricks about having a business.

I am very much looking forward to 2017 and continuing to grow as a chef – I am headed to Sicily in April to spend a week cooking with Syke Gyngell – a London based chef who inspires me so much in the kitchen. In May I am headed back to Ireland for LitFest – a food and drinks literacy festival at Ballymaloe. I can’t wait for both trips – and am really excited to work on my class schedule after these events!

My classes are filling up for January and February, and I will be putting out my March and April schedule at the end of the month. If there are any classes or workshops you’re hoping to see on the schedule let me know! My workshops are 2 – 2.5 hours, the cost is $65.00 – in these workshops we focus on one technique. I discuss why I use the specific ingredients after doing all of the trial and error testing for you. As with everything we do at The Ruby Apron ingredients are as local and seasonal as can be and of the highest quality. There is a nibble and drink included in these workshops and all recipes are provided in a recipe pack. Workshops are as hands on as you wish. My cooking classes are 3 – 3.5 hours, the cost is $90.00 – in these cooking classes the focus is much more broad. We work through various recipes and simple techniques that fit the theme. There is a strong focus on local, seasonal and quality ingredients. I share my shopping tips and tricks as we go. We taste throughout the class, and sit down at the end to enjoy a meal of the various things we have prepared with a glass or two of wine. All recipes are provided in a recipe pack. I believe we learn through doing, classes are as hands on as you wish.

January + February Schedule – for more information and to register head to the website.

Intro to Yeast Breads | January 22 | 10am – 12pm

Middle Eastern | January 27 | 6pm – 9pm

Bring Back the Dinner Party | February 3 | 6pm – 9pm

Pizza Workshop | February 10 | 6pm – 8pm

Winter Weeknight Meals | February 17 | 6pm – 9pm

Sourdough Workshop | February 26 | 10am – 12pm

One of my favourite food writers is Nigel Slater, I think his recipes are brilliant – simple, often based on a well stocked pantry and fridge, they let one or two ingredients shine, and if you read the way he writes about food, it just makes you want to try his recipes. I had posted a photo of my dinner the other night on Instagram – a night where I didn’t feel much like cooking (yes, it even happens to me!), so I thought I would share one of his recipes with you – it’s from his book Real Cooking. If you’re looking for a new cookbook for some inspiration – check out anything by him!

Pasta with Caramelised Onions, Basil and Cream

I served this more as a side than a main – with chicken and a salad, it was perfect.

2 large onions, peeled

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

butter, about 50g

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

200ml whipping cream

300g of spaghetti

a handful of basil

Cut the onions into segments from shoot to root, about eight from each one. Cook them with the garlic, in a lump of butter, about as big as a walnut, and just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over a low to moderate heat, stirring very occasionally, until the onions are completely soft and golden. This will take a full twenty minutes, if not longer. As they are the point of the sauce, it is worth taking some care over them. Ideally they will be soft enough to crush between your fingers. Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until tender, about nine minutes or so for dried pasta, depending on how soft you like it. Whatever you do, don’t cook it for more than eleven. Meanwhile turn the heat up a little under the onions so that they become a rich brown at the edges. Overcooking will send them bitter. Pour in a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, leave to almost evaporate, then pour in the cream and scatter the basil into the onions, simmer gently at a blow bubble for a couple of minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta, toss with the sauce, and eat while hot.

*I buy De Cecco pasta from the Italian Centre, and cook it as per the package instructions (for spaghetti it is 12 minutes, Nigel Slater wouldn’t approve!) – and to me it is perfect.

*A recipe of very few ingredients, so buy the best quality, you want to taste the onions, garlic, butter, oil, cream and basil. Splurge on a bottle of really good balsamic, not a huge bottle, a tiny one, it should be thick and lovely, not diluted and boring – most of the balsamic we buy is diluted. The Italian Centre has a great selection, ask questions!

Hope you’re all having a great start to 2017!

“A plate of pasta can soothe or startle. Bathed in cream and cheese it will send us to sleep. Spiked with chilli it will make our heart beat faster and our noses run. Pasta is the quintessential mood food. And the choice is up to the cook.” – Nigel Slater