Monday Morning Cooking Club: Road Trip to Wahroonga
It’s Saturday morning and I am off to Wahroonga for a class run by Martin Teplitzky at his cooking academy, Take2Eggs. Martin is the son of the very famous cookbook author, Gretta Anna Teplitzsky (she of the renowned orange and aqua cookbooks that have adorned my bookshelves for over 25 years). My connection with Gretta Anna goes further than her books; she was one of the contributing cooks in our first book, Monday Morning Cooking Club, sharing with us her legendary palascinta and her husband’s favourite – baked custard with strawberries.
I am lucky enough to be joined by foodies extraordinaires, Jessie Goldberg and Georgia Cohen (aka @Foodjunkiess). We start our adventure with our favourite morning blend of coffee from Allpress, at The Butcher’s Block in Wahroonga – a fabulous, industrially styled cafe tucked away behind the train station. It is packed with locals and the queue to get in means a twenty-minute wait. But I’m with good company and happy to take our time.
Coffee done, we then drive through lush bushland which surprisingly is home not only to Take2Eggs but also to a friendly wallaby and very large lizard!
Heading down a long driveway flanked by the Rose Seidler House (a Bauhaus-styled home designed by architect Harry Seidler) we arrive at our destination (also a house designed by Seidler). Martin himself welcomes us at the door, kindly offering us coffee, tea or a glass of wine. It’s never too early for a glass of wine it seems! After a quick tour of the kitchen, with copper pots adorning the painted red walls, we immediately grab front row seats and sit, awaiting the class, eager for what is in store.
Martin starts with a brief introduction about himself (and his interesting cooking journey that has taken him all over the world) and then about his mother and mentor – the woman who helped shape the man he is today, Gretta Anna. With so many exercise books filled with her gorgeous recipes and annotations that she had left behind, Martin was inspired to use them for this class – Gretta Anna Revisited.
The first recipe of the day is Soup de Poisson with Rouille – a fish soup made from prawns, fish, fish bones and head and a beautiful fresh vegetable stock. The rouille is a capsicum, saffron and chili mayonnaise that Martin whips up in front of us (and makes it look so easy!). We managed to put the confronting images of whole fish heads (bones and all!) being blitzed up into our food to enjoy a lovely tea-cupful of this soup with a dollop of the spicy rouille.
Next he starts the prep for the well-known and iconic Gateau Helene, comprised of sliced orange sponge cakes layered with three different fillings and topped with an icing. At first the recipe for the cake seems a little overwhelming with all its components, yet Martin walks us through step by step and makes it seem really do-able. This is a rich, moist, and indulgent treat to delight any sweet tooth. And it looks spectacular! Working from bottom to top, Martin starts with a base cake, slathering on an icing of coffee and almonds. Then another cake topped with jam and glacè fruits, followed by another cake layer covered in chocolate and walnuts. The spectacle was complete with the top tier and shiny gooey chocolatey ganache.
The third recipe he prepares is definitely our favourite of the day – the twice-baked cheese soufflé. My mouth is still watering! This is a fabulous dish that can be partly made in advance, and completed just before serving. Despite popular belief that soufflés are difficult to master, Martin proves that theory wrong. We feel that we can all now recreate this dish at home. Being a cheese lover this is right up my alley – sooooo light and fluffy and a real melt in your mouth experience. We are amazed that the soufflé can be brought back to life after being cooked twice – and it actually enhances the flavour.
We love sampling the three recipes – all are so delicious! We can’t wait to come back and do another class, it’s a wonderful way to spend a Saturday. We say our goodbyes and, with our newfound souffle skills, set off home past the lizard, the wallaby and the two famous Seidler homes. It really is a day of firsts…
NOTE: I was lucky enough to be a guest of Take2Eggs for this class. A special thanks to Georgia Cohen and Jessie Goldberg for assisting me with the writing of this piece!