A few weeks ago, I was invited to Seasoned Cookery School, at Catton Hall in Derbyshire for an Italian Masterclass with Sara Danesin (a finalist in Masterchef 2011). We were warmed greeted by the Seasoned staff, and Sara herself with hot drinks and a freshly baked chocolate and peanut creation. It was delicious!
The Masterclass started with Sara showing us how to make her mango panacotta as it needed time to set. We were then sent off in twos to make our own. Sara’s instructions were simple and easy to follow and the Seasoned cookery team were on hand too if you got stuck doing anything. Next we learnt how to make a seafood stock and how to prepare the seafood going into our risotto. We had to prepare the seafood on our own. This was a new experience for me as although I like some fish and shellfish, preparing it as always put me off. The cleaning of the squid was actually quite enjoyable and I got the hang of it after the first one. I did chicken out of preparing the prawns though. I do not know exactly why but I dislike them greatly.
For our next lesson, Sara taught us how to make the perfect risotto using Carnaroli rice. Carnaroli rice keeps it’s shape better than Arborio rice which I have mainly used before. You do not need to keep stirring it as many chefs will tell you too. Just a stir every couple of minutes is fine. The homemade fish stock was very flavourful and really brought the risotto alive.
Once we had finished making our risotto, it was time to eat it for our lunch. Lunch was very civilised and we were offered a glass of wine to accompany our meal. It was lovely to chat to Sara and the other members of the group over a glass of wine. Before long, it was time to get back to it and start making our own pasta.
Next Sara showed us how to make homemade pasta. I have made pasta a few times before but have never rolled it using a machine so this was a new experience for me. We made our pasta then let it rest while we watched Sara demonstrate aubergine alla parmigiana with pesto. I am not a great fan of aubergine but if Sara will make it for me every time, then I am a fan! I have always thought of aubergines has been rubbery and bland tasting. Sara’s were crisp and delicious with her homemade tomato sauce and cheese sauce. It was amazing!
Next, Sara demonstrated her wild mushroom, pancetta and thyme cream sauce to accompany the tagliatelle . With a bit of assistance from Sara, I was able to get to grips with the pasta machine and was soon onto making my sauce. Once we had finished our dish, we ate our homemade pasta with wild mushroom, pancetta and thyme cream sauce with the rest of the group and another glass of wine! (Pasta and risotto in one day – I was stuffed!) Sara told us about her Masterchef experience and her week in Masterchef pop up restaurant in London which she had just finished her stint in, the night before heading up to Derbyshire to teach the course on the morning.
For the last activity of the day, Sara showed us how to make a black olive caramel and passion fruit glaze to accompany the panacotta. It may sound strange but the black olive caramel really worked and helped cut through the richness of the panacotta. I do not like black olives either! It was a really simple and impressive dessert that I will be making for a dinner party soon.
I had a wonderful day at Seasoned and am already planning which course I am going to go on next. Sara was lovely and I really enjoyed talking to her. She made real Italian food a possibility as opposed to an inspiration that I had before. All the staff were very friendly and could not do enough for you. I highly recommend a course at Seasoned. I hope I will see you at a course there soon!
Disclosure: I attended as a guest of Seasoned Cookery School. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review