Earlier this month I was invited to the launch of the lovely Marcus Bean’s new cookery school and B&B – Brompton Cookery School and Bed and Breakfast. It is a beautiful farm conversion nestled into the stunning Shropshire countryside, with bed and breakfast accommodation, state of the art cookery school, kitchen gardens and incredible views across the surrounding National Trust estate. Of course, all this made so much better by Marcus Bean and his beautiful family at the helm, after recently purchasing the business.
Category Archives: Cookery Schools
Imagine being able to cook up close and personal with your favourite celebrity chef… well, I got to live the dream at Cactus Kitchens where I had a day cookery course with none other than Michel Roux Junior and Monica Galetti! It was truly an experience I will be telling the grand children about and I’m so excited to share it with you here.
Cactus Kitchens are based in Clapham, just of the high street. The recently renovated building is stunning and the kitchen has been designed to the highest quality specification. We were told Michel Roux helped with the design so it’s not surprising! The kitchen is actually above the Saturday Kitchen television studio, so as you go in you can see where James Martin et al spend their Saturday mornings!
There are 12 workstations and the demonstration area, where everyone sits very close to watch the chef cook the dish, giving you tips and the opportunity to ask lots of questions too. As it’s so relaxed and informal, if you want to get up to see something up close you just hop off your stool and take a peek.
Our first course was a celeriac and crayfish gratin, almost like a quiche filling but in a little ramekin dish instead. The basic recipe is eggs, cream, fish, spices and vegetables (celery and celeriac) but it got me thinking about all the different things you can put into this dish. It is also served at room temperature, and can be refrigerated first, so it makes the perfect dinner party starter!
The main was a fish stew with chorizo – another great dinner party dish as you can prepare the stew in advance (ingredients as seen below plus flour, white wine, stock and spices). Once you are ready to serve, you place the fish into the pan, turn off the heat and let it cook through the residual heat.
We used sustainable, budget friendly pollack, then sprinkled it with saffron.
The final dish not only looks impressive but tastes delicious too!
Dessert was this beautiful rhubarb upside down cake. I loved making it so much that I made it for my family the following weekend!
Made with perfectly pink forced rhubarb which is in season now.
I hate washing up, so one of the nicest things about the course is the luxury of people clearing up after you!
The whole day had been perfectly planned out with wines chosen by the Saturday Kitchen experts to go with our lunch and dishes that we had cooked. I only wished I wasn’t driving so I could have had more… and more of the delicious champagne we were served too!!
The Many Faces of Monica Galetti
Monica always gets caught out on MasterChef: The Professionals as her facial expressions give her away as she watches people cook. We got a taste of this on the course as she cooked in front of us and answered our questions… Add in your own captions here!
I love this picture, it really shows Monica’s warm, friendly side. This really shone through on the course as she talked about her young daughter and home life, showing a side you would never get to see on the TV!
At the end, after eating the fruits of our learning and labour, we had the chance to sit and chat with Michel and Monica. They were more than happy to sign your apron (a great souvenir from the day!) or cook books and have pictures taken too!
There are a range of chefs you can choose from for the courses (FYI they aren’t cheap) and as you can see from my coverage here, you really get quality time with the chefs and are in the most luxurious surroundings. The ability level required for the course wasn’t particularly high, although if you were a really good cook you could still get a lot from the tips and support from both the celebrity chefs and the brilliant gentleman (oh gosh I’ve forgotten his name!) who heads up the kitchens there, who really knows his stuff. There are enough people there to help if you get stuck, and to make you drinks when you want them too. Oh, and you get a lunch (with wine) with the chefs and get to take any leftovers home to impress your loved ones! As you can tell, I had a really good time!
Take a look at the Cactus Kitchens Website for more details on the courses, and let me know if you have been or are planning to go on one!
My latest food find, which I know really isn’t a food, is Laura Amos’s eagerly anticipated debut recipe book – The Dessert Deli Cook Book. Finally it is on sale and fans of her desserts will now be able to recreate her delicious delights at home. I’m rather excited about being mentioned in the credits – Laura is a great friend and I loved brainstorming ideas, recipes and formats for the book over roast dinners and afternoon ciders!
From her signature chocolate mousse with honeycomb to her fabulous flapjacks there is a great selection of desserts, cakes, treats and a special Christmas section too! Laura gives great tips on ingredients, equipment and tweaking recipes to make them your own. I love the photography which helps to guide on how your finished recipe should look and watch out, it will certainly make your mouth water!
