When it comes to cookery classes in the UK, there are few that can match the level of professionalism, dedication, and quality of the Lesley Waters Cookery School in Dorset. Rosie and I were honoured to be invited to a hands on cookery class back in January. The theme of the class would be “Cooler Than Chillies,” involving cookery with all manner of spices and fragrant herbs, making delicious dishes from around the world!
The venue was easy to find, and boasted stunning views of the countryside on either side. As we parked up Lesley was straight out the door to meet us, offering hot drinks and making us feel right at home – the first indication that this was going to be a day where our every need was catered for! Once we’d met everyone taking part in the class (five in total) and had an introduction talk from Lesley, it was off to the kitchen to start cooking.
First order of the day was cracked black pepper and fig bread. As we were kneading and rolling the dough, Lesley and her partner Jackie talked us through the multiple benefits of black pepper, and the best ways to prepare it and cook with it. This was a recurring theme of the day; we weren’t just making food and learning the recipes, we were constantly receiving useful tips and advice on cooking with the various ingredients, so there was plenty of knowledge to go away with at the end.
Whilst the bread was proving we whipped up a quick and easy chutney using tamarind, ale, pears and dates, then served that with ‘dirty eggs’ and ginger lemongrass tea. Dirty eggs are a Spanish dish that consists of baked potato wedges, chorizo, black pudding, cracked eggs over the top and lashings of oregano – perfect for a mid-morning brunch! We ate these with cheese and charcuterie, plus some date bread that Lesley had prepared beforehand. Even though we were pretty stuffed, we knew there was plenty more food to come, so we put our forks down and headed back to the warmth of the kitchen…
Once we’d digested the delicious brunch, it was time to roll up our sleeves and get started on the hearty main courses. Up first was a spicy and fragrant Thai green curry with deep fried noodles and smoked chicken – utterly delicious and extremely easy to make! This was our second meal of the day, which we enjoyed with an indulgent glass of Champagne, before moving right onto the next few recipes.
Back at the worktops we whipped up a rich coconut beef madras using a curry paste we blended ourselves, and let that cook in the oven whilst making a poussin and saffron baked rice dish. To accompany the mains we made a banana, lime and chilli relish, and an onion, orange and coriander salsa (don’t knock it ’til you try it!). The flavours and spices were so simple and easily found in any supermarket, but the recipes and the preparation techniques made it taste like Michelin-star food!
While the main courses baked we got to work on a nutmeg and banana tarte tatin (because spices aren’t just for savoury dishes), then gathered in the dining room for meal number 3; the madras and poussin risotto. By now the fig bread had finished baking, so we had an enormous feast of beef curry, saffron rice, warm fresh bread, banana relish, orange salsa, and yoghurt, which was simply one of the best things I’d ever eaten.
If you can believe it, there was even more food to come in the form of sticky coconut rice, grilled ginger pineapple and fresh mango, as well as the warm tarte tatin right from the oven. With a glass of wine in one hand and a fork in the other, we ploughed through the final course of delicious sweet treats. It’s a hard life!
After a friendly chat with Lesley over coffee, we packed up the leftovers and said our sad goodbyes. But what a day it had been! We were absolutely stuffed with delicious food, but also with culinary knowledge and useful tips we can use again and again at home. I can’t recommend this class enough for people looking to improve their skills in a certain discipline, and want to do so in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. An absolute delight for any food enthusiast!
Massive thanks to Lesley for inviting us along to enjoy this wonderful day. Check out our video review, and if you’d like to book your own course, please follow the links below: