Cour­ses and deli

How to make ar­ti­san cheese in Der­byshire and stock up on cured meat in Lon­don

Food and Travel (UK) - - Contens -

Tim Mad­dams talks quickly. Which is just as well, as we’ve got a lot to get through. The for­mer head chef of River Cot­tage Can­teen’s course in ar­ti­san foods cov­ers bread bak­ing, cheese­mak­ing, pre­serv­ing, hot smok­ing and pasta, all in one day. Yet things don’t feel rushed in the airy and well-ap­pointed kitchens of Sea­soned Cook­ery School. Tim gives a se­ries of demon­stra­tions, af­ter each of which we, his 11 ap­pren­tices, have a go at our­selves.

We start with fo­cac­cia and Tim re­peats the old adage that ‘wet­ter is bet­ter’ when it comes to dough, adding the less-well-known advice that it should be sticky ‘like chewing gum on a coach seat in the 1970s’. He also ad­vo­cates putting an unglazed floor tile in your oven to help reg­u­late the tem­per­a­ture.

While the dough for our fo­cac­cia is ris­ing, we turn our at­ten­tion to mak­ing cheese with raw milk from the farm owned by Sea­soned’s pro­pri­etor Clare Ma­jor. Warmed to body tem­per­a­ture and with ren­net added, it sep­a­rates into set curds and whey. We tie the curds up in muslin and hang them on a hat stand to drain.

Next up is pasta. Tra­di­tion­ally it’s made with very hard du­rum wheat but we’re us­ing finely milled white spelt in­stead, which is much eas­ier to knead and roll (by hand, of course) be­fore we form it into pinched lit­tle di­a­monds called strichetti. These are to be our lunch, served along­side a sim­ple but de­li­cious sauce made from cau­li­flower soft­ened in olive oil with chilli and gar­lic.

Hav­ing eaten, it’s time to knock back our breads, make a but­ter­nut squash pickle and watch Tim demon­strate how to hot-smoke trout fil­lets be­fore bak­ing our fo­cac­cias and check­ing the cheeses. The loaves, driz­zled with plenty of olive oil be­fore bak­ing, come out of the oven with a glo­ri­ous golden crust and chewy in­te­rior.

One usu­ally eats well on cook­ery cour­ses but hav­ing a take­away goodie bag is the real treat here. The cheese, I dis­cover, is nice when eaten fresh but it’s even bet­ter when it’s treated like pa­neer and lightly grilled or fried. I can’t wait to get some ren­net and start ex­per­i­ment­ing at home. And, of course, that’s the real bonus: af­ter just one day with Tim we have come away with skills and tech­niques that can be built on and adapted for years to come. CH.

The ar­ti­san food course costs £165. Day and half-day cour­ses are avail­able, rang­ing from ba­sics such as bread bak­ing to spe­cial­i­ties in­clud­ing pasta mak­ing and game cook­ery. sea­soned­courses.com

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