No2 Learn to cook fish

When I was at school, cookery classes were called Home Economics and involved half of the time in a classroom talking about vitamins and the other half seeing if you could ruin food sufficiently to ensure there was no vitamin content left. This was my experience and my three kitchen based classes resulted in burning myself and burning a saucepan. The only output of note was a tray of biscuits which had become one large biscuit as I had failed to add sufficient flour! I was sent back to woodwork in disgrace.

I watch the celebrity chefs produce beautiful dishes and I resolved that this needed to go on the list. No more disappointed faces around the family dinner table and hand gestures indicating Gaviscon may be required, when they realised I have cooked rather than supplied a takeaway.

I went to Rick Steins cookery school in Padstow. Twelve people were on the course which was designed to provide an introduction to fish cookery. The format was that we needed to pair up and work as a team. The only other single individual was Andrew - an interim Financial Director from the Homes Counties - and so it came to pass that two accountants got to play Chef for the day. Andrew had been on several courses before and was a dab hand at everything, apart from killing things and cutting things up where my West Country background proved invaluable.

Dish number one : Kill a crab and cook it. There is a reason why the crabs are supplied cold - it makes them docile- Andrew picked ours up and took a good look at it. Gradually the crab woke up, and was really going for it by the time he refused to stun and kill it - my chance to shine! Job done ! Andrew got to clean it out and the team spirit was well underway.

Dish number two - Linguine alla Vongole (clams and pasta). Andrew set about preparing the sauce and he allowed me to scrub the clams. The clams were to be steamed in white wine, glasses of which duly appeared for consumption and steaming. Andrew was too busy to stop me, so I whipped his wine off the table for steaming purposes- which worked as he was certainly steaming when he realised what I had done. I drank mine quickly before he could lay claim, and got both glasses re filled- team unity was restored.

There were four dishes in total, and I can say that I can now make homemade mayonnaise, fish cakes, prepare a crab, and steam clams with confidence.

Things I have learned : Don't chat up a crab whilst it is still alive, it can be quite nasty. Interim Accountants are quite good fun and the Rick Stein course can save a fortune in indigestion remedies.
http://www.rickstein.com/Seafood-School.html