Lessons learned in virtual cookery class, by Cate Devine

What strikes me most about taking part in a virtual cookery class is the number of things you learn without expecting to. For example, the amount of advance prep that’s required from the chef and staff. Receiving one’s box full of each carefully-measured, weighed, portioned, chilled, sometimes partially-cooked, and packaged component of the multiple-course menu, plus printed instructions, is the first thrill. Some are sent to hundreds of participants all over town and beyond. Not only does it makes you realise the sheer hard graft that goes into running a professional kitchen; the added complication of logistics – getting the ingredients safely delivered intact and in compliance with health and safety regs – is pretty impressive.

I took part in one of the first @Home classes hosted by Stuart Leslie, head chef at The Cook School, the sister company of Braehead Foods in Kilmarnock. The £50-for-two menu was Italian and we made aubergine cannelloni (ten ingredients), mushroom risotto (11 ingredients), chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham (four ingredients), and chef kindly threw in a pre-made vanilla Panna Cotta for dessert. The equipment list packed into my box required some 19 items to be found around my kitchen and laid out in advance (a useful time-saver during the 90-minute class).  

My mis-en-place sorted according to chef Stuart Leslie’s instructions

The second thing I learned that night was how great it was to be able to ogle other participants’ kitchens. Forget politicians’ bookcases being featured on news channels as TV interviews have been conducted at home, following social distancing guidelines: this was far more interesting, if a little envy-inducing.

The third thing was how to chop an onion. Finally. Chef Stuart cheerfully – and tearlessly – demonstrated how you’re meant to cut the top of the onion off and keep the root on so that vertical slices stay together until you cut the root off. Bravo. As the atmosphere between us and the dozen or so others was relaxed and full of banter, helped along by the fact that most of us had a glass of wine to hand, I didn’t feel embarrassed at my ignorance.

“There’s no such thing as a silly question, as we’re here to be comfortable as we go,” chef Stuart assured me. I’ve since been told that someone in another class on vegetarian cookery enquired about the best way to cook a steak.

So I wasn’t abashed to discover that risotto should be served slightly sloppy, otherwise it’s more of a paella, and that it should be eaten on a cold plate to stop it continuing to cook and congeal.

Speed, precision, keeping the work station clean and tidy, sticking to the plan and paying attention to detail were also important lessons I learned as a home cook. Thanks to chef, I was really pleased with the end result of my dishes.

I also discovered that the presentation skills of the host chef are key to the whole thing. Chef Stuart has been running The Cook School for some years now, so is used to performing in front of an audience. Others may have to learn this – it’s no longer the case that a chef’s life is destined to be led in obscurity, stuck behind the stove. If the Coronavirus pandemic continues and lockdowns are imposed around the country, online classes are set to stay.

“Doing live classes were Stuart’s idea, and the reaction and feedback so far have been absolutely brilliant,” says Craig Stevenson, managing director of Braehead Foods. “They were designed for lockdown to cater for those working from home, learning to cook, who need a break or a date night, but can’t go out to eat,” he says. “We will be continuing this into the future even if lockdown stops. It’s a good way to educate and entertain customers, while helping local producers and suppliers and even delivery drivers stay in work.”

My version of the aubergine cannelloni …

About Cate Devine

As a journalist, Cate has been covering developments in food and drink for over 25 years, variously as a deputy monthly magazine editor; weekly magazine editor; daily newspaper commissioning features editor, women’s editor, senior writer and food specialist; and latterly freelance contributor, broadcaster and interviewer.

To view more of Cate’s writing, please visit her blog: https://www.catedevinewriter.com/

Facebook Live Kids Cookery Demo 28/5/20

Tomorrow’s Facebook Go Live starts at 11am where the Cook School’s Head Chef Stuart, along with Chef Andy, will be cooking us through making scones – a firm favourite with the kids we know! We’ll be demo’ing plain, sultnan and chocolate chip. Below is everything you’ll need to cook along..!


• 40g self raising flour
• 50g caster sugar
• 115g unsalted butter
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 300ml buttermilk
• 50g sultanas
• 50g chocolate chips
• 1 egg

Equipment List for Cooking Along:

Ingredients measured out | Mixing bowl | Rolling pin | Dusting flour | Cutter or cutters, depending on how you’d like to cut them | Whisk | Pastry brush | Lined tray | Cooling wire


1. Put flour, sugar, butter and baking powder into bowl and using both hands rub the butter in to dry ingredients until evenly dispersed.

2. Add buttermilk.

3. Divide mixture into 3, adding sultanas and chocolate chips into the mixtures and leaving one plain.

4. Roll out and cut to desired shape.

5. Place on lined tray, egg wash and bake at 180c for 20 minutes.

6. Dust with icing sugar and serve with butter and jam.

Facebook Live Kids Cookery Demo 20/5

Sausage rolls

  • 2 sheets butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame seeds
  • 600g sausage meat
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • Nutmeg
  • 4 sprigs flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper


1. Mix all the ingredients together and cook a small disc in a pan to check the flavour. Spoon the mix into a piping bag.

2. Roll out your pastry and then pipe a long 3cm thick sausage along the pastry edge 2cm from the edge. Brush with egg along the side of the sausage and fold over. Crimp with a fork.  Cut into your desired size, Brush the tops with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

3. Rest in the fridge for 10 minutes while the oven is heating. Put the oven on 200°C and bake the sausage rolls for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Milkshake

  • Makes 1 x 20cm square tin
  • 185g Butter
  • 185g good quality dark chocolate
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 250g sugar
  • 85g flour
  • 40g cocoa


1. Pre heat oven to 180c or 160c fan assisted.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter over a water bath.

3. Whisk the whole eggs and sugar till pale light and fluffy.

4. Sieve together the flour and cocoa.

5. Fold the chocolate mix gently in to the egg mix.

6. Fold in the flour and bake for 20 mins. The brownie should be soft and squidgy with a light crust on top.

Facebook LIVE Recipes 17 May 2020

Chicken Bhoona + Pilaf Rice

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced into suitable chunks
    • 1 tsp of vegetable oil
    • 4 curry leaves
    • 2 white onion, finely diced
    • 2 green cardamom pods
    • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
    • 3 whole cloves
    • Half a cinnamon stick
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 50g tomato puree
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 150ml chicken stock
    • Small bunch of coriander
    • Salt and pepper


1. Put a large pan on a medium low heat and add ghee/oil, curry leaves, chopped onions, cardamom, mustard seeds, cloves, and cinnamon and cumin seeds. Cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions have turned a golden colour and have reduced. The onions must not fry but cook down very slowly as this method ensures the flavour and correct consistency of the final sauce. It can take up to 20-30 mins for the onions to cook correctly.

2. Add the tomato puree, sugar, garam marsala, turmeric and chili powder to the pan and stirring occasionally until the spices are cooked out.

3. Add the chicken stock and reduce down slowly, put chicken in and cook for around 10 minutes

4. Once chicken is cooked season accordingly and add loads of chopped coriander.

Pilaf Rice

  • 200g long grain rice
  • 350ml of warm chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 white onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt and pepper
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • 25g butter


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c, Heat a large oven proof dish on a medium heat, add the butter and melt

2. When it starts to foam, add the onion and cook for 10 minutes to a light golden colour. Add the garlic and cumin seeds, cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining spices and bay leaf, followed by the rice, salt and pepper

3. Stir until the rice is well coated, add in the stock and bring to the boil. Then cover with a sheet of baking parchment cut to size, place a tight fitting lid on top and bake in the oven until all the stock is absorbed and allow to rest with the lid on.

4. After 5 minutes remove the parchment, fork gently, add some chopped fresh coriander leaf and serve.

Garlic + Coriander Flat Breads

  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 15g fresh yeast or 3.5g dried yeast
  • 140ml milk
  • 140g natural yoghurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and pureed
  • Small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • 150g melted butter


1. Sieve all the dry ingredients together and put in the chopped coriander. Add the garlic puree into the melted butter and sit at the side of the stove to keep warm.

2. Heat the Milk for 1 minute on full power in the microwave and stir in the yoghurt, dissolve in the yeast. Add this mixture to the flour to form dough.

3. Knead until smooth then cover and prove until doubled in size. Divide mix into golf ball sized pieces and roll into the classic teardrop shapes. Heat a non stick frying pan put in the flat bread and cook for 3 minutes until you have a golden crust, flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Brush with the melted garlic butter on both sides and serve straight away while still warm.

