At the end of last year, River Cottage kindly invited me to experience one of their advanced gluten free courses down at the River Cottage HQ taken by the lovely Naomi Devlin. I’ve always wanted to visit River Cottage, since they opened one of their lovely canteens in Bristol, so I instantly accepted and looked into the types of techniques and recipes that my husband Rob and I would be taught in the advanced gluten free cooking course:
Gluten free puff pastry
Gluten free yeasted pastry (to be used to make Iraqi pastries- Kleichas)
Gluten free choux pastry
Gluten free pitta breads
Gluten free french bread
Chat on gluten free nutrition
So an awful lot to cover in a day – i was wondering how we’d manage it all!
[On a side note, we decided to make a weekend of it so the night before the course we stayed at the affordable Tytherleigh Arms, who were very hospitable and welcomed my gluten intolerance with open arms. The food was stunning and the bed- very comfy, i highly recommend staying here if you’re going on a course and want to stay nearby – for more information go on to their website.]
We woke up to the most beautiful beating sunshine on a crisp, chilly autumn morning. we couldn’t have gotten any luckier in terms of weather. The course started at 10am but we were asked to arrive for 9 so we set off after a bit of breakfast and drove to River Cottage.
The view from the top of the farm was spectacular.
Coeliacs assemble! After a few moments of waiting at the tractor stop, our tractor pulled up to take us on a ride down to the farm, something that’s become a bit of a perk when attending a River Cottage event. We chatted with fellow gluten intolerant and coeliacs and made our way down to the cookery course kitchen space.
Instantly there was lots of hustle and bustle as we were asked to gather some basic equipment for the day. Rob and I put on our black aprons… funny how as soon as you put on an apron you feel you can do anything in the kitchen.
With equipment at the ready and a tasty tomato rosti to keep us going, the introduction and cooking began…
Rob and i were impressed with the result of our choux and puff pastry- both requiring a hell of alot of arm work but we agreed that nothing has come close in terms of processed products to these freshly made batches!
The Kleichas were an interesting alternative yeasted pastry to make, and extremely tasty. These were stuffed with a choice of delicious sweet mincemeat or sticky dates. We devoured these entirely on our way home and i immediately added them to the Christmas menu- to which family members were very impressed.
We paused for a tasty fresh lunch of vegetable tagine with fresh vegetables followed by baked apples with a yoghurt ice cream made by the River Cottage team; which was the perfect accompaniment for talking to other course members about their reasons for coming on the course and for comparing our arm strengths (after the choux pastry workout!)
Rob’s highlight of the day was with his puffed up pitta breads- these were just so easy and simple to make.
I however was overwhelmed by the gluten free french loaf that Naomi had prepared for us.
A revelation really. This is how gluten bread tastes like- i instantly thought. I clutched my course notes tightly for the rest of the afternoon as to never lose that brilliant recipe. A few weeks later i made the same bread again with the same incredible results, it has now become a must for special occasions.
Naomi really made this entire day worthwhile, her end of the day knowledgeable talk on flours was incredible and she was kind and very approachable; which i feel is an important factor when choosing a cookery course. You need a teacher who can really relate to your reason for learning and as Naomi herself is a coeliac, i think she really gives you that trust that you need when learning gluten free cookery.
The day was fun, challenging and if you’re determined to make gluten free bread from scratch it really allowed you to ask all those questions regarding rise, nutrition and what combination of flours work better for particular recipes/ pastries.
For more info and prices for this gluten free advanced cookery course you can view and book it here.
This course was kindly paid for by River Cottage but it did in no way effect my opinions stated in this review.