Imagine the scene: two master chefs, piles of juicy Jaffa Fruit, the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients and a menu that makes the taste buds sing!
Yes, that was what welcomed us as the winners of our Jaffa Masterclass Competition arrived at the Novelli Academy to cook with chef Jean Christophe Novelli and restauranteur Felice.
We weren’t there to just watch of course, it was straight to work, prepping the Jaffa oranges and a wonderful variety of vegetables ready for the dishes that Jean Christophe had in mind. Despite the hero ingredient appearing in each of the four courses Jean Christophe had planned, the variety of flavours, textures and culinary techniques ensured the winners’ experience was multi-faceted and there was something for everyone to enjoy.
To start, Felice taught us how to make pasta. The simplest and the most versatile base for many a dish, but in this case it was to be used for tortelloni, the larger cousin of the more well known tortellini. Semolina flour and eggs and just a few minutes of mixing and kneading gave us our dough to be rolled out to only a couple of millimetres thick, ready to be cut into squares.
The filling was made using fresh prawns, with Jaffa orange and lemon rind, ginger and fresh parsley. Felice made it all look very easy but the secret to a good tortelloni is not to overfill it. A teaspoon full is all that’s needed before expertly folding the pasta into the familiar shape.
Not only was the filling bursting with Jaffa citrus, the sauce base was with freshly squeezed orange juice simmered together with butter, orange zest, garlic and fresh basil. The cooked pasta was added to the sauce and served immediately. It shouldn’t work, but it really did! Savoury, sweet, and oh so fresh.
Our second course was Trout Escabeche, a new way of cooking fish for all of us! A flavour packed combination of vegetables and orange cooked gently and then poured over a raw trout fillet in a warmed dish is the simple method. the sauce cooks the fish gently simply by resting the dish to one side for at least 30 minutes, but can be left much longer.
Not only does the dish look colourful and tantalising, the flavours are wonderfully delicate, making a light dish that would be delicious served as a lunch on it’s own or as a starter.
The main course is a classic – Duck in Jaffa Orange Sauce. This was quite the centre piece of the meal, and you will have to believe us when we say the aromas that filled the kitchen were mouth watering! The duck was, as you would expect, delicious but the sauce. Oh the sauce! Sweet, rich, deep flavours and married perfectly with the duck. This is a recipe to bookmark for your next dinner party, family celebration, Sunday roast or any other excuse you can think of!
Finally we chose to make a version of our Jaffa Pancakes, Jaffa Crepes Suzette. The batter was enhanced with a splash of orange juice and was not too thick to ensure our pancakes were light and thin and to give us 3 per serving.
The sauce was a happy balance of Jaffa orange juice and zest, butter, sugar and a dash of your choice of liqueur – brandy, cointreau or whiskey for example. Reduced down to a glossy syrup and poured over folded pancakes, the classic Crepes Suzette has never tasted so good!.
With full bellies, smiles on our faces and newly acquired cooking skills and recipes, we had an amazing experience cooking with Jean Christophe Novelli and Felice. While we would have loved to offer you all the opportunity to experience the Novelli Academy, we can offer you the chance to enjoy the food we cooked. The recipes are available on our website ready for you to try for yourselves at home.
Until then, “Bon appetit” and tell them it is #JaffaJoy for tea!