Lockdown in the Sun – Recipes

If you fancy taking advantage of the weather and having a bbq, these baby back ribs are the perfect bbq treat 👇

Barbecue Baby Back Rib Recipe

😋 12 meaty pork ribs
😋 1 tsp olive oil
😋 1 white onion, finely chopped
😋 400g chopped tomato
😋 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
😋 85g brown sugar
😋 35ml malt vinegar
😋 35ml Worcestershire sauce
😋 1 tsp tomato purée


1. Heat oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat 4-5 mins, until softened.
2. Put the ribs in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins.
3. Add remaining ingredients to the saucepan with onion, season and mix. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 mins, until thickened.
4. Once ready, blitz the sauce and pass it through a sieve to make sure its smooth.
5. Drain the ribs well, then brush with BBQ sauce.
3. Grill or barbecue for 15-20 mins, turning from time to time until shiny and slightly charred in places.

Saturday Night Fake Away

Fancy some Saturday night fake away? Check out the recipe for one of our favourite dishes from our Chinese Demo & Dine…Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

  • 1 chicken breast trimmed and cut into chunks


  • 3 tsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tsp dry sherry
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Small piece fresh root ginger grated


  • 50g cornflour
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • Salt and pepper


  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Small piece fresh root ginger finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 150g fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Coriander


  • 100g cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml water


1. Mix the chicken with the marinade ingredients and leave to sit for at least 15 mins, or chill for a few hours. In a separate bowl, mix all the coating ingredients. Drain any excess liquid off the chicken and toss the chicken in the coating. This can be done 1 hr ahead.

2. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a shallow saucepan and gently fry the garlic, ginger and pepper until just starting to soften. Now drop in all the rest of the ingredients except the sesame seeds. Bring everything to the boil and cook for a few mins until thickened, then take off the heat. To make the batter, whisk the cornflour and baking powder together with the water to a smooth paste.

3. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer, large saucepan or a wok to 180C or until a drop of batter sizzles and browns in 20 secs. Dip the coated chicken in the batter mix, do it in 2 or 3 batches and let any excess drip off. Fry the chicken in batches for about 5-6 mins or until golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper until all the batches are done. Make sure you bring the oil back to the correct temperature between each batch. Coat the chicken in sauce, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and coriander.

Egg Fried Rice

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 200g long-grain rice (uncooked weight), cooked and left to go cold
  • 100g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce


1. Beat together the egg and sesame oil and put to one side.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. When it’s warm add the rice and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes until completely heated through.

3. Add the peas and spring onions. Stir-fry the rice constantly around the pan for about 3 minutes. Season well with soy sauce then push the rice to one side of the pan. Pour the beaten egg mixture into the other side and leave for about 10 seconds so it begins to set. Using a fork, briskly swirl around the egg to break it up and then toss around with the rice. Stir-fry for a further minute and serve straight away.

Bake at Home this Easter

🐣🐰 These individual carrot cakes are the perfect Easter treat, whether for yourself, for the kids or as treats for family, friends and neighbours! Don’t forget to send us your photos if you make them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or by email to [email protected], we love to see everything you’re all baking at home…

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing + Marzipan Carrots

Makes 9

🐰 120g light soft brown sugar
🐣 120ml vegetable oil
🐰 2 eggs (beaten)
🐣 120g self raising flour
🐰 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
🐣 1 tsp mixed spice
🐰 Freshly grated nutmeg
🐣 100g grated carrot
🐰 75g pecan nuts (optional)
🐣 75g raisins


1. Pre heat oven to 180c or 160c fan assisted.
2. Beat the sugar and oil till smooth and combined, gradually add the beaten eggs.
3. Sieve together the flour, bicarb and spices and add to the wet mixture.
4. Fold the carrots, nuts and raisins through the cake batter.
5. Fill your cases three quarters up as the cake will rise as it cooks.
6. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing

🐣 200g Cream cheese
🐰 100g icing sugar
🐣 50g Soft unsalted butter
🐰 1 orange


1. Beat cream cheese and butter till fully combined and finely grate in the zest of the orange.
2. Add the sieved icing sugar one spoon at a time.
3. Pipe on to the top of your cooled cakes

Marzipan Carrots

🐣 30g marzipan
🐰 Orange food colouring
🐣 Red food colouring
🐰 Small bunch curly parsley, washed thoroughly.


1. Tint marzipan with orange and red food colouring, a drop at a time, to reach desired colour.
2. Divide the coloured marzipan into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and then roll into logs, tapering 1 end, to resemble carrots.
3. Carrots will keep, covered, for up to 1 week. When ready to use, cut a slit into the end of each carrot and slip in a piece of parsley.


