A Day with Florence Knight

Posted on February 8, 2013

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We usually have a rule here that we only write about the things we make.

On Wednesday I spent the day at a cooking Masterclass with Florence Knight, head Chef at Polpetto and I shall write about it because for once I was not the one holding the camera, so you get to see some photographs of me…you lucky people!

Chatting with Florence

No, unfortunately that isn’t me, that is the lovely Florence.

The event was in a stunning house in Putney and I really enjoyed the cab ride across London. I try not to be touristy but I can’t help but enjoy the unshakeable feeling that I am working my way round a larger than life Monopoly board as I travel along Euston Road, down Park Lane and don’t pass ‘Go’.

Tweeting_MG_1464

Here I am, caught on camera, tweeting photos between bouts of chopping and eating. I wasn’t the only one, it seems that we are all social media junkies.

When I walked into the kitchen Florence was washing two beautiful octopuses (or is it octopi?) in the sink; holding them up to the light and inspecting their tentacles. She told us that you can tell if it is a boy as it has an extra long third leg *wink*.

Having not tried octopus, you don’t find a lot of seafood in the Midlands, I was up for trying it later, even though I had just watched Brian Cox’s ‘The Wonders of Life’. Brian extolled the virtues of the octopus and how they are as intelligent as dogs. Knowing how dim Ernie can be at times I decided I wouldn’t let that worry me.

After introductions the first thing we made was tiramisu, to be chilled to eat later. I was so intent on making sure I got my own glass back that you can see me prodding my hand into shot here and saying “There, that one’s MINE.”

Tiramisu making tiramisu

We all got involved with chopping vegetables, herbs and octopus tentacles then making ‘polpette’ meatballs and tomato sauce.

In between times we were taken out of the room to be filmed talking with the Finish team who had arranged the day.

We talked about our blogs, what they are about and why we write them. It’s funny when you get asked those sort of questions, it does make you wonder “Why DO I do it?” It’s certainly not for financial gain. Mainly it is for enjoyment, creativity and as a visual diary, but getting to take part in days like this are a definite bonus in my book.

Peter's Interview

Due to too much chatting with m’colleagues Peter from Delicious, Delicious, Delicious, Danny the Food Urchin and Dom of Belleau Kitchen we realised that all the seats were full. As the losers in a culinary game of musical chairs Danny and I sat at the kitchen island, or the Chef’s Table as we chose to call it.

So while Florence cooked we got to have a good conversation with her about food, cooking and her work…but to be fair, mostly about dogs. I knew from twitter that she has a very cute dog called Guinevere and my gormless ‘aah’ face below is the point at which she told me about her other dog called Edna who is half poodle and half Dachshund and is equally gorgeous.

Claire and FloClaire gormy face

We went on to discuss the problems of photographing black dogs so that they don’t just appear as a bundle of black fur and how one goes about dog walking in Soho.

Anyway, back to the food. My favourite dish of the day was the burrata with blood oranges and oregano. Again this was something we prepared for ourselves, after some background and a demonstration by Florence. Maybe it’s because we have been cutting down on fat and puddings recently but I absolutely adored the creamy soft burrata mozarella based cheese with the sweet, yet tart orange.

As soon as I track some down I will be making this again, or I may even try to make burrata myself. We’ll see. Watch this space, as they say.

Me a'choppingburrata

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, even the bits where we were interviewed on camera about our ‘Top Tips for a dinner party’. My main tips: ‘Don’t call it a dinner party’ and ‘Make sure everyone has a drink in their hand as soon as they get through the door’.

Polpette Food Urchin in a mini apron

So, although this isn’t really a post about the things{we}make it includes some things we made, friends we met and fun we had.

I hope you don’t mind the digression.

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The Back Story

The Masterclass with Florence Knight was arranged by Finish Quantum and all the photos here were taken by their fantastic photographer Charlotte.

A group of food bloggers have been road testing their products over the last couple of months. I was happy to be involved in this project because Finish is a very familiar brand to me. My Mum was always an early adopter of kitchen gadgets so she had a very early dishwasher and she used to use Finish powder and little silver bottles of rinse-aid way back in the 80’s.

I found the first batch of Quantum Powerball to work well, but not much different to other brands and they sometimes left the pots a bit wet.

Then they sent us a ‘new improved’ pack of washing tablets which have a ‘power gel’ in them. I admit that I often pick whichever is on special offer at the time so I was able to make a direct comparison with a few different makes. I was a little cynical at first as sometimes these new improved products seem like marketing tools to get us to try new ranges, but I found these pretty good so I set about giving them a thorough testing.

First I used them on scrambled egg pans, we eat a lot of scrambled eggs and I normally just hand-wash the pans as the dishwasher tends to bake egg onto the surface. I also put grungy roasting pans in the same wash as crystal glasses, sometimes leaving the pots in there to congeal for 24 hours before I switched it on. It performed really well, cleaning everything equally and leaving glasses sparkling and dry. I also like that there is no unwrapping to be done, I can just throw a tablet into the bottom of the dishwasher each time and forget about it, I found it worked better like that than in the dispenser.

On the cooking day I queried the Brand Manager and asked him why the new products are so different and he explained that the Power Gel has a new rinsing agent that helps to ensure glasses are shiny and that the pots dry better. It seems to do the trick. I prefer the Power Gel Original to the ‘kind of fruity’ Apple and Lime and I shall continue to use it…even when my free sample supplies run out!

finishfinish 2

Posted in: Blogging, Claire, Food