We sent our Art Editor Rob for a day of festive fun at Demuth’s Cookery School in Bath to learn how to rustle up and impressive and delicious Christmas feast. Find out how he got on and what new dishes he’ll be adding to his festive menu this year…
Set in the stunning location at the heart of Bath is Demuths Cookery School.
Offering a range of cookery courses from Far Eastern, Fast & Delicious to Christmas, everyone is catered for from beginners to accomplished cooks. I was partaking in the Vegan Festive Christmas (£180) which promises to show you how to take the stress out of Christmas festive cookery.
The selection of festive beauties to be created were: mushroom and pearl barley sausage rolls, chilli jam, cauliflower head with festive stuffing balls with Tahini sauce, Hasselback squash with pecan, maple and chilli, kalettes with sesame seeds, crispy spiced potato roasties and, last but not, least chocolate cranberry torte with boozy orange Labna.
We had the delightful head chef Helen to teach us and guide us through our fun-filled and tasty day.
The course is taught with just the right amount of demonstration and help throughout. For each stage during the day, you are shown how to do it and the best techniques to make it happen. Then it is your turn.
With all the ingredients given to you for that particular stage, all you have to do is copy your tutor, then ask if you have forgotten anything or have any problems. We were even shown correct knife techniques and safety to help with the day. Helen takes courses in knife safety, so I really learnt a few things there.
It is really enjoyable making all main and side dishes throughout the day. The amount of spices and oils that are used is amazing. You also have a much better understanding of how all these affect the flavour of the dish as you are encouraged to smell and taste during the cooking process to see what a difference it makes.
The atmosphere is very jovial and everyone is encouraged to muck in with one another. I particularly enjoyed making the sausage rolls as they are so quick and easy, yet you feel so productive as you can make a good volume of them in no time. They also taste particularly wonderful which helps to boot. I also loved rubbing in the herbs and spices into the cauliflower head, then brushing in the oils and more spices – the colour that the cauliflower goes from outside to in is night and day in difference.
Halfway through the day you get to sit down at a large dining table to discuss your experience, then sample some of the festive goodies that you have already made. The sausage rolls with the exquisite chilli jam did not last long! The assistant chef very quickly rustled up a salad of minced root vegetables, cabbage, roasted pecans, oils, spices and herbs which was quite honestly the best salad I have ever tasted in my life. It resembled a small mountain on the plate and was quickly demolished.
Cooking then carries on for the afternoon and a demonstration with you all sat around for the Chocolate cranberry torte. At this point, we were all poured a glass of bubbly to enjoy as we watched. Once we had finished cooking and tools were downed, we headed back to the dining table where everything was served. Perhaps the best part of the day was the fact that as you cook you simply hand over your washing up to a kitchen hand who washes up your utensils and have them back to you in no time!
More fizz, red and white wine and also apple juice was served with the Christmas meal….I would advise getting the train or bus if you would like to have a few drinks (unfortunately I was driving so it was just the one)!
The meal was a veritable smorgasbord of flavours to really push the tastebuds to absolute delight. The cauliflower head with stuffing balls was my favourite dish of the day. When cut into it went from dark brownie orange to a lovely yellowy white.
The tahini sauce was a real treat. In my eyes, we should have made more and drowned the cauliflower in it as it was soooo good. The two different types of stuffing balls were delicious – a herb ball and a Mediterranean themed ball. They really added to the dish, making it a fantastic choice for your Christmas day.
All the side dishes gave a nice variety of flavours, almost too much to chose from which is a nice conundrum.
I really really enjoyed my day, I found it very interesting and the tutors engaged with you. The food well….that was top drawer and I will certainly be making all of these dishes for half of my family at Christmas. I would love to make it for the entire family, but that is the way the cookie crumbles!
If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for your loved ones this year then why not consider a gift voucher for Demuth’s Cookery School?
Image credit: Rob Eyres Photography