Learning how to cook at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street

I eat out a lot as I travel for work and when I am back home I do not always have time to prepare complex meals. When I cook though, I tend to prepare the same things over and over again. I decided that this has to change as I’ve put on a lot of weight recently. I spoke to my husband and researched some cookery schools. As we live in Colchester, I decided to travel to London and join some classes at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street.

Location:
Cookery School at Little Portland Street is perfectly located in central London – just around the corner from Oxford Circus station. If, like me, you need to travel to London then after your classes you can stay shopping and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.

Classes:
This cookery school offers a range of day, evening and weekend cooking classes for all ages and abilities. You can learn everything ranging from short courses in knife skills to preparing complex stews or pastries. In addition the school also offers some theme based classes such as ‘A taste of Mexico’, ‘Spanish Home Cooking’, South African / Indian cooking classes. If you wish to impress your family with some delicious dishes then perhaps you could join one of their Christmas specific classes – they all look fabulous. Similarly, the Cookery School at Little Portland Street also offers some great cooking courses which run over a number of days / weeks. Definitely worth checking out!

My experience:
Let’s be honest, I am a beginner when it comes to cooking and any fancy food you see on my social media is normally prepared for me. Nevertheless, I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook well and how to make delicious dishes that can be prepared speedily. It’s not that I am lazy but as I commute on a daily basis, in particular during week days I am just too tired to cook from complex recipes.

So far I have attended 2 classes at Cookery School at Little Portland Street.
Firstly, let me tell you about my ‘ultimate fish and shellfish’ class. Our day began with a welcome of freshly baked cheese scones accompanied by some tea and coffee. We started our day by learning how to buy the best quality, sustainable fish and shellfish. I found the shopping tips extremely useful and I know now what to look for whilst selecting fish – i.e. did you know that the eyes, smell and feel should be all considered? I certainly didn’t before coming to this class. Throughout this cooking class, different techniques of preparing fish such as skinning, filleting and boning were presented. All students also had an opportunity to practice them before we moved to trying different methods of cooking, including grilling, frying, baking, poaching and steaming. Our teacher – John explained which methods work best for different fish types. We were working in pairs  to prepare lovely dishes such as:
• fish stew with a lobster bisque base;
• calamari braised in red wine;
• pollack with a black butter, parsley and caper sauce;
• moules marinieres;
• catch of the day en-papillote with hollandaise sauce;
• griddled diver scallop salad with an oriental dressing;
• grilled prawns in the Mozambique style with green salsa or a fresh chilli sauce;
• fish cakes with tartare sauce;
• mackerel with a gooseberry sauce;
• smoked mackerel pate.

The session ended with a feast around the Cookery School table where we all had an opportunity to taste the dishes we created during the day. They were all tasty and cooked to perfection.

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Secondly, I attended a short cake baking class. During a three hour session, all participants learnt the all-important rules for successful baking. The class was led by Ghalid who was superb to learn from. I’ve never baked before so I warned him before I joined the class but with a smile on his face he was extremely supportive and provided me lots of valid tips and tricks to start baking my own cakes.

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Once again it was a hands-on class where we were creating some cakes from the recipes provided including:
• Victoria sponge cake;
• Lemon cake;
• Devil’s food cake;
• Olive oil & sauternes cake;
• Swiss roll;
• Carrot cake;
• Basic sponge;
• Gluten free orange cake;
• Chocolate ganache and a variety of icings.

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A few cakes were pre-made so that we could experience their appearance and texture. At the end of the class, we all sat down with a cup of tea and were able to sample all that we had made during the afternoon. In addition, we were given a take-away box to take home any leftovers with us. Simply amazing especially if you are a complete beginner to baking.

To sum up, classes offered at Cookery School at Little Portland Street are relaxed and casual nonetheless at the same time they are all well organised. What I enjoyed the most was a mix of demonstration combined with some hands-on cooking which was always led by qualified and approachable teachers. The whole experience ran like clockwork with kitchen helpers assisting the teachers and students doing all the washing and tidying in the background making sure that the whole day is enjoyable. Although, I attended only two classes, I learned a lot and I have already started recreating some recipes at home to the delight of my husband. There was a range of dishes that were cooked / baked during my sessions and they were perfect for anyone no matter if you are an experienced cook or a beginner like myself. I would recommend these classes to anyone who would like to improve or polish their cooking skills. I will definitely enrol on some more classes as they’ve been a great help and I cannot believe how much knowledge I consumed during 2 sessions. Correspondingly, my teachers provided me with some tips on how to cook sustainably which were all very enlightening.

To book your place on the next available course or class visit:

https://www.cookeryschool.co.uk/

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Pauline

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