NEW Home Delivery Service

Working with our sister business Braehead Foods we have launched a new home delivery service in the Kilmarnock area in light of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.

The Cook School Shop has been serving the local community for many years, but now Braehead Foods have opened their warehouse stock to customers while also producing freshly made ready meals from their Production Kitchen.

When the company took the decision to close their shop to protect staff and customers, they began taking phone orders which customers could collect from their warehouse. They have now extended this to a delivery service to Kilmarnock and surrounding areas.

HOW TO ORDER: For delivery and collection, please order on 01563 550008 between 8am and 2pm Monday to Friday.

COLLECTION: Order from 8am until 2pm Monday to Friday for collection until 2pm daily from our Braehead Foods Ltd warehouse, to the rear of our building at Moorfield Park, Kilmarnock, KA2 0FE.

DELIVERY: Order by phone before 2pm Monday to Friday and we will aim to deliver the same day (Monday to Friday). Delivery charge £5. ​

DELIVERY LOCATIONS: Crosshouse, Knockentiber, Kilmaurs, Stewarton, Fenwick, Galston, Newmilns, Hurlford, Crookedholm, Symington, Dundonald, Moscow, Gatehead and Kilmarnock.

BEST SELLERS: 5kg chicken breasts, 1kg mince, tray of eggs, bacon, lorne sausage, pork sausages, penne pasta, macaroni, fusilli, rice, cheese, black pudding, burgers, flour and ready meals.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update

UPDATE – June classes now added to cancelled classes. All bookings will be rescheduled and customers should have received an email to confirm this. If you have not received this, please email us at [email protected]

Class Cancellation – March, April & May

Unfortunately due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 Coronavirus, we have taken the decision to cancel all classes with immediate effect through to 30th May. We have also temporarily closed our cafe, takeaway and shop until the government deem it safe for our staff to return to work, although we are operating a collection and home delivery service.

We hope we do not cause any inconvenience or disappointment, but hope that you can understand why we have had to take this difficult decision.

We have not cancelled any classes further than this at the moment but we will continue to monitor and assess the situation and will be in touch with affected customers should anything change.

At this time anyone with a booking during the affected time range will have their booking for that date cancelled. Please rest assured that your booking will be moved to on hold and we will be in touch with you to re-organise a new date as soon as we know when classes will resume.

If you booked this class with gift vouchers please don’t worry about the expiry date we will honour all of these until the end of October and ensure you can get booked in to a suitable date.

Gift Vouchers

If you have gift vouchers due to expire in April, May or June we will be extending these automatically through to the end of October to give you plenty of time to book in.

National Pie Week – Steak Pie Recipe

Individual Steak Pie, Creamed Potatoes & Carrots

Individual Steak Pie Ingredients

  • 100g braising steak, cut into cubes
  • Plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, for dusting
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 pork links
  • Salt and pepper
  • 70ml hot beef stock
  • 200g ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Small bunch thyme leaves only


  1. Dust the cubed steak with the seasoned flour
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan and fry the meat, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides.
  3. Add the diced onions, herbs, salt and freshly ground black pepper and the stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for an hour and a half. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c. Cook sausages, then slice up and add to steak mixture.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a dish to cool down this will make it easier to line the pie dishes.
  7. Brush tins with oil and push puff pastry into them being careful not to cause any tears.
  8. Fill generously with steak and sausage mix and brush rim of pie with a little beaten egg carefully before cutting an appropriately sized lid and sealing it on top.
  9. Eggs wash thoroughly and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Creamed Potato Ingredients

  • 1kg red rooster potatoes cut into even chunks
  • 125ml double cream
  • 25g butter
  • 25g crème fraiche
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole nutmeg


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes and boil for about 15 mins or until tender. Transfer to a colander and drain well, then return to the pan and set over a very low heat for 2 mins to dry completely.
  2. Heat the cream and butter in a small pan, then pour over the potatoes. Remove pan from the heat, then mash potatoes using an electric hand whisk or potato masher. Tip in the crème fraiche and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
  3. Season with salt, pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately

Carrot Ingredients

  • 250g carrots, chopped to desired shape
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Small bunch thyme leaves only
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Peel and cut your carrots then boil in slightly salted water for 8-10 mins depending on the size you have cut them.
  2. Strain then place on a suitable tray with the butter, cumin, thyme and salt and pepper then roast for 5 mins at 200 degrees to give them a nice glaze.