You can either buy directly from Laura at one of her markets (follow her on twitter to find our where she is), get a signed copy from the publishers , find in good book shops, or get a bargain price online from Amazon! I will be certainly be buying a few of these for Christmas presents this year.
Have you got your hands on The Dessert Deli Cook Book yet? If so, have you tried any of the recipes? I can’t wait to get baking!
Last weekend I was up in Glasgow for the BBC Good Food Show Scotland. I think most will agree it was one of the best shows yet with a great celebrity chef line up, including the lovely Hairy Bikers, and an even better selection of speciality, artisan and passionate producers from across Scotland, the British Isles and the world!
It’s our London show next week (9th -11th at Olympia) so I’m super busy getting ready for that… but here is a quick run down of my highlights in pictures. Just click on the post title if you can’t see the images!
The show started with a bang as Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry opened the show – after the ribbon was cut thousands of food lovers burst into the show to start their fabulous food experience! It’s a great sight to see, and always gives me goosebumps as the show officially comes to life.
Borders Biscuits were asking visitors to decide whether their new Christmas spiced biscuit should be put into mainstream production. We put our deciding token into the ‘Oh Goodness they’re yummy’ box!
The lovely Kate from Gower Cottage dishing out her amazing brownies…
Whole Foods Market Glasgow were sampling and selling sourdough loaves, giant meringues and Prosecco!
Have you tried Boozeberries liqueurs? Fresh berries inside gorgeous Irish artisan fruit liqueurs… I’m going to be buying some at the London Show for adding something special to sparkling wine at Christmas.
A quick break for delicious fresh cream filled meringues and scones from the Dancing Goat!
Mr Puddledub Buffalo giving out advice on how to cook his fresh buffalo meat.
A quick stop backstage led me to bump into the Hairy Bikers – Si and Dave look great after their dieting and I must say Si looked like a rock star with his skinny jeans!
What is your Christmas meat of choice? A Taste of Galloway were sampling their succulent goose, which is a lovely luxurious way to celebrate at Christmas.
The Champagne Bar was a welcome addition to the show…
We paid a visit to have a well deserved glass of champagne at the end of the day on Saturday – cheers!
We even had a shark!
Only a lucky few of us get to go up and work at our Scotland Show – so the team back in Teddington were delighted that we brought back a range of flavours from the wonderful Ochil Fudge Pantry!
I think my highest highlight was walking Mary Berry around the Producers’ Village before the show opened, she was so enthusiastic and interested in the producers and produce!
And now its on to the next one – London is next week, and then our flagship show at the NEC is on the 28th Nov – 2nd Dec. See you there?!
I have decided to introduce a new element to this blog, a weekly post dedicated to my ‘Food Find of the Week’. I regularly meet wonderful producers, retailers and food lovers, and find new products, books, cool shops and places to eat and drink – it seems a shame not to share my favourites here on my blog, and by going weekly I have no excuses but to post!
I speak to a mix of well established, popular producers that you may already know and people who may just be in the development stages of their business – I love asking questions about why they came to do what they do, why their products are so great and whether there is anything new in the pipeline.
Look out for my ‘Food Find of the Week’ on Wednesday!
Oh, and just in case you thought any differently, please be assured that I will only write about things I genuinely love/ like/ am excited about on this blog.
One of my 30th Birthday gifts (from my lovely sister) was a baking day at the River Cottage. We stayed in Axminster for the weekend, had a wonderful meal at the River Cottage Canteen, and made the most of being by the seaside by including a fossil hunting expedition. The baking day was full on, with a great mix of learning, watching, making, socialising and lots of eating!
Back in August I visited La Cucina Caldesi to try Giancarlo Caldesi’s Italian Butcher Cookery Course. I was promised meat, meat and more meat and it sounded great! I hadn’t ever been to a cookery lesson or course before, so I was really excited and unsure what to expect from the day.
I arrived early at their Marylebone cookery school, and was greeted with coffee and biscotti by the very friendly, and very Italian, cookery assistants. Giancarlo then appeared, unfortunately with a limp after falling from a ladder, with a cheeky smile on his face despite his obvious discomfort. He is one of the most enthusiastic, charming and funny men I have ever met and it was a pleasure to watch him teach and share his passion for food.